After what I’d describe as an unpleasant first trimester of pregnancy (not horrible, but not fabulous), I am happy to report that I got a physical reprieve in my sunny second trimester. However, just as the physical symptoms got lighter, my emotional load got much heavier.
In May, my dad’s health declined rapidly. He’d been living with early-onset Alzheimer’s for over a decade at that point, and his quality of life was pretty minimal, though he was still fairly active (pacing the halls of his assisted living home). I got a call one Sunday evening in early May that he choked on his (pureed) dinner and they thought he might have aspiration pneumonia. He recovered from that bout of pneumonia, but we made the decision as a family that we would not treat him with antibiotics when (not if) he got pneumonia again. Pneumonia is a pretty typical cause of death for Alzheimer’s patients because the degenerative disease deteriorates the brain, which causes bodily functions like swallowing to stop working. We knew this was very likely the beginning of the end, but whether it was a matter of days, weeks, or months was unclear.
Nick and I were able to go up to visit dad over Mother’s Day weekend, just as he was recovering from his first round of pneumonia. It was really important to me that I got to tell Dad I was pregnant–especially at this point when I knew it was unlikely that he’d still be alive when I gave birth. I can only imagine how excited he would’ve been had he been healthy.
Dad had another choking incident at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend. We decided to make a last minute trip up for what would be our final goodbyes. It was also my mom’s 60th birthday, so we wanted to be there for that, too. In spite of the circumstances, it was nice for our whole family (my mom, brothers, sister-in-law, and nephew) to all be together in a mountain house that some family friends very generously lent to us.
We publicly announced our pregnancy later that week on May 30th–our ninth wedding anniversary–right at beginning of my second trimester (almost 14 weeks). That same afternoon, I got the call that Dad was moving into hospice care. It had to be one of the single most emotional days of my life. Just as we were celebrating new life coming with so many friends, colleagues, and family members, another one was ending.
After several days of not eating, Dad peacefully died in his sleep early in the morning of June 2nd, with my mom by his side. We went up to North Carolina the following weekend for Dad’s memorial service, which was held at his childhood church in Greensboro. It was a really beautiful celebration of his life and ministry.
Even with great depths of grief and sadness, Dad’s death brought relief, too. It sounds like such a cliche, but to know he wasn’t suffering anymore brought me a lot of peace. We’d been anticipating his death since we first got the diagnosis more than ten years ago; we just didn’t know when or how it would be. To have that anxiety lifted, especially knowing that he left peacefully, was also a great relief. As incredibly sad as I am that he won’t be physically here to be a grandfather to our child, I am grateful that their lives got to overlap just a little. I’ve included lots of things that remind me of him in the baby’s nursery. I can’t wait to tell our son all about my dad one day.
I would be remiss not to say a big thank you to all of our friends who completely surrounded us with love and support during that time (and brought us delicious meals!). After a rough start, second trimester was generally pretty great. Here are some details on the rest:
I wasn’t sure how traveling would be during pregnancy, but it wasn’t bad at all. I was extra mindful to hydrate before, during, and after flights, and I got compression socks for our trip in August. Other than scaling back some walking (it’s not unusual for us to have 8-10 mile walking days on trips) and hiking, I felt pretty free to carry on as before. Oh, and I skipped out on oysters in Boston and Maine, which was kind of sad. All-in-all, second trimester was a great time to travel!
We already had a vacation planned to Boston and Maine for a week after my dad’s funeral. It turned out to be really beautiful timing for us to have a week away after a hard month, and we got to celebrate Father’s Day just the two of us. We had a weekend to explore Boston and Cambridge before driving up the coast to Northeast Harbor, Maine, where some dear friends got married the following weekend. We loved eating tons of lobster, taking boat rides around Mount Desert Island, and hiking some easy trails in Acadia National Park! The cooler weather up north was very welcome, too, after an extremely hot May in Atlanta. That was the first week Nick said, “wow, you really look pregnant!” (I was 16 weeks.)
