This week marks the beginning of my third trimester and the end of my 30’s. Wow! I’m officially 28 weeks pregnant and have made the turn to the final stretch of my pregnancy, in more ways than one! Yep, that was a pregnancy joke about stretch marks folks, In case you weren’t sure. Hey, if you can’t laugh about it, you’ll just cry. But it’s also the end of my thirties. It’s like I timed it that way. This week we’ll be talking about the second trimester, and from what I hear the best one. So if you’re looking to have some fun today and hear some much needed positivity about pregnancy, then this one’s for you. Let’s dive in.
What’s with the Negative Vibes Folks?
I mentioned in Episode six, creating your mommy tribe that I joined the app Peanut, a social networking app for pregnant women and moms. Recently, I was in the app reading a post talking about a very real truth for a lot of first time moms. The truth is that a lot of what we hear is pure negativity. Negativity about pregnancy, birth and motherhood. First it’s about the pregnancy symptoms and how bad they are. How they get worse in the third trimester and you’re just huge and bloated and swollen and can’t sleep and you name it. Then it’s horror stories about giving birth. How doctors can fail you or how painful postpartum recovery is. Or how once the baby is born, no one seems to care about you anymore and how you are recovering. Then it’s negativity about motherhood. How you and your partner will fight. How you’ll have zero sleep. How hard it will be.
My favorite? And please read the sarcasm in that tone folks – my favorite is how your life will never be the same. But not in a nice way like “your life will never be the same because you’ll have this beautiful new addition to your family that you never realized you could love as much as you do” kind of way, but rather “your life will never be the same as you know it and you will no longer matter and you’ll be tired and miserable” kind of way.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this happens because they are trying to prepare you for how hard parenthood can be. Maybe they wish they were warned or told more of the negative elements before they became parents. I’m sure the intentions are good. However, as a first time parent, lets follow the old saying “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all, unless I ask.” Being a first time parent is scary and exciting all at the same time. I have zero qualms about how hard it will be. Of course it’s hard! You created a human being from scratch that was then literally pushed into a world where every single sight, sound and feeling is brand new and they have no idea what the hell is going on.
You are their only sources of truth in this crazy world and they need you to help them navigate the good, the bad and the bullshit of life when half the time we are trying to figure it out ourselves! Having a kid is the biggest responsibility we’ll ever take on as human beings and with that comes more pressure than we may know what to do with. Especially if you’re type A parents like Christian and I.
Of course becoming a parent is hard – because if it’s not I would venture to say you aren’t taking it as seriously as you should be. We know it’ll be hard. We also know it’ll be harder than we currently realize because you never really know until you are in the moment. And because of that point, no matter how much I hear from others on how hard it will be, it doesn’t matter. It won’t matter because until we are in those shoes, we won’t get it. So maybe spare us the nightmare scenario then and just let us enjoy this time?
Second Trimester High
My first trimester sucked pretty hard. I’m not going to try to sugar coat that one. I felt horrible, I was worried that there would be an issue and it was mostly filled with a hesitancy to get too excited. Compared to the first trimester, the second trimester felt like a high from a great drug. Not to say it was all easy peasy, but comparatively, it was a breeze. The majority of my symptoms disappeared at the start of the second trimester. I had more energy, I wasn’t constipated or bloated anymore and I could pretty much live my normal life.
I was able to travel to Europe, Seattle and Florida and have a romantic weekend away with Christian for our wedding anniversary. I even found some cute maternity clothes that I didn’t hate along the way. Let me give you a couple tips on maternity clothes because unlike non-alcoholic wine, there’s some real gems out there.
If you’re like me, I’m not trying to spend a lot on maternity clothes. I only plan on wearing these a short while and I will be pregnant enough for maternity clothes for two seasons – so even less of a reason to spend too much during any one season. The first thing I did was go through my closet and pack up any clothes that are tight and won’t last my pregnancy so I could make room for any new clothes I needed to buy. Also so I’m not constantly faced with what doesn’t fit – that’s never a good idea if you want to stay mentally positive. I will say, you never realize how tight your clothes are until you go through this process. Apparently I really like form-fitted clothing! But there were pieces that would last like sundresses, a cotton jumpsuit that stretches, looser or stretchy shirts etc. But start in your own closet before you spend a dime to see what you have and what you should look to add.
