After our initial ultrasound appointment in August, the reality of being pregnant sunk in. Other than the occasional headache and minor bouts of nausea, I pretty much sailed through my first trimester. I tried to conduct business as usual even though I knew I needed to make sure I didn’t over exert myself. Of course, with a baby on board and me being off for the summer (did I mention I was a Montessori teacher?), I felt a burning desire to get projects done around the house I knew there would be no time for once the baby arrived. My husband is not a big fan of “To-Do List”. He thinks of them as “Honey-Do List”, even though I’m the one that gets things done around here, or at least insists that they do. He’s the idea man and he’ll admit to that. But in my opinion, making these list is the only way to ensure things get done around here because they help keep me on track. There was so much to do, like getting new carpet and windows in the spare rooms, decluttering the house (which is an ongoing project), baby-proofing the house, decorating the nursery, getting a new rug for our family room (since we have had three puppies in the past five years), and about twenty other tasks. Thus, the “Baby List” was born. That list sat on the refrigerator until about a month ago, but at least most of the items had been checked off.
At the beginning of my second trimester is when we decided to share to big news, first with our parents and close friends, and then on Facebook. With my husband’s folks down in Florida, we shared the news with them via phone. However, since my parents live only an hour away, we were able to break the news to them in person. We decided to buy University of Michigan and Michigan State onesies (oh yea, we are a house divided!). We wrapped them up and gave one to my Mom and one to my Dad. My Dad was confused at first, but my Mom got it right away. A few days later we went to my husband’s aunt and uncle’s house to hang out for Labor Day and shared the news with them. After numerous phone calls and text and the inevitable Facebook ultrasound post, all those we knew and loved were congratulating us on our expected arrival.
At the beginning of my second trimester is also when I started to experience my first pains of pregnancy. I was pretty diligent about working out during my pregnancy. Really, I’ve always been that way. But it was extremely important to me to keep up with my physical activity for the benefit of myself and the baby. Yoga and strength training have been apart of my weekly routine for the past five years, but I often change how I get my cardio in every few months. I had started to swim a few times a week at the YMCA and use the ArcTrainer a few times a week after lifting weights. There is something about swimming that is unlike any other form of exercise. It’s so peaceful under the water that I could swim for hours. I had worked my way up to about 1500 meters of freestyle followed by a 400 meter cool down of breast and back stroke. One day I must have over exerted myself in the pool because the next day I woke up with excruciating pain in my quadriceps. And for the next two weeks the cramps in my legs were so bad that I could barely sleep. Many nights I would wake up in pain. I would try to stretch or lay on the cool tile floor in the bathroom, but neither did much good. My midwife recommended that I take Tylenol when it was really bad and that I see a chiropractor because it might be due to pressure my growing baby and uterus were putting on my nerves. Whatever the cause, after a few adjustments at the chiropractor and a lot of pigeon pose and yoga lunges, the pain subsided.
After the leg cramps went away, my second trimester continued without a hitch. My blood pressure remained in check. All of the blood work I had done for genetics testing and gestational diabetes screening and this and that all came back good. And other than having to run to the bathroom once an hour every hour, I was feeling good. My Mom and long time friend, Hannah, threw me a wonderful baby shower back home and we got tons of useful baby gear and gifts. We got new carpet, new windows, and new blinds in our downstairs’ bedrooms, and after a fresh coat of sky blue paint, the nursery was starting to come together. My husband’s parents were kind enough to buy the baby’s furniture set, including a convertible crib, dresser, and bookcase. And of course, I insisted on assembling all of the pieces myself. After the purchase of a lovely tree decal I found on Etsy and a rocking recliner from La-Z-Boy, the baby’s room was coming together.
Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s all came and went as I sailed into my third trimester. After my initial visits at the chiropractor for my leg cramps, I continued to go once a month for an adjustment and prenatal massage. During my third semester I started going every two weeks. I was so thankful that I was able to afford to do this and make time to take care of myself in this way as I was finally starting to experience some of the common discomforts of pregnancy. And while I had stopped going to the gym after New Year’s Eve, I continued practicing Yoga up until I went into labor. This too not only kept me in shape and prepared me for labor, but it helped me cope with the aches and pains of pregnancy.
