This isn’t exactly news if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, but my husband and I are having a baby boy in late July. It’s been such a huge part of my life for these past 6 months that I haven’t really figured out what I want to say about it. There are so many thoughts and emotions that pass through our heads every day it seems impossible to sort through it all. Being new homeowners and now being pregnant has very much been occupying our lives and results in me having a lot less time than I used to dedicate to personal reflection in online blogs. But I’m going to try.
I’m 27 weeks pregnant and nearing the end of the 2nd trimester. Typical pregnancies are 40 weeks long and are divided into 3 trimesters. The first is from 0-14 weeks, the second is 15-28 weeks, and the third is 29-40 weeks. Roughly. There’s also what some call the 4th trimester, from birth until the baby is 3 months old. The baby is basically attached to the mother that whole time and I imagine it really does feel like an extension of pregnancy.
This will be the first grandchild on both sides of the family. We’re trailblazers!
Stuff I didn’t know about pregnancy
There was a lot of stuff I had misconceptions about. One is that I believed wrongly that a woman just gets steadily bigger over the 9 months of pregnancy. But in fact, aside from some bloating, many people don’t notice a change in a woman’s outward appearance until the 2nd trimester, and some as late as 6 months into the pregnancy. For me, I felt like I was fat throughout my first trimester and part way into the 2nd, but for the most part I could still fit into a lot of my clothes (well, except for the waistband on my jeans). Then all of a sudden my uterus started making my belly pop out more noticeably, and it felt harder than a normal belly, even when laying down. It started to feel really real then. And people start commenting on your pregnancy out of the blue. Sometimes its sweet, other times awkward. Luckily I haven’t had any rude encounters.
Another thing was that I thought pregnancy just got progressively more terrible as time went on. But the fact is pregnancy hit me like a ton of bricks in the first trimester. I was exhausted all the time. I dragged myself to work every day, but slept on the train on the way home, and just lay on the couch all evening until I went to bed early around 9pm. I was nauseous all day long and had terrible aversions to foods I used to love. And the worst part was the nausea wouldn’t go away unless I ate some crackers or white bread. So even though I felt sick all the time I still gained weight from all the carbs I had to eat to not feel even worse. I had no motivation to do any chores or exercise. My body just felt bad.
The second trimester, on the other hand, has largely been pretty good. Around weeks 12 or 13 I started feeling less sick, and had more energy to do normal things around the house. It was to the point where I had no symptoms and I was worried that I was no longer pregnant. That’s a common feeling because after 3 months of feeling like shit, and you suddenly don’t feel like shit anymore, it’s almost too good to be true. I started going to the gym twice a week and to a prenatal yoga class every weekend. We made a lot of progress on projects around the house (like painting the baby’s room) and our yard (planting a bunch of fruit trees and berries).
Now that I’m nearing the end of the 2nd trimester, things are definitely starting to wear on me. My belly is so big that I can’t bend over. I haven’t seen my vagina in a few weeks without the help of a mirror. I can’t take a full breath anymore. My hips and lower back are in such pain that I wake up at least 10 times a night to turn my unwieldly body over every hour or more. I seriously have to sleep on an arrangement of 5 different pillows! I get cramps in my feet and legs if I so much as stretch them in the middle of the night. I can’t hug my husband from the front as tightly as I’d like to.
From what I hear, the third trimester is not fun, apart from getting to have a baby shower or maternity photo shoots. The last month especially you’re just counting down the days until you can have your body back. Obviously I’m not there yet, but I’m beginning to have some inklings of feelings of “this is uncomfortable, when can I stop being pregnant”.
Other things I didn’t know involve the placenta and amniotic sac. The placenta is an organ your body creates from scratch in order to nourish the baby in your body via the umbilical cord. It’s flat like a pancake and attaches to the side of the uterus. I used to think that the placenta was inside the amniotic sac, like another container that the baby was in. The placenta comes out after your baby is born. Some people even leave the placenta attached to the baby until it naturally falls off! This involves putting the placenta in a bag and carrying it around with the baby wherever you go. And it’s just a sack of rotting meat so you have to preserve it somehow so it doesn’t stink. Some people choose instead to eat it. I still need to figure out if I want to keep the placenta to bury under a tree (what my parents did with their kids’ placentas in Malaysia).
I learned that amniotic fluid is always being produced. If your water breaks, more amniotic fluid gets produced so unless your rupture heals, you’ll just leak fluid continuously. And your water breaking doesn’t automatically mean you’ll go into labor, especially if you’re not to term. It does mean you’ll probably be put on bed rest and be under observation at a hospital because of increased risk of infection.
Being pregnant is weird
Every week my body is a different shape and size. The hormone relaxin makes all your bones and joints looser and hips, ribcages, and even feet expand (perhaps permanently). Getting dressed for work in the morning is such a pain. If I didn’t work at a fashion company I’d probably just wear sweatpants and a hoodie all the time. But luckily my work has a maternity line and I’ve been fortunate to have a few nice looking things to wear.
The baby kicks you, a lot. Starting from around week 18 or 19 for me, I could feel the baby kicking nearly every day, sometimes enough to make me gasp or jolt upright in my seat. When they kick your cervix, it hurts, sometimes a lot. It makes you feel like something is wrong. Nope, just baby poking you. Sometimes the baby hiccups too, which I experienced for the first time last week. That was super weird. It made it hard to go to sleep. Now if I don’t feel the baby kicking for half a day I get worried. Starting in the third trimester you need to start tracking baby’s movements daily to ensure everything’s alright in there.
There’s a lot of anxiety
Up until my 20 week ultrasound, I was anxious over whether my baby had any genetic disorders. Now I understand why some people don’t announce their pregnancies until it’s halfway done. There’s just a lot of testing that occurs in the first and second trimesters that could result in some bad news. Being 34 years old I’m not exactly a young first-time mom so there were some concerns on my part about Down syndrome and other things. Luckily for us, our baby appears to be completely healthy. Yay!
Now the anxiety is more of the sort “what should I be doing to prepare?” I’m putting together a baby registry and acquiring hand-me-downs from friends and family. I’m trying to figure out what we’ll need in the first few whirlwind weeks. It’s a lot to think about.
That’s it for now. Next time I’ll link to some photos!