When you are thinking of buying items, think flexibility. Can you use the pieces for mixing and matching with what you already own? I know it’s tempting to buy the really cute $100 outfit from Instagram you’ll inevitably get served in an ad, but resist unless it’s pieces and you can wear a bunch of different ways. It’s not about quantity folks, it’s about fashionable versatility. Then if you need to buy clothes – a couple of my favorites that won’t break the bank. Kindred Bravely – super comfortable and cute clothes and they always have some sort of sale going on. Believe it or not, Amazon. I’ve gotten more compliments on this $20 green dress I bought than I ever thought. Plus if they don’t fit or don’t look cute, it’s easy to return. I also bought my maternity bathing suits from Amazon and they’re really cute actually. Like cute enough where I’d wear potentially wear them post-pregnancy. Lastly, H&M. I recently went there and spent $100 and got ten articles of clothing. And they are all ones I can potentially layer on a sweater or something in the fall and keep wearing until the end. They also have a ton of really cute, yet cheap, baby and kids clothes – so something to keep in mind for the future.
My favorite secret – Rent the Runway. I’ve been a member of Rent the Runway for years. I had a lot of meetings and presentations to dress up for as well as for special events so I could get designer dresses without buying them. Well, now Rent the Runway has maternity wear. What a great idea I must say! Who wants to buy a bunch of dresses or nicer maternity clothes that you’ll just give away in a couple months? We had a wedding in June and I got this amazing teal dress that fit perfectly and made me feel sexy, bump and all. I also had multiple occasions in July I needed cocktail attire and rented all three of the dresses and looked very pregnant but also very fashionable. When I traveled to Europe and Seattle, it was still pretty chilly so I rented a pair of Paige maternity jeans – fit great, designer jeans but didn’t have to buy them. I plan on re-renting those in the fall for sure.
You may not look like Rihanna or Beyonce who’s maternity fashion sense pretty much belonged on the cover of Vogue on a daily basis, but you can look fashionable in your own right and still feel like yourself without breaking the bank, I promise.
Working out has changed in the second trimester, which has been interesting. The bigger I get the more I get out of breath easily so I’ve adjusted my workouts to be three times a week strength and three times a week cardio. For my strength classes, I do a mix of Peloton weight training and Pilates reformer. Both low-impact, but give you a good workout. My pilates instructor always gives me modifications and I have to say I feel like I’m still kinda killing it. While later in the second trimester comes with some additional challenges like lack of balance and difficulty maneuvering to different positions quickly – I’m still feeling the burn.
Peloton has quite a few prenatal strength classes that have been really helpful either to figure out what modifications I need to do for non-prenatal strength classes or just taking them on their own. What I love about the prenatal series on Peloton is they focus on what we can do versus what we can’t. One in particular had me laughing out loud the other day. It was a class with Robin Arzon. She kept saying, modifications are ok and don’t feel bad if this class feels different from one week to the next because our bodies are doing the most. Then she says – you made an eyeball today! Who cares if you need to modify a move! She was right. Even without working out, our bodies are doing a ton of work behind the scenes right now. Making eyeballs, organs, bones, skin – you name it, from scratch!
When you’re pregnant, you tend to be hard on yourself if you aren’t able to do certain moves anymore. Especially if you’re like me and you have a long history of pretty intense workouts. My friends joke that I’m someone that’s intense when they work out. If they go to a class with me, it’s going to be a really hard class. And they aren’t wrong. I like classes that challenge me and that push me really hard. So it’s been a big change working out while pregnant. I continue to work out six days a week, and I modify when necessary so I can continue to remain safe throughout – but there I a part of me that thinks about what it will be like postpartum. Will I need to start all over again in my fitness journey? How hard will it be to get back into it? How far behind my personal bests will I be?
