Back at the end of my first trimester, I wrote a post on the things that had surprised me most about pregnancy up to that point – and, before I go any further here, let’s all just take a quick moment to LOL at the fact that I thought my bump was absolutely HUGE at that point, whereas now I can see that, actually, I’ve had more bloating from a bowl of pasta. Oh, you sweet first trimester child!
Anyway! Now that I’m into my third (THIRD!) trimester, I thought I’d take a similar look back at the things that surprised me about the second. Things like…
Most of my pregnancy symptoms disappeared, almost overnight
This technically shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did, because it was something I’d read about, and knew happened to people. I honestly didn’t expect it to happen to ME, though (My mum, for instance, had morning sickness for the full 9 months with me, and was still throwing up the day she had me, so I just assumed I’d follow suit…), and, if it did, I really didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. Sure enough, though, at some point in week 12/13, my nausea abruptly stopped, almost as if someone had flicked a switch from, “Make Amber feel like hell at all times,” to “Let’s give the poor sod a break.”
This was very, very welcome, of course, but it did come as a bit of a surprise to me, and I spent the first couple of weeks of the second trimester worrying that I SHOULD still be feeling sick, and that there must be something wrong. GOD. As for the rest of the symptoms, well, the sore boobs continued for a few weeks after that, and I still have a lot of… er, digestive issues, let’s say… but, for the most part, I more or less went back to feeling exactly as I did before I was pregnant. A little slower, sure, and bedtime is still a good bit earlier than it used to be, but honestly? A lot of the time I don’t even feel pregnant: how weird is THAT?!
The anxiety didn’t – disappear, that is
For most of the first trimester, I’d had this stupid idea in my head that if I could just make it to the 12 week scan, I’d finally be able to relax and stop worrying so much. Well, guess what? Today I have my 28 week scan – a number I never, ever, thought I’d reach – and I STILL haven’t stopped worrying. Actually, in many ways, I found the anxiety of the second trimester to be even worse than that of the first: mostly because of the lack of reassurance.
Because of my history of miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, I had scans every two weeks in the first trimester. After the 12-week scan, though, there was nothing AT ALL until week 20: in fact, I didn’t even see the midwife again until week 18, and, in the meantime, I got myself into such a state that we ended up – somewhat controversially – buying a home doppler unit, just so I could get at least SOME reassurance.
During those weeks, I was a complete mess a lot of the time: I didn’t start to feel definite baby kicks until the start of week 20, which seemed really late to me (It actually ISN’T particularly late, especially for people who, like me, have an anterior placenta: it was just that everyone I spoke to seemed to have felt their babies move much earlier than that, so I convinced myself that I was super-unusual, and that -again – there MUST be something wrong…), and, because I wasn’t having any symptoms as such, it was impossible for me to believe the baby was actually alive and well. This particular anxiety did become easier to deal with once I started to feel movements, but I still worry every day, and I’ve come to accept that I will NEVER reach that point when I just relax and “enjoy” the pregnancy, like people keep on telling me to do: there will ALWAYS be something to worry me, and although those worries have changed as the pregnancy has progressed, I don’t see them ever disappearing completely.
Speaking of movements, though…
Baby movements didn’t feel anything like I expected them to
My entire life, I’d always heard pregnant women – or women who’d BEEN pregnant – describe those first movements in one of two ways: it was either –
a) “Like a butterfly fluttering its wings!”
b) “Like bubbles bursting!”
Very few people seem to deviate from that script, so, leave it to me to be the odd one out, huh? I actually started feeling vague movements in weeks 18-19 (which I totally dismissed at first, because they didn’t feel like butterflies, so I assumed they must just be gas or something), but it wasn’t until midnight as week 19 turned to week 20 that I felt something that I knew HAD to be the baby – and that was a definite kick, which felt absolutely nothing like either butterflies or bubbles! I described the earliest movements as a kind of “shifting” sensation, and now he has a range of moves (Like Jagger, basically), which I describe variously as “bumping”, “wriggling”, “kicking”, and, occasionally, “OUCH, I think that was my cervix?” But still no butterflies.