At the tail end of second trimester, we planned a “babymoon” in Carmel Valley, California. After having many years of traveling together, it’s sort of surreal that this was our last big vacation as a family of two. (Not that we won’t continue to travel just the two of us, but it’ll be different.) We flew into San Francisco and drove a couple hours down the coast to the Carmel area. We stayed just inland from the Monterey Peninsula in sunny Carmel Valley, at the tranquil Bernardus Lodge & Spa. Our collective wish list for our babymoon was:
- A resort that felt special
- Somewhere relaxing
- Somewhere not too hot that isn’t in a typical hurricane path (!)
- Golf for Nick
- Spa for me
- Good food
We somehow managed to check off our entire wish list after many hours of research. Nick played a couple rounds of golf in Pebble Beach. I spent a couple mornings at the Bernardus spa. We drove down the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur in the Mercedes convertible our resort lent to us. We ate several leisurely meals in Carmel-by-the-Sea. We had perfect, sunny weather (the valley gets a lot more sunshine than the foggy coast) with warm days and cool nights. The air smelled like lavender and jasmine. We slept 8+ hours each night. It was delightful.
We had spent a few days in the Monterey area shortly after Nick’s mom died in 2016, and we loved it! This trip cemented it as one of our very favorite places to visit.
What I ate
The short answer: everything. Around 19 weeks, I was all of a sudden hungrier than I’d ever been. I am generally a many-small-meals kind of person, and then I became a many-not-small-meals person. My hormonal reflux and nausea from first trimester went away, as did any food aversions. I have stayed away from raw meat and fish, but I haven’t been terribly restrictive with food otherwise. Pregnancy food restrictions are a bit of a gray area (I highly recommend reading Expecting Better for a full look at the stats so you can make an informed decision), and my personal cost-benefit analysis weighted toward fewer restrictions. I rarely got sick before pregnancy, I’ve never really had food poisoning, and I’m already very careful about how I source our groceries (largely locally grown/raised and organic). That said, I’m not here to judge others’ decisions around this topic, and I appreciate the same respect in return. I definitely have friends on every part of the pregnancy food restriction spectrum, and I think we’re all doing our best to make the right decisions for ourselves.
I haven’t had many food cravings other than watermelon! Thank goodness it was in season and so delicious this summer!!
Other than getting out of breath more easily, I felt well enough to get back to a regular exercise schedule in second trimester. The heat was probably the biggest limiting factor, so we took fewer walks than usual, but I’ve been staying active with barre, yoga, light weightlifting, and TRX. I was never into super intense exercise (it made me throw up or feel terrible), so my exercise regimen was already pretty well suited to pregnancy. But I did decide to back off from heated power yoga because I suspected the pace and heat wouldn’t mix well with low blood pressure. I stuck with exercises that were already very familiar, which helped me keep a close gage on how my body was feeling.
Pure Barre has definitely been my favorite exercise during pregnancy. I started going back to classes around 11 weeks, once the worst of my nausea passed. I have continued going one to two times per week since. I started by modifying plank positions onto my knees, and later I moved to doing them on the barre. The ab sections are really the only parts that I have to modify much to make sure I’m not overworking my core/lower back. Past 18-20 weeks, I’ve been careful not to lay flat on my back for too long. I was (still am) concerned about my joints handling the extra weight that comes with pregnancy, so I’m really grateful for a pregnancy-friendly workout that strengthens my legs. (FYI, if you’re pregnant, there are good resources about barre modifications online if you google!)
I went to a prenatal yoga class early in second trimester, and I’ve got to tell you–I didn’t love it. The teacher was good, but it felt like such a departure from the yoga practice I knew and loved before pregnancy because it was so heavily modified. I decided to go back to regular, all-levels vinyasa flow classes, and I felt like myself again! Modifications include avoiding deep twists, deep backbends and laying flat on your back; plus I take savasana on my side with a bolster. Again, I was comfortable in the normal classes because I already had a regular yoga practice pre-pregnancy. If that weren’t the case, I’d stick to the prenatal-specific classes. Toward the end of second trimester, my belly started getting in the way a bit more; it hits my thighs during a number of poses (I’m also carrying very low, which makes this worse) and it started to brush the ground during my chaturanga to upward facing dog transition.
I also continued to play golf with Nick! Much to my surprise, my belly didn’t get in the way of my swing, but it did limit the flexibility of my turns. After early summer, I opted for a pushcart instead of carrying my bag because it was too much weight to carry 10-15 pounds on my front AND back.
