Fire Feet

My older cousin has just explained hot flashes to me—the need to suddenly tear off your clothes, she said, fling open the window and hang half-naked out into the wind in the wintertime. It feels like your blood boiling from the inside like it’s being microwaved without your permission, she said, wide-eyed. I am listening, laughing.

We are sitting at her kitchen table and I’ve just arrived to see her after driving for over an hour. In the car, I was listening to the CBC and there was a story about a man who fell into a huge garbage incinerator and lived to write about it. He fell directly into the flames, but then bounced out like a pogo stick, he explained, and landed in the bottom of the incinerator behind the flames, out of the direct fire but still inside the stove. There he stood, shoelaces melting, before he realized that his insides were actually cooking, his internal temperature quickly rising without his control. Luckily, he was freed from the cauldron via an emergency back door, the panic of his near-death experience enough to send him running from the heat all the way to the forest’s edge several hundred yards away. Only then did he turn to look back.

I am thinking of this story as my cousin explains hers. What a coincidence, I think to myself, and then realize that I have something similar to share. It’s my pregnant “hot feet” situation—a physical symptom of my pregnancies that no one else seems to be able to relate to no matter how often I mention it to other moms.

That’s just strange. 90% of the time, you can usually find other moms who have had to deal with pregnancy incontinence, yeast infections, ankle swelling, nausea, back aches, dimply thighs, insomnia, etc. All the glories, so-to-speak, that lead us “happily” towards motherhood. But fire feet? No one has them. Just me. They’re my daily dose of a hot-flash style pregnancy incinerator panic. And always just before I fall asleep. It’s my special foot party.

Let me explain:

Just like with my last pregnancy (and I wrote about it here), I seem to have a problem with my feet overheating when I’m in bed. I have to cream them and keep them out of the blankets, no matter how cold it is outside. Socks are ridiculous at night now—and this is someone who usually has cold feet in winter!

When I was in Hong Kong for my study week with my MFA program in October, I re-employed last pregnancy’s method for dealing with it that suits me quite well. It was warmer there—like a late spring in Canada, climate-wise—and so the hot feet were more fiery than usual. I found that wrapping a cold, wet towel around my feet in a figure 8 could calm the overheating enough to enable me to fall asleep. Half-way through the night, if the fire returned and woke me (as it often does), I could usually find the damp towel at the end of the bed and re-wrap. If the towel wasn’t cold enough, I just needed get up and re-wet the towel, which was usually not an issue since I generally have to pee a million times a night anyway.

So, in other words, my feet have needed a cold straight jacket in order to let me rest.

Ridiculous, right?

What is it about? They’re not swollen (yet) and the rest of my body is not overheating! What’s more, you’d think they’d get overheated while using them and while gravity has blood flowing to them, so why would they get like this while they’re horizontal at the end of the day? Your guess is as good as mine.

So much is different in this pregnancy, but this is an example of one of the rare features that has returned. I guess it’s my “signature symptom” of bringing life into the world…

And with that, I’m going to put my feet up. (But it’s afternoon–no need to call the fire department!)


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Preggers in Hong Kong: The Student Story*

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