We’ve arrived at the third trimester. That’s both exciting and scary. Long-term scary and short term scary, at that. Long term scary because now is the time to think about what kind of parents we will be, and how we are going to manage doing all the things we want and like in addition to taking care of a child. Short-term scary because the discomforts of pregnancy are getting real around now, and as they can be expected to mostly get worse in the time remaining, it makes me worried about how I’m going to stay active and get all the stuff done before the new little person is here. Most of all though, it’s really exciting to finally be this close to meeting our baby, and to know that with all the things we have to do before then, the remaining time is likely to fly by (although, see Symptoms for an opposing argument).
I recently realized that detailing all of my pregnancy symptoms can make it seem like this whole thing is fairly miserable. That isn’t really how I experience it, though, so before this post’s litany of symptoms, I thought I would mention that. Even though my body has been going though a bunch of changes, most of them have been minor nuisances so far. In the midst of working on an exciting project or reading a good book, I still forget that I am pregnant from time to time. And even though the baby’s tossing and turning in my belly can be annoying sometimes (see below what that looked like in week 29), it generally makes me so very happy when it pokes a knee or an elbow out so I can feel the edges though my skin. This is the best reminder there is that we made a little person, and that right now, it is living and growing in there! Pretty miraculous.
But on to this month’s batch of symptoms. The first one isn’t new, I’ve just forgotten to say this all the times that I’ve remembered it before, but whoa, WATER TASTES SO GOOD! I drink it all the time. What a difference from my first trimester when drinking water made me feel like I was nursing a hangover. I still indulge in sparkling water ever so often (this was the only thing that was palatable to drink in my first trimester), but it now feels like a treat instead of a necessity.
The most annoying recent pregnancy symptom has got to be the middle back discomfort I’m experiencing. There’s a band of discomfort around my ribs below my breasts. In front, it feels like there isn’t really room for my lungs, and both leaning back and leaning forwards is not comfortable. This isn’t too bad, though, and more of a nuisance compared to how it feels in the back. There, it basically feels like I did the ribcage dance (you know where you keep everything stable and move your ribcage right-back-left-front?) for 15 hours straight yesterday. Every day. The muscles there feel sore on and off, and it seems to be somehow related to eating. It’s annoying me. To say nothing of how disruptive it is for someone whose work is primarily done in a seated position in front of the computer- also known as the worst of positions for your back health. So, I’m trying to stand up frequently, do some stretching, and to vary the chairs I sit in. And I’m upping the frequency of my massages. Hopefully this will keep the discomfort manageable. And finally, the sacrum/tailbone discomfort has continued, and I’ve added some lower back discomfort to this as well. I suppose that some days, it does feel like the remaining weeks are going to be very long…
According to my self-made birth preparation schedule, the combined arrival of third trimester and the month of October means that baby-prep is going to start ramping up. For one, I’m continuing my attempts to empty the freezer to make room for pre-made post-partum meals. Although more an more freezer wall is becoming visible, there is still so much more stuff in there than I would want. Perhaps I should stop buying frozen things…
We also started our birth preparation class this week. We signed up for it though the hospital system that our midwife practice and birth center is part of. Having read other people’s opinions about hospital birth classes, I had lowered my expectations accordingly. But as with almost every encounter with someone from our hospital, I was pleasantly surprised. The first class was informative and friendly, and, most of all, because there is plenty of space within our hospital’s philosophy about birth to fit how I want to approach it, the class was another confirmation that we have chosen the right place for us for the birth of this baby.
Other things on the list are finding a doula, obtaining a crib and a stroller, and of course continuing all my breathing, pelvic floor and other muscle exercises. The exercises are going well. I’m not so sure about the rest, but there is still time. Oh, right, and there’s also the small matter of settling on a short-list of baby names. We’re pretty sure we have a boy’s name favorite (complete with a last name, and all!), but the girl’s name is still under consideration. There’s also the fact that everyone is advising us to have more than one name, in case our choice just doesn’t fit the baby. So, still some work to do on this front as well.
My belly is now an official conversation starter. Around my department, ‘how are you?’ no longer means ‘how’s your research going?’, but ‘how is the pregnancy?’. Most of the time, that’s fine – I enjoy talking about the baby to anyone who will listen. But sometimes, I just want to talk about my work or the bread that I baked instead of the little kicking machine that already takes up so much of my mental and bodily space.
