It’s been a while since I posted so I thought I would update you all on how the pregnancy is going.
In the last post about the pregnancy I wrote about the pitfalls of the first trimester. Since then, I cruised on through the second and am now a few weeks into the third. I can’t tell if it has gone fast or slow- a second pregnancy is definitely different in the sense that it is almost an afterthought. I can’t tell you the last time I looked at a pregnancy app or website where as the first time around I had those little weekly updates memorized by the first day of the new week. Like any other mom in the trenches, I am distracted raising a strong willed toddler who challenges me every day (boy is that another post – Hello miss independent).
My last post left off at the beginning of the second trimester so I will try to start there.
Many women love the second trimester, with the first trimester nausea and uncertainty behind them, a bump that is visible that draws excitement, but not yet large enough to cause discomfort… it is usually a time of pregnancy bliss. Of course for me, this wasn’t the case (I’m convinced I’m just not good breeding stock; pregnancy, labor, or breastfeeding is and was not easy for me- I swear it’s a mix of luck, anatomy, genetics, and attitude… where is my luck, childbearing Gods?!). My second trimester was over the summer and it was a record breaking hot one. I almost felt as trapped in my house as I do during heavy winter. I would easily get out of breathe and weak if in the heat for too long, I could never seem to drink enough water and had a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions. The nausea subsided but man was I still tired. I ended up feeling trapped, isolated, and lonely causing a touch of prenatal depression.
In general, I think I have a tendency to isolate myself during pregnancy. I still can’t decide if it’s the lack of energy that causes me to nest, the hormones messing with my moods causing me to withdraw within myself, or if I’m listening to some ancient intuition telling me to slow down, rest and protect myself. I still haven’t figured it out. I really started to question whether being a stay at home mom was for me and started to wonder if the sudden mood change had nothing at all to do with pregnancy but more to do with the novelty of being at home full time wearing off. The jury is still out on that one. My plan is to see how I feel when this new baby is six months old, and maybe explore going back part time.
The first and second trimester also brought on another wonderful (insert eye roll emoji here) part of pregnancy: pregnancy weight gain. With my daughter’s pregnancy, I didn’t really have an appetite or gain any weight until about the half way mark. And then the appetite hit me with a vengeance. I was that cliché pregnant woman sending my husband out for milkshakes and going through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru for donuts multiple times a week. The appetite and cravings shocked me. Not pregnant or nursing, I am usually a three meals a day kind of girl, a slight sweet tooth, but not a huge eater. I have always been naturally thin and my weight was something that stayed relatively the same (don’t blame me- thank my mom for the genetics). This newfound appetite I experienced with my first pregnancy was new to me, but it was almost primal. I felt like I had no control, my body wanted food, High-calorie food and my brain told me to go get it. So, it was appropriate I packed on 40lbs by the end of the pregnancy. Watching my body change so much scared me the first time around. I didn’t appreciate it or see the beauty. All I could see was how FAT I was and for the first time in my life battled with body image. When I lost all of the baby weight and THEN some (I got really thin to the point of having to drink nutrition shakes from nursing), it made me realize that my body knew what it was doing all along. It knew I would need the nutrition stores for the demanding post partum period and to be able to produce enough milk to feed a thriving child. This has helped change my outlook this time around.
This pregnancy has been slightly different whereas the morning sickness early on demanded I eat around the clock and the weight started to pack on from the beginning. I think I gained 20lbs by the 20 week mark. The only thing is I am much more health conscious now than I was two+ years ago (I have motherhood to thank for that). I cook way more, eat mostly organic vegetables as well as organic grass fed animal products. I don’t have a lot of processed snacks in the house (still have a slight sweet tooth though) but overall a better eater. I take vitamins and supplements and learned what healthy snacks (mostly protein: cheese, yogurt, nuts, seeds) keep the nausea at bay and haven’t gone through the Dunkin’ donuts drive thru even once! So I was slightly surprised that I gained the weight quickly and would be lying if I didn’t say I was concerned at how much weight I would gain total if it stayed at that pace. But the constant eating did subside when the morning sickness did, and my appetite has seemed to go back to normal. Actually, now that the belly is so big – it’s hard to eat a lot in one sitting without feeling full and uncomfortable which I didn’t experience with my first pregnancy- I could literally eat like a 300lb trucker. This time though being a veteran and knowing that my body knows what it’s doing has helped me embrace the transformation and trust that the weight gain (30lbs already!) has a purpose. We are SUPPOSED to gain weight. Knowing I’m eating well but that my body is still accumulating fat kind of fascinates me to be honest, it is following an ancient code, one that is beyond my control. (It’s kind of crazy that I gained all the weight in the beginning only to go on for it to be hard to eat a large meal at the end, right?!). My midwives actually do not even weigh women while pregnant, because they also have the mindset of trusting the body (however this is not to say they encourage you to eat fast food everyday, they just believe that having a healthy lifestyle will determine your outcome more so than a number on a scale and once I actually researched the topic I was surprised to learn that the “25-35lb” weight gain limit we so often hear in obstetrics actually holds little credibility).
This time, when I look in the mirror and see a body that barely resembles mine with curves and a silhouette, I feel sensual and connected to my womanhood. Sure, sometimes I feel like a stranger in this body, even walking feels different with 30+ extra pounds. And yes, sometimes I see pictures of myself and see an unfamiliar round face staring back at me and think “Who the hell is that?!” (Which is probably due to fluid retention rather than weight gain) and a part of my subconscious plays the negative body-shaming rhetoric we have all heard from a culture that doesn’t respect the sacredness of childbearing. But I can honestly say these thoughts are the minority. Pregnancy has a way of transforming us all differently, and for me it makes my normally thin petite body voluptuous and soft and it’s kind of a nice change.