Now, I know every pregnancy is different and every woman deals with the pains and discomfort that goes along with growing a tiny human in their own way. For me, to say that I was uncomfortable during my last month of pregnancy is the understatement of the year. I started suffering from severe heartburn. Now I am a relatively short person, five feet even to be exact. And as I will detail in a later post, my son is relatively tall. With each week my heartburn got worse and worse as he pushed my stomach further and further up. Some nights it was so bad that I would cough with such force that I would throw up. Even with Tums and watching my diet, the heartburn was unbearable. As soon as he was out it was gone. And of course, the aches and pains. I had bought a Leachco Back ‘N Belly Original Contoured Body Pillow back in September to make side sleeping more comfortable. Now, nine months pregnant, this pillow was a Godsend. I also needed to do 15 minutes of Yoga each morning to stretch out my back and hips. I would often repeat these stretches at the end of the day in addition to doing a separate prenatal Yoga routine. And at the end of the day I would typically soak in the bathtub for a good 15 minutes. All of these different things helped me maintain some level of comfort, but nothing compared to the prenatal massages that I got every other week.
During my last month of pregnancy is also when I developed my first pregnancy related complication. Seemingly out of nowhere I developed a rash on my ankles and wrists. After a few days the itching became intense. Of course, I did a Google search that led me down a rabbit hole of anxiety. Out of the various pregnancy related skin conditions, cholestasis stuck out. Cholestasis is pregnancy related liver disease where the flow of bile acids slows down or stops due to an increase in hormones. This not only effects the liver function of the mother, but also the fetus, who relies on the mother’s liver to filter bile acids from the blood. Complications for the baby include stress on the liver, which is still developing, preterm birth, or stillbirth. After researching cholestasis further I was, of course, on the verge of a major anxiety attack. I called my midwife the next business day and scheduled an appointment. After some blood work and a NST (non-stress test) were completed, it turned out I did NOT have cholestasis, which was obviously was a huge relief. However, the itching still persisted. Actually, it intensified. The only remedies that provided any relief were black tar soap, which I found at the Natural Food Patch, and eczema cream. At the end, both feet, ankles, and forearms looked as though I suffered from severe eczema, and it felt that way too. But, about two weeks after I gave birth my skin went back to normal.
To back track a little bit, I had been working as a Montessori teacher basically since graduating from college, but this past school year I had found a job working as a reading tutor for a local nonprofit. As a tutor, we were placed in schools in the area and worked with children who needed reading intervention but not necessarily an IEP. Anyway, I was working at a school in Taylor, which is about a 45 minute drive from my house. I had planned on only working until the end of January for a few reasons. For starters, I knew that babies come when they are ready and I didn’t want to be an hour away from the hospital I planned to deliver at when my water broke. In addition to that, a portion of I-75, which I took to work, was scheduled to close at the first of February and the alternative routes would only make my commute longer. Thus, I stopped working when I was 36 weeks pregnant. Little did I know that my baby was going to be nearly two weeks late!
For the entire month of February I did my best to enjoy my last weeks of freedom. I knew life would NEVER be the same so I did my best to kick back and relax. I hung out with my dogs, binge watched the entire series of Scandal on Netflix, did Yoga, took long baths, and did my daily walks when it wasn’t too cold or icy out. My husband had also planned to go on paternity leave early. His work takes him all over Southeast Michigan. On any given day he could be as far north as Flint or as far south as Monroe. Thankfully, he owns part of the company he works for and was able to arrange to take six weeks off and be home in case the baby came a little early. So by the end of February me and my husband were just hanging out, patiently waiting.
Now Leo was due on March 1st. That day came and went and then a full week went by and still no baby. My midwife had me go in for weekly NSTs starting at 39 weeks. At my 40 week appointment we scheduled a date to induce about four days before my 42 week mark and talked about other less invasive ways to nudge to process along. At my 41 week appointment my husband and I decided that I would have the midwife “swipe my membranes”. She said this would cause some cramping and hopefully I would start to feel some contractions within a few days. Our hope was that I would go into labor before our scheduled induction date because we had planned to do a natural child birth. Fortunately for us the membrane swipe worked, or maybe Leo just decided he was finally ready to enter the world. Either way, it was about 2 a.m. one Friday morning in early March that I knew it was time. ….