Note: I started this essay before Little Bird was born, but thought I’d finish it off even though the third trimester is now thoroughly over! Content note: pregnancy loss / miscarriage, pregnancy complications
The most dreaded era of pregnancy: the third trimester. But even though it could be a slog at times, my third trimester was also the best part of my whole pregnancy.
Of course, I dealt with a variety of physical discomfort. From retaining enough fluid that my wedding ring hadn’t fit for months to the baby being in possibly the least comfortable positions possible, it was damn painful. I think he enjoyed sitting on my kidneys and doing upside down push-ups on my hip bones. The Braxton hicks contractions – oh, the Braxton Hicks! The “irritable uterus,” where it gets ineffably hard for long periods at a time, made its return. The lack of sleep was a killer, especially the fact that I woke up every time I tried to turn over.
But despite all that, my mental and emotional health was much more solid than it was any other time in my pregnancy.
During the entire first trimester, I was on edge that I’d miscarry again. Because I was asymptomatic when it happened, it felt like that dread could descend any time without warning. It crept into my thoughts multiple times a day despite my best efforts to push it out.
At 10 weeks, the exact same day of the week I found out about the miscarriage, I had unexpected, severe bleeding. Despite a trip to the emergency room, I found out that the fetus was developing normally. To prevent further bleeding, my doctor put me on a variety of restrictions that made parenting more difficult and prohibited me from using my typical forms of stress relief. My shoulders were nearly around my ears, thoughts of “doing something wrong” constantly intruded, and I had nothing to turn to that could help me relax. I ate a lot of ice cream.
To distract myself, I buried my mind in work and volunteering, feeling that if maybe I didn’t get too attached, too invested, think about it too much, it would be okay.
Nearly three months later, the placenta moved into the correct spot and the specialist lifted the restrictions. It was already late in my second trimester.
As the beginning of the third trimester approached, we had so little time to prepare. The most intimidating issue was that the baby’s room was full of crap that we shoved in there over the course of several years. I literally had “clean desk” on my to-do list since before Sprout was born. Every time I looked in there, I had a sinking, hard feeling.
Clearing out the room was the first real step I took to get ready for Little Bird. Sorting through all of that junk created both physical and mental space for me. I had such difficulty even thinking about what we were going to do when he arrived that it created a stepping stone to doing the real work.
Once the room was clear, I saw a path forward. We had a shopping blitz, picking out a crib, rocking chair, bedding, and a theme in one fell swoop. Our debit cards got a workout at Buy Buy Baby and Amazon.
Choosing furniture and decorative accessories was more than just about checking things off my “to do” list. We were investing in real, physical objects for a real little person. I could imagine our future without second-guessing that it would happen at all.
Once we had his crib set up, I finally felt relief. I could look in his room and feel that we might actually be ready. I still had a substantial “to-do” list, but none of it was essential or panic-inducing.
By that time, there was a lightness that hadn’t been there before. The straight-jacket of anxiety was gone; I could take a full breath. I could smile when I felt him moving, without worrying (much) if he was moving too much or too little. Fundamentally, I let myself be excited that we were having a baby.
I knew he would be all right. I knew I would be all right.
As it turned out, I was ready just in time. And now? He’s more than all right. He’s amazing.