Since we’re nearing the end of this little gal’s time in utero I thought I would take a moment to document the journey in terms of the symptoms I experienced. This way if there’s a “next time” (I can hear my mom saying “IF?!” already), I’ll know what to expect from my body without having to read What to Expect.
The First Trimester
Throughout the first trimester I worked as a server so I clocked some serious on-my-feet mileage despite experiencing a fatigue like I’ve never known before. This could be due in part to a later discovery that I was very low in iron, or perhaps to the fact that I had given up coffee. I had some mild nausea in the mornings but it was usually abated by eating something good and carb-y, so I happily rekindled an old friendship with bagels that I had broken away from years ago. In fact, the whole first trimester was a time of constant and glorious hunger, usually including 1-2 midnight snacks from my bedside table. Despite this, my weight gain was slight and infrequent. From the very beginning of my pregnancy I suffered my fate as a small-bladdered woman, getting up to pee 2-3 times per night on average. My must-haves during this time were Cheerios (the fastest breakfast I could muster when I woke up ravenous) and healthy takeout that I didn’t have to cook myself or feel guilty about (I think we kept the Lebanese place around the corner in business). I fell asleep reading Sherlock Holmes stories every single night, usually around 7pm. We bought a pregnancy pillow on sale after hearing what a “must buy” item they are, but it turned out to be a “don’t need” item for me and I still haven’t used it.
The Second Trimester
At the beginning of the second trimester I hung up my serving apron for good after 13 years as a waitress and spent some time off work when the in-laws visited Vancouver from England! My energy returned tenfold and I was able to bake and cook a lot again (no more aversions to raw chicken!) and take myself for daily walks around the seawall, usually 1-4 hours long. I reintroduced my morning iced coffee as well, but went for a half-caff brew instead of full strength. I still woke up 1-2 times per night but started sleeping in a little longer because my body wasn’t waking me up from hunger. I “popped” at 18 weeks, suddenly looking pregnant after seeing no belly for over 4 months, and then rapidly put on weight until around week 28. My must-haves during this time were my two pairs of maternity shorts, Ina May’s “Guide to Childbirth”, and multiple crochet projects. The second trimester was definitely the most comfortable and the sunniest and for both of those reasons it was my favourite! I’ll always look back fondly on those long summer walks around the city, day-dreaming of the babe I was to meet.
The Third Trimester
In the third trimester I started working again, this time from home. The baby’s movements ramped up a lot and made evenings in bed my new favourite time because she was most active then. I started doing prenatal exercise videos in my living room a couple times a week to get some low-impact cardio in and kept walking a lot until week 37 when I slowed down to about a half hour per day. My weight gain slowed down a lot compared to the months previous and I felt relatively comfortable (and super lucky about that!) right up until week 37. I started noticing swollen ankles at week 35 and made an effort to put my feet up for an hour or two during the day. Braxton Hicks contractions started sporadically shortly after 30 weeks and ramped up more and more over time – not feeling painful, just tight. My night time bathroom breaks became more frequent at about 4-5 times/night, or roughly every two hours. I was able to wear a lot of my non-maternity shirts and dresses until about 38 weeks pregnant, when I realized I would likely have to wear the same two sweaters from Tom’s side of the closet for the remainder of my pregnancy. I started feeling very occasional pains halfway through week 37 but at almost 40 weeks still haven’t felt too much to hint that the end is near.
What Surprised Me
I think I’m the most surprised that I enjoyed pregnancy as much as I did because I’ve always thought I wouldn’t, though I’m not sure what I was basing that assumption on. While the list of symptoms in the front of my What to Expect When You’re Expecting book was extensive and frightening, I realized quickly that these are only possible symptoms, and thankfully not every pregnant woman experiences all of them. That said, I was quite surprised by how pregnancy can affect so many other parts of your body that you wouldn’t think would be impacted, like your gums (sensitive!), nails (amazing), and skin (even my moles changed!). The effects of hormones are far-reaching! Speaking of hormones, another surprise is that I haven’t felt at all like the hormonal “crazy” pregnant woman stereotype; while I haven’t been immune to the worries and anxieties of approaching parenthood, I haven’t cried or felt overwhelmed… guess I’m saving that for post-partum.