But Robin is right – the mindset needs to be focused on what we can do, not what we can’t do. Because being pregnant is full of limitations. Limitations in what we eat, what we can carry, bending down – you name it. So whenever possible, focusing on what we can do is a great mental switch. And fitness is a great place for this mindset. Talking to a lot of my friends that have gone through this, I’m proud of myself for continuing to workout as much as I do. Yes I may modify, but I’m doing it. And you know what? I’m still doing more than most people do on ma regular basis. That is something to be proud of.
Gestational Diabetes and Weight Gain
The second trimester is definitely filled with it’s ups and downs. I’m now done with pretty much all of my major tests. In a geriatric pregnancy, I would probably call them more hurdles. That’s what I have felt like. For my whole life I was told the longer I wait to get pregnant, the harder it will be and the more risks I’m taking on physically and medically. So up until this point, I’ve gotten nervous prior to each doctors appointment, like I keep waiting for her to tell me something is wrong. Then after each appointment, I have a sense of relief to find out we’re still moving along smoothly. In the second trimester you have some big hurdles to overcome like genetic testing, your anatomy scan and finally the gestational diabetes test -which you guessed it, comes with higher risk when you’re over the age of 35. Shocker.
For those of you that are not aware, gestational diabetes can be pretty common during pregnancy and is basically getting diabetes temporarily as it normally goes away after pregnancy. While it may be temporary, it comes with a whole host of complications for you and the baby and it needs to be managed to ensure everyone gets to the finish line safely. When it came time for my gestational diabetes test, I fasted for a couple hours prior and then drank the sweet drink before waiting for an hour for my blood to be drawn for the test.
This drink should have it’s own twitter handle. I had heard so much about this damn drink on social media forums and mommy groups prior to going – it has quite the reputation. Maybe it’s because my formative years were in the 90’s when drinks like KoolAid, SunnyD and Hawaiian Punch were all popular, but I didn’t find it as bad as I had heard leading up to the appointment. Yes, it was sweet, but I pretty much just chugged it down, no problem.
Thankfully my results came back normal – no gestational diabetes, yay! But while I was there, I asked about my weight gain. Why? I don’t know. Lesson learned, if your doctor doesn’t bring it up, it’s not a big concern so don’t ask if you don’t want to know. I had finally hit the 201 pound mark – first time I’ve ever seen a 2 in front of my weight in my life. So I asked how she thought I was doing. She did preface it by saying some women gain a lot no matter what they do, but that I had gained more than she would have like to have seen. What does that even mean? Yea, I would love to gain only like ten pounds in this pregnancy, but it’s been more like 30 so far. Is that good or bad based on my body? Not compared to Julie over here that is 100 pounds prior to getting pregnant.
It was frustrating to hear because I have to say, I eat pretty damn healthy. Not just for a pregnant person, but in general! I’m not drinking, which is where a lot of my empty calories were in the past. I don’t drink much other than water – and when I go to restaurants and want to pretty much drink anything other than water, I’ve been getting an Arnold palmer because it’s not all lemonade and has some unsweetened tea in there. Yes, I have a sweet tooth, but I also eat very little processed food and a lot of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. I’ve even switched my diet to more plant-based options and reduced my intake of animal meat and byproducts.
I hear of these women that pretty much live off of fast food when they’re pregnant and it made me wonder if their doctor was telling them the same thing? Yes, I can cut down on the sweets, but I had already cut out alcohol, sushi, procciueto, steak tartare – what the hell else do you want from me? We’re over here making eyeballs and forced to roll out of bed like a log and you want me to also give up my donuts? Give a girl a break!
The Bliss of First Time Parents
Being first time parents means we have this ignorant bliss that we’ll never have again. We don’t really know what we’re getting ourselves into so we can just focus on the things we’re excited about. Like picking a name. Decorating a nursery. Wondering what she’ll look like and what her personality will be. Guessing what sports she’ll play or if she’ll play an instrument. Imagining the cutest holiday outfits and costumes possible. Focusing on the traditions we want to pass on like cooking with her.
