Monday, July 2, 2012

Worrying, waddling, weeping...The worst trimester!

They say there's no point crying over spilled milk but that didn't stop me. I'd been having a bad day as it was and knocking over the quart of milk was kind of the last straw. I've been so clumsy with my big belly and my ballooned up swollen feet I've been bumping into things, knocking things over, dropping things. I feel so weak and exhausted, bloated and achy and the heat only makes it worse. I've been so fragile that every little thing can set me off. Not to mention how difficult it is and how much it hurts to bend down to clean up spilled milk now. So yeah I cried.

Now I know a lot of it is hormonal. I have read that it's normal, which is somewhat comforting. But when you're in the midst of a pity party (and man, I can throw some doozies!) you just feel like you're the only one in the world going through this and you feel like you're a bad Mommy because you're crying and the baby can hear you and your body is convulsing and it's going to upset the baby. She'll think there's an earthquake or something. But then you read and research and talk to supportive friends and family who tell you -- oh hell no -- they cried every day for months and baby was just fine. I do speak some soothing words of comfort after a crying spell though "It's OK baby. Mommy's OK. I love you." and sing "Three Little Birds" -- trying to convince myself as well as the baby not to worry about a thing "'Cause every little thing gonna be all right."

As my due date approaches I'm finding the third trimester is a bit of a flashback to the first (extreme fatigue, stress and tears) only worse because now it's summer instead of winter and I'm three times the size! At least I don't have the nausea but everything else is overwhelming. When I'm sleep-deprived (and considering I wake up every hour to use the washroom, a solid night's rest is a thing of the past) everything feels that much worse. Some days it feels like I'm falling apart.

I got spoiled during the second trimester. For the most part, I felt great. I had energy. I was enthusiastic. I was happier than I'd ever been. I felt excited and blessed and strong. While I had heard that the third trimester was difficult, I couldn't have imagined the Hell that awaited me.

Yeah, it just sucks.

I knew that I would be at my biggest. And I really do feel like a planet. I had joked about being a beach ball before but my stomach literally has expanded to beach ball proportions. My belly button has popped out and even seems to have a dark circle around it like a black eye. While I had been slathering on cream to prevent stretch marks, I still wound up with stretch marks at the bottom of my belly. I found a new stretch mark cream that has cocoa butter, shea butter, vitamin E, collagen and elastin in it. Unfortunately while it purports to "reduce the appearance of stretch marks" it also smells like chocolate. So ironically my belly may expand even further since I'm craving sweets all the more, walking around with a big old belly that smells like chocolate chip cookies!

It is hard to move around with this belly. I can no longer see my feet. Bending is painful. Cleaning the house is an exercise in torture. But I felt guilted into giving things a good cleaning (Thanks Mom! "Everything has to be clean for the baby!" she screeched. Though as far as I can tell, it will be a while before my baby is at the crawling stage so I don't know why the floor had to be spotless at this point!) I was waiting for that "nesting" instinct to kick in when you're supposed to get a burst of energy and be inspired to clean like never before. Unless some miracle happens in the next couple of weeks, I can't imagine feeling energetic and wanting to clean. My burst of energy came in the second trimester when I wanted to get things ready for the nursery. My enthusiasm for cleaning sinks and toilets never did show up. Let's face it. Baby won't be using those for a LONG TIME. As it was I had zero energy or enthusiasm but I grudgingly cleaned the bathrooms, kitchen, vacuumed and washed the floors. It nearly killed me. Between my weight gain, swollen feet and legs and the heat of summer (with no air conditioning) I'm not sure how I survived it. But I was relieved once it was done. From now on, I'm going to try to just ignore my mother. When I feel bad I really don't need her calling to make me feel worse. I have call display for a reason! Yes I love you Mom but sometimes you DRIVE ME CRAZY!!!

The swollen foot thing had started months ago, in my second trimester, but mainly in my left foot and it was nothing compared to this. Now both legs and feet are completely ballooned up. I am the Michelin man. White for the most part except that my feet are red and if I walk around too long they turn purple and sometimes even black.

I never really paid attention to peoples' ankles or feet before. But now with my big balloons I find myself looking rather wistfully at people with cute little feet and actual ankle bones.

