39 Weeks: looking back on my pregnancy
Alright, friends, we are nearing the end of this journey!
When I first found out I was pregnant, I looked online for some comfort to assuage the worries I was having:
What would pregnancy do to my body?
Would it ever recover?
How agonizing would these 40 weeks be?
From all the women I spoke to in the “real” world, I heard horror stories of labor and tales of how uncomfortable and difficult those 10 months were.
From the depictions I saw on TV and in movies, pregnancy and delivery looked equally awful.
So, I thought maybe a first-hand account from someone’s blog might be able to provide me the comfort I desired.
It seemed that all anyone wanted to focus on were the negatives!
Aches and pains and swollen ankles, growing feet, bulging belly, heartburn, nausea and varicose veins and the agonizing pain of labor… the list goes on!
It wasn’t even just the tough parts of pregnancy itself, but also the lasting effects:
Pregnancy ruined my body.
It destroyed my vagina.
I will forever pee when I laugh.
My boobs are saggy.
There wasn’t a single article or blog that I found that made me feel like I wasn’t making a big mistake. Honestly, it all had me in tears.
When I began this blog, I had no idea what pregnancy would be like. I’d never been pregnant before!
But, I was certain there would be something positive that I could share with the world.
I wanted to be the light to others that I had hoped to find for myself.
Now that I have neared the end of my pregnancy journey, I can look back with more clarity.
And I can honestly say that pregnancy has FAR exceeded my expectations.
I know that everyone’s pregnancy journey is different. And it’s certainly no cake walk. It’s a challenge on us physically, mentally, and emotionally… but then, so is parenthood right?
I understand why women take to the blogging world to detail their struggles. Pregnancy can be rife with discomfort and it can be cathartic to vent it all onto paper. Even more cathartic to vent it in a public platform where other women can commiserate with you, validating your feelings and emotions. It’s very powerful to know when you are suffering that you are not alone.
I think that, for some women who had a difficult pregnancy, they don’t want to talk about all the rainbows and roses. That’s not realistic for them; that wasn’t their experience. Which is completely valid and those women deserve to have a voice and be heard.
However, these were not the accounts that I needed to read when I first found out I was expecting.
These horror stories and blogs of commiseration terrified me and had me worried that I was making a grave mistake, one that would frankly ruin my life.
What I have come to learn is that while pregnancy can be really hard and full of extreme challenges…for some, it is not as hard as others. And those were the accounts that I needed to hear.
But, no one with happy pregnancies was writing about them!
I am so happy to be able to tell you, with one hundred percent honesty, that my pregnancy has been one of those easy ones.
I know that it’s far more than a positive attitude that has shaped my journey—a lot of it is luck! And, believe you me, I am thankful for this blessing. I do not take it for granted! But, I think a positive outlook went a long way toward helping, too.
For any newly expecting mothers, let me be that voice for you that I couldn’t find for myself.
While no matter what pregnancy will have its challenges,
it won’t necessarily be the worst 10 months of your life.
I have not had any morning sickness. Virtually no nausea. No swollen ankles or growing feet. Not a lot of heartburn. No major aches/pains. I’m still able to be pretty active. And I’ve had no insomnia.
(In fact, I can still sleep on my stomach! Everyone told me that I wouldn’t be able to… but I do.
It’s still more comfortable than lying solely on my side.)
Again, I know that not everyone has this experience.
So, I don’t want to tell you that for sure this is what it’ll be like for you.
But, it can be!
And I know how much I would’ve appreciated hearing that at the beginning of this road.
Looking back on it all, I’d say if I had to characterize what this journey has been like for me, it’d be as follows:
My first trimester was probably the hardest.
Though I had no morning sickness, I was exhausted all the time.
I’d need at least 10 hours of sleep if not more.
I was voraciously hungry and watched my weight gain rapidly,
which only exacerbated my anxiety regarding body changes.
I would get some pretty bad menstrual-like cramps that would lay me up on the couch.
(My midwife called this having a “talkative” or “crabby” uterus.)
And I found that if I did not get enough sleep or food, that this made my cramps worse.
However, though some days were rougher than others,
those first three months still weren’t even half as bad as I had feared.
