The Third Trimester

Oval Beach

We went to Michigan for the July 4 weekend. On our last night there, we made it to Oval Beach just in time for the sunset. A young family was taking photos and playing just down the beach from us, their small son all white blonde hair and confidence, strolling up and down the beach like he owned the place as the sky turned to purples and pinks. We laid together on our blanket and imagined our own family in the future, our own kleintje confidently exploring. I would return to those moments on the beach many times in the coming months.

We took childbirth classes in the Bradley Method. I had intended to blog about our experience, and maybe I still will. 2 hours a week for 12 weeks seemed like a lot, and sometimes it was a chore to go, but we both felt like it was a valuable experience, even though we didn’t have the birth we’d hoped (more on that later).

Based on kicks, the baby seemed to like blueberries and pineapple, World Cup commentary, and N’s presence and voice.

My dear friends threw me a baby shower at the end of July – nothing ridiculous, just friends and food and gifts in a sweet park on a beautiful afternoon.

We picked up furniture on Craigslist and from my former roommate. I hung the garland from the baby shower on the wall above the bookcase. We decided to wait on any other decorating until the baby moves into the room after the long Chicago winter.

I stopped biking in late July after a close call on my commute home. I’m glad I was able to bike as late into my pregnancy as I did, but felt completely OK stopping when I did.

None of my workout shirts fit, and my gym is barely air conditioned, so my fellow gym-goers were treated to my sweaty belly while I read parenting books on the exercise bike. Few directly applied to new babies, and the one that did beat me about the head with the concept of THE FOURTH TRIMESTER.

I had to go to Seattle for work in August, and N came along. I was exhausted and overheated for most of the trip, and tried to blame it on altitude, which was totally incorrect. We took long walks, ate a lot of delicious Belgian food, and did our best to soak up our last pre-baby vacation. Flying at 32 weeks wasn’t as miserable as I expected, but I’m very glad I didn’t have to fly after that.

I read Expecting Better and wished I’d read it much earlier in my pregnancy, as it made me feel dramatically more sane about the choices I was already making.

I worried for awhile that I had pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure was higher than usual, and I felt dizzy and tired. My doctor wasn’t worried.

In mid-August, my family threw me a shower which ended up being an afternoon of babies and girl talk in the best possible way. I got to Rockford early and spent 15 minutes cleaning the pool in order to have a few minutes of delicious weightlessness. I had so looked forward to swimming all summer, but it was just too cool.

All told, I gained somewhere in the area of 50 pounds.

Sleep was hard. I was very warm, and very large, and up every 2 hours like clockwork to use the restroom. I couldn’t sleep under anything heavier than a thin muslin swaddling blanket, or wearing anything more than a sports bra and shorts.

I had a lot of pain in my ribs, and sometimes it felt like my solar plexus was made of broken glass.

I felt a lot of urgency to make time with friends, and for relaxed solo time with N. I felt overbooked in the last few weeks, but got to see nearly everyone and also take care of the sorts of personal errands that just wouldn’t be a priority after baby.

At 36 weeks, we learned that the baby was breech. I was hysterical, and frustrated by the lack of information from my doctor, and by the pressure to schedule a c-section without trying other interventions. In the following weeks, we tried the following to encourage the baby to turn:

  • inversions
  • strategic application of hot (coffee mug) and cold (frozen peas)
  • N talking to the baby through my belly
  • N shining a flashlight at the bottom of my belly
  • chiropractic adjustments (side note: why hadn’t I ever been to a chiro before?)
  • acupuncture (which I also hadn’t tried) and moxibustion
  • walking sideways up the stairs

At 38 weeks, the baby still hadn’t turned, and I decided I could either keep running myself ragged driving all over the city trying things that weren’t working – or make my peace with the surgery. I worked on the latter, and we scheduled the c-section for September 24.


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