32 Weeks – Hello Third Trimester (and pelvic floor)
Ah, the third trimester. It’s here. I wake in the middle of the night with muscles aching from being in the one position for too long. I’ve passed the tipping point – my body is not built to handle all this excess weight pushing relentlessly down. I suck in my stomach muscles and gingerly test the possibility of starting to roll all the way over to the other side. Watching for any painful twinges and supporting the growing bump as the weight slowly starts to shift. Next comes the small pillow to rest the edge of the bump on. Trying not to disturb my husband as I awkwardly shift positions in a big bed that has suddenly grown too small. I shuffle back into position, mission complete. Then I wait as the rest of me catches up with the new gravitational direction.
Internally, there’s a slow slide as my organs make their way to a better position… and there… a flutter deep inside. The disconcerting sensation of something on the move that is not a part of me. Even remotely I can sense the annoyance at being disturbed. Little limbs kick and flail as the baby gets into their own more comfortable position, sending more kicks and thumps my way for a while as payback. Then eventually we all drift off again for an hour until the next time that one of us feels the need to move and then the procedure will start all over again.
Unsurprisingly, a second pregnancy is very different to the first. No need to spend so many hours researching signs of labour, how to keep a baby alive, or the specs of the latest and best travel systems. Sorry secondborn – you’re getting your brother’s old junk. Just as soon as we get around to dragging it all down from the attic. The only new items on the baby list are a cot that can be side-carred to our bed, a simple to use newborn sling, and a babywearing coat (for me). The shortness of this list, and the busyness of trying to (maybe) sell and buy houses with a 3 year old underfoot had left us with a false sense of security that there was plenty of time left to get ready. This started to fade as the number 30 displayed clearly on my pregnancy tracker a couple of weeks ago. “Oh, the baby isn’t coming for ages yet”, I still keep reassuring the Rascal. But actually, although it’s unlikely, this baby could be making a grand appearance in 4 weeks time. I start to feel like every kick and poke I receive during the day and night is a not so gentle reminder from my occupant – “I’m here, I’m coming soon, ready or not… and you’re totally not!”
I pencil into the calendar a trip to the far side of the city to haul boxes down from my parents attic. And a few shopping trips in the near future. “Would you like to buy a present to give to the baby when it gets here?”, I ask the Rascal. He’s delighted at the idea. He wants to give the baby a small cuddly toy but it’s vitally important that he must pick out which one himself. Perfect, I add another shop to the list. For now we’ll go with the illogical assumption that if we have all the ‘baby stuff’ ready in the next few weeks then we’ll figure out the rest of the logistics of having a brand new family member along the way.
I catch a head cold, and it totally throws me. Now my breathing is even more laboured and I really can’t get comfortable at night. The cough moves quickly into my chest and lodges there for a surprisingly long time. It’s an intense cough that would leave me doubled over, if that was actually a position I could attain. Coughing with a belly full of baby is awkward. It’s also a timely reminder that I better start doing those pelvic floor exercises more religiously. They are getting a marathon workout trying to hold everything in while my lungs randomly eject foreign matter. I hope that they hang in there until the cough eases up. My husband gets it a few days later and is stunned at how crappy he’s feeling. I might have a mild sense of satisfaction that he now understands exactly why I was so miserable over a measly cold.
Then the Irish summer arrives. For real this time. It looks like we might get a whole 2 weeks of glorious sunshine! We can go to the beach! We can have picnics every day! It’ll be great! It is, for about a day, then the full brunt of third trimester pregnancy hits me like a train and I’m pretty much out for the count for the remainder of the week. I feel like I gained a whole extra bump overnight. I literally can’t get enough sleep. I reposition myself at least once every hour at night and still wake up in the morning barely able to stand because the muscles in my legs are dead. We average a 20 minute walk each day in the sunshine, if we’re lucky. I’m too tired to get behind the wheel of the car. I spend the day trying to sneak upstairs without getting caught so I can lie in the bed for a whole 10 minutes uninterrupted before the Rascal clatters up in search of me and decides to ‘have a rest too’. Turns out that the arrival of summer was totally over-rated for all the pregnant women out there.
I finally struggle downstairs one morning and find that not only was the dishwasher not unloaded the night before, a bunch of dirty dishes were distributed in amongst the clean ones. There’s a brief change of roles as *I* have a little meltdown and my 3 year old attempts to console me. He spends the rest of the day offering me Gaviscon and boxes of tissues although I assure him that I’m over it, and a rest on the couch has restored me to semi-functioning mode again.
But it’s not all bad. We get a load of baby washing done. I figure out how to efficiently re-fold the pop-up tent without it walloping baby and me. We indulge in lots of flower-picking of the daisies and buttercups flooding the park. The “Mammy is too pregnant to do anything” training is going so well that now I just shout “I dropped something!”, and the Rascal automatically comes running to retrieve it for me. I’m gradually working my way through freelance work a bit faster than I expect. Just in the nick of time, the weather breaks a little and my energy levels creep up a little. Or maybe that’s just it being the start of shorter week. We’ll see how things are by the end of it. We might even be making progress on the baby name list, or have lost the will to debate much more about it which is still progress. Baby is head-down (please stay that way!). Only a million other things to get done before this third trimester abruptly ends…