I was sitting on the bench at Walmart, waiting for my Mom and found myself looking at everyone's feet as they went by. I finally saw someone who had cankles almost as bad as mine. They were about 400 pounds. I started to feel bad for anyone who is extremely overweight and to realize how difficult it must be for them to move around. It's hard to breathe. It's hard to walk. You waddle, partly because of the weight you're carrying and partly because of your feet being so swollen. Everything is more difficult. And it would be a vicious cycle because you wouldn't have the energy to exercise so it would be even harder to lose the weight. Any bit of exertion knocks you out. At least for me this is a temporary condition and I'm hoping that I'll lose the weight I've gained after having the baby.

I miss my old legs and feet. My old tummy. I had worked so hard to get in shape and then only got to stay that way for less than a year. I'm hoping that as soon as I have the baby the water weight and blood pooling in my legs will go away instantly. And I'm hoping that between giving birth, breastfeeding (which burns a lot of calories and helps return your uterus to its normal size sooner) and working out again that I'm able to get back to the shape that I was in last year (the best shape of my adult life after eating right and exercising to reach my goal weight. I didn't realize that I was inadvertently getting my body primed to conceive a baby!)

Then there are the bathroom blues...Even before I was pregnant, I had a small bladder and made frequent trips to the washroom. I also suffered from IBS. I spent a lot of time on the toilet. These days, with baby and her biosphere camped out on my bladder (and she hasn't even dropped yet!) I'm peeing every half hour or so. No more sleeping through the night. As far as my bowels are concerned (sorry this is going to be TMI so for the squeamish, just disregard the rest of this paragraph!) I was already accustomed to diarrhea, but the constipation has been a whole new adventure. Strangely, they seem to alternate. Sometimes it feels like I really have to go and nothing comes. Other times, it's a volcanic eruption. For bathroom issues alone it is a relief to be off work. It was embarassing when I literally had to run to the washroom. Especially since my run is more of a fast waddle. Have you ever seen a penguin running? Well it's a lot more cute when they do it! See video below. I can picture her saying "Outta my way! I gotta go!" I'm pretty sure I had my arms outstretched like that too, to keep people out of my path.

On top of the physical discomforts I've been going through, I've also had a lot of stress which has been kicked up a notch since I'm going on maternity leave. Worrying about impending labour, worrying will I be a good Mommy? Will I be able to support my baby and me? Things will be tight. The most urgent problem is that I still have to sell my car. Please if you or someone you know is in the market for a nearly new convertible (2010 Mazda MX5 silver automatic) LET ME KNOW! Here's a link to my ad on Kijiji:
I can't make these payments anymore. I'm not even driving the car and haven't since the Fall of 2011. I loved the car but now it's killing me. I have to sell it ASAP and I have to get what's still owing on it or there will be a lien on it. A single Mom on a tight budget, I don't know how I'm going to manage. Baby will hopefully have free milk for the first six months. Unfortunately I'm guessing if Mama can't afford to buy groceries for herself, it may hurt milk production!

I try to remain positive. Things have a way of working out for the best usually. At this point I just can't see how. I need things to be resolved, the sooner the better. I have enough to worry about without the financial strain.

I'm terrified of labour and delivery. When I complain about how difficult the third trimester is, people ask "I guess you can't wait to have the baby and get it over with already?!" But the truth is, I don't want the baby to be early. I'm not ready. I don't want the baby to be early or late. Hopefully she's right on time or thereabouts. Not only am I scared of giving birth, I'm scared to be a Mom. To bring a newborn baby home. I don't feel responsible enough, grown up enough. It's overwhelming. This was something I never imagined for myself. As much as I love the baby and am excited to meet her, I am also TERRIFIED! My life is going to change forever. There's no turning back. I'm going to have a small human to take care of and raise for the rest of my life. This is the biggest leap I've ever taken. I wanted to go skydiving. Jumping out of a plane would have been nothing compared to this. Am I ready? Will I ever feel ready?

