Well, after over a month of procrastination, I am finally writing my second trimester post. Given I am entering my 32nd week tomorrow (and the majority of resources say the second trimester starts around week 13 and ends around week 27), it seems I am a tad late! And while we are on the topic of counting weeks, I’d like to make a slightly tangential side note: You won’t truly appreciate how confusing this whole “pregnant for 9 months but really it is 40 weeks” thing really is, with respect to figuring out where exactly you are in the pregnancy (i.e. trimester system), until you are actually pregnant. But that is neither here nor there, I suppose.
I have to say that, overall, the second trimester treated me well. I’ve tried to once again recap my symptoms and general experience(s) by weeks, and let’s face it, with my seemingly steady decline in brain function, things that happened only a few weeks ago now seem like distant memories. Hence, I am happy I decided to jot down notes in my iPhone every so often over the past few months.
Throughout the second trimester, I have continued to try and keep my family in Vancouver “posted” so to speak, by sending them biweekly or biweekly updates with a picture of the bump (yes, I finally have one! It only took 22 weeks, more than half of the pregnancy, to “pop” … but alas!) Having said that, I thought I could/would/should post a few of the belly photos below. Please don’t mind the naked tummy. I figure not only might this be helpful to preggos out there who are wanting to compare their bump (like I obsessively did in the first 20 weeks) but also, thought this little exercise might be good practice for the act of being “on display,” as rumour has it there may be a little bit of show and tell during and after labour. That said, I certainly have my doubts that posting belly photos on a blog will prepare me for whipping out a breast in the middle of lunch at a busy restaurant. But again, I digress.
Weeks 13-14: No significant changes from the first trimester in terms of cravings – still obsessed with anything in sandwich form (especially Tim Horton’s), pasta, and bread bread breaaaad! One noticeable improvement was the decrease in fatigue and virtually no bouts of nausea. At this point, I was definitely wearing maternity pants (not that I looked pregnant, just “thick” and wider and bloated. In other words, the epitome of sexy). My stomach remained distinctly different from the cute baby belly I’d envisioned. In other words: two soft, separate rolls of flesh/fat, which were not hardened, round or cute in any way. In spite of this, I did experience a very exciting moment of much desired external validation during this two week period – I had a client’s wife call me out on being pregnant, which completely surprised me. I guess my stomach distended more than usual and I was wearing a tight-ish shirt and standing sideways. Also, she knew we had just bought a house. As I left the visit, she smirked and asked me “So, a house, eh? Is a baby next? *diverting gaze to my belly*” I congratulated her on being so ballsy (not in those words) and I think she gained satisfaction from being the first person to guess.
One other thing I noticed at the beginning of the second trimester was that suddenly, I didn’t have to get up to pee quite as often at night… and I had fewer if any migraines or nosebleeds. Things seemed to be on the up and up overall! The picture below is of me at 13 weeks.
Week 15 – 17: At 16w1day I had my IPS (Integrated Prenatal Screening) and it came back with results that indicated we had a 1/70,000 chance of having a child with chromosomal abnormalities (for my age, it should apparently be closer to 1/1000 so I was pleased with this). I was also able to hear the baby’s heart beat and the sound of her moving around at my 20 week OB appointment, which was comforting and yet strange (i.e. there’s a little creature in there, hanging out and squirming about and I can’t even feel anything!). That week I noticed a few physical changes, some of which I will not explain in great detail (related to the passage of food through the intestines, or rather – the slowing of this process ;). I also noticed becoming more easily out of breath just from walking (I’m talking on the flat, let alone up a hill). I needed a nap here or there but was not nearly as fatigued as the first trimester. I also received the best care package ever, from my thoughtful sister, full of hilarious sticky notes and heart-warming cards, along with very practical and sweet gifts (e.g. baby oil, wash cloths, infant utensils, etc.). Early on in my 16th week, I had another client make an (again very risky) assumption and ask me point blank if there was a baby in “there”. I wish I could have said “no, I just have a food baby from binging on chicken wings” however I just didn’t have it in me. Instead, I blushed profusely and told her she was a daring and astute woman (especially because she’d said this in front of a vendor with whom I was not overly familiar).
With respect to exercising in the first 4 weeks of the second trimester, I would venture to say I did a total of 6x at home (10-15 min) fitness videos (links on youtube), 9 yoga classes, and 30 minute walks a few days a week. I remained largely unable to adhere to any sort of a routine and it still felt like I was “dragging” around; any extra energy I had did not seem to be going towards structured exercise, let’s put it that way! Between week 15-16 I was on a roll with my yoga classes (maybe it was the unlimited 30 class pass I bought), and then things kind of fell off again after that time.
