Finally, the home stretch. I heard that second trimester is the best, and for me that was true. Third trimester brought with it a lot of new aches and pains, but it also got us closer to meeting our baby. All-in-all, I think I had a relatively easy pregnancy. However, growing a human (plus an entire new organ) is still a long, tiring affair. I’m so grateful that I had a supportive partner and family, great medical care, and all the resources I needed for welcoming a child into the world. None of that is a given, and I am so thankful for those privileges. Here are some details on how third trimester went for me:
After a very active second trimester, my body started telling me to slow down right as I entered third trimester. I kept going to barre and (regular) yoga for the first several weeks, but I decided to retire from those classes after I hit about 7 months or so. As I’ve said before, both of those types of workouts are ones I was very familiar and comfortable with pre-pregnancy, so I was able to continue them well into pregnancy. I think it’s probably very different for each person as to when they need to stop particular activities, and I decided the best route was to listen to my body as best I could.
I’ve had a nagging groin pain for months (from my pelvis loosening), and it was getting greatly exacerbated during barre classes. Between that and the added difficulty from weight gain (those pulses burned so much more!), my recovery times after classes got much longer. I didn’t think it was worth being wrecked for a day after a barre class, so I decided to hang up my sticky socks for a while. Yoga wasn’t quite as intense on my body, but my belly was physically getting in the way of many poses and movements. I had been modifying a number of poses, but at a point, it became cumbersome to have to modify almost everything. I did go back to prenatal yoga, which I liked much more at the point my body didn’t move well (I found it too limited earlier in second trimester).
Had it not been a million degrees into October, I probably would’ve gone on more walks. Instead, I switched to a shorter, air conditioned routine of gym workouts: mostly TRX, light weights, and an elliptical. I actually rode an elliptical about 24 hours before the baby decided to come out!
How I felt
Physically, third trimester kept getting more and more uncomfortable, as expected. My weight gain picked up significantly between months 7 and 8, which took a toll on my back and feet. With an increasingly large belly, finding comfortable positions (both standing and sitting) became more difficult. Fortunately, I have a great chiropractor who’s helped me stay aligned. Aside from an hour here or there of insomnia, I was fortunate to still sleep well (which I’m convinced was due to sheer physical exhaustion). I didn’t fly in third trimester, but I did go on a couple of 5+ hour road trips, which were physically taxing. After my early October trip to North Carolina for my friend Emily’s baby shower (at 32 weeks), I stayed in Atlanta.
The kicks I was looking forward to feeling in second trimester kept getting more intense in third trimester. I had a very active fetus! The strength of the kicks was probably strongest at 28-31 weeks or so, and they could be quite startling. As he ran out of space after that, I felt other movements more. Hiccups, rolling around, and stretching all became frequent feelings. Because I carried low, I got a lot more thumps in my hip bones than my ribs. It’s sort of bizarre, really, to have a human being squirming around inside of you. I also got to experience a really fun phenomenon called “lightning crotch” where my child head-butted me in the pelvic nerves, causing sharp pains to run down my inner thighs. Really fun, I tell ya. Oh, and my hands, feet, and ankles really started to swell in the last month. That’s totally normal, but I underestimated how few of my shoes would still comfortably fit.
Mentally, I think third trimester allowed me to start envisioning the end of this journey. I actively tried not to wish pregnancy away, so I didn’t think or worry much about labor and delivery earlier on. As the months turned into a single-digit number of weeks remaining, it all started to feel more real. It’s been just the two of us for so long now (12+ years as a couple, and 9.5 years married). It’s exciting but a little scary to be inviting a new person into our family–a person we don’t even know yet! We’ve enjoyed talking about what life, travel, and education will look like as a family of three. For me, it was best to wait until the last few weeks to really spend much mental energy preparing for actually getting the kid out. I didn’t figure there was much use getting worked up about labor before then. Speaking of preparing…
Pregnancy is full of preparations. As a type-A person, I found spreadsheets rather comforting. I started with a nursery budget and wishlist. Then I had spreadsheets for my baby showers. And my last trimester meant a spreadsheet for my hospital packing list. Although I wasn’t terribly anxious about pregnancy and childbirth, each to-do completed was still comforting.
