November 3, 2015 12 minute read
I had this all written up a few days before Reid was born but I wasn’t sure I should post it. When I have conversations with others about pregnancy they tend to fill up the silence with their own experiences to keep me from sharing mine. I can only assume they think it’s painful for me. It’s the opposite. I love talking about my pregnancy with Reid. I still went through 40 weeks of pregnancy and even though my baby didn’t take a breath that doesn’t mean I didn’t experience all of the highs and lows of a healthy and normal third trimester. With the knowledge that these 3 months were the last of our baby boy’s life here on earth this trimester recap looks a little different than the others. But knowing that pushed me to share it. Because these last 3 months of my pregnancy were also the last 3 months of our darling Reid’s life on this earth, and they were the best 3 months of my life.
Growing our sweet boy resulted in me gaining a total of 50 pounds by my 39th week. Everything was so much more difficult with that extra weight: walking, yoga, standing, sitting, lying down. But I’m so glad I was able to gain this weight to grow our baby healthy and strong. Even though he never got to use his physical body in the outside world he sure used it in my belly. He used it well.
Reid dropped at 36 weeks and ever since then I would get shooting groin pains in the inner thigh region. I’d be walking or sitting normally and he would move and I’d get a sudden surging pain that stopped me in my tracks and made me double over. There were a few situations where the people I was with when they struck thought I was going into early labor. Highly entertaining for me – terrifying for them.
Sleep came mostly in the form of naps in my third trimester. Reid was so active that he kept me up well into the night. Bedtime was his party time. He kicked and stretched my right ribs and stuck his butt out so my belly became lopsided. I was tired, but I loved knowing he was having so much fun. And I loved that this gave Aaron so much time to feel his kicks. We’d settle in under the covers and Aaron would fall asleep to the beat of Reid’s thumps against his hand. I originally wrote that all of this was giving us great training for those early days of parenthood, and it’s hard to think that it wasn’t the case for us. Now I think Reid just wanted us to spend more time awake with him.
I started to get Braxton Hicks contractions (practice contractions) around 33 weeks. Since Reid was very visible from the outside, with each Braxton Hicks you could see his exact position at that time as my uterus contracted around his long limbs and backside. It was the most incredible thing. I took photos of all the really interesting shapes, and whenever Aaron got home from work I’d take him through my most recent gallery of “Belly Shapes by Reid.” We shared so many laughs with our son over this.
At 30 weeks we were told that I should be walking for at least 30 minutes every day, and that by 36 weeks I should be walking for at least an hour and a half. The reason being that walking helps to prepare the cervix for labor, making thinning out easier when it’s necessary. The doula from our birth program (who’s assisted over 800 births!!!) – who I’m also doing my own doula training with now – said that she noticed the labor times of women who walked every day in their third trimester were at least half as long as those who didn’t. So I began my (almost) daily walks. As the belly popped around 34 weeks my walks got a little more difficult, and took a bit of a decline. But by 35 weeks I was walking a solid 45 minutes with a short break in between. By 38 weeks I was up to an hour, and I figured that was good enough.
I continued my prenatal yoga twice a week at Semperviva Yoga, and although the classes started to get more intense they got more beneficial too. As I hit the 35-week mark I really started to listen to the instructor Teresa’s tips for labor – she’s been a doula for over 20 years and really knows her stuff. I learned how to do “horse lips” (I could never make that sound until her class) to relax my pelvic floor, because although kegels are important you’re not engaging those muscle during labor, and how to breathe through intense pain. But the best part was being in that room with 50-70 other pregnant women and their babies in their bellies. Those hours I spent really bonding with Reid are so sacred to me now. It’s why I’m doing my prenatal yoga teacher training with Teresa in January. I want every pregnant woman to have the opportunity to connect with their child in utero. Life moves so fast when you’re expecting. Your whole life revolves around preparing for the arrival of this tiny human that sometimes you forget they’re already here. Pregnancy isn’t meant to be the fast lane to your destination of birth.
Nesting went into FULL SWING in the third trimester. As soon as that first week of January came I was out hunting for cribs and a dresser with my grandma. In hindsight I probably went a little bit crazy a little bit early, but we had an issue with our original Pottery Barn Kids order (they called at Christmas to say that the crib and dresser set I’d ordered were backordered until late April) – it sent me into a panic to say the least. So everything was in fast forward mode for me. This meant switching our two bedrooms around three times and speed-tapping my toe as Aaron scrambled to assemble the crib, glider, stroller, and car seat at an acceptable pace. I was 100% ready for our baby by the end of February. His nursery (which we’ve still left exactly the same) can be seen here. I also started to bake (a lot) in the last weeks of my pregnancy. Aaron’s co-workers were very fond of my sweet creations – the M&M cookies were the biggest hit. Bake and clean and organize and research. That’s the bulk of what the end of my third trimester entailed.
