136 days until due date
For all of you mamas out there who struggled with the first trimester, please take solace in the fact that there are happier, funner, fatter and easier times ahead! At almost twenty-one weeks I feel like I have finally (kinda’ sorta’) gotten used to the second trimester and the whole being pregnant thing. I am sleeping deeper than I have slept in years and have been laughing more this last fortnight than I have done this entire year. Even those total ‘pregnant moments’ (for example, the other night while Pete and I were watching Breaking Bad I started crying when Jesse got beat up and then it turned into me crying about how much I love our child already, all the while I was chewing the Singapore Noodles that I had made us for dinner) haven’t bothered me, in fact, I found myself laughing at them too.
Mentally, this trimester has been significantly different and easier than the first. I was so irrational and easily triggered for the first few months, and yes while I am still sometimes easily triggered (Pete dropped a bowl of crumbs on our freshly vacuumed floor two nights ago and I cried) the reaction is momentary and light-hearted. Pete and I laugh about what makes me laugh all the time now. We will be sitting in contented silence when he will look across to me and find me weeping. An affectionate smile always appears immediately after and he asks me what’s wrong and then I laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Physically, this trimester is significantly more demanding and very different to those initial months. Obviously, I have gained weight in my stomach so I am heavier and everything is just that little bit harder. But also, with the baby now as big as it is, what I have found the most challenging is the shortness of breath. With bubba now encroaching on my lungs, I have been told to expect some difficulty when it comes to breathing (swell). This is so real, people. Walking up the stairs leaves me almost wheezing, sometimes even just telling a story a bit too enthusiastically will see me then spending the next three minutes trying to catch my breath. Hand in hand with that, my heart beat can also be irregular. I flagged this at my last hospital appointment and I am assured that it was nothing to fret about; I was instructed to just slow down, take some deep breaths and wait until the feeling passed.
Other than that, and like I mentioned in my previous post about this pregnancy, is that it has been really interesting getting to know my body in a way that I never have before. I am having to move so differently and it has been a really big lesson for me to listen to my body. I realise how wanky that sentence sounds, “listen to your body,” but I cannot think of a better way to put it. Prior to falling pregnant I was constantly on the go, so much so that I never realised I had pushed my body too far until I got sick or felt so fatigued that I simply could not get out of bed. I can’t do that anymore. When I am tired I absolutely know it. Over the weekend when we were doing things around the house, it got to a point where I said to Pete, “I actually need to stop and rest now.” My back was aching, my legs were sore and extremely tired, my feet hurt and I started to get light-headed. So I took myself off for a hot shower, propped myself up on the lounge with pillows and read for an hour and a bit. Being pregnant has been pivotal in teaching me just how important listening to what your body’s needs are, and that rest and relaxation are just as vital as working hard and being productive. Balance people, balance.
This is also the most exciting time of the pregnancy so far, for me anyway. Every day I get a physical reminder that our bubba is there and growing and happy and kicking. Of a morning when I wake up in bed, so does bub. In those few minutes before I get up and shower, I lie there with my hand on my belly and spend the first moments of my day just me and bub and it has very quickly become my favourite part of the day. Then again, after I have my morning coffee and am reading before work, bub is so completely and wonderfully active. Then every now and then throughout the day I will be typing away and I get a little kick and a smile inevitably appears on my face and it just doesn’t get old, no matter how many kicks happen. And then after dinner when Pete and I are settled for the night and bub can hear our voices, all the kicks happen and it really is as if we are already a family relaxing on the lounge together (animals inclusive). I can in no way speak on behalf of all pregnant women everywhere, but the happiness that I have felt this trimester as I feel bubba more and more is nothing short of magical. It is a happiness that I didn’t know existed, and certainly one that I never thought I would feel. It is pure joy and love and it is not something I think I will ever forget.