This week, our families were finalizing their visiting schedules for when they join us over here around the baby’s birth. They have booked flight tickets and found accommodations, and we’re starting to get excited about seeing everyone. At the same time, I know that family visits can also be hectic and sometimes make things more stressful (especially for an introvert like me), so I’m taking care to remind myself that will be necessary for Paulus, myself and the baby to have alone-time and as well, and that just because our families have journeyed from overseas to see us and the new little person, it’s ok not to invite them over every day. That said, I’m so grateful that they can all be bothered to make the journey all the way across the Atlantic to meet the new family member.
In the middle of this week, we had a midwife appointment. Things are looking good, the baby’s growth and heartbeat measurements were on track, and I learned that my midwives dislike the idea of episiotomies as much as I do, which is reassuring. Perhaps the most exciting event of this week was learning that my nipples have started leaking fluid on occasion. In hindsight, there have been some indicators for a while that this was happening, but I just hadn’t caught them in the act before. I got quite excited (I may have yelled a little bit), and immediately showed off this new bodily function to Paulus. Because, how wild is that! Obviously, I knew that milk would need to emerge from there at some point, but actually seeing it in action (although it isn’t really milk yet) was strangely reassuring. Like some kind of indicator that all these bodily changes have not been for nothing, because in fact each of them have some designated functionality. I guess this happening also made me feel like I at least have the mechanics to breastfeed a baby. There’s still much to learn about that, though. But one step at a time.
From a distance, week 30 seemed like an exciting milestone, because getting there would mean that there would only be 10 weeks left before the baby’s due date. What happened to me before I reached this coveted milestone, though, is a thing that often happens to me in relationship to countdowns. By week 28, I was like, whoa, week 28, that’s nearly 30, only 10 weeks and a bit to go. Same thing in week 29, except now it was pretty much just ‘only 10 weeks to go’. Clearly this in turn meant a bit of an anticlimax at the arrival of the actual date for 30 weeks of pregnancy, like, oh, still 10 weeks left!?
I started dreaming about the baby more frequently. The dreams are usually weird. One night, I dreamt that I woke up in my bed next to Paulus. What had awakened me was our baby crying. That made me realize that it must have been born the night before, but I couldn’t really recall that this had happened. The baby was in the bed with us, wearing a diaper and still attached with the umbilical cord to the placenta. Huh, I thought to myself in the dream, we must have had the baby at home all alone, then. And apparently, we had then all fallen into an exhausted sleep. Except now, the baby was crying, and I didn’t know why. I figured it probably needed a diaper change, but then I realized that I had no idea how to change a diaper, and since no one knew about the birth, no one was there to help me with the diaper change either. Right before I woke up, I managed to tear myself away from worrying about the diaper and actually dwell on the fact that we had a healthy baby. It was a boy, a cute looking one with blue eyes, and it very characteristically had my brother’s eyebrows. So, there’s that?
I may have discovered birth and baby vlogs on youtube, and I may have gone a little overboard. Watching a baby being born has not yet failed to make me teary-eyed. It even happened when we were watching one of the educational birth videos during our childbirth class. I exactly managed to think ‘uh-oh’ to myself, ‘how embarrassing will it be to be crying about a birth in front of all these other couples’ before one of the other expecting mothers had to dry her eyes with her sleeve. Ha, it’s not actually me crying, it’s just hormones. In any case, I’m getting so so excited about birthing the baby, and finally getting to meet it! It feels like there is such a long time left, and on the other hand, I’m quite stressed about getting all my work done before baby time. This week, you see, we passed the point of two months left before the due date. Although, as we learned in our birth class this week, the average pregnancy duration for a first time mom is 41 weeks and a day. Based on that estimate, there is still time, but of course you never know. In addition, I’m starting to get antsy about all these baby and birth related things we still need to do: hire a doula, find a pediatrician, buy a stroller, get a crib, purchase bedding… We’ll get there, I know. But in the meantime, I’ll just worry about it.
Have I mentioned that we’re up to midwife appointments every two weeks now? At this week’s appointment we discussed maternity leave/pregnancy disability leave, which I still have to figure out with my department. Another thing added to my to-do list, sigh. When the nurse measured my blood pressure, it was higher than it has been before, although still within normal range. I suspect this helps explain why I’ve been feeling so warm all the time recently (which is unusual for me). This has left me with very little tolerance for the unexpected heatwave that recently hit San Diego. I absolutely loved this summer, but now I’m ready for the weather to finally catch up with the calendar and be properly fall like. As for the baby, it seems to be doing good as well. I reported on my nightly kick-count (have to get 10 kicks in less than an hour), and the midwife measured the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler as usual, and felt how it was positioned. It had its head down again (or still), so I’m hoping it stays there for the rest of the pregnancy.
And that’s pretty much it for now. Assuming I get it together, there should be bi-weekly pregnancy updates from now on, so see you very soon.