Third Trimester Recap!

How are we already approaching 39 weeks?! I can’t believe we’re so close to meeting our daughter! I know I’m not completely done with the third trimester yet (and these last days feel like an eternity) but since I could technically go into labor any day now, I figured I should go ahead and write this post now. 
Thank you to Victoria Gloria for the photo above and the next two sets down below ♥
Besides the excruciating waiting game in these final weeks, I think third trimester might have even been my favorite! I felt relieved after we passed the point of viability and could feel baby getting stronger every week, and I’ve loved watching my belly grow. It’s also been nice to have all the major projects completed so that I could spend some quality time with E and slow down my pace a bit as I got bigger.

Physically, how do you feel?

I’m grateful that I’m still feeling good! I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop — I’ve been fully expecting to be painfully uncomfortable in the third trimester — but I’m pleasantly surprised that hasn’t happened yet. Of course there have been uncomfortable aspects, like rib pain in my back and many long nights of insomnia. But I never felt like I couldn’t manage. I can even sleep without any extra pillows, which feels like a huge win.
Even though the bump has gotten gigantic, I still love it so much. Feeling and seeing baby’s kicks and rolls from the outside fascinates me. I finally look like a mom instead of just feeling like one, and I’m proud to waddle around with my big ‘ol belly
I’m still putting in my daily two-mile walk, and I want to keep that up until I go into labor. Maybe that will encourage baby to come out??

Emotionally, how do you feel?

It was a trimester of big moods! I always thought I would cry all the time due to the hormones, but it was actually way more common that I would bust out into a fit of laughter! I laughed at some many random things that weren’t even that funny, but they just struck me as absolutely hilarious in that moment and I would laugh until my belly hurt. I like to think that means that we’ll end up with a really joyful baby.
My parents caught COVID in San Antonio midway through my third trimester, and that was one of the most stressful experiences ever. Thankfully they’ve made a full recovery, but when they first tested positive, my mind jumped to all sorts of terrible conclusions and I was convinced our baby was never going to meet two of her grandparents. I know things could have turned out much differently, and I’m beyond grateful that they’re healthy now.
Throughout the third trimester, I constantly felt nostalgic about this chapter coming to a close –  both pregnancy and the end of our time with just the two of us. This next season is going to be so different, but I know it will also be incredibly sweet.
Now that I’ve checked off most things on my to-do list, I just have to be patient and wait for our baby girl to make her debut. This is REALLY hard for me as someone who loves to plan everything! Although we’re still only at 38 weeks, I now have a whole new understanding of why first-time moms feel so disappointed when their due date comes and goes! My OB summed it up perfectly – it’s like going on a hike, and everyone tells you it has the world’s best view at the end of the trail, but you have no idea when the hike is going to be over. And you’re trying to save your energy for the big climb at the finish line, but who knows when that’s coming??

Was there anything that surprised you about pregnancy?

• How strong the baby’s movements felt! They turned from cute little kicks in the second trimester to full-blown waves and rolls across my belly. Sometimes they were so intense that I would stop what I was doing and say "woah" out loud!
• How quickly it went! The first trimester felt like an entire decade, but after that I couldn’t believe how fast the weeks passed. I’m not sure if this is a normal pregnancy thing, or a side effect of "corona time." That said, time is definitely slowing down again during these final weeks as we play the waiting game and wonder every day if today will be the day.
• How long it took to start showing – I was so impatient waiting for my bump to make an appearance. For most of the second trimester, I just looked like I ate too many bagels (which I did, haha!) Even at 20 weeks, I didn’t look obviously pregnant.
• I always thought pregnancy would be a lot more physically miserable, and I’m thankful this didn’t turn out to be the case (at least this time – they say subsequent pregnancies are harder!)
• The doctor’s appointments being so short. Although I love my OB, I realized that due to time constraints, it’s really up to you to educate yourself about having a healthy pregnancy. Most of the time, my appointments were just routine testing with a few questions at the end.
• How intense nesting felt, and how early it took hold! I always thought nesting was something you did in the final weeks of pregnancy, but for me it kicked in early during the second trimester. I’ve never been so obsessive about cleaning the baseboards, ironing wrinkled clothing, or organizing every last cabinet. It felt like someone else took over my body when I got into nesting fits until 3:30 in the morning.
• How pregnancy insomnia is REAL. I always thought women couldn’t sleep during pregnancy because of physical discomfort, and I didn’t realize it can also just be completely due to hormones. For me, a good portion of the third trimester has looked like this: I’ll be wide awake until 3 or 4 in the morning, then I’ll sleep for six hours or so, wake up for two, and then go back to sleep for another 2-3 hours. As someone who can usually sleep nine hours straight, it’s been frustrating, but probably good preparation for the massive sleep bomb that’s about to hit.

