Today I hit the third trimester!! (Well, by most calculations...why is it so hard to nail down a clear answer?) I've heard everything from "the last trimester just FLIES by" to "Oh my god it drags on forever." So we'll see I guess. My mood vacillates given on the moment. Somedays I am like a kid at Christmas time and literally cannot wait for the day to get here. Other days I am in shock about how much everything is going to change and I am perfectly fine with waiting.
In honor of starting a new trimester I am going to do a review of the second trimester, just like I did for the first. But I promise this won't drag on into two posts like I did with the first trimester because, frankly, the second trimester is so much easier and better than the first! At least, it was for me.
So here we go...
Emotions. My emotions played a huge role in the first trimester. Without getting into all of that again, let's just say it was awful. In the second? Well, aside from one pure week of hell surrounding our Mexico incident, I've been as close to rainbows and cupcakes as you can get while pregnant. In other words, I've been happy! It's great to walk around being pregnant and feeling good. I don't think I've had major mood swings (maybe ask people around me) and overall I've felt pretty stable. Not too anxious, not too stressed, and pretty much even keel. Now, I've had my days...but those happen even when we're not pregnant, right?
Movement I started feeling movement consistently and strongly right around 19 weeks. Before that it was weird little burbles that left me asking, "Was that....?" After 19 weeks it continued to build until I was able to discern his patterns and pick out the places I usually can feel him. I have been a bit more stressed about movement as I've moved farther on because you start hearing about these frightening things called "kick counts." Just another way to torture ourselves I think. I've noticed that every two days or so he goes through quieter periods where we doesn't move as much for 1-2 days and when he does move, its a deeper, thrumming movement somewhere inside my pelvis. Then he pops out and goes back to kicking my side. My theory is that this is because of my anterior placenta and those quieter days are when he's hiding out back there. I still haven't had any kicks that actually hurt or are uncomfortable in any way. Either that's also placenta-related, or he's just a polite guy. Sometimes they do interrupt my sentences though and then I just look at my belly and smile like an idiot. Lastly, I should say one of my favorite things he does is that, during my therapy sessions, he likes to click my right elbow as it rests on my stomach. It's like a secret conversation that no one else knows is happening.
Braxton Hicks. Not sure exactly when these started, but I do remember having them right after the Mexico incident (19-20 weeks) because I was terrified that they were signs of preterm labor. Now, I think they were stress-induced, because they then subsided for a long time and started up again a few weeks ago. Now I notice them on days when I'm tired, been on my feet a lot, or just need a break. They feel like a hard, tightening feeling running across my lower belly. Sometimes I can even feel a ridge along my stomach. Drinking water doesn't seem to help too much, but getting up and walking around seems to make it go away. So does peeing.
Speaking of peeing.... I'm sure I don't need to explain to anyone (pregnant or not), that this becomes a huge part of my life. Now, earlier in the pregnancy I was definitely peeing more often. But now, it's not just more often, but it's so much more intense. As in, I need to go RIGHT NOW or my stomach may split open. Ow. And then, you go, and it can be a disappointing trickle. Or, it could be a torrent of urine that literally is such a great release that you compare it to having an orgasm. Yep. Really. The point is, you have no idea whether your bladder literally is going to explode or it's just messing with you. Both feel exactly the same.
Sleeping. Still speaking of peeing....my bladder plays a huge role in my sleep cycle, for obvious reasons. Sleeping started to get a bit uncomfortable around 20 weeks or so. I began having to prop myself up with pillows or my chest felt compressed. Now I have the Comfort-U pillow, which I love. That pretty much solved the problem....for awhile. But now, as I enter the third trimester, sleep just keeps getting harder and harder. I'm not really sure if it continues at this rate how I will be sleeping at all by the end? Here's why it's so hard: There are the obvious reasons like your stomach getting in the way, your bladder filling to painful brimming level every 15 minutes, and your back aching from a long day. But then there is also pressure in my chest, breathlessness, dizziness, sore hips, sore buttocks (seriously), restless legs (terrible), and leg cramps. I have a pattern now. I start on my left side (as you're supposed to), then I switch to my right side. Then, my hips and legs start to hurt so badly that it wakes me up. So then I switch to sitting up. I've propped up about 3 pillows on TOP of the Comfort-U pillow that allows me to sit up and sleep. Then, I repeat the 3 positions. Simple, right? The only plus side to this is, once I've gotten into a comfortable position, my husband will take pity on me and bring me things I realize I've forgotten. Like a glass of water. Or a bowl of pasta. Ha.
Back Pain I mentioned that back pain is one of the reasons sleeping is hard. I've been having back pain since the beginning of the second trimester. Since before I even really looked pregnant. It's not the typical back pain most women talk about - in their lower backs. Mine instead is right between my shoulder blades, right at bra level. Sometimes it switches from right to left side slightly, but it's always this intense, burning pain that feels like someone is jabbing a knife into my back. I thought maybe my bras were too small, but that's not it. (In case you're wondering, I'm now somewhere between a 34DD and a 36D. Awesome!) I think it's just something to do with my fucked up posture. So I try to wedge small pillows between my upper back when driving or sitting at my desk and this seems to help. Know what else would help?? A Chiropractor! I have one all lined up that specializes in pregnant women, but I can't seem to find the time to call. Hmm.
