Confessions of a First-Time-Mom (FTM): Second Trimester

Looking back on the past seven months, I’ve had to face some truths about myself.  In more ways than one I am extremely blessed. Lucky. Fortunate.  The human body is such a miracle and the changes that a woman’s body instinctively makes to support new life  is nothing short of incredible.  So I confess.  I am grateful for my aching back and hips, restless legs, expanding waistline, round rump, and heavy TaTa’s.  There are many who embark on the journey towards motherhood and for reasons beyond their control, the road takes twists, turns, and detours they never intended.  For some, the exit ramp approaches too quickly.  For others, the journey is fraught with flat tires, engine failure, oil leaks, and fatal accidents.  So I take this moment to celebrate mothers everywhere.  Those that have been trying to conceive, those that have lost their little loves, and those warrior moms (and dads) who put in the work every day so that their children can thrive.

Baby’s First Moves: Week 16

They say FTMs aren’t likely to feel baby’s first moves until somewhere between 18-20 weeks. I was way too impatient for that so as soon as I learned that baby’s ears were developed enough to start hearing some sound (around 16 weeks), I started experimenting with singing and playing music.  At first I used a set of headphones held against my tummy and tried various genres of music to see what would stimulate baby most.  Hubby had a suggested playlist of Celtic tunes though I gravitated towards good ol’ Ella Fitzgerald.  Before I knew it, our baby was keeping me company during the morning commute as I sang along with the radio.

By week 18 I discovered our little one had a schedule and would be most active during certain times of the day. Baby even seemed to have preferences for how I would sit or lay down and would pitch a fit if it didn’t suit.  I can’t describe the peace that comes with feeling our bundle of joy twist and turn, kick and roll.  During the first trimester and the early part of the second I was so nervous between appointments with our OBGYN since it was the only time we could hear the reassuring steady beat of baby’s heart. Now, our little one’s daily Yoga and Taekwondo gives us something to look forward to.

Anatomy Scan (Ultrasound): Week 18

In April 2017, we had our anatomy ultrasound. It’s generally performed between 18-22 weeks and assesses the development of the baby’s overall growth, brain, bones, organs, and potential for birth abnormalities.  For many moms the anatomy scan is also an opportunity to determine the sex of the baby.  So naturally the days leading up to our appointment felt more like the Never-ending Story.  When our appointment finally arrived I was armed with an uncomfortably full bladder and a boatload of jitterbugs.

As I’m laying on my back waiting for the sonographer to complete her assessment, my level of stress is mounting and I’m just praying our child is healthy.  Little did I know, the hold up was because our bundle of joy was in constant motion and kept turning onto their stomach (face down) making the sonographer’s life…challenging.  Eventually the sonographer sent me to walk the hallways, hoping it would coax the baby to turn over.  To make our stroll as relaxing (or entertaining) as possible, she printed out a few images for us to moon over.  Hubby kept pace beside me as I trekked back and forth and admired the images of his child; even showed them off to an elderly woman who happened to pass by.  But as the child’s mother you’d think he’d share custody of the photos with me, right? Oh, ho, ho, no! He wouldn’t even let me hold them.  I mean really, I could barely breathe on them.  How dare he!  Why, the brute would only  let me look but I was not allowed to touch.  Sweet, huh?  Well I didn’t think so at the time!  I had more…colourful thoughts.  Something about revenge and sabotage.  Can’t remember really.  You know, baby brain and all (sigh).

After about 30 minutes we were called back in and the sonographer worked quickly to complete her exam.    But to her chagrin and consternation, the jig was up and our wee one promptly assumed the face down position, yet again.  The sonographer sighed, waved the white flag, and called for hubby to have a look at the baby.  I’d say baby Fraser won that little skirmish, though there would be many more to come.  Despite our child’s best efforts and mega…glowing…neon, do-not-disturb sign, our sonographer announced the gender of our beloved and we grinned like loons all the way home.

