Ah, the time has come to write about my least favorite trimester of pregnancy. The third. Due to immense physical discomfort literally all the time, I can’t imagine that’s an uncommon sentiment. As I write this (at least this intro part – can’t promise I’ll finish it today), I’m 40 weeks and 4 days pregnant. People love to talk about how the first baby is always late, but for some reason, I’d been certain it wouldn’t apply to me. BUT ALAS.
I started my third trimester feeling large. It’d already been hard to sleep by the end of the second, but as my belly got bigger things really just got out of hand. Sleeping through the night became near impossible, and getting back to sleep after waking up often resulted in hours of insomnia. Of course, everyone’s favorite well-meaning pregnancy advice is “sleep now,” which just feels like a slap in the face because hello – easier said than done.
Working out also got more difficult. Which makes sense, especially when your workout of choice involves being perched atop a stationary bike. And of course, the exhaustion of the first trimester returned full force. I’m a little obsessed with productivity. Healthy or not, it’s been my main coping mechanism during this pandemic. And I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. But my third trimester really put my in my place. I just couldn’t keep going full steam ahead anymore. But I guess that’s a valuable lesson in and of itself.
Another pesky pregnancy symptom was back pain. It seemed like any time I’d sit down to do something for more than an hour, my back would be killing me for the rest of the day. It was particularly bad because I was working from home, and since we converted our office to a nursery, that meant working from the couch more often than not. I could have found somewhere else to work. The dining room table, perhaps. But frankly, that wasn’t comfortable either. And our dining room is the hottest, brightest room in the house, so it really wasn’t ideal.
Thankfully, once I started my maternity leave and was no longer beholden to my 9 to 5 gig, the back pain eased up. A lot. Prior to that, all I could really do was make sure to get up and move every now and then, request copious back massages from Ben, and take horrible lukewarm baths (I live for a scalding hot bath, but since that wasn’t an option I had to make do, and being in water really did help).
Note: In California, you’re entitled to up to 4 weeks of state-paid maternity leave leading up to your due date. It’s use it or lose it, so you can’t reallocate the days to be used post-birth. I highly recommend taking that time if you possibly can.
And finally, despite having taken every precaution imaginable, I got a few stretch marks. I’m not thrilled about them. I know they’re normal, natural, and nothing to be ashamed of, but that doesn’t mean I have to like them. This was probably inevitable. My body had to do quite a lot of stretching to grow this little baby. But I’m still pissed.
I’ll be blunt. Being pregnant during a pandemic absolutely sucks. Of course, being anything during a pandemic sucks. But pandemic pregnancy sucks x 34857943729859. We were really careful about everything. Haven’t been to a grocery store since March. We’ve really only done outdoor activities a couple of times, and have barely seen any friends or family at all. And only in a very safe capacity at that. A few people acted like we were being overly cautious, which was maddening. And then a couple others told me that this was the perfect time to have a baby because I wouldn’t be missing out on much. Well intentioned, but that made me want to punch them in the face.
While there have certainly been some silver linings (like no strangers reaching out to touch my belly or make obnoxious comments), not being able to leave the house for our last months as a duo was really hard. And so was not being able to share this special time with friends and family. These feelings really bubbled up during the third trimester. Family was constantly asking us about how and when they could come visit, and it just felt like being kicked while we were down. And I mean, of course they wanted answers to those questions. But definitive answers don’t exist right now, and the safest of options pleased literally no one. So that was distressing to say the least.
That said, it is what it is. Maybe if I ever do this again things will be different. (God, I hope they are.) But this was the reality of the situation this time around. I feel like a broken record, but this whole rant is really just to say that if you’re also pregnant during this pandemic, you’re not alone. And your feelings are valid and understandable.
The Waiting Game
One thing that I didn’t anticipate about the late third trimester was the waiting game. Everyone says that you’ll know when you’re in labor, but what does that actually mean?! During the last few weeks of my third trimester, I started to get a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions. A tightening and hardening of my stomach that’d last anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute and a half.
My doctor had told me that I should go to the hospital when my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart and lasted at least 45 seconds. This pattern should be in place for an hour. For a week or two before my due date, I noticed this pattern arise. I was tracking contractions using an app, and it even told me to two to the hospital a few times. The thing is, they didn’t hurt. One night I called the labor and delivery advice line and asked them about it. They hit me with the ol’ “You’ll know when it’s time. It’ll hurt.” Despite trying every trick in the book to bring on labor, I ended up having to be induced (hi, some time has passed and I’m now about 4 weeks postpartum).
So all my fretting was for naught, but I will say that once my water broke things got VERY painful.
All in all I’d give pandemic pregnancy 1/5 stars. That said, it had its nice moments. My sister threw us a very sweet virtual baby shower. I’d honestly kind of been dreading it, but she killed it. It was beyond nice to be showered with love by family and friends, even though we couldn’t all be together. Here’s a picture from that!
One morning we snuck off to the beach, where my talented cousin met us for a maternity photo shoot. Not only was it a breath of fresh air to… well, get some fresh air, but now we have a ton of gorgeous photos to remember this pregnancy by. If you’re LA based and need maternity, wedding, or lifestyle photos, check out Rachel Melanie Photography!
Ben and I also DIYed a milk bath photo shoot, the results of which I’m pretty in love with.
Ben and I learned just how strong we could be, and grew even closer in the process. And we got a cute, squishy little baby out of it!
If you’re pregnant right now, I feel your pain.
But you’re not alone, and things will get better. Hopefully this series was either helpful or enlightening to you. I may write a little something about my fourth trimester once I’ve gotten past it. (It’s a thing, I didn’t make it up.) Feel free to leave a comment here or on Instagram if you have questions or just wanna chat!