I noticed indigestion intensified at this point in time, and no matter what I was eating (heavy/spicy or bland and comforting) I was getting heart-burn, especially noticeable when I bent forward (e.g. to put on my shoes at a client’s home) or lay flat. Pictured below is me at week 15 and again at week 17.
Week 18-21: This period was a busy one! We were relocating from an apartment downtown to our first house in the suburbs! Super exciting, but also understandably tiring. I would have to say though, of any time in a pregnancy to move, this may be the best because I feel like I had relatively more energy than in the first trimester, and was not quite as limited with my movements or easily out of breath as in the third trimester (i.e. pelvic pain, belly getting in the way, etc.). I think I really started showing around week 20 – even though I could still very easily pass as not pregnant depending on my attire. If I wore something fitted, I did have a bit more of a pronounced and rounded pot-belly happening …. FINALLY!
I also remember around week 19 starting to eat even more than I already was (which is hard to believe). One day I tracked my food just for interest and I was averaging around 2600 calories a day (in my reading, that is a lot more than I needed, and I have to admit I wasn’t always hungry; I just seemed to enjoy eating more that ever!).
At week 20, Ryan and I got to find out the gender of our little bun, which was SUCH an exciting moment. The ultrasound at that time is technically meant to assess the baby’s health and physical development (i.e. brain, spinal cord, internal organs, size). Apparently it is a perk if you are able to tell whether you are having a boy or a girl (because unless baby has his/her legs open it can be hard to tell!) We found out we were having a girl … and I have to say, I had a strong feeling from about week 16 even though prior to that I had thought we were having a boy. We were both elated and it made the whole thing feel more “real” to see this very human-like creature on the ultrasound, including photos of the feet, head, face, etc. A difficult moment to beat … And now we could decide on a name and call HER “her” instead of “it” or “baby” 🙂
Around week 21 I got a bit of a rash (bumps, itching) which eventually subsided and also my right leg started to get restless (at night). I’d never experienced restless legs before and I have to say, it is something else! So pronounced and uncomfortable! I think I also got some mild numbness/tingling in my left wrist (carpal tunnel-like) that week (odd because I am right-handed) which I noticed mostly while typing. I also recall the night-time peeing to have increased again … Unfortunately. The first photo is me at 19 weeks, the second is me at 20 weeks and the third, at 21 weeks.
Week 22-23: This was the period in my pregnancy wherein I was fortunate enough to go “home” and visit with my family! It was overwhelmingly exciting to visit with my parents and sister, as well as my brother en route in Calgary. The last time we had all seen each other was in April in L.A for our cousin’s wedding and as it turns out, this trip took place just a few weeks before baby was conceived … so I definitely enjoyed a few drinks!
Right before Vancouver, I started to feel what I could definitely tell were baby movements (as opposed to the “fluttering” in the weeks prior that was really hard to discern from gas bubbles or stomach rumbling). I also recall having a few dreams about parenthood (or, rather, night-mares. I never seem to have good dreams – I’ve always had an overactive and highly disturbed night-mind … just like my Papa. Thanks, Papa, for passing that gem of a quality on to me ;). I thoroughly enjoyed the quality time spent with some of the most important people in my lives. In terms of cravings, all I wanted was ice-cream and grapes and pie. Oh, and every other morsel of food under the sun. But those specifically.
Week 24-25: During these few weeks I noticed a lot more indigestion, as well as hot flashes at night (when sitting up or lying in bed) as well as difficulty breathing when reclined in bed as well. I suppose baby girl was situated higher up or squishing into the diaphragm? I wasn’t noticeably warmer during the day (too bad, given I have notoriously terrible circulation – Raynaud’s – so had hoped pregnancy would help alleviate this!) There was definitely more kicking – nothing painful, just very noticeable. She seemed to enjoy sitting on my bladder during the day, and so the frequency of daytime urination was through the roof (and remains so to this day). I’m talking every hour or sometimes every 15-20 minutes, depending. Around week 25 was also when I had to do my first glucose fasting test (pre-screening for gestational diabetes, which everyone has to do). You drink an overly sugary drink and then wait an hour and have your blood sugar level tested. I failed, unfortunately, which can be related to what you have eaten earlier that day (as it’s not a fasting test). But since I am writing this a month or so late, I can say that I ended up passing the second test (which is 2-hours long and done after at least 10 hours of fasting) so I do not have GD! I have to say I was pretty worried for a few weeks, and most especially about the risk of growing a very large baby (which is a common concern with GD) but all is well! While I watched my sugar intake for a few days prior to the test and after, once I found out I was in the clear I let go of the reins and let my cravings take control again 😉
Week 26-27: In these weeks, I remember being really excited to actually see my belly move! No one can quite prepare you for that, and it was also a nice bonus to get validation from my husband because I swear to god every time I’d taken his hand to place it on the belly movement prior (this was when you could only feel, but not see anything) she would swiftly stop moving OR she would and he wouldn’t feel it (maybe those burly man hands are not as sensitive to movement? Or perhaps it was the distraction of football that was usually on TV when I plopped down beside him and grabbed his hand without permission, stuffing it under my shirt or into my over-sized and high-waisted pants).