I had my hospital bags mostly packed by 32 weeks or so. I kept a list of “same day” items to grab (for things we use daily and couldn’t pack ahead) on a piece of paper next to the bags. My friend Carly gave me the great tip of using packing cubes (which I love for travel!) to organize our things. I packed cubes of clothes for me, for Nick, and for baby. I had a cube for postpartum care items (Depends, a peri bottle, nipple balm and pads, etc.), a cube for toiletries, and a cube for all the other stuff like magazines, chargers, and snacks. I’ll write a separate post later about my hospital bag and what we found most useful.
I worked on the nursery for months, and the final details took a while to finish, but I am so happy with the way it came together! You can see the full tour here.
Other baby-specific preparations included washing and folding all of the tiny baby clothes (I use the 365 baby detergent from Whole Foods), installing the car seat, and sterilizing all of our pacifiers, bottles, and pump parts (I chose the Medela Pump In Style from the list of pumps our insurance provider covers). We also drafted a will to include a child, updated our budget allocations for baby-related expenses, and took a tour of our hospital’s maternity ward.
We chose not to do a childbirth class. I think it’s an individual decision based on what you think will be helpful. Again, I wasn’t terribly nervous about the whole ordeal (I’m not 100% sure why, but I thank God for the lack of anxiety often!). I spent plenty of time reading about pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum care, breastfeeding, and life with a newborn, so there was no lack of education on my part. But the thought of giving up one of our precious Saturdays for a class wasn’t worth it to us (especially with Nick working like a crazy person due to trial prep).
In my final weeks of pregnancy, I found that nesting meant getting our house in order. I finally had the motivation to knock out some long-avoided projects like organizing closets or cabinets. I also tried to have as much laundry done and as many dishes put away as possible; due to my heavy use of the kitchen, I’m not usually great about keeping it clean. I was also mindful to freeze meals throughout the fall. If I made a pot of soup for dinner, I’d put a quart of it in the freezer. I’d sweep, vacuum, and straighten rooms when I had the energy. Each tidy, organized room brought a sigh of relief during a time filled with a lot of unknown.
We also went on several double dates with friends and had a little staycation (Nick had a work conference in town that put us up at the Four Seasons!). It was really nice to soak in the last few weekends of quiet time together.
Oh, and I bought us matching family Christmas pajamas.
Thoughts on grief & pregnancy
Grief is a weird thing in general, but pregnancy adds a whole new dimension to it. The prospect of actually adding to our family instead of losing someone brought a lot of comfort. And losing my dad during pregnancy gave me a lot of perspective on what really matters. Dealing with parental loss twice in the past three years taught us that we can handle a lot emotionally. I was at ease knowing that if something went with this pregnancy, our marriage could handle it. That’s not to say I didn’t pray often that everything would go well, nor that losing a baby wouldn’t be devastating. I hoped that God’s plan for us and this child gave us a reprieve from pain.
As we got closer to actually having the baby, the reality of my dad and Nick’s mom not being here solidified. It’s almost like the idea of them not getting to be grandparents to our child isn’t true until there’s a child. We recognized the third anniversary of Penny’s death on October 4th with a visit to the church where her ashes are, and the 6-month mark of my dad’s death will be December 2nd, presumably just days after I give birth. We’ve been intentional to weave pieces of them into the nursery–my dad’s sock monkey, a “lucky penny” tin we got in London, and a watercolor of a Micah 6:8, a Bible verse that was read at both of their funerals. I look forward to telling our son all about his grandparents in heaven.
That’s just my experience with grief, but I’ve seen the ways pregnancy and children can cause grief in others. Whether it’s grief from estranged parents, the grief of an unhappy childhood, or the grief of not being able to have children, there are so many ways it can pop up. For me, the best lesson is that grief doesn’t have to be the only emotion; it can coexist with joy, expectation, and happiness. Being joyful doesn’t mean I miss my dad any less. In fact, he’d want me to fully embrace this season. (He always said that the most beautiful thing in the world is a pregnant woman!) On a recent re-watch of one of our favorite TV shows, The Wire, a line from the character Bubbles caught my attention: “ain’t no shame in holdin’ onto grief, as long as you make room for other things, too.”
Lastly, I’ll leave you with a couple of bumpdate photos. I took the last one about 24 hours before giving birth!
A few things
My prenatal vitamins: Garden of Life – Organic Gummy Vitamins
What I’m planning: baby announcements / Christmas cards (lol, still hasn’t happened as of March 10th)
What I’m looking forward to: meeting our baby and not being pregnant!