About 5-1/2 weeks ago, I posted a big 20-week pregnancy update. It felt good to share the first half of my journey with you guys after holding 'the secret' in for so long. It also felt good to get to read your stories in the comments. Despite all these good feelings, I still feel like I need to keep reiterating the fact that this is a lifestyle and design blog with some personal moments thrown in - not a mommy blog or pregnancy blog. I know that many of my readers don't have children, and I don't want to bore those of you who just aren't interested. But truth be told, being pregnant is a huge part of my life these days. I've moved (many, many times) all over the country, I've been lucky to travel the world, and I've gone through major moments (and changes) in my career. I've been the mommy to several fur babies including the love of my life, Bubby dog. I've made wise decisions and major mistakes. I've been through a divorce in my 20's, and I've encountered many losses and serious tragedies beyond anything I could have imagined. I've fallen in love, and in my 30s, met and then eventually married the best man I've ever known. I feel like I've experienced a lot. But honestly - for me - this experience feels like the biggest one so far. It's strange and beautiful and all-consuming, and I feel like it wouldn't be genuine if I consistently posted here without mentioning something that is such a massive part of my everyday life right now. And as I approach my final trimester (just 2-1/2 weeks away!), I felt the urge to post another update and share some things with you.
It's actually kind of amazing how many changes occurred after I last posted - some of which were completely unexpected. I just assumed that I'd only experience big shifts from trimester to trimester, rather than within a trimester. As I transitioned from the first into the second and saw my nausea and hit-by-a-truck level fatigue diminish, I figured that I was set for a while. And even that didn't feel like a major change (well, okay, maybe the cessation of vomiting did), because I've remained pretty exhausted. But it wasn't until I got all nice and settled into the second trimester that the real changes started for me. First, I went through a period where I felt ridiculously emotional (something I didn't experience at all in my first). I briefly mentioned this in my 20-week update, but it got even worse after that (I mean, who cries at Subaru commercials?). And then just as quickly as it started, it stopped. Another big change was the level of the baby's movement. This is pretty common, but for me, it was overnight that I went from feeling butterfly flutters to being able to literally see this little creature kick and move under my skin. Talk about crazy. And of course, we also found out that we're having a girl. I'm not sure that this counts as a 'change,' but it made a difference for us suddenly knowing that this bean in my belly was going to be a she.
The most intense and unexpected change for me came smack dab in the middle of the second trimester, between weeks 20 and 24. I began to experience nightly panic attacks out of nowhere. For no reason. Truthfully, I've surprised myself with how little anxiety I've felt during my pregnancy. Part of me actually feels like I should be a lot more nervous, because of things like, you know, childbirth and finances and knowing I'll be completely responsible for another human life in a few months. But ultimately, I feel okay about it all and know that we'll somehow figure it all out. Which is why these intense feelings of being completely gripped by fear, waking me from a dead sleep every night drenched in sweat and heart pounding, made absolutely no sense to me. I've had panic attacks a few times before in my life, but never in the middle of the night, fueled by absolutely nothing. I could not for the life of me figure out why they were happening, or how to make them stop. And they were kind of terrifying. I wondered if maybe they were triggered by my experience in Colorado right before the 20 week mark, where at an altitude of 9,000+ feet I had severe breathing problems for an entire night, fainted, and ended up in urgent care. Looking back, it was pretty traumatic going through that pregnant, so I thought maybe this was some subconscious response to that. I've certainly been through a lot worse though, so that just didn't seem to be enough of an answer. After a solid week of nights so hellish that they were starting to induce weeping episodes, I finally went to my OB, who had a one-word explanation for me: hormones. Apparently panic attacks (especially nocturnal ones) are very common in the second half of pregnancy, and are much more due to hormones and chemicals than any sort of emotional cause. I ended up coming home and doing a bunch of research (okay, message board reading), and lo and behold, there were hundreds of other pregnant women talking about dealing with the same issue. Almost all of them started experiencing them around 20 weeks like I did. Some disappeared as the third trimester approached, and others lasted through the course of the pregnancy and into postpartum. Knowing I wasn't alone was quite reassuring to me, and I just crossed my fingers that they wouldn't last throughout the rest of my pregnancy, because holy sh*t do they suck. Thankfully, they began to fade, and I'm sleeping much better now. And the best part is that because I was forced to teach myself how to deal with them, I now feel better prepared should they appear again postpartum. I hope that none of you ever have to encounter these, but if you do, my most effective solution was to get out of bed, walk around for a few minutes, take some deep breaths of fresh air (preferably outside), make a cup of chamomile or peppermint tea, rub some Gentle Baby essential oil on my belly, and listen to mantras or soothing music. If that didn't do the trick, I'd take a couple drops of Bach Rescue Remedy herbs and watch Netflix for a few minutes until I fell back asleep. I can honestly say that this was the most challenging part of my pregnancy so far, and I'm so, so relieved that this hormonal window has passed. (Knocking on wood as I type this that they stay far, far away.)
Other than that, the changes have been fairly basic/common. My belly is getting bigger and bigger and I barely recognize my body anymore. I'm still gaining weight, but much less quickly than in the first trimester. There are also, of course, several other standard physical changes that I'll spare you due to TMI-ness. We're starting to really get a lot accomplished in the nursery, which is so exciting, because it makes this all feel more real. My friends are throwing me a shower/celebration brunch at my friend Rachel's gorgeous downtown apartment this Sunday, and my mom and sister are hosting a baby shower for our big ol' family on October 26th. Baby can hear now (and see light!), so we talk to her, sing to her, play music, and tell her stories. And she responds with movement, which is pretty freaking amazing to witness if you ask me. It's been really great having Robbie back home to share this with me over the last couple of weeks too. We still have three months left, but it's starting to feel like we're really a little family. It's the best feeling in the world. Oh, and we are working on names. It's so much harder than I thought it would be. Right now we have the list down to about ten, but we can't seem to get it much smaller than that. Hopefully we can make a decision before she gets here!
Are you still here? If so, thank you for letting me share this crazy, bizarre, wondrous, incredible journey with you. If you're interested in knowing the full story of our attempts to conceive, our struggles, the first trimester and first half of the second, check out my 20-week post (which is even more in depth than this one). As always, if any of you have your own pregnancy stories to share, I'd love to hear them.