If you know me (and you all should by now), you know that I love a list, I live for a list. So here are my tips and tricks for getting the most out of the second trimester, or more aptly, here is a list of things that I have been doing that have made for a truly enjoyable second trimester thus far:
Everything is going to feel foreign, so immerse yourself in something that grounds you and brings YOU back to YOU
For me, this is revisiting old television shows like Kath and Kim and Summer Heights High and yes, okay fine, occasionally a Spy Kids movie. Even when you are doing everyday normal things, doing them pregnant is a completely different experience and sometimes, this can be overwhelming. It’s wonderful and miraculous and all of that, but it can also feel really alien. One minute you are making your favourite dinner, and the next you are realising that in four months time you will be doing that exact thing but there will be a tiny human in your life that depends on you and that you are responsible for etc. etc. You are currently lending your entire body, being and life to someone else so yeah, there are going to be moments where you feel completely not yourself. Buy yourself your favourite flowers, watch your favourite television shows, visit your favourite cafe and read the paper – put aside some time to do something that you love and that fills you with familiarity and warmth. And then rub your belly because you are glorious.
To help with sleeping, prop yourself on your side with a pillow on either side of you (or a pillow on one side and your partner on the other) to avoid rolling onto your belly
I have mentioned time and time again how much of a troubled sleeper I am. NO MORE! I have finally figured out the perfect sleeping scenario for me and I’ll tell you what, I am a new woman. SLEEP IS GLORIOUS. People will tell you to buy one of the official pregnancy pillows but seriously, don’t waste your money. Regular pillows work the exact same. What was previously waking me up in the night was that I would fall asleep on my side and then inevitably roll onto my stomach and then wake myself up because it hurts and trust me, this will be a thing for all pregnant women. So at the moment I have a pillow on the edge of the bed that wedges me up against Pete thus inhibiting me to roll over. I’m like a fat little burrito with nowhere to go and I have had the deepest sleeps of my life the past week. I still turn during the night, but I just go from spooning Pete to spooning the pillow and same same – happy, pregnant, sleeping Leah. If you are a single mama, surround yourself with all the pillows and be the meat in a wonderful pillow sandwich.
Talk about sex and intimacy with you partner
No meme for this one. This one is important. (So are the other points, but this one is not meme-appropriate). Your hormones will chop and change with each new day of your pregnancy. They (everyone online) says that your sex drive will increase in the second trimester, but I found that my sex drive was in overdrive the entire first trimester. So you know, each to their own. Okay but seriously, sex and intimacy during pregnancy is something that needs to be able to be discussed openly, with patience and understanding. This is going to be one of those things that really depends on the mama-to-be, but for me, I have never felt more feminine than I do now. My hormones are scooting all over the place and sharing this experience with someone that I love only makes me want to be even closer to him. Everything does feel different – I am bigger and heavier and my body does not look the same and although I feel feminine and happy and wonderful, there have been nights where I feel completely undesirable. In the past I would have let that fester, but I have been trying to go easy on myself, so instead I simply mention how I am feeling, tell Pete that I don’t need him to respond or anything like that, I just need to air my emotionally driven feelings and concerns and then we hug and it’s all okay.
There are no rules of how to approach the intimate side of a relationship and a pregnancy because it differs between each and every couple. I have found advice out there for women whose partners feel uncomfortable and refuse to have sex with them for the entire pregnancy because it makes them feel weird. Other couples may find that they have more sex and really capitalise on that surge in libido. There are no blanket rules but what I do know is that open communication and honesty and really expressing ones needs to their partner is absolutely essential in any relationship. I often find myself in a really confused headspace and I get stuck in the trap of, “I should be doing this and we, as a couple, should be experiencing this” and it was quite a dangerous thought pattern for a while. All I have read is that libido is meant to spike around this time, but I have actually been incredibly tired due to extenuating circumstances like the fact that we just moved house. I have felt like I am in the wrong and that there is something wrong with me because NOW IS WHEN WE SHOULD BE CONSUMMATING MORE THAN EVER. I, once again, have had to listen to my body and simply voice whatever it is that I am feeling, wanting and needing.
