I finally entered the second trimester. For a lot of women, the annoying and sometimes debilitating pregnancy symptoms of the first trimester start reducing at this time, and the second trimester is widely reported as the favorite among trimesters. So far, it definitely takes the price over first trimester for me, but who knows how things will progress. In any case, here are some thoughts and things from the first part of my second trimester, which corresponds roughly to the fourth month of my pregnancy.
I had already seen a decrease in my queasiness from around week 12, so although I was excited about entering the second trimester, getting relief from nausea was only a small part of this. In fact, I found myself feeling rather lucky, as my experience of annoying symptoms, like extreme fatigue, having to pee a lot, etc., had been limited in the first trimester. Surely then, entering the second trimester meant that I was home free, right? Well, obviously, the universe was having none of that. Pretty much as soon as I entered the second trimester, I started having to pee ALL THE TIME. As I later found out, the baby seemed to prefer to hang out rather low in my abdomen at this time, so probably the frequent peeing was just a result of the baby getting bigger and leaving less room for the bladder. But at the time, I thought I must have a urinary tract infection, and even made the lab at the clinic test my pee just to check. The results came back completely normal, and thus I had to resign myself to my fate and accept my new life of feeling like my bladder was going to burst on average five minutes after I had last gone to the bathroom.
In other symptom news, my boobs stopped hurting around this time, too. I was finally able to give hugs like a normal person once again. Except when my belly was sticking out, which was often. Not because of the baby, no, but because of all the food. The second trimester brought a big increase in appetite, so I was eating all the time. Many meals and big portions, which I expect will be described in detail in another post. Unfortunately, my stomach and the rest of my digestive system seemed to have severed all communication, resulting in a constantly bloated belly that I would keep stuffing more food into. Not surprisingly, I was now physically unable to close my pants, and I was happy that summer had arrived to make me comfortable in dresses.
The best thing that happened in week 14 was that I (finally!) started feeling the baby. No movements yet, but I felt it as a lump or knot in my lower abdomen. I had felt this occasionally before, but as silly as it sounds, I didn’t think it was the baby. A little lump would appear on my left side in the morning as I was waking up, but it would be gone again after I went to pee (I could completely discard my alarm clock at this point, as the need to pee was sure to wake me up around an hour before I actually needed to get up). So I figured the little lump must be my bladder being pushed around by the (as yet unfelt) baby. For reference, the picture below was taken towards the end of week 13 – there’s not much to see. Eventually, though, I caught on to the fact that it was probably the baby instead. During week 14, I would notice both that the lump was now bigger, about the size of an orange, and that it would appear in different areas of my abdomens, sometimes on the left or the right side, and sometimes low in the middle. Realizing that it was the baby was a big boost of encouragement. It seems rather stupid when I write it down, but if you have been following my previous pregnancy posts (here, here, and here), you will know that the lack of feeling or sensing the baby has been perhaps my biggest source of worry so far. And here it was! As a little orange moving around in my lower belly. What a wondrous thing, and it did instantaneous wonders for my level of anxiety.
Around week 15, I embarked on what has so far felt like a month long cold, just without actually feeling sick. I sneeze, probably 10-20 times a day, and every night (and sometimes morning, too), my nose gets extremely congested. Apparently the congestion is a result of the increased blood volume in my body making blood vessels in the nose swell (did you know that a woman’s blood volume increases by some 40-50% during pregnancy? Crazy, right?). Or it may be caused my increased estrogen. In any case, it’s happening, and I’m going though tissues like it is the middle of winter in Copenhagen, instead of high summer in San Diego.
During this week, I felt for the first time what might have been baby movements. Although 15 weeks is a bit early for most first time mothers to be feeling the baby, I was on the alert for it, just in case. A few times I felt what seemed like a nudge from the inside or like a bubble bursting, but at this stage I still found it hard to distinguish digestive gas from baby movements.