Oh my god, I cannot wait to cook for her and with her. I have to say, I’m a really good cook. I”m not great at just making things up, but if you give me a recipe, I can do it. I remember cooking with my mom growing up. We have several family recipes that I would help her make like JFK Waffles. JFK Waffles are waffles that my grandmother used to make and now all the women on that side of the family know how to make. My grandmother was a big fan of John F Kennedy Jr and one time his chef’s waffle recipe was printed in the newspaper. My grandmother started making them and now it’s become a family recipe. It can be yours too if you just google it I’m sure. But in my house, the only waffles we eat are JFK waffles. I don’t order waffles from a restaurant because I know they’ll be a let down compared to the crunchy on the outside but soft and airy on the inside JFK Waffles. They are like a McDonald’s cheeseburger in the fact that they have a very unique and specific flavor. If you did a blind taste test of a McDonald’s cheeseburger vs. any other burger, I bet you could pick out the one from McDonald’s. It’s the sane for these waffles. You can’t replicate it. And one day, I’ll teach my daughter how to make them and we’ll have JFK waffles on special occasions just like I did growing up.
I can’t wait to take her to the park, or her first museum, or put cookies out for Santa on her first Christmas. I can’t wait to make her halloween costumes each year like my mom did – and you know I already decided what she’ll be this year. You’ll just have to follow me on social to see that for yourself. I can’t wait to hear the questions she’ll ask and see what she’s into. I can’t wait to get to know her as a person.
These are the things new parents think of. And I think a first time parent is the only time we can truly focus on the positive. Because we don’t truly know the negative. It’s like the opening credits of MTV True Life – You think you know, but you have no idea. And from this perspective, when current parents have nothing to say other than negative, it really makes me think – why the hell did you become a parent if you hate it so much? Seriously, that’s my thought. Like, if you knew your life would suck so much, would you have had a kid? Because when parents speak negatively, they also never really say anything positive – other than maybe the obligatory “but it’s the best thing you’ll ever do”. Well Susan, it sure as hell doesn’t sound like the best thing I ever will do -sounds like the worst decision I’ve ever made according to you.
This first time parent bliss is swift and fleeting. We only get nine months of it, and that’s only if the pregnancy went smoothly. So I beg you, just let us live in our ignorant bliss a little longer before you crush all our dreams. I’ll definitely come to you when I haven’t showered in days and am crying in the middle of the night ok? But for now, just share in our excitement or respectfully shut the F up.
Fantasy vs. Reality
I think it’s only appropriate to talk about the difference between fantasy and reality first time parents make at this point, which is something I learned about as I’ve been learning about the phenomenon known as Matrescence. Matrescence is basically a female’s transition to motherhood and the emotional response to this new role. We hear a lot about baby blues and postpartum depression, but this is different. Matrescence can start during pregnancy, especially the third trimester as you are more and more impacted by your pregnancy and then continues through the first year of the baby’s life. Psychologists equate it to adolescence because it is based it includes mental and physical changes that are triggered by fluctuating hormones – just like going through puberty. And you thought you were done with that!
I consider myself a very emotional person. For a long time I found the need to apologize or make excuses for that. I’m sure that comes from some sort of trauma from childhood or being told not to cry or whatever. But at this point in my life, when there seems to be such a lack of emotional intelligence, I consider it a strength. I am very in tune with my emotions and the emotions of others. I’m not perfect, because no on is, but I’d rather be emotional than emotionless.
Since I’ve become pregnant, I’m been focusing on the rationale part of the brain when researching topics. I got the obligatory book “What to Expect When “Expecting” that gives you a very logic based account of what to expect during your pregnancy. I’ve read countless articles and tutorials on the best products or tips and tricks of parenting or caring for a newborn. But as an emotional person, I was yearning to understand more the emotional transition into parenthood. If this is the biggest thing we ever do in our lives (at least according to any parent I have ever spoken to) then it has to have a profound impact on us mentally no? And I’m not just talking about our ability to love the child or whatnot. I’m most interested in the emotional impact it has to ourselves as people.
