In my head, I’ve always thought of 30 weeks as being the start of the 3rd trimester. But of course, it’s not. If you divide 40 weeks by three, each trimester is about 13 weeks long. And so, as I approach the end of this 22-26 week period, I’ve realized that I am about to enter the third trimester – how have I got to this point already??
I’ve spent this blog musing on the uglier changes that are starting to rear their head in the second half of pregnancy, and on the fact that I missed out on a 4 week overseas trip to see my friends and in-laws. Which sounds like a bitter and resentful kind of blog, doesn’t it? But don’t get me wrong – I am waking up every morning to the beautiful movements of my unborn son with a huge smile on my face. After wishing to be on this journey for a long time, I am absolutely loving the magic and wonder of it all – even if it is accompanied by varicosities and reflux vomiting.
I thank my lucky stars that this pregnancy is going very smoothly – no bleeding, the baby is very active and is growing as he should, and I’ve been able for the most part to keep up my very fast-paced life! However, getting further through the second trimester has seen the appearance of some of the uglier aspects of pregnancy…
So I am apparently genetically prone to varicose veins – thanks Dad. I have developed a particularly unattractive one, surrounded by spider veins, on my left thigh… there are definite benefits to being heavily pregnant in the winter months, as this would be a bit hard to hide in shorts. I’m hoping that living in stockings and SRC support tights will help minimize the achy pain that will no doubt accompany this soon.
I found my first stretch marks this week, on my left lower belly. As someone whose weight has never really fluctuated in my life, I’ve never experienced this lovely phenomenon before. And of course, in my head I was going to be one of those whose abdominal wall snapped back to bikini-ready by a couple of months postnatal, right? Apparently a pretty tankini or one-piece might be on my Christmas wishlist, and I’m off to the shops to get Bio Oil ASAP.
I have also realised that I have to be a bit more aware and respectful of the fact that my stomach doesn’t have the expanding room that it usually would! And the fact that the delightful hormonal changes in my body mean that the sphincter muscle that keeps my meals from revisiting my throat doesn’t have the tone that it usually does. I had an introduction to pregnancy indigestion last week, after a particularly delicious three course late lunch at my friend’s house ended up in a sleepless night of acid reflux and vomiting. When I looked back at what I ate for the day (Not just the three course meal but also a coffee and a decaf coffee, a home-made juice of grapefruit, lime and orange, tomatoes on toast and half a box of sour lollies – whoops) – perhaps I did overdo it on not only the quantity but the acidic quality of my food choices too! I’m being (a little) more careful now…
Travel during pregnancy
I developed an acute respect and empathy for pregnant women who have husbands working FiFo jobs – and I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like as a new mother with a baby/babies to have a husband who was only home intermittently. My husband missed most of this four week block of time as he was gallivanting around the world visiting friends and relatives, and it really was hard not to be able to debrief with him each night, share the ever increasing and ever strengthening kicks in my belly, and to just have him there at night to prepare dinner for me when I got home from work at 8pm at night with no energy to cook anything remotely nutritious. He has come back and promptly left again a week later to go to Sydney for work, which isn’t ideal, but at least I know that it’s not a permanent situation like so many young Perth couples of my generation. A big shout out to those FiFo partners managing a pregnancy and early motherhood alone much of the time, and a big shout out to the other side of the partnership who miss out on important milestones due to their work.
My husband’s trip brought up a very interesting topic though… overseas travel during pregnancy, and the differing opinions on it. At the beginning of the year, we had both planned this trip together – we didn’t want to continue to avoid long term travel plans just in case getting pregnant was still a long way on the horizon. The trip was to the UK to visit one of his grandmothers who recently had a health scare, Spain to stay with his father, stepmother and brother, who now live on the beautiful island of Mallorca with the rest of his father’s family, and then Zimbabwe to see his mother, sister and her family, and to attend a very special friend’s wedding there. When we found out that I was pregnant, we made the decision to cancel my trip and for my husband to go alone. This probably was heavily influenced by the fact that this was a pregnancy 2 years in the making and we were being overly cautious, and also the fact that we had just spent $10,000 on IVF and were keen to save money! But there were also news articles at the time about cases of the Zika virus being reported in Europe and Africa, and that was probably the final straw – even at such a tiny probability, why risk it, after the long journey it took to get here?
Then it got to the time of the trip, and as I hit 23 weeks there was a massive realization that blew my mind. I have met women during my career who have given birth at 23 weeks, and with all the amazing technology and expertise we have in Perth, their babies have survived and are thriving toddlers. Wow. To look down at my belly and realize that the little guy in there could potentially survive in the outside world was amazing. And that’s when I was very glad that I was at home – if something were to happen and I had to deliver this little one 3 or 4 months early and I was in a foreign country, I would want to hope that they also have the access to the awesome medical advances in neonatal health that we have here, and I know that this isn’t necessarily the case.
I completely understand why people would still travel in pregnancy, and the vast majority of the time everything is fine. But it has been interesting to reflect on this after multiple conversations where I’ve been met with ‘why on earth didn’t you go with him?!’. Anyway – I made plans for a girls trip to Sydney with my Mum and my girlfriend at 29 weeks and that made missing out on Europe and Zimbabwe easier to handle too! And a long weekend by an open fire in a chalet in the woods in Pemberton at 35 weeks for a ‘BabyMoon’ with my husband. Both with easy access back to Perth if need be!
As my brisk walking is more and more limited by a stitch-type pain in my right lower abdomen (no doubt my round ligament doing a fabulous job of holding my ever-expanding uterus in place), I am supplementing this more and more with a ball and band exercise program at home that helps to make up that 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise on most days that I’m aiming for. Check out the FitRight Facebook and Instagram pages in the coming week for a video explanation of my low-impact cardiovascular exercise ideas that are friendly for people with pelvic floor and/or pelvic girdle pain issues in pregnancy.