Is the second trimester, the best trimester?
After months of tireless research – I can conclude categorically that yes, yes it is. Or it was at least for me. The first trimester was characterised by exhaustion, secrecy and fear/excitement. The third trimester has so far been filled with miscellaneous aches and pains, gradually getting more cumbersome and with shit getting real. But I had high hopes for the second trimester. Other pregnant women talked about it so reverently as if rainbows beam out of your ears and you spend it riding a giant unicorn. The second trimester is when you felt your baby move, finally stopped vomming and falling asleep or vomming while falling asleep (FUN!) and you might even… glow!
I was slightly disappointed when at midnight on week 14 I didn’t magically start feeling as if I was starring in a tampon commercial. But sometime through week 16, I went to bed at 10.30pm. Considering that previously I had been struggling to keep my eyes open past 8.30pm and this was akin to going out to an all night rave. Gradually, I began to feel more like a human being. And then even better energised. I was suddenly filled with a manic urge to clean all the things. In a period HWSNBN characterised as the week of hell as he woke up to find his pregnant wife obsessively wiping down skirting boards and culling all possessions.
It helped that the second trimester fell over the summer holidays when for the first time in three years I was only working one job. It meant that I had time. Time to go swimming, to read and just stare at my expanding belly and to day dream about meeting Nibs.
During the second trimester I felt amazing – energised, potent and powerful. I wish that I could have bottled that feeling like liquid energy was coursing through my veins. Everything was easy and nothing hurt. At times I’d even forget I was pregnant as I whizzed around ticking tasks off my to do list.
Emotionally, although I still had days when I felt anxious, I finally allowed myself to get excited about being pregnant and even bought a couple of small things for Nibs. Earlier this year I had been working on accepting that although I was determined to become a mother I may not be able to biologically carry a child. Mourning the dream of growing this little being inside me was the only way I felt I could start to move forward and step off the roller coaster of hope and despair. But just when I had given up hope – it happened.
It took a while to recover from the emotional whiplash of ‘this dream might never happen’ vs ‘this is happening. NOW.’ As I said in my last post about pregnancy a big part of me will never feel completely comfortable and safe until I hold my baby in my arms. But as each week passed and each milestone with it, I began to relax more and more.
At 17 weeks, I finally gathered up my courage and came out of the pregnancy closet. The outpouring of love and well wishes from friends who knew how we had been struggling made me cry – but in a good way. I’d say this was unusual but due to pregnancy hormones that week I also cried about swans, an advert for chocolate, and after stubbing my toe. Note to self, buy shares in Kleenex, preggo.
The kraken wakes
One of the most reassuring things was starting to feel Nibs move at around 18 weeks. I’d been feeling flutterings for a couple of weeks but convinced myself I was imagining it. But then HWSNBN felt it too. ‘It’s like fish in a balloon’ he said. And it was at first so light and airy like a swarm of teeny minnows inside me. At night I’d lie flat in bed, hands pressed to my tummy feeling the teeny shifts of movements. The midwife was incredibly surprised I could feel him so early as my placenta was anterior, acting like a massive cushion. As he grew the movements felt more distinctive. I could feel him rolling from side to side like a kraken emerging from the depths. He’d turn over suddenly and I’d feel that sensation like I was poised at the top of a rollercoaster waiting for it to drop. Feelings Nibs move was like having the best secret in the world especially as I still didn’t look visibly pregnant. To everybody else I looked normal but it felt like a miracle was happening within me that my baby and I were communicating in a language only we knew.
Scans will never not be terrifying. Fact
After the relief of our 12 week scan, I was expecting to feel less nervous ahead of our 20 week anomaly scan. But as we drove there I wanted to throw up. I already knew that if our baby had a disability I would continue with the pregnancy. I remain firmly pro-choice but having a sister that was disabled and the light of my life meant it just didn’t seem an option for me. But what if our baby had a condition that was incompatible with life? How could I choose to keep going with the pregnancy knowing my child might live briefly and die in pain? All I could do was hope that this agonising choice was not one I would have to make.
As I lay down on bed and saw the first images of our baby on the screen I could tell the sonographer was tense. Unlike before the view was murky like seeing everything through a veil. And as she barked out measurements to her colleague I clutched HWSNBN’s hand tighter and tighter. Even he, the eternal optimist, was looking nervous. The numbers might as well have been in latin for all the sense they made to me. OK so he had kidneys but the fact they were measuring X. Was that good or bad?
I lay there feeling sicker and sicker as she frowned at the screen. Finally, she finished her measurements and I couldn’t keep silent any longer – ‘Is it all looking OK?’
A big pause.
‘Yeees, from everything I can see it looks normal. But…’
‘Because of your placenta’ (aka the massive cushion) ‘and the babies positioning’ (lying with arms crossed over their chest like Dracula) ‘I can’t get as good a view of the heart as I would like. From what I can see it looks fine but I need a better view and I don’t want to take any chances. Let’s get you in three weeks time when he’s a bit bigger and we’ll look again.’