But the second trimester wasn’t ALL terrible. Feeling the baby dance inside me for the first time and to have a visible bump does make me feel more connected to the pregnancy. For me, feeling connected to the baby within doesn’t come easy. Not knowing the sex makes it hard to envision the baby, and I think I’m just someone who falls in love with my babies once they are earth side and in my arms. Although I am a healthy pregnant woman as a whole, having an uncomfortable pregnancy I’m sure attributes to this feeling. But the second trimester brought us to something every pregnant woman looks forward to: the 20 week anatomy scan where we got to see our little soul flip and dance and left with a clean bill of health.
We went on a few vacations this summer, which at the time seemed stressful with the heat and the realization that vacationing with a toddler isn’t exactly relaxing ESPECIALLY while pregnant, but looking back we made some great memories. September rolled around and we celebrated Masilyn’s second birthday. She was so adorable on the day of her party that I spent most of the morning trying not to cry ha.
It’s funny, the relationship with my daughter seems to be somewhat like the one with my husband. I go through phases where I feel like my love for her is so immense that it could one day suffocate me to others where I find myself wondering who swapped out my child with the devil incarnate Ha. Around her birthday, I don’t know what it was – maybe the milestone of her birth or the anniversary of me becoming a mother, I just felt like I could burst with love. Her language has exploded and I’m not sure there is anything cuter than hearing little toddler sentences. A favorite of mine is, “Mommy, Me Happy” *Swoon*.
Another thing we did was go on our first trip alone since Masilyn was born. I flew for the first time in 10 years and for the first time with my husband. We only went to South Carolina for a few days but hey it’s a start! We went to visit my best friend who relocated there about 4 years ago and attend a wedding. Oh. My. God. I did not know how much we needed that time away until we were at the airport. It was so fun, exciting, relaxing, rejuvenating, etc. etc. etc. My new (probably unrealistic) goal is to do this at least once a year. I understand now why people make travel a priority- it does wonders for the soul.
When I returned, I felt rejuvenated and recharged. I had a new outlook on my situation and decided I would pull myself out of this “prenatal funk” I called it. I signed Masilyn up for a gymnastics class so we had some structure to our weeks, started to get out of my little bubble and plan things with other mom friends again. I threw myself back into daily yoga and it seems to be working- I’ve been relatively my self for the most part and my energy levels have been high. There are still some days I feel sluggish and unmotivated, but I actively try to work against them, whereas before I kind of just succumbed to the low energy.
The third trimester hit along with cooler weather and by far the best season ever: Fall! I welcomed the change of season; going along with my newfound rejuvenation from our trip, it felt like a fresh start. The third trimester is what most pregnant women deem the most uncomfortable part of pregnancy but I however enjoy it the most. It all starts to feel more real; the idea of a new baby is no longer some hypothetical event that will happen in the distant future. The baby is developed enough that it would survive outside the womb (with a lot of medical support) and knowing this really affects me; allows me to relax and envision having a newborn. I finally feel like I am carrying a life inside of me, which is validated every time I feel the knobs of elbows and knees roll against my belly. I feel maternal and ethereal. But following the trend of not having easy pregnancies, the third trimester also welcomed back pain, aching joints, terrible hurt burn, a never ending chest cold, and the inability to sleep. Surprisingly, I have been handling it all somewhat well (just don’t ask my husband his opinion on this one;)). I think knowing that the end is near helps me focus on the fact that this is a sacred time in my life and will be over soon. I often wonder when I have grown children and see young pregnant women what I will feel. Nostalgia? Jealousy? Relief that the time in my life is over? Will I remember what it felt like to carry a life within? Only time will tell. But this is where I really start to embrace the beauty and magic that pregnancy holds.
At my last prenatal appointment we started to talk about preparations for the birth for the first time. I received my homebirth kit, set up my home visit (where the midwives and whoever will be attending the birth visit your home a few weeks before your due date to go over expectations and have the assembled birth team meet- it is an exciting milestone and one homebirthers look forward to) and it hit me that this unmedicated labor will be happening and soon! It still seems so far away- but at 31 weeks, the countdown is on. I am filled with excitement, motivation, and of course apprehension. I think back to my first birth and remember the sheer shock and trauma I felt by the intensity and magnitude of childbirth and think, am I really prepared for this? Do I really remember what I’m in for? But at the perfect time, I had the honor of meeting and speaking with the infamous Ina May Gaskin.
For those of you who don’t know, she is considered the mother of the natural birth movement; and to who the credit of the re-surge of midwifery in America is attributed to. She is by far the most famous midwife globally and my sole
inspiration for a natural birth. It wasn’t until I heard her interviews did I really start to think about birth in a different way. If you are a woman in the child bearing phase of your life, do yourself a favor and listen to some of her interviews (you can search on Podcast): it will change you! It was a truly amazing experience, and I swear its fate that she happened to be speaking in my area 2 months before my due date. It left me completely re-inspired and empowered. I absolutely can do this.
Sorry that was a lot to update- approaching 2600 words eek! In closing, the thing that has been on my mind the most recently is realizing that my first born will be my only child for only a short time longer. I am trying to soak up the time that is left that it is still just us; first born & new mom. Her being my little sidekick is all I know. It is hard to imagine having to split my attention with another, and it scares me to be honest- she has been and is still my whole world.
This little girl has given me more happiness than I could have ever imagined. She made me a mother, and the sacredness of that will never leave me. I can’t imagine my soul could possibly experience any more joy that it does now, but I know it will… in just two short months.