People kept wanting to tell me their pregnancy/childbirth horror stories
I’d been really looking forward to telling everyone our news, but, while that WAS a really exciting time for us, it also had the very unexpected result of encouraging people to tell me their pregnancy horror stories, from late miscarriages to stillbirths, and everything in between. This really, really took me by surprise: it seems so obvious to me that those kind of stories aren’t really appropriate for someone who’s currently pregnant (and openly anxious about it), but it happened so often that I had to get over my need to be “polite” and actually just tell some people that they were upsetting me, and that I needed them to stop.
It still happens, though, and, because of my anxiety, it’s something I’ve found really hard to deal with. In the first trimester, I had my own little milestones I wanted to reach: I wanted to get past week 6, for instance, because that was when I’d miscarried the first time; I wanted to get to the 12 week scan, because that’s when the odds of something bad happening start to drop, and so on. In the second trimester, though, I found myself also marking off other people’s milestone’s, too: so I’d feel like I couldn’t relax until after week 16, say, because that’s when that one person on Facebook had had that traumatic experience, and now I was convinced the same thing would happen to me. This is still the case now that I’m in the third trimester – in my case, I think that too much information definitely CAN be a bad thing!
Or talk down to me
One of the things that’s really struck me about pregnancy is the way it changes the way people interact with you. Some of those changes are positive ones – I get smiles from random strangers who catch sight of the bump, and most people are generally lovely – but I’ve also found a tendency for a lot of people to suddenly start talking down to me, as if they feel my mental capacity has diminished as my bump has grown, or believe that I’ve somehow managed to get through almost seven months of pregnancy without learning a single thing about it.
I talked a bit about this in my post about pregnancy and loss of identity, and, honestly, I still find it odd, and quite uncomfortable, when people constantly comment on the size/appearance of my belly – even when the comments are positive ones. I also absolutely HATE being referred to as “mummy” or “mama” – I find it really patronising, and while I’m sure it’s just me, I actually find the whole language of pregnancy quite cringey in general, with all of the “mummas” and “bubbas” etc, etc. I suspect this is only going to get worse when the baby is here, but already I’ve noticed that, no matter what I’m doing/writing/talking about, some people will always try to make it about the pregnancy now, which has taken quite a bit of getting used to. I know I’ve brought some of this on myself, because pregnancy is SO all-consuming that I’ve obviously been writing about it a lot, but I would still like to be able to talk about other things from time to time, too!
I’ve also noticed that pretty much everything I say/write these days is taken as a request for advice, even when it isn’t, which leads to a constant stream of unsolicited advice: it’s obviously well-meant, but can feel a little patronising, too!
I didn’t get the amazing hair/skin/nails I was promised
Everyone tells you that pregnant women “glow”: that their hair gets thicker and shinier, their nails get longer and healthier, and their skin … well, glows. Apparently. Me, though? Nah, not so much. My hair is exactly the same as always, my nails are still crap, and if I “glow”, it’s probably just the cold sweat of anxiety. I feel a bit cheated, actually: WHERE IS MY AMAZING HAIR, SKIN AND NAILS?!
My appetite went crazy
I’ve seriously never been so hungry in my entire life: I could quite happily have eaten dinner, and then called out for takeaway some nights*, which was quite the surprise after the, “I am never eating again,” feeling that had dominated the first trimester.
My appetite has started to go back to normal now, thankfully, but I’m still taking that whole, “eating for two” thing a little bit too literally, I reckon…
(*I didn’t. Well, not ALL the time, anyway…)
Finally, the biggest surprise of all:
The 2nd trimester had the ability to slow down time
No, really, it did. I wouldn’t say the 1st trimester flew by, even given that you don’t actually find out you’re pregnant until 3/4 weeks into it, but the 2nd one has CRAWLED. Honestly, it felt AT LEAST four times as long as the first, and when I think about those early days/weeks, it seems almost like another lifetime ago. The 3rd trimester, meanwhile, already feels like it’s going to be the complete opposite: I know I’m only a few days into it at this point, and I’m sure I’ll feel differently towards the end, but that end point feels terrifyingly close right now: if I do end up having an elective c-section, it’s likely that he’ll be here by the end of the year, and when I think of it that way, it feels like no time at all.