They weren’t lying when they said the second trimester is the golden time of pregnancy. I’ve generally felt good during this trimester, and in the last month of it, I even started looking and feeling (some times at least) pregnant.
Let’s start with the annoying ones. I’m out of breath more easily these days – especially with a full stomach. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised at this development, since my uterus is now well above the belly button, increasingly encroaching on the space that usually is occupied by diaphragm and lungs. I’ve also noticed that I get little craps in my legs and feet. So far, they’ve gone away immediately, but I wonder if this is a sign of worse to come later on. Perhaps the most annoying thing is pain in my sit-bone and sacrum area. I experienced this in the beginning of the second trimester, but then it went away again. Sometime around week 26 it came back. I’ve been managing it with gentle yoga exercises and prenatal massages (the best!), and I’m hoping it won’t get worse. But who knows what will happen as my body keeps changing. The biggest belly growth is yet to come, anyway.
As for the fun stuff, I now have a linea nigra, that dark line down the middle of the belly. It had been developing for some time, but it was so faint, I couldn’t be sure my eyes were not deceiving me. But around 23 weeks, it had become defined enough that I was certain that that is what is was. I also noticed my stomach muscles had moved apart – when I engage those muscles while lying on my back (like doing the beginning of a crunch), I can now clearly see where they have separated. This, plus the general weight gain and weight shift was probably was probably also what began making it harder to get out of bed like I normally would. Instead of sitting straight up from a lying position, I now prefer to turn sideways and get into a seated position with my legs over the side of the bed first. And I’m getting lots of practice in getting up this way, because I have to pee all the time, also in the night. I probably go to the bathroom some 3-4 times most nights, and to make this easier, I finally caved and bought a night light for the bathroom. It’s helpful not to have to turn the full lights on every time – it makes it easier to go back to sleep.
In week 23, there was a lot of work to do, revisions and applications, so I would often be distracted from noticing that I was pregnant. It’s a weird thing that you can forget that there’s a human growing in your abdomen, but there it is. But since this was also around the time that my belly really started popping out, I found myself in this weird all or nothing space, where I either felt super pregnant (wow, look at this belly, it’s huge!), or I totally forgot about it. Regardless, the baby seemed to be thriving and would sometimes remind me of my present state with an unexpectedly forceful kick. At this point, the kicks had become strong enough that I could observe them even when wearing a t-shirt. It’s pretty cool to see your belly bounce around like that.
My growing uterus also made for some weird eating sensations, starting around this time. Obviously, the larger the uterus becomes, the more space it needs, and the more the other organs have to get out of the way and/or squish together. In week 23, I found that the usual causal relationship between hunger, eating and feeling full no longer applied. Although I would still feel hungry and full, the sensations were magnified, and they were all or nothing. And there would be no guarantee that eating would take away the hunger, nor would there be any relationship between amount of food ingested and experienced fullness. I’m still not sure how one manages a balanced diet like that.
In week 24, we reached a milestone that I had been excited about, namely potential viability of the baby, should it be born early. During the anxiety of the first trimester, I had thought longingly of reaching this date, but as one might expect it was rather anti-climatic when it in fact happened.
More exciting was the fact that this was also the week of our ‘baby moon’ in Yellowstone, which I’ve written about in this post. I also gained a substantial amount of weight this week (1.3 kg), which seems to happen whenever I travel…
The trip was very relaxing and both Paulus and I were able to disconnect from daily life a bit. We even had the added bonus of a day off when we got back, because when booking I had forgotten than Monday was Labor Day (not pregnancy brain, just ex-pat brain, – no emotional connection to the holidays here makes them harder to remember). But after all of this, I found it hard to get back into the daily rhythm of work and I seemed to be more tired than I should have been. So I took it easy for some days, feeling extremely fortunate about the flexibility that grad school offers in this regard.
We attended a wonderful wedding this week. Two of our friends got married at a civil ceremony last year, and they’ve been celebrating their wedding ever since – four times in total. Although I think they take the record, it was a testament to the type of friends they have that conversations around the tables included snippets like ‘oh, we only got married twice’, and ‘how many ceremonies did you two have?’. I suppose with expats and different nationality couples, this is the norm.
Week 24 also brought another midwife appointment. I had expected to be chastised for my weight gain, but it was apparently still on track. We were seen by a new midwife this time, which I ended up being really happy about, even though I had attempted to always schedule my appointments with the same person. However, all the midwifes at our practice that we’ve met so far have been really nice, and since we won’t be in control of who is on call when the baby comes, it might be nice to know a few of them in advance. As usual, we heard the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler, and we had a chat about my current health and got some information about practicalities related to the birth.
Finally, this week we hit the T – 100 mark, meaning we were 100 days from the baby’s due date. That’s kind of exciting.
I went in for the mandatory glucose screening this week. This is where they draw your blood on a fasting stomach, then watch you drink an overly sweet orange-flavored beverage, and then draw your blood one and two hours later, to see how your body processes sugar. We got the results the same day, and all was well. I hadn’t really experienced anything in myself that would indicate diabetes, but at least we have it confirmed now.
With summer quarter coming to a rapid end, I also realized that it was time to tick some items off my summer to-do list, including a dentist appointment. Apparently pregnant women are at higher risk for developing gum diseases and such, so it was high time I went to the dentist. But my gums were doing fine.
As my belly continued to grow, and I continued feeling more tired than I wanted to, I started to worry a bit about the length of time of pregnancy left, and about how big I’m going to get, compared to how big I was feeling already. This is probably completely normal, but even when you think you are prepared for how something is going to feel, it is sure to feel different once you experience it on your own body. I’m sure I’m in for a surprise or two in the coming months as my body keeps changing.
The first day of this week simultaneously marked the 6 month point (only 3 more months to go, yay), and the 27 week point (only 13 more weeks to go). I alternate between thinking that it’s very little and that it’s an awful lot. Paulus on the other hand seems to be staying firmly on the side of ‘wow, that’s really soon’. In any case, we both have a bunch of things to accomplish and deadlines to achieve before it’s baby time.
I discussed parental leave with my department and got that set in motion. Our union has negotiated that we get up to six week of paid leave, which I’m grateful for, it’s a great improvement on no paid leave at all. But still, it’s a pittance, which I am continuously reminded of when I talk to Danish friends and family about this. They mostly just gasp in horror, because in Denmark, mothers get 1-2 months off before their due date, and up to a year of paid leave after. But then, they are probably socialists or something, which I’ve learned here, is bad. Well, irony aside, I can’t work with only 6 weeks of leave, so it seems likely that I will end up supplementing with an unpaid leave of absence as well.
In more positive news, the baby seemed to have a good week this week. It was so active. It would still kick, but more often, it would roll, and swish, and wussel (yes, I know that’s not a word, but that’s what it feels like).
And now we’re on the brink of the third and last trimester, which means we are about to start ramping up preparations for meeting this little person. I can’t wait to see what the next few months bring.