I don’t think I quite understood “cravings” per se – fully – until becoming pregnant. I always heard women talk about how they couldn’t get enough of “____ food item” (usually chocolate, if we are going with the cliches) right before their time of the month. I never really remembering experiencing that. Maybe because the birth control pill tends to taper everything and reduce the extent of hormonal fluctuations … maybe it’s because if I did crave something it was usually more of a cerebral (i.e. can’t get it off my mind because I keep smelling or seeing something that reminds me of that food) or emotional (i.e. I am tired/happy/sad/anxious, therefor I want “_____”) craving. Usually wings or french fries or sushi; in other words, savory food. The pregnancy craving experience is totally different, in my opinion. It’s like you may not even be thinking about food (because sometimes you aren’t thinking at all because it takes too much energy) yet you find yourself standing in the kitchen at 816am for the third day in a row eating Breyer’s Vanilla ice-cream because it just needs to be done. Or making a dessert for a get together specifically because you need to serve it with ice-cream and therefor you need to buy ice-cream. Or you find yourself making fudge on a Sunday night (when you don’t really like fudge, and have never bought – let alone made – it). It’s just this insane hankering. I am someone who doesn’t normally reach for the creamy yogurt, ice-cream or chocolate bars. And yet, pregnancy has turned me into a sugar-loving feind! Carbs in general. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t think I’ve had as much bread or as many sandwiches in a year-long period as I’ve had in the last several months. Everyone’s experience is different I’m sure, but for me … Pregnancy has definitely steered me away from my usual vegetable-loving ways. I am not turned off per se, but definitely don’t crave a black and blue salad with pecans or an asian stirfry with vegetables the same way I used to. We will see what the third trimester holds!
YOUR BODY IS NO LONGER YOURS
What else can I say? It’s like you are slowly being taken over by some foreign creature and you just never quite know what to expect when you wake-up in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror. One day, you feel something moving inside your belly. The next day, you can no longer see your feet (well, maybe it’s a little more gradual than that). One day, you are able to walk around and talk on the phone like it ain’t no thang and the next you feel like you’re going to have a heart attack after walking up a slightly inclined hill at a snail’s pace. One day, you wake up worrying that the pregnancy is just a dream, and the next, you find yourself basking in the indulgence of two baby showers where you – of all people – are the guest of honour. One day, you can push through any deadline with a bit of coffee and the next you are fully prepared to poke yourself in the eye just to get through the 15 minute drive home without passing out. Ultimately … You really have to let go of needing control and get rid of the expectation that you can anticipate how things will go, because it is virtually impossible! It’s kind of refreshing to just “let go” and see what happens. It’s liberating, albeit frightening at times. And on that note, I think it can be quite the experience for your partner. My husband has been extremely supportive and complimentary throughout the pregnancy (i.e. You don’t look tired at all! I think you look more beautiful than ever! Yes, I see the bump! No, it doesn’t look like fat rolls!). In other words, textbook A-plus husband behavior 😉 However, nearing the third trimester, he – though still complimentary and sweet – started to voice his own curiosity and disbelief in just how much the body could change. He was the one who, one morning as I was pulling up my maternity pants (almost to bra-level, of course) said – “your body isn’t yours anymore!” I wasn’t offended, I appreciated his honesty. It’s just weird. The whole thing is weird. Weird and wonderful!
So here I am … onwards and upwards into the last trimester!!! I am SO excited to be working on the nursery, focusing some of my extra energy on nesting (a whole topic in and of itself) and wrapping up work, slowly but surely. We are now in the home stretch … And there is certainly no shortage of emotions and to-do’s! I will update once I get to 40 weeks, assuming I am not in active labour. On that note, I have a feeling little miss will be arriving early, even though I am not looking remotely “ready to pop”. I just have a sense … All I can hope for is that she doesn’t make her entrance too early (or too late) and that she is healthy … but again, nothing I really have control over. Must. Let. Go.