For most of the third trimester, life has been peachy. The endorphins my body has been pumping out during pregnancy (and will continue to do once labour starts) are natural painkillers that relax me and reduce pain. For most of the last two months since my last pregnancy blog, I've been living in a comfortable cloud of pregnancy bliss. Yes, I feel like I've lost half my brain cells. And I couldn't care less. Recalling someone's name if I haven't seen them in over six months is impossible.
Gleefully, the emotional shitness that predominated my second trimester was largely absent from this final stage of pregnancy. It seems that stopping work, moving somewhere I actually felt good, and beginning to address my compulsion to continuously be doing or achieving something were crucial steps in getting those happy hormones flowing, regaining a sense of normality and at times even blissing out. Funny that.
Each day I fall more in love with the baby growing inside me. When I look at the little clothes I've folded up and placed in the change table we've set up for him, my heart melts, I get tears in my eyes, my brain takes on the texture of mashed peas, and I basically transform into a warm blubbering puddle of love protoplasm that ought to have its own slippery floor hazard sign, for everyone's safety.
love, lovey love love.
Of course, you know something dark is coming. It can't all be happy times and dangerous floor puddles, can it?! At week 36, about a week ago, I experienced a hormonal gearshift that saw me well and truly re-enter Bitch Mode, a nightclub I hadn't frequented since the middle of the second trimester and one I had hoped I would never step foot into again. Bitch Mode is a terrible place where everyone is annoying as hell and everything is a good reason to cry. At this nightclub, if you're not crying you should at least feel highly inadequate and like a failure whilst uncomfortably sipping on your overpriced non-alcoholic drink, which is about as much as you can fit into your stomach because it is being severely squashed by your baby-packed uterus ramming up against your diaphragm.
I've since discovered through my midwife that this is a normal change and luckily, Andreas was there to hear it straight from her mouth. So he knew I wasn't just making shit up to excuse my cranky (to put it lightly) behaviour.
Around week 36 the progesterone levels which have been high throughout pregnancy, start dropping to prepare your body for birth. It's a "good" thing because it means your body is roughly on track and you're likely to give birth around your due date. It's a less good thing because the changes are similar to those that happen premenstrually when progesterone and oestrogen both start to drop - yep, say hello to PMS-type irrational anger, frustration at little things, tears and feeling anything but a nice warm puddle of love protoplasm.
The slightest things irritate me. I'm the size where everything is un-freaking-comfortable. Since baby is in an optimal position for birth (great news), I've been instructed to keep him there by never lying on my back or my right side, and perpetually leaning forward instead of reclining (bad news for my spine and hips and legs and back and sacroiliac joints and right foot and EVERYWHERE HURTS WHY WON'T THE BABY JUST COME OUT ALREADY??)
Where did the days and weeks of being giddy, loved up, and blissed out go? I feel restless and uncomfortable a lot of the time. And I'm not even that big, which itself became yet another thing to cry / be worried about.
i'm not even that big.
The night before the scan I was in tears. Unfortunately I had watched a few episodes of another terrible TV show (The Midwives, please don't watch it if you're pregnant unless you want to see all the dramatic, horrible things that can go wrong with your pregnancy). On this show I had watched another woman at 32 weeks whose baby wasn't growing, so they had to induce her super early which didn't work, so she had to have an emergency caesarean which is something I would very much like to avoid. And her baby was tiny and couldn't breathe properly and lots of other very scary things happened. So naturally I thought all of this was definitely going to happen to me because there was definitely something I had done very wrong during my pregnancy and basically it was definitely all my fault....
It turned out that although baby is on the small side (in the tenth percentile on standard growth charts), he's not small enough to worry about it. Apparently, worry happens above the 95th or below the 5th percentile. What a relief! Although intuitively I knew it would all be ok even before the scan. I just wish I had never watched that stupid TV show!
Still, I decided to take precautions. Since eating big meals at this stage is impossible as my stomach is so squashed, I've tried to increase calorie density in an attempt to get baby to pack on some weight. Think big pats of butter and extra oil. Avocado, coconut cream and nut butter in a smoothie. All the fat in my oxtail stew and on any organic meat I eat. Needless to say after seven years as a vegetarian and two as an anti-socially passionate vegan, the highly sophisticated ethical GPS guiding my eating has been replaced by a primitive, rusty appetite- and baby-focussed compass. The things you do for love.
Thankfully, at our most recent 36 week midwife appointment, my fundus measured at 31 weeks (the size an average baby at 31 weeks would be). My midwife informed me that whilst this would freak out any midwife had she not been tracking my pregnancy, I had grown a whole two centimetres in two weeks and this was a cause for celebration.
So here we are, at 37 weeks pregnant. I've half-packed my hospital bag and a friend has gifted me a breast pump, which is fortunate as my clouded brain had not even considered that I might need one (apparently every new mother does). Besides a second hand change table, second hand bassinet, and hire for a baby capsule, we have not purchased a single thing for our baby because we've been given so many items of clothing, bedding, and other baby stuff from very loving friends and family. Plus I try to avoid buying new things at all costs and recycling is cool.
eats and exercise
Housewife fervour combined with a new slow cooker results in creating the odd nutrient and fat dense ox tail stew or spanish chicken casserole. Housewife fervour plus boredom and a desire to eat healthily results in the occasional chocolate beetroot cake, gluten free carrot cake, or cauliflower base pizza, the best recipe for which can be found here. Crankiness plus feeling exhausted leads to me ordering pizza or Thai, or eating ice cream and apple crumble in bed. All in all, a well-rounded diet, I'd like to think.
** As a side note, I've also written this post covering the Top 5 Superfoods that Powered My Pregnancy (not just a list of vitamins and minerals!). It goes into much more detail about food than I have here and is a must-read if you're trying to conceive, are pregnant, breastfeeding or just trying to survive motherhood! You may be surprised at some of the real foods I've chosen to highlight. **
Refraining from yoga, AcroYoga, inversions, running and cycling has been hard. I love being active enough to get a good sweat going and I love the euphoria of being upside down. These days the only way I can get a sweat up without inducing labour is hiking up hills, and I'm starting to feel like I'm walking a fine line with that! I'm very excited about taking my baby for walks in a sling once he's born, and exploring the bush together.
Also, I can't wait to get back into handstands and washing machines (AcroYoga lingo) once baby is born... although in the first few weeks after birth I suspect I will be too tired and sore to jump straight back into that stuff.
I did manage a little bit of sneaky AcroYoga in week 34 and on and off since then (whenever I can convince Andreas to fly me!). Last weekend I decided at the eleventh hour to teach an AcroYoga class at an organic farm's Spring celebration and whilst it was good to get back into teaching mode for an hour, I'm definitely not cut out for teaching regular dynamic movement classes right now! These pictures say it all:
last minute stuff before baby arrives
But for the most part, I feel mentally, physically and spiritually ready for this baby to arrive. In fact, the sooner it happens at this stage, the better... I'm sick of barely being able to eat and at times breathe! Being able to lie on my right side and back again will feel like heaven. Not having to wear a very sexy sacroiliac stabilising belt will be great. And not needing to pee every 30 minutes, well that's just going to be out-of-this-world wonderful.
When I first found out I was pregnant I was terrified of the inevitable pain of giving birth. I now feel excited about going into labour. I feel capable that I can master the pain and I feel like I have the mental and physical endurance required of the massive event coming up! Nine months seems to be the perfect amount of time to prepare yourself mentally for the life changing event we are about to face together. We can't wait to meet our little baby, just the thought of holding him in my arms makes me feel things I've never felt before, such huge currents of love and gratitude. Now it's just a guessing game as to when labour will start!