Friday, January 15, 2016

3rd Trimester: Waiting

*Note: I found this post when my son was about to turn 7 months old. I had written it in its entirety, but failed to add pictures and publish it before our little man showed up a week before the due date.

Okay, let me start by saying shit gets real in the third trimester.
All of a sudden you're two months, one month, weeks, who-knows-how-long away from meeting the baby you just spent several months of hard work growing, bonding with and thinking about. All of a sudden, you realize it's not just going to be you and your partner. Life is about to change in so many ways. It's nearly impossible to wrap your mind around all that is happening in those last months of pregnancy. Plus, you have the unknown of when the baby is arriving, so you really never know how much longer you have left.

Family of two
I spent a lot of time at the very beginning of my third trimester worried that we'd be meeting our boy sooner than expected. I experienced an unusually high amount of "Braxton Hicks" contractions, as well as some cramping. I couldn't walk, stand, bend over or do anything, really, without experiencing an uncomfortable contraction. I grew so concerned that I contacted my wonderful midwife and we set up an ultrasound to check things out. Thankfully, all was well and I could move forward without being too worried about my "active uterus." My midwife reminded me to listen to my body and to take things slow, and I knew the warning signs to look for for premature labor. I spent the rest of my third trimester with Braxton Hicks as my nearly constant companion.
(pretty much) ready for baby

One of the things I'll always remember about the third trimester is the abundance of attention that was paid to my body and my pregnant belly. Suddenly something that is so personal and private is literally thrust out into the public eye. It's painfully obvious that you're growing a human in there, and everyone wants a look. And most people need more than a look, they need to make a comment. People started guessing that I was due "any minute" at about 32 weeks, which prompted Patrick to ask me if I carried bigger than most women. The truth is, all women carry their babies differently, and most people don't have the slightest clue as to how to guess a due date. Here's a tip -- don't guess. If you're curious, just ask. Also, remember that a pregnant woman's belly can get a lot larger than you think.

Even though some people thought I was big enough to pop at "any minute", I'm happy to say people were still kind enough to pay me compliments through most of the 3rd trimester, and I made a point of accepting those compliments as gracefully as I knew how.
A couple of people told me I "didn't look pregnant from the back." Thanks?

As I hit my "30's" weeks, I tried to treat my third trimester as a time to let go of fears and anxiety. Anxiety was a constant companion throughout my pregnancy, and I was ready to let it go and move forward with confidence. Rather than remain worried about all of the what-ifs -- and there are so, so many when you're pregnant -- I wanted to fully experience every kick, and revel in my swollen belly and changing body. I tried to thank my body for all it was doing and maintain a sense of awe and wonder for what it could do. You guys, my body grew a freakin' human being! How cool is that!?

 I went to pre-natal yoga about twice a week, and worked on relaxation, visualization and meditation techniques nearly every night (per our birth class of choice, HypnoBirthing). I attended a dear friend's home birth and was able to witness the peaceful, calm and joyful experience that birth can be. I sat in my living room with a Sweetgrass crown on my head and listened to my friends and family say beautiful things about me and my birth. I told my baby and myself that we were healthy and strong, together. I told myself that I was beautiful. I ate chocolate when I wanted it, and ate healthy meals when all I wanted was a cheeseburger. I tried to find a healthy balance in my life so that I could grow and birth life as well as my body knew how.

At my baby shower with birth candles and sweetgrass crown
One day, I realized that I had been so focused on preparing for a healthy, happy birth that I had almost forgotten to prepare myself for the postpartum period. Within a couple of days, I heard a few different women say that postpartum was far more difficult than birth, and I got scared. But, I realized that other than ensuring that I have the support and help that I need after having the baby, there wasn't much I could do at the moment to help my postpartum self. I was already taking good care of myself mentally and physically, communicating with my husband and getting organized. All I could do was try to bring this baby into this world in the best way I could, and then stumble along after that, just like every other mom out there. It makes me feel better knowing that I'm not the only one learning as she goes.

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