As I turn 40 this week, I consider myself a bit set in stone. Very confident in who I am and what makes me, well, me. But what about when you add the title mother or father to our grown-up self identity? What does that do to us emotionally? That’s when my googling resulted in a term Matrescence. I wanted to understand this more as it seemed like exactly the kind of information I was looking for – so I downloaded an audio book I could listen to during my morning walks. It’s called “What No One Tells You” A Guide to Your Emotions from Pregnancy to Motherhood. And it’s written by two psychologists. I’m sure I’ll be sharing tidbits in future episodes as so far I’ve found it very helpful. But one idea that stuck with me that relates to the First Time Parent Bliss I mentioned is this idea of separating your fantasy baby vs. the reality.
Basically when you’re pregnant, you have two versions of your baby. One is your real baby. The one in your belly. You may know the genetics and the sex, but technically that is all you know about them and doesn’t have any bearing on who they will be as actual people. The other is the fantasy baby – this is the one I started to talk about during the bliss period. This is who you imagine your child to be. This child and everything you imagine about and for them is not based on reality. It’s purely based on you and your response to your own childhood and your current beliefs and surroundings.
For example, if your husband is a very fun and easy going guy and you are having a boy, you may imagine that boy will be just like your husband and attribute characteristics to your unborn child that are the best versions of your spouse. Christian and I totally do this – we imagine she’ll be really into sports and fitness because are. We love to talk about if she’ll play tennis or love riding her bike because those are things we love and we imagine we can do with her. This imaginary human is what can lead to the feeling of disappointment when you find out the gender. Maybe you have ideas of what it would be like to raise the opposite sex or you think it will be easier to relate to the same sex child. Or maybe you had a wonderful relationship with your sister growing up so you want a sister for your first child as well.
It also can lead to disappointment when your actual child is not like you imagined once they arrive. Or you aren’t the parent you imagined. Or being a parent is different than you thought. The book had a great thought I want to share – The biggest challenge of being a parent is to see your child as they are, not who you want them to be. It seems so obvious and simple, yet difficult at the same time doesn’t it? I think about that statement and relate it to my own parents. There have been so many times in my life, especially in my adult life actually, that I’ve felt like I disappointed my parents or worst case like they didn’t like who I had become because we were so different. These feelings were really a result of me feeling like I wasn’t who they wanted me to be. That is the last thing I want my child to feel, as I’m sure my parents would say the same about me.
The book also says that this is totally normal and it’s ok, as long as you realize what is fantasy and what is reality and you allow your reality to be different and accept that with open arms and hearts. I still think there’s something magical to be said about first time parental bliss, but they have a good point. It’s important to not get too caught up in who we think she’ll be so we leave it open for who she becomes. Because really, that is the most exciting part isn’t it? To see who these little people actually are? Whether they pick up a tennis racket or not.
While the second trimester has come with its challenges, the best part has been the connection I’m starting to build with my little girl. She’s very active, like her parents, and I feel her all throughout the day. Whenever I eat, I get kicks. I sit or lay down, I get kicks. Sometimes it feels like she’s straight up dancing in there or rolling around. And you know what? I hope she is. I hope she’s throwing a damn party in there in preparation of joining the rest of us. It’s crazy to think we’re in the home stretch now with less than three months left. And this last bit will fly by. I’ll be going to the doctor much more often, we have the baby shower, we’re taking prenatal classes, setting up the nursery – it’s all starting to come together. And it’s all starting to feel a bit more real. The challenge for me will be admitting that as I get bigger, I have to accept more limitations on what my body can do – and that’s ok! It’s only natural when you’re carrying around an additional 30+ pounds in your torso.
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Until next time!