As I type this, we are at home with our new baby! We had an unexpected turn of events at the end of this pregnancy that lead to an (unsuccessful) induction that eventually led to a c-section. Everything’s okay (it wasn’t an emergency; it was one of those “this is best for mom and baby” decisions made between the Kaiser staff and us) – it just was not what we expected, obviously, but really, what is?
The last 1.5 weeks have been really tough, and I’ve been going back and forth as to whether I regret making the decision to induce based on Kaiser’s suggestion, since it caused such an abrupt and stressful end to my pregnancy. Rather than focus on negativity, however, I thought I’d reflect back on these nine months of pregnancy, and what my overall experience was like. It’s actually not too terribly exciting; I had a “normal” and healthy pregnancy, at least up until the very end. But that’s what’s interesting, and positive, when I look back – while the very end of this pregnancy wasn’t ideal, at least the months leading up to it were straightforward and, at times, were even pretty fun.
Look Ma, I’m Pregnant
As I mentioned in my previous post, we tried for about 8 months before we successful. It was just starting to get frustrated; not because I was overwhelmed with a desire to start a family ASAP (although that was obviously the goal), but because you get yourself into this mindset that you’re ready, and then when it doesn’t just “happen,” it becomes a bit of thing that sticks itself in the front of your mind more often than not.
Then, one week in July 2016, a week before my period was scheduled to arrive, I started feeling PMS-y symptoms, but they weren’t necessarily the symptoms that I had been typically getting. I had certainly experienced them before in my life, but not all that closely to this point. Specifically, I had some nausea, and I was pretty tired, despite sleeping well and the like. But I didn’t want to think much of it, because it could have just as easily been PMS. There were also a few little things, like getting out of breath a little easier than I normally would. For example, I worked out one evening, and then Jeffrey and I went for a walk, and I got pretty out of breath after going up a hill, which normally wouldn’t have affected me as much.
My period app predicted I’d get my period on a Monday, and the Friday before, I went ahead and took a pregnancy test (one of the tests that supposedly can do “early detection”), and it was negative. And I was pretty crushed. I had a good crying fit while working from home, and then when Jeffrey got home, I cried on his shoulder some more. I felt emotionally drained for the rest of the evening, but we went out to dinner and got drinks with friends, and I felt better.
Then Monday rolled around, and there was no period. No big deal; I’ve been a day late before. Then Tuesday, then Wednesday – still nothing. Not even spotting. I have never missed a period in my life, nor have I even deviated much from my standard monthly schedule. So I took another pregnancy test, and lo and behold, it was positive.
Looking back, the fit of crying the Friday before was likely due to a surge in hormones, because as mentioned, while the experience of trying to get pregnant had been a little frustrating, a somewhat-extreme reaction like the one I had didn’t seem quite right.
It would be a few weeks before we could get the results confirmed by my OB, but all signs pointed to yes. In the meantime, we tried to wrap our heads around this major life development, while also keeping the news under wraps, at least for the time being.
The results were then confirmed (my OB used a “vaginal probe” to check, which was something I did not know existed before that point). We opted to tell our immediate family over Labor Day weekend, even though it was a bit before the official 12-week mark (when people normally wait to share the news, due to the risk of miscarriage). Then we announced via Facebook, of course, and the rest is history.
The First Trimester, a.k.a. Nausea Can Bite Me
The first trimester was tough. I had a lot of fatigue, and a lot of nausea. No throwing up, thankfully, but the whole “morning sickness” thing is a misnomer. I felt sick most of the day. I really had to get the timing right when it came to eating, as the emptier my stomach became, the sicker I would feel, and then I would be less likely to want to eat, and then the cycle would continue.
Jeffrey and I went to Boston in August for a wedding, and we visited a famous spot in the North End to get their famous (and expensive) lobster rolls. We were willing to cough up the dough, since it seemed like one of those “when in Rome” experiences. And the lobster rolls were pretty epic; but of course, I felt sick the whole time.
And the fatigue – ugh, what a drag. The urge to just plop my head down on my desk every day at work and sleep was overwhelming. Usually, if I’m fatigued, I can blame it on something – not enough sleep and/or exercise, not eating very well, etc. But in this case, I was sleeping well and eating as best I could with the nausea, but I was still so tired. And when I tried to exercise, I would often feel sicker.
