This post is quite overdue, but my third trimester was a complete whirlwind! Between changes in my symptoms, to baby shower planning, to my final baby preparations–I had a LOT going on. And then, of course, the end of this trimester meant the arrival of my baby!
Around the start of my third trimester, my husband started his first semester of his full-time business school (in person) program.
As excited as I was for him to embark on this journey, I had some pretty mixed feelings. While COVID numbers were waning at the time, I felt a little uneasy about all of the new people he’d meet (and whose germs I was bound to come in contact with)—especially since I wasn’t vaccinated for much of the summer.
And beyond COVID concerns, I wasn’t looking forward to spending most of my days at home alone, staring at my work computer for hours on end.
I’d announced my pregnancy to my project team toward the end of my second trimester and I was initially excited to be in full pre-maternity leave mode. But almost immediately, my workload started picking up as my team prepared for my absence. I was months away from the start of my maternity leave–I stopped working two weeks before my due date–and it quickly became a really difficult season. I was working really hard, growing really large, and in disbelief that I was still feeling sick.
During this final stretch of pregnancy, I started feeling the weight of all the physical, mental, and emotional stress I was under. Around this time, I started to experience new symptoms.
As a reminder, I had felt pretty horrible through my first and second trimesters of this pregnancy. Once my third trimester rolled around, I had finally discovered the perfect mix of medicines and supplements to get me through most days without vomiting. But with little warning, I became overwhelmed with exhaustion all the time. Working, especially working from home in my apartment, became incredibly tough. I was constantly dozing off, zoning out, or fighting the urge to take a nap.
Appetite Changes & Weight Gain
And despite the persistent nausea, my appetite (namely, my sweet tooth) kicked into overdrive! Y’all, it felt like I was eating all the things, all the time, which was just so not…me. I started craving–and eating–cookies, brownies, pastries, and candy. I rarely felt satiated and my desire to eat fresh and healthy foods was at an all time low. So it was no surprise when I started gaining an incredible amount of weight.
Let me pause here and say that, as a pregnant woman, I fully anticipated and expected to gain weight. I knew I needed to gain weight to grow a healthy baby and I never considered dieting. But the first time I got on a scale and realized I was nearly 50 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight, I nearly spiraled.
But after diving into numerous pregnancy resources that touched on this topic, I came to the decision that I would stop weighing myself. And, my goodness, what an incredible idea. I can probably write an entire post on this topic, but just know that there are plenty of ways a provider can measure a woman’s health during pregnancy that don’t rely on the numbers that pop up on a scale during one of the most vulnerable times in her life. Creating that boundary for care during my pregnancy reduced a lot of the unnecessary stress that was on my plate.
This probably goes without saying, but I started to become extremely uncomfortable as my third trimester progressed. I started to struggle with a variety of symptoms that had me asking “now what is going here?!” My back would not stop aching, walking with Hula became increasingly difficult, and I started experiencing Category 5 strength heartburn. All this, coupled with the fact that I’d started having pretty scary, vivid dreams, made for a really frustrating end to my pregnancy.
Emotional & Mental Well-being
To state things mildly, I was nearing an emotional breaking point. I prayed a lot during that time–for my and the baby’s health, for a safe delivery, and for a swift end to being pregnant.
If I didn’t make it abundantly clear, I started to deal with frequent sadness and anxiety during the latter part of my pregnancy. While I’d heard a great deal about the realities of postpartum depression and anxiety, I felt completely unprepared to experience symptoms related to perinatal anxiety. The combination of my physical symptoms, emotional weariness, and external factors (like my job) really started to take a toll.
How could this experience, that I so desperately wanted, be causing so many confusing emotions?!
I started seeing a therapist during this season. Prioritizing therapy has been long overdue for me, and I truly wish I’d started earlier. I only had a handful of sessions in advance of the baby’s arrival, but taking steps to better manage my anxious feelings and talk through my fears made me feel a lot calmer about giving birth.
Other Health-Related Points
In this trimester, I also made the decision to finally get vaccinated against COVID-19 (note: when I scheduled my appointments, the CDC had not yet cleared the vaccine as “safe” for expectant mothers). But COVID numbers started to surge, once again, during the summer months and I didn’t want to put our baby at risk for infection.. With such limited information and a handful of scary urban legends going around, the decision to get vaccinated proved incredibly stressful. How would I know it was the right thing to do?
Fortunately, the CDC confirmed the safety of vaccinating pregnant women by the time I got my second dose (and I felt MUCH better). And let me just say that the sore arm I experienced as a result was well worth the peace and relief I felt post-vaccination.
Our Baby Shower
A highlight of this trimester would definitely be my baby shower(s)! I had a small in-person gathering with a few close friends and family members followed by a larger, virtual shower hosted on Facebook. And y’all—what a time?! I was beyond appreciative of all the love and support we received.
We went with the theme “A Little Cutie Is On The Way,” which felt like the PERFECT, non-gendered way to celebrate our baby. The decorations, in addition to the games we played at both showers, came together so well! I wrapped up our shower weekend feeling both physically ready for the baby to come and as emotionally supported as I’d ever been before.
As the pregnancy came to an end, I preoccupied myself with a list of activities to get as ready as possible for labor & delivery / welcoming the baby.
I also tackled a few labor-related items, including backing my north center bag and drafting my labor playlist and affirmations. In hindsight, I’m so grateful that I’d set aside time to make my labor and delivery as intentionally planned and stress-free as possible (and it absolutely paid off)!
And last, but certainly not least, we hired a doula! I went back and forth about I “needed” a doula and was definitely late to the game on finding one. But once I talked to Missy, the doula we ended up hiring, I was confident that I wanted her to be a part of my birthing team!
Missy assured me that, while my midwife would be focused on my and baby’s health and progress during labor, as my doula she’d focus on my comfort and peace throughout. While in labor, expectant moms and their birth partners typically have a great deal of alone time in their birthing rooms and a doula is a great resource to keep a birthing mom calm and comfortable in preparation for baby’s delivery.
While it’s an unpopular opinion, the third trimester was probably my favorite. As you can tell, I had a lot going on in in those final weeks, but I and could barely contain my excitement (and my desire to NOT be pregnant anymore)!
And as much as I wanted to meet my baby, this last few weeks as a mom-to-be were incredibly precious and tender. I was physically uncomfortable and emotionally vulnerable, but felt stronger mentally than I had in months.