The baby must have had a growth spurt around this time, because at 16 weeks, it suddenly felt huge.The bump would appear at different places in my abdomen, sometimes making me uncomfortable, but mostly happy. Under the right conditions (i.e. with an empty bladder, before a meal, lying on my back on a flat surface), I could feel it move. One night after dinner, I ate an ice cream bar. I think the baby either liked it or had a sugar high, because as I was laying in the bed afterwards, hand on my belly, it started kicking like crazy. At least 10 or 15 kicks happened in the span of half an hour or so. It was great. I think that was the bit of convincing that I needed to believe that the little flickers I’ve been feeling were in fact baby movements.
At the end of week 16, we had our third midwife appointment. This was mostly chatting, and we got to hear the baby’s heart with the doppler. It was still going strong at 140 beats/minute. At this stage the heartbeat should be between 120 and 160 beat/minute, so all seemed fine. But I already knew this going into the appointment, which was such a new sensation for me. Every little kick has told me that someone was in there, and that I shouldn’t worry.
And so I was feeling so much better about the pregnancy than I ever had before. I still went to sleep early, and whenever I would lay down in the afternoon, I would fall asleep, even without actually feeling tired. But despite this, I remained much more energetic than in the beginning of the pregnancy, and I was able to work on developing a consistent work and writing routine again, as well as to begin looking into classes and books to prepare me for birth.
At this point, I was feeling the baby every day, although generally only when lying down. Consequently, I started to get excited about actually having the baby in our lives. I’ve been getting more philosophical, too, thinking about life in the moment versus how it will be just a few months from now, when the baby is here. I found it strange how you forget from day to day that that is in fact the purpose of all this. To have a baby, an actual new person. Part of the strangeness is because there is a physical reality to relate to at the moment, but it’s really hard to imagine what it will be like when the little one is here. We decided not to find out the sex of the baby, which I was (and remain) happy about with my mind, but my heart was and is longing to know. I had been thinking that it’s a girl, but every once in a while, I convinced myself that it’s probably a boy. Regardless, my heart would swell when I was thinking about holding our baby in my arms for the first time. How there will be this little person in our lives all of a sudden. And how there will be all this love, both for the baby and in our relationship, as we learn about each other in our new roles as parents. I can’t wait to see Paulus hold our baby. But how hard it was to connect the little creature in my belly to the imagined baby of the future. Perhaps this was why it’s so strange to think ahead – because there was some kind of disconnect between now and then. It would just boggle my mind that we have nine months to get familiar with this baby while it’s in the womb, but still it will be like we have only just met it, once it’s born.
On the more practical side, I started obsessing about what I’m going to wear for the birth. You see, I want to be covered and comfortable, but still be able to quickly put the baby on my skin when it is born. I thought it should be easy to find a garment that fulfills these criteria, but that turned out to be false. I remember talking to my close friend sometime during the middle of her pregnancy last year, and she was obsessing over what foods to have during the birth. At the time, I thought ‘what a strange thing to be worried about’, but now I get it. It’s like, you’re trying to imagine and visualize your birth experience, and then the process gets derailed when you get to this one practicality that you haven’t figured out yet. So I’ve accepted that I’ll spent unreasonable amounts of time thinking about what to wear. For now, I have come to the interim conclusion of a snap-button or wrap dress. I also thought a bit about food myself, thinking and planning for freezer meals during the baby’s first weeks. But for now, my actions have remained at the planning stage. There’s really no point in emptying the freezer in preparation for stocking up on pre-(home)made meals just yet. Still, I had to make a ‘Baby’ folder on my laptop to keep track of all the planning spreadsheets that are beginning to appear.
To recap these weeks, I was feeling so much better. Physically, I was no longer nauseous and I was feeling a big increase in energy. Emotionally, I was hardly feeling anxious at all. Being able to feel the baby kick was a wonderful reassurance, that enabled me to focus on planning and dreaming for a future that seems like it just might happen after all.