The extra-annoying part of all of this is that I couldn’t talk to anyone about it except for Jeffrey, since we weren’t at a stage where we were telling people yet.
The Second Trimester, a.k.a. Wow, I Feel Great!
When I hit the second trimester, it was like someone flipped a switch. Almost instantly, my first trimester symptoms were gone, and I had all sorts of energy again. This was definitely a unique time. I got to be active again! No more nausea! The only negative symptom was the heartburn, which was pretty much daily, but often a few Tums would fix the issue.
I started focusing on activity in particular, and it felt really good. I was able to keep running (albeit slowly) for a good amount of time – but I eventually stopped once I started feeling too much of my belly bouncing around. I found that sustained, low-impact activity felt great, so I started walking everywhere. I was walking a fair amount before the pregnancy as well, but I started focusing on it as a particular priority. I also kept going to spin classes for a spell, and did prenatal yoga at home when I could.
The time when I started to “show” was kinda cool too. Pants stopped fitting properly – I managed to use a hair-tie to keep my jeans closed for a period before I had to switch to official maternity clothes (and thankfully, my sister had a bunch of her old maternity clothes left over, so I ended up only having to buy a few additional pieces). It was neat to just look down and see the belly change shape.
I also started feeling a lot of movement, right around when all the books/apps said I would. Definite little flutters and kicks – it was pretty cool. In the meantime, we started making more changes and plans – we inherited some baby stuff from friends and very slowly started putting together the nursery, we talked about how much time I’d take off work, what sort of child care we’d set up once I returned to work, etc.
The only other negative part of the second trimester was a couple of occasional hormonal days, where I would just be really emotional for no particular reason. But overall, compared to what I would hear from other women, this wasn’t too bad.
The Third Trimester, a.k.a., Wow I Look Pregnant Now
There was a neat transitional period into the third trimester where I tried to just bask in the idea of “being pregnant.” I was showing enough that it was actually evident that I was pregnant, but it was still early enough that the aches and pains hadn’t quite set in yet. I was able to fit some pretty active days (e.g., walk 3 miles and go to Zumba class, walk 3 miles and do yoga and fit in more walking on top of that) and just feel really healthy overall.
I started getting smiles from strangers when I’d walk down the street. Jeffrey and I could walk together and just talk about our future. We planned the baby shower with my mom. All fun things.
Not too far into the third trimester, however, and I started to feel the shift. My body would ache quite a bit more, and I’d generally just feel more wiped at the end of the day (even it it wasn’t a particularly active or long day). I’d get sharp hip pain sometimes when sitting down for too long; Jeffrey and I went to a comedy show at one point, and I couldn’t sit in the chair for more than half of each comedian’s set before I had to go stand in the back.
But these aches and pains generally subsided as I got closer and closer to my due date – likely because most of my growth had slowed at that point, so my body had been able to adjust. I slowed down overall, walking a bit slower and taking it a bit easier, but in general I was able to keep walking on a daily basis. I also started swimming more, which felt awesome. I was so weightless, and I would feel my hips open up as I did my laps.
It was also neat to just experience how people interact with and look at the very pregnant lady. I was fortunate in that I didn’t experience any negative encounters – I’ve heard a lot of women share stories about inappropriate remarks and/or belly touching from strangers/colleagues/friends, but I never experienced this. Instead, I got lots of that look of recognition in people’s eyes, lots of people opening doors for me, that sort of thing. I got to sit in the special seats on BART.
Really, the only thing that started making me long to get my body back (i.e., to no longer have to share my body) was the whole sleep thing. At that size, I could really only sleep on one hip or the other, and that got pretty old pretty fast. I still managed to sleep pretty well (aside from occasional insomnia and the frequent trips to the restroom), but I often looked forward to being able to sleep on my stomach again (which I’m still unable to due for awhile due to the c-section, but hey, at least my bladder is back to its normal capacity!).
In general, I enjoyed just holding my belly; looking at its size and shape, feeling the baby’s consistent movements, looking ahead to the future.
At the time, my pregnancy felt like it took the appropriate amount of time, but now, looking back, it feels like it went by too quickly. But I think that’s most things in life, honestly.
While the end of my pregnancy was tough, it feels really nice to reflect back on the overall process with fondness. I think/hope that this is what I’ll remember the most when time moves on and I think back to this period of my life.