With the exception of one terrible crying episode at work and a little bit of moodiness from time to time,
I was not the emotional roller-coaster train wreck that I had expected to be.
And, though I was often tired, I was still able to go for daily dog walks,
to exercise, and work as a waitress in the evenings (before coronavirus hit.)
Those first three months were filled with laughter, love, and joy.
My second trimester lived up to its reputation as the “honeymoon” trimester.
My energy picked back up (still not to the levels of pre-pregnancy but WAY better!)
I continued to have an increased appetite, but not as voracious as in my first trimester.
My cramps went away.
And though my belly was growing and this did give me anxiety,
I didn’t appear to be ballooning out the way I thought I would.
In fact, my weight gain tapered off so that it was much less rapid.
All throughout this trimester, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.
For all those pesky pregnancy troubles that I’d read about to hit me with full force, but they never did.
They were another three months filled with even more laughter, love, and joy.
That brings me to the third trimester.
I was sure that these would be the months where I would get the full force of those pregnancy woes.
I’m at my biggest now, so surely this is the time where I’ll be feeling
all the aches and pains, where my ankles and feet will swell, and I’ll toss and turn during sleepless nights.. right?
I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop… but it still hasn’t.
I know I have one to three weeks left, so I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch.
But, I fully expected to be a whale unable to move from my couch at this point.
And, yet again, I have been happily surprised that this trimester
has been nothing at all like what I had feared.
Now, I will say that this third trimester has seen a return of some of the “symptoms” of the first.
My cramps are back (though, now, they’re probably what’s considered Braxton-Hicks. And I’m much happier knowing that it’s my uterus practicing for the big show!)
I also have less energy than I did in the second trimester, but still far more than I did in the first. I enjoy my daily naps, but I don’t need them in the same way.
In the spirit of honesty, I will also say that my eyesight has gotten noticeably worse throughout my pregnancy. But, the good news is that this will return to normal once the baby is born!
And I do pee when I laugh. That's a legit thing. Only when I laugh hysterically, but my pregnancy has been filled with a lot of laughter sooo... it's happened more than a few times!
BUT, this isn’t because my pelvic floor has already been “destroyed”—which is what I feared when I first read that this could happen—it’s because of the extra weight that my uterus is putting on top of my bladder. So this, too, will go away!
And honestly, I’m not just saying this: none of these symptoms are all that bad.
None of this has been as bad as I first thought it would be when I began this journey.
I can still do my exercises (though of course they have been modified to accommodate my large stomach.)
I still go for dog walks or for a swim every day.
I worried that I would hate my body the larger my belly grew but it’s actually been the opposite.
I hated watching those body changes far, far more in the beginning than I do now.
While I used to obsess over only gaining the "recommended" weight (which they say is between 20-35lbs) I have gained 45lbs and I'm not bothered. I know that I should trust my body more than any chart or graph. My body knows what it needs.
Now that I can feel my baby girl move and stretch and wiggle around every day… I look at this bump much differently.
To me, it’s beautiful and something to be proud of.
So, this is the message I’d like to give newly expecting mothers or to the women who aren’t yet pregnant but maybe one day will be:
Don’t be afraid.
Odds are very good that it will not be as bad as you fear.
And, though luck has gone a long way into shaping my pregnancy experience,
I’m sure that my mindset has, too.
This is just as much of a psychological journey as it is a physical one.
So, stay positive!
Don’t focus on the negative parts. Yes, there will be some.
Pregnancy (like motherhood) is messy and, at times, uncomfortable and inconvenient.
But, it can be as rewarding as you make it.
Shape the experience for yourself. Don’t let outside commentary do that for you.
This may be the end of one journey for me. But it is just the beginning of another, even bigger adventure!
My sincere hope is to keep up this blog as my journey evolves from pregnancy into motherhood.
But, it might be a while before I write again.
In the meantime, I’d like to hear from you!
If you are already a mother, what was pregnancy like for you? Would you have benefited from seeing a blog like this one at the start of your journey?
If you are newly pregnant, how are you feeling about it all?
And if you aren’t yet pregnant, has this shaped your preconceived notions in anyway?
As always, thank you for reading xx
I'm Kelsey! Proud Iowan native, world traveler, writer, wife to the most incredible husband, and now soon to be mother