Breathlessness This isn't a big deal, but I have definitely noticed that my uterus has started sharing rib cage room with my lungs. I mean, really, lungs aren't that important, right? They can get out of my uterus's way, right? Related to the back pain, I feel sometimes feel like there is a tight band going all the way around from my back to my chest, like I'm wearing a bra even when I'm not. I think this is my rib cage expanding and making it harder for me to breathe. Also, to make it more intense, the midwife pointed out that my blood pressure is really low (not sure how low), and so this is likely contributing to the breathlessness/dizziness I get sometimes.
Energy Compared to the first trimester? I am an Energizer Bunny! Compared to normal life? Not so much. I mean, I'm still pregnant here. There may have been a 3-4 week span in the middle where I felt "normal," but that was sandwiched between still feeling sick and tired at the beginning and now feeling tired again at the end. But really, it hasn't been that bad. I don't fall asleep at my desk anymore. I go to bed around 11 or 12 most nights and I feel...good when I wake up. And this all without coffee. Which I miss very, very badly. I think I notice the energy drain most on days when I either work too many hours or try to do too many errands in one day. That's when I remember - hey! I'm pregnant!
Relationship. For the first trimester, I talked a lot about the toll it had taken on my relationship. As if I wasn't even present at all...I was a non-person. Now, it's much, much better. I feel like B and I can talk again, have good conversations again, and just be together again. That being said, B pointed out to me that it's not "quite the same." I've already transitioned somehow into being more focused on Baby than on Us. And even though I feel like I am more present and more energetic, I may be exaggerating in my own mind, according to B's perspective. We also go on fewer "dates." We used to go out to really nice dinners quite often and run away on weekend get-aways. Now, we go buy cribs and such. So...it's different. We both agreed that we feel extremely close and connected to each other, but in a different way. We feel like we're building something. Rather than just enjoying the Two of Us.
Sex. And definitely related to how our relationship is different, I would be remiss to not talk about sex. Pregnant sex. Pregnant sex after major horrific bleeding episode. Not so fun. Really, it's not. First of all, the sad thing is, right when we were in Mexico (before the horror), I had started to feel physically better and was getting my sex drive back (Hooray!). Which equaled a lot of great sex and enjoyment of my new D-cup breasts. But then....enter terrible bleeding episode. All thoughts of sex stopped (even though we were told it likely had not contributed to the bleeding). That happened at 19 weeks. We didn't have sex again until...I dunno, five weeks later? And even then, it's...well, it's not the same. The fear plays a role in making the sex more...gentle and g-rated. It also keeps me somewhat removed, not 100% present. Then, the belly just, well, it just gets in the way. So, sex is "fine." What does this do to our relationship? Well, it definitely doesn't spice it up...
Random Symptoms. And now for a few randoms... Let's see...I have really long, strong and awesome fingernails and hair. So that's cool. I've had some periods of minor constipation which seems to be cured by the Magnesium Citrate the midwives recommended (which also helps with the restless legs and leg cramps I mentioned). My vision seems not as good as normal (and my normal is terrible), but my What to Expect App assures me that actually IS normal. I am really jumpy. I've been this way since really early on in the pregnancy. I jump and shriek at any little noise. I attribute this to my poor heart beating harder to pump all of that blood. Oh! And I have a very faint Linea Nigra. I'll try to post a picture. We were laying in bed one morning and B says, "Um, why do you have a line running down your entire stomach?" So yeah, that's there. And that's about it.
So there you have it. Compared to the first trimester, all of these symptoms don't even hit the radar. Ok, well, maybe the sleeping issues are getting pretty hard, but even that just doesn't compare to all of the shit I went through in the first trimester (first 18 weeks really). In the last few weeks, I've started to get glimpses that the third trimester may not be so blissful, so I've got my fingers crossed that it won't get that terrible. But, luckily, if it does, I have an exit plan to leave work 4 weeks early and just lay around on the couch like a useless piece of blah.
Let me just end by saying I am really, really excited to be in the third trimester. I keep telling people in the Real World that I'm hitting the third trimester and they say things like, "Well that still means you have three more months left, right?" Oh, they just don't get it. This is a big deal. That much closer to baby. That much closer to a time when preterm labor wouldn't be the end-all, be-all. That much closer to your life changing forever.
Side Note: After I wrote this post, I went to lunch with a friend and mentor. I thought it would be a lunch to play catch up and discuss professional goals, but it turned into something I hadn't expected. My friend is a lesbian in her late 30s and has been trying for some time to get pregnant (not sure exactly how long). About a year ago she lost a baby early on. Today she told me she is 11 weeks along with twins!! So, so happy for her. Just wanted to share :)