What are your plans for the birth?

I had hoped to hire a doula since before I even got pregnant, but then the hospital’s COVID policies prevented us from having a second support person in the L&D room. When my doctor told me the restriction had been lifted and we would be able to hire a doula, I was so happy I cried!
E and I had been preparing as if it would just be the two of us, but that idea stressed me out so much (even though I know he will be an amazing birth partner). We both felt that we wanted someone with us who has navigated this many times before and can offer emotional support. I would prefer to labor at home as long as possible before heading to the hospital, and I don’t know how I’m going to cope with pain.  I like the idea of having a familiar face in the room in case my doctor is not able to attend the delivery, and our doula will remain a constant when the hospital nurses change shifts. I’m glad that she will help us feel confident in the decisions that we make during labor & delivery and talk us through medical interventions if they turn out to be necessary.
I’m beyond thankful to have found Emily at Baby Bean Boston! She has been incredible since our first call with her, and we’ve already had a few prenatal meetings so that she’ll be a familiar face on the baby’s birthday. She’s also been an invaluable source of prenatal education – we’ve learned a ton from her already!
As far as an actual birth plan – I’m thinking of it more as "birth preferences" than a set-in-stone list of things that need to happen. Babies arrive on their own terms, and I’m trying hard to envision and prepare for many different scenarios, including a c-section if it turns out to be necessary. Emily introduced us to Motherboard, a great educational app that generates a beautiful visual birth plan based on your top priorities for birth. I learned a lot from going through each section with E and would definitely recommend it!

What have you been working on to prep for baby?

• Packing our hospital bag – this one took a surprising amount of time! I researched a lot and followed tips like packing an extra long phone charger, slippers, my own towel and pillow, etc. This post was really helpful!
• Installing the carseat
• Watching classes: Taking Cara Babies, Motherly’s birth class, and Tinyhood’s breastfeeding class
• Learning about labor & delivery, reading & listening to lots of birth stories, and creating a birth plan through Motherboard
• Preparing freezer meals. We’ve been doubling recipes, eating half that week, and freezing the other half for after the baby is here
• Catching up with all our personal photos & album printing (OK, this one is not for the baby, but it makes me feel so much more prepared!) My friend called this "digital nesting" and I think that’s spot on
• Putting together our address book for newborn announcements (both email and printed) so that we don’t forget to share the news with anyone when baby is here
• Wrapping up lingering work tasks and officially setting my maternity leave auto-responder
• Assembling a diaper/nursing caddy that I can easily move around the house
• Learning about the basics of breastfeeding and pumping, sterilizing and learning about allll the things (bottles, pump parts, pacifiers, etc), and meeting with our awesome lactation consultant for some real talk about what to expect in the first days and weeks
• Deep-cleaning our house, right down to scrubbing the baseboards (who am I?!!)
• Boring paperwork things like assembling a will, life insurance, health insurance changes, etc
• Continuing to update my pregnancy journal (I’ve been keeping this through the Day One app) and getting it ready to print once baby is here
• Going on dates to soak up some last quality time with just the two of us before everything changes
• Setting up a system for our organizing and sharing our family photos – I wrote a whole post about that here
• Putting the finishing touches on the nursery and our house – click here for a tour!
• Reading allllll the books! Here’s the stack I’ve been making my way through:
A few photos of the finished nursery (check out this post for the complete tour!)

How has COVID changed your pregnancy?

I’m sure many would agree that while COVID has been terrible, it has also brought some welcome changes too.
The good:
• This year has taught me that I can handle and adapt to big life changes. It’s reminded me that most things are out of our control, which is actually excellent preparation for the uncertainty of parenthood.
• E and I have had SO much more time together and have learned a lot about being a team
• Being forced to stay home meant that I had a lot more time to prepare my home, body, and mind for having a baby. There’s no way I could have felt this prepared if I had been working up until 38 weeks like I originally planned.
• We’ve been eating healthier because we can’t go grab takeout all the time.
• I’ve cut out a lot of things I used to think were necessary but actually aren’t, like my daily iced coffee run (although I do still miss it!)
• I love that our baby is going to have the most epic stories to tell about the year she was born!
• If I’m being honest: it’s been great to easily run to the bathroom anytime baby starts kicking my bladder, and I’m glad I don’t have to worry about finding a public restroom downtown
• Being pregnant has given me a lot of hope for the future in a very uncertain time
Backyard visits = the new normal
The bad:
• Some serious fear and anxiety about the virus and staying healthy for the baby, especially in the early days when so much was unknown about the effects on pregnancy
• Being isolated at a time when I really hoped to find community. I’m especially feeling this in terms of postpartum support because we’re nervous to have people inside our home with a newborn. I had wanted to join a support group for new moms, visit with a lactation consultant, etc, but those plans are either getting canceled or turning virtual. Practically every pregnancy book tells you to find your mom village and ask for help when you need it, and it’s tough not to be able to follow that advice in the traditional sense.
• Not being able to see family (everyone is out of state) or hang out with friends.
• Attending OB and ultrasound appointments without E
• Missing out on a babymoon
• Strict hospital regulations including wearing a mask during labor and no visitors
• Having to stock our house with baby gear entirely through online shopping – oh, what I would have given to make a few Target runs instead of breaking down cardboard boxes! But I do realize we were lucky to have the option of online shopping at all!
• Having an "invisible" pregnancy. I always thought I would have to field strange comments from strangers and unwanted requests to touch my belly while riding the T, but it turns out that when everyone is wearing a mask, nobody talks to each other or even makes eye contact. I’m glad to have dodged the awkward parts, but it feels a bit like I missed out a pregnancy rite of passage. A grand total of one stranger shouted "congratulations" to E & me from his car and it made my entire day.
E installing the carseat!