Let me say this again: there are no rules when it comes to sex and intimacy, and please do not take online advice (except mine because it’s honest and real, obviously) because you will inevitably end up comparing your reality with that of so many others. Let your hormones and your body tell you what it wants and craves and needs whether that is sleep, sex, cuddles or pizza.
Eat small meals, often
Best. Eating as a pregnant woman is great. You actually get hungry WHILE you eat and it is just all very wonderful. Funnily enough, I have been eating the best and healthiest I have ever eaten because I feel responsible and I want to be a good mum already. I do indulge myself when I am craving chips or biscuits (lollies and chocolate have not entered the equation the entire pregnancy which is odd) and do enjoy a fat burger, but on the whole I have been drawn to eating a lot of fruit, chicken and greens. Eating smaller meals more often throughout the day is definitely one of the more important tips and suggestions that I have. There have been nights here and there where I have had a huge dinner and it does not go down well – literally. Heartburn, real. Indigestion, real. Bloating, real. Feeling generally obese and uncomfortable, real. I am the biggest carb fiend you will find and I love pasta and bread as much as the next person, but I have had a lot more energy on the days where I eat more protein-rich food than if I eat starchy food. Eating smaller meals from the get go will also help with morning sickness (trust me) and will also help further down the track when bub starts squashing your stomach (glorious). Keeping your metabolism working constantly through the day will also keep your bowels happy
Ask your partner (or friend or family member) for whatever it is that you need
It doesn’t matter how much, or how often, or in what way you describe your pregnancy, unless you are talking to someone who has experienced it you can safely assume that whoever you are talking to will not grasp what you are feeling to the extent that you are feeling it. As a thing, I think that we – as humans – can sometimes really struggle asserting when we need something without feeling guilty or undeserving. Pregnancy will really challenge that. I am the last person to ask someone for help, and I am even worse when it comes to asking a partner for something (like help around the house, or a foot rub, or a back rub, or a neck rub, etc. etc.). The other night I learned how valuable it is to be comfortable with voicing what you need and actually allowing yourself to be looked after by another. There is one point in my back (in the middle of my left rib cage) that has flared up throughout my entire pregnancy (pretty sure it has something to do with the weight of my boobs and the fact that I am carrying quite low). On Saturday after I had spent about an hour moving books from one end of the house to the other, the knot flared up to the point where I had to stop and lie down – and as the night went on the pain did not recede. I eventually asked Pete if he could rub my back and without hesitation he massaged my back, and massaged, and massaged, and massaged until the knot was gone. It completely changed my mood, it relieved and relaxed my entire body and it brought Pete and I closer in those moments; it involved him in the pregnancy.
Listen to you body
Like I have mentioned throughout these points, your body is going to dictate a lot (all) of this period in your life. You will have to adapt quickly and fluidly and you will be restricted in ways that you hadn’t even anticipated (like how awkward it becomes to shave in the shower when you can’t bend properly). I cannot, CANNOT stress how important is to completely surrender to whatever it is your body needs. If you are tired, NAP because who knows what kind of nights sleep awaits you. If you don’t have the energy to drive to your friend’s place like you had planned, reschedule or ask if they can come to you. If you need to lie down, lie down. And through all of this, do not feel guilty or like you should be doing something else. That was a big one for me to learn, how to press pause and not feel bad about it. Instead of getting up straight away on the weekend, stay in bed and enjoy being horizontal or make a tea or read. Take a shower for just a little bit longer than usual, or buy some epson salts and have a bath with candles. For me it came down to accepting the fact that I simply can’t do the same things as I could when I wasn’t pregnant, which took a few weeks of getting used to. I have reached a place now where I have become really good at telling people what I need to do for myself and saying no to things, which sounds like a negative thing but it is actually really reaffirming and important.
Does this really need an explanation? Didn’t think so.