Baby Banana: Week 20

During the first few weeks of pregnancy I had my sights set on one thing…a fruit.  As each week slipped by, I got closer and closer to the fruit of my dreams…the banana!  The banana is the 20 week milestone marking the halfway point of the pregnancy.  During this week, the baby is roughly the size of a banana.  Now when an embryo starts out smaller than a poppy seed and magestically morphs into a gorgeous banana, it’s a BIG DEAL for an expectant, albeit impatient mum such as myself.

Now, around week 18 we had our anatomy scan and found out the gender of our healthy, squirming little banana muffin.  And even though I had waited so long to make it to the day my baby was a beautiful banana, I found myself somewhat dissatisfied. Now it was my own fault, and here’s why.  I’m grinning, I’m glowing, and skipping around the living room, somewhat clumsily I might add, when Hubby looks over and says, “Now that we have our baby banana what’s the next fruit we look forward to?”  It never occurred to me until that very moment that I should have been anything other than content with my coveted banana. But the moment hubby asked the question, time stood still and everything came to a screeching halt.  As in, one knee suspended in mid-air and face frozen in an unattractive half-smile-half-grimace pantomime of confused emotion.   I mean, I just HAD to know…what’s next?  So…I did it. I confess.  I skipped ahead.  I trotted blissfully beyond the next few chapters of weekly fruit milestones and made a beeline for the exit ramp.  For an imaptient motherhen like me…bad, bad move!  All of a sudden the banana wasn’t enough. Not NEARLY enough. So I turn to Hubby and say…

“Oh I’ll tell you what’s next…an eggplant!  Funny, it’s kinda how our story began…with an eggplant, huh?”  Yeah, I can still make my husband blush.

Daddy’s First Kick: Week 22

There’s no telling when it will happen for dear ol’ Dad (or mum).   As the parent carrying our wee one I had the pleasure of feeling their precious kicks and nudges for several weeks.  And then…it happened.  Twenty two weeks and three days and our little one kicked Daddy’s hand for the very first time.

It was a cool evening in May, not a cloud in the sky.  Night was quickly approaching and the skyline began to light up with the twinkling of stars and the promise of a new day on the horizon.  I lay still, with my eyes closed, breathing gently, serenity washing over me as I basked in the wonder of experiencing the beauty of burgeoning life within.  Ok, ok. Too far?  Yeah, I think I went to far on that one.  Point is, it was a moment I’ll never forget.  The wonder that chased across Daddy’s face is something that will be etched into my memory for as long as I live.  As he bent over my tummy I watched a father bond with his child using his voice and his touch.  I felt our little one respond in the most endearing way…kick, wham, kapow!  To this very day our child perks up every time they hear Daddy’s voice.  Me, well…apparently, I’m chopped frickin’ liver!

The Pillow That Saved My Life: Week 23

By week 23 I had been having horrible back pain and a tough time sleeping. Hubby had purchased an oversized elephant pillow during the first trimester (Ellie’s are my fave animal!) but it wasn’t enough anymore.  I was tossing and turning, hips and back were aching, I was kicking hubby in my sleep, and “snoring like a freight train” (according to him).  Mind you, I am not normally someone who snores but pregnancy had done a number on my sleep posture and it was unavoidable.   One night I woke up alone and went looking for my love.  He was in the living room trying to find a comfortable spot to sleep.  “Babe, what’ are you doing”, I said.  He bashfully looked up at me and told me I was snoring so loud he couldn’t sleep.  Hubby had had enough sleepless nights and decided I needed to have my very own Cuddle Body Pillow.  Dear Lord. I have never felt anything so magical in my life! It supported my head, shoulders, back and hips in the most astounding way. All while being firm enough not to wilt or go flat like most do over time, and flexible enough to be moulded into a variety of shapes for comfort.  I will never again sleep without this pillow….pregnant or not!