My Mom was on my case about packing a bag for the hospital. My mother is always in panic mode. She worries about the worst case scenario. She wanted me to be ready in case of an emergency. She kept saying that she thought I was going to have the baby early. "Why are you saying that?! Stop it!" In fact, having seen my doctor, who knows a little more about obstetrics than my mother, it seems that if anything I'm likely to go later. The baby hasn't dropped yet and she said that generally it will be another 4 weeks to delivery after the baby drops. Mind you she also qualified it by saying that you can never really predict and it's silly to try. But I see the doctor every week and if she sees any signs of impending labour, she'll let me know.

I have had Braxton Hicks contractions. I'd been having them for a while but didn't really know what they were until someone explained that it's like a tightness or hardening of the uterus all of a sudden. Not really painful, just kind of weird and uncomfortable. It's something like a menstrual cramp. I can deal with those. I had horrendous menstrual cramps since I first got my period at 13 years old. Lucky me. If actual contractions are like that, I think I can handle it. I imagine that contractions will be a little more severe and will of course come more frequently at regular intervals. Perhaps the women who complain about contractions were the ones who had never suffered menstrual cramps. I'm a pro at those so maybe it won't be so bad after all. Hey, I can dream!

Anyway, where was I? (Sorry, I've got baby brain!) Oh yes, Mom was trying to convince me to have a bag packed for the hospital "just in case." It made me sick to think about it and felt like it may be tempting fate so I kept putting it off. When a friend started lobbying for me to pack my bags too I started to think OK maybe they have a point. My friend had free tickets to the movies and was taking me to see "Brave" (got to love a feisty blue-eyed, red-haired heroine who doesn't need a man to rescue her). She was going to pick me up the next day and see the nursery and check up on me that I'd actually packed the bag, so unfortunately now I actually had to do it. So I started. I was stressed to the max. What should I bring? I packed the diaper bag for the baby first. Diapers and wipes. That's easy. Changes of clothes. Onesies for newborns. But wait, what if she's bigger? Better bring some 0-3 month outfits just in case. I had been organized at least and washed all the baby's clothes in baby detergent and put them away grouped by size/age. Blankets. What if it's cold that day? What if it's hot? Bring options. I was getting increasingly stressed. Then I packed a bag for me. PJs. Nursing bra and pads. Travel size toiletries (ran out to get some. Scratch that. Waddled out to Walmart to get things I didn't have.) Clothes to come home in (what would the weather be like? What size would I be? Would I magically deflate like a balloon?) Should I bring shorts? A skirt? What will be comfy after pushing a baby out of my hoohoo? Extra underwear. Pads (Haven't needed them in a while! But I've read I'll need them afterward...) A journal to scribble down my experiences. Extra batteries for my camera. Suddenly I was just overcome. I started to cry. I was scared. I didn't want to go to the hospital. If I didn't pack the bag then maybe this wasn't real. Maybe it was all a dream. Like those TV shows where they wake up and the whole season was just a dream. Somehow packing the bags made it too real. But I did it. They were packed to the gills. (My bags always are. Even anytime I went on vacation or overnight somewhere my bags were stuffed with extras, with options, with "just in case." It's part of the control freak/worrier gene that I inherited from my mother. Thanks Mom!) At least my bags are packed now so my friend and Mom can get off my case! They do have a point because I'm sure when I go into labour I wouldn't be able to think of anything to bring. I have a hard time thinking now!

My sister not only got me an amazing stroller system for my shower gift (on top of throwing me a beautiful baby shower) but she also put it together for me (thank God because I'm not mechanically inclined at the best of times, am very uncoordinated these days and my problem-solving abilities are nil.) I just glanced at the instructions and felt like I was going to cry. It would have taken me three weeks to figure it out if left on my own with it. Who knew it would be in pieces in the box? My brother in law installed the carseat in my car. Again a huge help because I wouldn't have known where to start. Seeing the child restraint in my backseat made it all even more real for me. Of course, it had to be done. Even more important than packing the bag for the hospital. They don't let you take your baby home if you don't have the carseat installed. This was all freaking me out even more. We wanted to see what it would be like to have a baby in the seat so my niece strapped in one of her stuffed cats. It was cute but I made sure she took him back out because I thought if she forgot and anyone looked in the window and saw a stuffed cat in a babyseat in my car, they'd really think I'd lost it.