As we left the room I made a conscious decision that I was not going to worry about it more than I could help. To my surprise I managed to do just that.
Three weeks later we returned and despite our little bat baby lying arms firmly crossed over their chest, after a bit of judicious hip sambaing and one very indignant baby later we could see that they DID have a heart after all.
Insider revelations on being the mother to the dark lord
‘You know, Dana, there are many perks to being the mother of a living god.’
During the scan the sonographer zoomed in on Nib’s face to check for a cleft palate.
‘There is your babies face.’ She said obviously expecting cooing. But out of the gloaming, gulping amniotic fluid appeared a face. It was the kind of face only a mother can love. It was the kind of face that suggested a career with a cape and an amulet of fire. It was the kind of skeletal face, noseless, empty staring eye sockets that suggested that maybe I was carrying the dark lord.
Evidence for that I am the mother to the dark lord
- Nibs likes to hang upside down like a bat
- Nibs sleeps with their arms crossed over their chest. Like Dracula
- Nib’s favourite activity is to kick mummy in the ribs, or head-butt her in the bladder – especially when she needs a wee.
- As soon as I became pregnant a tower started being built on Brighton sea front. Every evil overlord needs a palace of doom afterall.
Evidence against that I am the mother to the dark lord
- No familiar or evil sidekick has appeared. Yet.
Some might expect me to be disconcerted at that fact that I am carrying the dark incarnation of evil in my womb. Frankly I am rather excited as the dark lord position comes with a good pension and built in social life, if you like orcs. Let’s face it no matter what happens Nibs will always be mummy’s little precious and only allowed to take over the world after they’ve had tea and is wearing a vest.
I always knew from early on in this pregnancy I wanted to find out whether I was having a boy or girl. I completely understand why people might want to keep it a surprise. But after all the uncertainty of trying to conceive, I knew that I needed every bit of information I could get about this baby. The more I knew about our baby the more this pregnancy began to feel real to me.
After the scan we decided to throw a small celebratory party for friends and family who had been so supportive throughout the whole journey to conceive. To add to excitement we decided to make it a gender reveal party. The name bothered me because although we knew Nib’s biological sex his or her gender wasn’t something we could prescribe. But holding a sex reveal party for friends and family sounded SO WRONG so gender reveal party it was.
Before the scan I tried pout a number of old wives tales. The ‘evidence’ was conclusive, we were having a boy. Except both HWSNBN and I were convinced we were having a girl. Except for that one dream I had pesky about rocking my baby boy in my arms while he gurgled up at me. We even had a girl’s name we had tentatively agreed on. Before we went into the scan, I said semi jokingly let’s hope it’s a girl so the great name war of 2015 remains concluded.
Anybody who has ever met me knows that my skill for guessing the sex of unborn babies is uncanny. As in uncannily I have 100 per cent record of getting it completely wrong – a record that remains intact. Because, yep we are having a little boy.
The second trimester – the statistics
How far along: 27 weeks
Baby is the size of: Cauliflower. Comparing the baby to the size of fruit short-circuits HWSNBN’s scientific brain.
Names: Nibs, Nibbisicle, His Nibs, the dark lord, the long awaited one. We are completely stuffed for boys names and at this point there is a strong possibility our baby might remain ‘It’ for eternity. Then again Voldemort Sauron Vigo has a nice ring to it, no?
Bump: Growing. I still feel like I fit firmly into the baby or cake camp. Depending on what clothes I wear I can go from looking very pregnant to like I enjoy a bourbon biscuit or 60. I still forget I am pregnant and when I catch myself out of the corner of my eye have a seriously Row put down the cake moment and then remember doh you’re pregnant
Symptoms: Slight back ache as my bump grows bigger.
Amazing and uncanny sense of smell. Combined with a constantly blocked nose, thanks pregnancy sinitusis. This has had one unexpected benefit – for the first year in a long time I’ve skipped all those seasonal colds.
Ability to burn in the moonlight. Thanks lack of melanin that has suddenly made me feel a lot of sympathy for pale people.
Insomnia. Just when I had regained my energy I started waking at 5am each morning filled with thoughts like ‘how can I fix the world in three months?’ ‘Should I cut my hair?’ ‘What is the difference between walnut and pecans anyway?’ You know important shit like that. HWSNBN thinks this is nature’s way of preparing me from the sleepless nights post birth. I think this proves that nature is a bitch.
Boy or girl: A boy.
Cravings: Cauliflower cheese.
All the carbs.
Anything making you feel queasy: Luckily what queasiness I had seems to have abated. But eating too much can make me feel overfull and sick so I have to eat little and often like a small woodland creature. Dessert is no longer an option. This is dark times indeed my friends.
Maternity clothes: Thanks to eBay I now have some maternity clothes which I am mixing with my more floating normal dresses. So far I’ve been unimpressed with maternity fashion which remains both expensive and unfashionable.
Sleep: Less than before especially at 5am…
Miss anything: Crack.
I jest. Nope, so far I am loving being pregnant.
Next stop, the third trimester…