Are you nervous about labor & delivery?

I’ve been afraid of childbirth for as long as I can remember, but I’m trying to remember that in the grand scheme of things, the day of the birth is such a small blip on the radar. I’ve been working on positive thinking, and one thing that has really helped with that is Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (affiliate link). She shares many positive birth stories and talks about how birth is a natural, inherent ability to embrace. I’ve also been listening to The Birth Hour podcast on my daily walks, and hearing women share their experiences has helped me wrap my mind around many different possible outcomes.
Even more than fear of pain, I’m nervous about stillbirth or something happening to the baby during delivery. I know the chances are so small, but I’ve been on the wrong side of the statistics before when we miscarried, and it’s hard to trust that everything will work out. I used to think the third trimester would be terrible because of the uncomfortable physical symptoms, but it turns out that the anxiety has actually been the hardest part for me.

What’s your plan for maternity/paternity leave and family visits?

E is planning to take five weeks of paternity leave, and then my mom will be staying with us for a month. Sadly, it will be awhile before E’s parents are able to visit from Kansas, and we’ll miss them
I was originally planning to go back to work in January, but with COVID + flu season + a new baby, I’m thinking I might try to wait until April when I can begin photographing sessions outdoors again. By that time, it will have been an entire year without photographing clients. I’ve never taken that much time away from my job, and I truly miss it so much. But I’m also incredibly grateful to have this time to prepare for the baby and then bond with her after she’s here.
34 weeks, taken at one of our favorite spots to walk together

Did you have a baby shower?

Yes! My sister-in-law and mom organized a beautiful Zoom shower for our family members. They put together some virtual games and even sent decorations and rainbow crowns in the mail, which was so sweet! Our family is spread out all across the country, so it was really a gift to be able to get everyone together and celebrate the baby. Even if COVID hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have changed a thing
I also wanted to thank the friends who have sent incredibly thoughtful notes and gifts – every card and package has brightened my day. We may not have an in-person village as we welcome our daughter, but I have truly felt the love through snail mail and our "virtual village." Thank you for celebrating our baby girl with us.

Did you & E take a babymoon?

Originally we had hoped to take a short vacation to Cliff House in Maine (one of our favorite spots), but we decided it would be safer to stay home. E did have a few weeks of vacation time to spend before September, so we had some really nice time together in August. We took a couple of day trips to Salem and Rockport and enjoyed getting out of our house bubble.
Took these tripod photos to remember how sweet it is when E puts his head on my belly and feels kicks…some of my favorite moments for sure

What were your third trimester essentials?

• This nightgown, these stretchy gray sweatpants, and these maternity overalls. I lived in these constantly! (a huge benefit of COVID has been the ability to live mostly in loungewear!)
• Our doula Emily
• Watermelon…the second trimester craving continued And this peanut butter mug cake, which was my favorite guilty pleasure! I also have serious cravings for Phish Food ice cream and try to resist, but it’s getting harder!
• Spinning Babies daily essentials video. Originally I purchased this to help flip baby around (she was sunny side up most of the pregnancy), but this also helped a lot with rib pain and really chilled me out when I was feeling stressed.
• These maternity Spanx – lol! They helped my belly feel more supported when I went for my walks every day.
• Birthing ball – this thing has become a new installation in our living room and I use it all the time, both as a seat (to keep my knees lower than my hips) and as a tool for stretching (helped with rib pain). I’m also planning to labor with it at the hospital.
33 weeks
The day I realized my feet had disappeared
37 & 38 weeks…almost there!
Well, that wraps up my third trimester recap…hard to believe I’ve already blogged this whole pregnancy! With any luck, my next post will be her birth story. Thank you for following along this year – we can’t wait to welcome this baby girl to the world very soon!

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