I definitely felt my body telling me to slow down in the final week or two of second trimester, so I’m interested to see what I’m able to keep up with during the home stretch this fall.
Designing the nursery has been a joy and a labor of love. I started with design inspiration, and then I built out a spreadsheet with a budget and a wish list of items. I’m glad I started early so that I could take my time finding the perfect pieces and some good deals. We’re just waiting on the glider and ottoman to be delivered, and I need to finish painting the “sleeping room.” After that, it’s just finishing touches!
Putting together a baby registry was not something I took lightly. I not only wanted to be mindful of choosing a spectrum of price points, but I also wanted to do my best not to register for junk I don’t need or won’t want. I don’t just buy things, I “source” things, so it’s no surprise that I went down every internet rabbit hole trying to figure out the best products for our little one and our lifestyle. I opted for a registry on Babylist so that I could curate a list of items from all different stores. You can see our registry here to get an idea of what I chose.
Very generous friends threw us two beautiful baby showers: one tea party for my girlfriends and another co-ed party with our church family. We are not only grateful for all of the generous gifts that are helping us prepare for having a baby, but the showers were also incredible reminders of how loved and supported we are. This little boy has an amazing community waiting to surround him!
Expectations vs. Reality
Gaining weight is a weird thing. In most cases, you try to avoid it, but in pregnancy it’s good and necessary. I felt like I was in a pretty good place with my body image pre-pregnancy, and it’s still been a challenge. We don’t have a scale at home, so having to monitor my weight every time I go to the doctor (which is a lot) is strange. I typically would use how I felt as a barometer for wellbeing, but that doesn’t work in quite the same way anymore. I gained less weight early in my pregnancy than I expected, which helped relieve some of my fears about the discomfort that might come with carrying extra pounds for many months. I’m not really sure what I expected in regard to weight gain, but it is wild to see my body change week-by-week. Nick is very good about reminding me “there’s a baby in there!” anytime I make a comment about my body.
Feeling the baby kick was something I really looked forward to. I was lucky to feel fetal movement very early in my second trimester–those fluttery feelings called “quickening.” By the halfway point at 20 weeks, his little bones were starting to calcify (from rubbery cartilage to actual bones), and the kicks became much more distinct. Nick was finally able to feel kicks from the outside around 21-22 weeks, which was really exciting! What I didn’t expect was how intense the kicking could be. I don’t know if this little fella is doing river dances or jumping jacks or kickboxing, but he is SO active. I really haven’t gotten used to it, and it still startles me multiple times a day. I love being able to feel him in there–it makes it all so much more real. But it really isn’t what I expected. Now that I think about it, his little arm nubs were just flapping away at our 9 week confirmation ultrasound, so maybe I should’ve seen this high activity level coming…
I’ve seen too many ultrasound photos posted online to count, but it is a different experience to see your own. My reaction to our 9 and 12 week ultrasounds was mostly relief; the thought of more loss in our lives was too much, so seeing a healthy baby was all that mattered. The 20 week anatomy scan was pretty amazing, but in different ways than I thought. It wasn’t as emotional in a bonding way–partly because our child wouldn’t let us see a nice profile view of his face (instead we got this creepy, skeletal-looking direct shot). But I was so amazed by all of the anatomy! Having studied anatomy in school and grown up with biology teacher mother, I loved getting to see all of the different parts and systems. I was blown away that this tiny creature already had four chambers of his heart and renal arteries pumping blood through his kidneys, and I was in awe that my body was making that!!
My parting thought on second trimester is that pregnancy is a wild psychological ride. So many times I’ve thought or said, “I can’t believe we’re having a baby!” Having a human being inside of your body is pretty bizarre when you think about it. It’s amazing, of course, but it’s also weird. Our life is about to change in so many ways, and as second trimester came to an end, those changes started to feel much closer. Nine months is a long time, and I can’t believe we’re in the final stretch (literally)!
A few things
What I read: Expecting Better
My prenatal vitamins: Garden of Life – Organic Gummy Vitamins
What I’m planning: hospital bag(s), baby announcements
What I’m looking forward to next trimester: cooler weather
In case you missed it: First Trimester Pregnancy Journal
Bumpdate from the nursery:
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