Candy Crushed: Week 24

For some, savouring a sweet treat is both comforting and satisfying. For me, sweets have been off the menu since the first trimester. The strange thing is, I’m a dedicated chocoholic, and for the first time in my life I had no interest in spending any quality time with one of my closest companions.  Between weeks 24 and 28 a medical practitioner will recommend a one hour Glucose Challenge Test. This screening test measures how the body synthesises sugar in order to determine whether gestational diabetes is a concern.  The test requires the expectant mum to consume a sugary drink within 5 minutes or less and then her blood is drawn exactly one hour afterward.  I was nervous going into the test for a number of reasons. One, I hate needles. Two, there are a number of factors which can increase the risk of gestational diabetes and quite a few of them applied to me. Three, four, five, and six, I hate needles!

The lab tech was a bit peeved that I guzzled the sugary swill in about 30-45 seconds. While the instructions say you have five minutes to consume the entire bottle, I had no intention of letting it roll over my taste buds, sipping it like some expensive fine wine. Neither was I in the mood to repeat the experience if I failed to drink it within the allotted time frame.  Why? It’s really, REALLY, gross. I mean it’s a horrid, dastardly, vile concoction.
Now, I had done some research prior to taking my test and learned that what I ate for breakfast could impact the sugar levels already circulating in my blood.  So, like the type A, overachieving, worry wart I can sometimes be, I avoided eating bread, yogurt, fruit, or anything sweet. I settled for a tasty cheese omelette and a glass of water.  As you may already know, carbs and other forms of sugar break down in the body, spike blood sugar, and could ultimately compromise the results of the test.  On the other hand, there are those that believe you should just eat normally and then take the test. But to me, having toast and jam which spikes my blood sugar and then consuming a sugary, Gatorade-like drink, and hoping for a “normal” result?  Ludicrous.  The long and short of it is, your body is either able to synthesise the sugar without issue or it’s not. There isn’t much you can do to “trick” the test.  In the end, my results came back NORMAL and I didn’t have to suffer through the 3 hour Glucose Test.
Weight Gain Woes: Week 26
Most doctors will tell you that pregnancy is not the time to be focussed on weight loss goals, dieting, or calorie restriction.  But let’s face it, many pregnant women are concerned about weight gain at some point during pregnancy. For some, it’s because they initially lost a ton of weight due to nausea and vomiting.  For others the concern is maintaining a healthy body weight throughout pregnancy. The truth? Your baby, your body, and your genetics call all the shots…well for the most part.  That doesn’t mean there is nothing a woman can do besides throw her hands up in the air and find the nearest Dairy Queen.  A healthy diet and regular physical activity can help with maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight.  My plan? Eating a balanced diet including cheese, yogurt, fresh fruit and veggies, some meat, and a few sweet or savoury treats thrown in.

My body thrives on regular physical activity including walking and Yoga.  I do a thirty minute morning Yoga  practice, five to six days per week, with the occasional lunch-time walk thrown in.  This really helps with lower back and round ligament pain.  We also have a good benefits package so hubby and I go for physio and massage therapy every other week which helps with any lingering stiffness or sore muscles.  Do I sometimes eat junk? Oh you can bet the farm I do.  But I only let myself have fatty foods once or twice per week.  Besides, most of my cravings were for yogurt, bread, fries, and cheese. In the end, I gained ten pounds in the first trimester and about fifteen pounds in the second. But to be honest, I found focussing on how much weight the proverbial “they” say is healthy is way too stressful.  Instead, I do my best and let go of the rest.  Stay tuned for the next episode and our birth story!
Baby’s First Kick – 16 weeks pregnant
Anatomy Scan – 18 weeks pregnant
First Fundal Height Measurement – 23 cm (24 weeks pregnant)
Glucose Challenge Test – 24 weeks pregnant (negative)
Second Trimester Symptoms – back pain, round ligament pain, insatiable hunger, restless legs
Activity Level – Moderate exercise, 30 minutes per day
Total Second Trimester Weight Gain – 15 pounds