Some of the books I read were What to Expect the First Year, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, How to Tuck in a Superhero, and Wild Things: The Art Of Nurturing Boys to get me ready for the process of birthing and then raising a baby. While I thought some aspects of Ina May’s book were a little too harsh on the medical care model for labor and birth, it was a really great read for instilling confidence in a women by reminding her that her body is meant to give birth. What to Expect is like this perfect little guide to every possible thing you could need to know about caring for a child in their first year, and even though it’s EXTREMELY information dense it’s nice to know that the detailed info is there. The two books on raising boys were really entertaining, and gave me a bit of insight into what life might look like with boys in it. Having come from a family with all girls I loved reading about the personal experiences and real life situations.
I had Reid’s passport application filled out by 36 weeks. We have a family trip to Maui planned for December and the early new year, so I wanted all my ducks in a row before I was swept into the frenzy of being a first time mom caring for a brand new baby. I had a lengthy conversation when booking our flights in January with a lovely customer service rep about reserving a seat for an infant, and he shared that he and his wife were expecting their first child 10 weeks after us. Everyone is so much friendlier towards you when you’re pregnant.
I didn’t think I’d be that woman who went to get massaged and waxed and had her nails done before labor. But I had no idea just how wonderful those things would feel in that third trimester. My first prenatal massage was at the Raintree Spa in Steveston, BC at 27 weeks. Reid kicked through the whole entire thing, scaring my masseuse on numerous occasions, but it was the most relaxed I’d felt in months. My second prenatal massage was part of my 25th birthday gift from my parents at 38 weeks. They sent me to the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver at the end of March. I spent 4 glorious hours there getting absolutely spoiled. I had a massage (they tried to use the bolsters that allowed me to lie on my stomach but Reid was sitting way too far out and my belly was much too large), I dipped my legs in the hot tub, I devoured their free snacks, I curled up on the loungers with magazines and blankets and tea on the deck, and I had a relaxing pedicure where I cleverly chose an red-orange OPI colour for it’s name “Endurance Race to the Finish.”
My mom threw me the most beautiful baby shower in February. I feel like I should dedicate a whole post to the details. There were macaroons and tea, appetizers and punch, candy and chocolate. It was pregnant woman heaven. Brittany (who was due the day after me) and I were convinced we’d give ourselves gestational diabetes. But our babies didn’t mind the sugar. We played games like “Guess How Many Candies” and “How Big is Her Belly?” making light of how large I’d gotten since posting my Belly Sizes and Personal Choices article that I wrote after receiving criticism for remaining so small in the early months. Everyone roared with laughter when someone wrapped the length of tape they guessed around my stomach and there was room for at least two more of my bellies in the circle. Then there were the gifts. Piles of toys to spoil Reid silly with, a baby monitor so advanced it would please the most worried new mother, clothes so adorable they’d melt the coldest of hearts. I find it so hard to grasp at the joy I felt on that day, but all that matters is I know how loved Reid felt surrounded by all those doting women.
My mom had me just before 38 weeks, and my two sisters at 33.5 weeks! Then there’s my grandma who had my mom at 37 weeks and my uncle at 36 weeks. So I was pretty convinced that I would have this baby at around 37 weeks. Brittany and I shared tips we’d heard about coaxing babies out naturally on a daily basis. It was actually what we were beginning to talk about on the morning Reid passed away.
Starting at 39 weeks I began some gentle at home labor encouraging activities. I upped my raspberry leaf tea consumption, increased the duration of my walks, and went to acupuncture. But as much as I joked that I wanted to meet Reid earlier rather than later, I loved waiting and I loved being pregnant. When Aaron and I went on our last family trip together the weekend before Reid’s due date we had a long conversation about this waiting period. We decided we felt like we were in this dream-like bubble, suspended in time. We had no idea what was ahead of us and we felt far from ready to care for a child, but we weren’t afraid. We were just enjoying the last moments before our lives would never be the same. We just didn’t know how much they’d change.
I’m the type of crazy person who literally has everything planned out and typed out – underlined blank spaces and all – before a big event. So this is what I originally wrote for my concluding paragraph:
“At the end of it all we were blessed with our beautiful, healthy, handsome baby boy. It felt like I was pregnant forever, but also like it absolutely flew by. I can’t believe __ weeks have come and gone. I was incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful pregnancy and to remain healthy throughout the whole thing. Number two doesn’t sound so bad just now. Kidding. It’ll be a little while before I’ll be writing more trimester recap posts. In the meantime I’ll be enjoying the early days of being a mama, getting to know our son, and adapting my marriage to include life with a child. The best is just beginning.”
It’s funny. Reading it now I find that it’s not so off base. Reid was beautiful, healthy, and handsome like I knew he would be all along. I had a wonderful pregnancy that allowed me to be healthy through the whole 39 weeks and 6 days. We passed every single medical test in that third trimester with flying colours. I still experienced the early days of being a mama, I spent those moments getting to know our son, and our marriage has certainly been adapting to include Reid in our lives. Those things look incredibly different when your child is in heaven, but they still happen. When your baby dies all of these experiences and dreams don’t just get erased. That baby is as much a part of your life when they’re gone as they would have been if they were here on earth. This much I have to believe is still absolutely true: the best IS just beginning. With Reid in our hearts we’ll find it.