Nesting had left me elated, exhausted, and broke by the beginning of the third trimester. My husband thoughtfully asked if I would like to “nest” in his garage. The Book’s list jumped to 19 physical symptoms and 4 emotional; and I felt worse than any other pregnant woman in the history of the world. Ever. I was already tired of being pregnant, and I couldn’t see how I could possibly get any larger.
Memoirs of my Sixth Pregnancy: Third Trimester
Heading into the seventh month, we continued throwing around baby names. It was slim pickings for our fourth boy (much more so for our fifth boy); we had already used up all of our favorites. I spent a lot of time explaining why the name I wanted to choose was the best (because I’m the one having the baby, that’s why).
I started thinking about our “birthing plan”, but it was half-hearted. Since I’d had so many babies, I worried that he’d just fall out at home while I walked up the stairs or something. And to be honest, it was summer in South Texas, I just wanted him out; didn’t much care how.
Intimacy (No, thank you; that’s how we got into this mess!)
Making love became tricky; though with both of us being exhausted by bedtime, it wasn’t an issue most nights. I would have enjoyed an intimate alternative, such as a back rub, but I didn’t want to add to my husband’s list of things to do, and he was too kind to ask me to give him a foot rub.
My husband retreats from emotional situations. Admittedly, I was a hot, jumbled, “emotional situation” on my best days. With this lack of intimacy, I began to suspect that he was thinking about someone else – even though there was absolutely no sign of such a thing going on. Then, I began to suspect that I was competing for his affection with the tools in the garage. Just to be sure, I began planning the untimely demise of his tools, until my mom and sister mentioned planning a Baby Shower.
The Baby Shower renewed my enthusiasm for pregnancy for a time. I happily folded all the little clothes, sheets, blankets, bibs, towels, socks, and even hats. “Happily” for the last time, because the next time I would have to fold all these things, I would be wondering how one small baby could possibly generate two extra loads of laundry per day, while said baby occupies one of my folding hands. I made room and put away all the little stuffed animals, toys, and playthings (again…happily); I hung decorations and filled the diaper bag and baby wipe warmer; then I called all my friends and family to come admire how they helped make the perfect nursery room for my precious new addition.
After showing off, the boredom of waiting set in again. I found that sitting in the rocking chair, gazing at the (mostly) completed nursery was as comforting as it was going to get. When my husband came looking for me after he got home from work (or sent one of the kids to go looking for me), the nursery was the last place they looked. After all, I’d spent the first trimester in bed and the second on the couch. The nursery was where I went to find peace, at least until they learned it was my favorite third trimester coping place.
Approaching Due Date
As the due date approached, the questions of strangers got more frequent. Sometimes I felt like wearing a sign in public that said, “Yes, I’m pregnant; No, I’m not having twins; I’m not going to POP for another 4 weeks”.
I found myself hooked on baby delivery TV shows. There were women sent home because they panicked at early labor or even false labor ( I hoped I wouldn’t add myself to their ranks). Some of those women on the shows didn’t even know they were pregnant until they went into labor! (Oh, how I longed to be one of those!). Every night I went into labor and had my baby… in my dreams.
The Book had been one of my closest friends for the past nine months.
Even so, I found it as difficult to trust The Book as it was to trust myself… even though I had experienced labor 5 times before.
The moment I suspected I might be in labor, I ran to get The Book to confirm. I wondered if I really had to pee again, or if my water had broken (“straw colored liquid”…really What to Expect When You’re Expecting?). I chuckled as I noted that the list of potential physical symptoms of pregnancy has gone from 7 in the first month to 22 this last month; and from 2 to 5 in the emotional department (after all, how many ways can you say the word, “anxious”).
The Braxton Hicks contractions, so easily dismissed as momentary muscle pain before, were now likely to send me running for a timer. I imagined that I had lost my mucous plug or had “bloody show” the night before, but didn’t notice because I refused to turn on the bathroom light at two in the morning. An especially hard kick made me wonder if the baby was preparing to tear his way out of my womb without the assistance of a trained medical professional. I wondered if that pain in my chest was another bout of heartburn or an undocumented symptom of pre-labor.
I couldn’t decide on a million tiny details of everyday life, and wondered if the stress alone was powerful enough to send me into labor.
All I can say is, when it hurt more than I ever imagined hurting before in my life, it was time to go to the hospital. Oh, doctors and baby books call it “uncomfortable”, but it hurts, and it hurts a lot. The nurses ask, “On a scale of 1 to 10; 1 being pain-free and 10 being the worst pain imaginable, where is your pain right now?” I very bravely indicated that my pain was at least a 6. Then we found out I was only 2 cm dilated; they sent me home. Spotting after the internal examination made me nervous enough to run straight back to be checked again.
Obstetrician Math Problem #2:
If 2 cm is to 6 pain on the pain scale, then 10 cm is… anyone? That’s right, 10 cm would equal 30 on the pain scale!
Pregnancy isn’t Picture Perfect- not for anyone.
The labor of love is challenging; it is painful, and it strains relationships, but it’s natural and (as The Book says) completely normal. Maybe it’s supposed to be a trial; an obstacle to prepare you for the rigors of parenthood. Remembering to hold on to the love that is intrinsically wound through this entire creative process (the love of my husband, the love of our family, our shared love of the new baby) made all of the sacrifices rewarding in the end. When finally the day arrived, it didn’t matter what I suffered through in terms of my first, second, or third trimester; it was a testament to – and an investment in – the love I had for my unborn child.