Pregnancy has been such a learning experience for me; it was something that I had been apprehensive of, even scared of to some extent and it has definitely challenged me in many ways. Each trimester has brought a new set questions and revelations that challenged me mentally, physically and emotionally.
During the first trimester, I could barely handle being pregnant and awake from day to day; while we had planned this pregnancy and even though it was somewhat difficult for us, it was still a huge adjustment for me. My hormone levels were off the charts, and I couldn't imagine having a baby, all I could think about was getting through the next day without an anxiety attack, major nausea, and complete exhaustion. It was a roller coaster for me and it felt like I had taken a crazy pill for a while there. Eventually that subsided around week 12, but I was plagued with migraine headaches that even sent me to the hospital once, and I had so many aversions to food that I had a terrible time eating. While all of that doesn't sound fun, it could have been worse; and I got through it somehow. Looking back, it seems like a long, long time ago that I was sitting in that ER waiting room waiting for MRI results regarding my pounding headaches and crying. I was able to handle the pain and discomfort better than I had anticipated and the hormonal anxiety that plagued me early on in pregnancy eventually subsided, which made for much more rational and positive thinking.
Between 12-16 weeks, I continued to feel better physically and mentally but what I didn't think about yet was having the baby, I didn't consider the emotional part of it at all or the actual act of taking care of a child. I thouht abstractly about 'a baby' and names for this baby, I read tons about birth and natural childbirth, I listened to hypnobabies and read as many birth stories that I could get my hands on, but what I didn't do was think about actually taking care of a baby myself. Maybe every first time mother feels this way, but I am guessing some of you mom's are probably more prepared that I was and think about the realness of the child from day 1? What I needed to do was to let go of the life I presently had, for motherhood, which is something that was difficult for me, you only have to read earlier posts in this blog to know that! Mentally, I was exhausted and overwhelmed with the changes happening in my life, but I was starting to accept them a little bit.
In the middle of my second trimester, I finally got over the shock of being pregnant, and what set in next was the need to get ready for this baby. For me, it wasn't the need to buy items for the baby (yet), it was the overwhelming need to get our fixer-upper house finished! Which Josh called 'nesting', however I remind him that every year I get really antsy about getting house projects complete and I get a little crazy when I am tripping over the air compressor in our living room for a month at a time because the project is nearly complete but not quite done (one of Josh's faults, never fully completing a project, it took 2 years to finish our patio in back; but we got it done this year at my insistence) . Nesting or not, I was ready to dive into house projects, which took all of my strength and energy to complete our home before focusing on the baby items or baby's room. While I didn't feel mentally prepared yet, physically I felt better and emotionally I was more at peace.
Also in the middle of my second trimester, I actually started to look pregnant and at around week 23 I started to feel the baby move around inside me. Now, that is a weird alien-like feeling the first few times, but eventually it became routine to feel baby squirming around from time to time and then more frequently until it became routine to notice movement around 10am, 3pm, 7pm, when I would lay down at night to relax and then at 2am, when baby would wake me up kicking in the night. I also got my energy back in the middle of my second trimester and enjoyed hiking again; I would also start picturing having the baby and taking care of it, rather than 'baby' in the abstract. At one point, Josh and I erupted into laughter after we realized that the midwives were going to 'let us take a baby home...in our car...to take care of... forever...' and I began to wonder when having this child in your life became normal, rather than new. I actually enjoyed some of my second trimester, I had a fun 10 weeks of lots of energy, love and peace of mind, which I was grateful for after feeling so overwhelmed early on during pregnancy.
Nearing the end of my second trimester and into the beginning of my third trimester, I continued to feel good and we started to prepare the baby's room which I loved doing! After developing a theme for the baby's room, I enjoyed painting the room and collecting items that fit into my nature theme. I love to decorate and creating this warm and cozy space for the baby was a lot of fun, I'd think about it for hours at a time, my mind always wandering back to getting organized and what items we really needed vs those that we could live without. Also, I started thinking about holding the baby in my arms, getting excited to meet this little one who has been kicking me for so long and wondering what they looked like.
When I hit my third trimester, I felt pretty good about pregnancy, my mental state and emotional well being, but what I wasn't ready for again was the discomfort. The third trimester really takes a toll on your body physically, my upper abdomen began to hurt and pull painfully and by week 33 I had a terribly pulled muscle which bruised and looked awful. I started to worry about hernias in my abdomen (a cause for concern when your upper abdomen gets pulled) both during and after my pregnancy and I worried about this muscle healing before childbirth. After several weeks of miserable pain for my abdomen, the midwives suggested an herbal remedy that worked very well, and the pain started to subside. Just as that pain was becoming manageable and I started to get back on my feet again, I came down with my first real sickness during pregnancy, a viral and ear infection, which continue to last as I type this blog post. This sickness knocked me on my butt and after weeks of laying on the couch with a torn muscle that burned painfully with each movement, I was sidelined with a terrible cold, congestion, sore throat and ear pain. Physically, I stopped walking and hiking and spent my days laying on the couch, in the chair or in bed; my abdomen hurt when I sat up and engaged the muscle, but was too congested to lay down for any length of time. These uncomfortable side effects combined with the normal aches and pains of the 3rd trimester; the constant pressure of this baby trying to break out of my belly alien style, the swollen ankles and feeling how difficult it is to maneuver with an extra 40 pounds of weight. Supposedly this is nature's way of making a mama prepare for birth and get ready to push this baby out, and I can believe it! My discomfort has made me start to get excited about labor and birth, I am counting the days until week 37 when this baby is considered full term and I can definitely give birth at the birth center (the birth center only allows births from 37-42 weeks of gestation, beyond that a patient goes to the hospital).
It's been in these past several weeks that I have been highly motivated to buy all the necessary items for baby and we almost have everything we need to bring this child home. I definitely experienced nesting while getting the baby's room ready and purchasing the necessary items to house an infant.
Now, we are practically ready for baby, a few things still need to get done, but if they don't it won't be the end of the world, and again I am faced with the realization that I am going to push this baby out of me pretty soon; and then I am going to have a baby to care for, that relies on me for it's survival. I start to question the details; do I have enough cloth diaper covers? Do I need to get a breast pump right now, or can I wait until I know if I need one? How do I really care for the umbilical cord, or give baby a bath? It all seems to make common sense, but then again, will I do it correctly? What will our life be like after the baby is born?
Today Josh and I attended the second birthday of our friends first child, it was a picnic at the park with the other kiddos in the group and it made me think that next year at this time, I will have to watch my child play and mind themselves, rather than enjoying the other childrens antics (while their parents deal with the crying and/or their safety). It does give us a glimpse of what our life will soon look like.
The 10 months and 3 trimesters of pregnancy really prepare a women for this new life change, and letting go of the fears and embracing change has been difficult and empowering for me. But I think it's all necessary in becoming a mother myself. Now, I will prepare for the challenge of labor and childbirth; but I look at that as being the end of this marathon called pregnancy and the new chapter of being a 'mom' will soon begin.