So. Hospital bag packed. Carseat installed. Baby clothes washed and put away. My brother in law is bringing the furniture this week. I've read the books. Done the research. Somehow I still don't feel ready.

My friend said it still blows her mind that I'm having a baby. She can't wrap her head around it. I asked "How do you think I feel?!" I never expected this. In a million years. I never saw me as a Mom. Even when I dated men with kids, I felt like one of the kids. I wasn't the parent, the responsible one, the grown up. Do I know how to be? Can I learn? For the past nine months, I've known this was coming, but it was far enough away that it was still sort of an abstract idea. Now I'm down to the last few weeks and the reality is hitting me head-on. Holy crap. I'm going to be a Mom. And the metamorphosis could not be more dramatic if I literally was becoming a butterfly, or a mermaid. I will be entering another world. It will be like learning to fly or breathing underwater.  It's something I've never done. Yes I had babysitting jobs as a kid. Yes I've had nieces and nephews. But nothing like this. It's my baby. And I don't even have a partner to help. It's ALL ME! The pressure!

Now don't get me wrong. I am happy and excited about the baby. I love this baby more than anything. And I am extremely grateful. As hard a time as I've been having, I do still have good days, happy moments. I do feel blessed to have had a normal, healthy pregnancy. Even the difficult things I've gone through were apparently common and right on schedule. It's been a textbook pregnancy and I do feel lucky for that. Aside from that, I know that the end result (my baby!) is more than worth it. All fears aside, I know that my baby is the love of my life and I will be thrilled to meet her. The truth is that most of the best moments of my life were also my scariest. They were the times when I took a leap. If you're not a little scared, you're probably not growing.

Humour can help you through just about anything. Humour and love. My sister is amazing. She always manages to calm me down and make me laugh. She is so nurturing, supportive and encouraging. I know that my Mom means well but she tends to be negative and a worrier and stresses me out. My sister is the voice of reason, the understanding, patient and loving angel that has pulled me out of the abyss in some of my life's darkest moments. She is the most extraordinary Mom, sister and friend that anyone could have. Knowing that she is with me through this journey is my greatest comfort. May, I couldn't get through this without you!

I am also grateful to Jenny McCarthy for making me laugh out loud. Someone had recommended her book, "Belly Laughs" to me and it has been a godsend. She is so brutally honest (and graphic!) about all of the physical and emotional changes you go through during pregnancy, so candid and funny that it has helped me to laugh even on some of my darkest days. I haul my big ole belly and my swollen feet onto my garden swing for a few moments and relax and laugh at Jenny's pregnant misadventures, some I can completely relate to, others I'm glad I managed to escape, but through it all, I feel like part of the sisterhood of pregnant women. I am not alone. There are a lot of us going through this, or have gone through this, billions of us throughout history! I can do this! And I swear, from now on, when I see a pregnant woman, I'm going out of my way to be nice to her! I'll give her my place in line, help her carry things, whatever she needs.

I have to say that it's a good thing today's princesses (such as Merida in "Brave") don't need a prince to rescue them, because chivalry is DEFINITELY dead! I went to Canadian Tire expecting to be in and out in a few minutes. I knew what I wanted, it was in the flyer, on sale, I just had to grab it and go. Except that they were sold out. So I was told to head to customer service for a raincheck. OK. My feet were nearly purple but this couldn't take more than 5-10 minutes tops, right? Unfortunately there were six men ahead of me in line. The one at the counter had some sort of problem with his receipt or the price or God-knows-what but his refund was taking an eternity. Phone calls were being made. People were coming with keys. Managers were being called. All the while, the blood and water are pooling in my bloated feet, I'm having a particularly difficult Braxton Hicks contraction, I'm still sweating from it being 35 degrees celsius outside and my ribs hurt. So I stand there waiting, panting, holding my belly, trying to stand like a flamingo (a rather portly and ungraceful one!) to take the pressure off my foot and I couldn't help but think that the six men ahead of me (ranging in age from about 18 years to 50 years) had absolutely no human compassion, honour, kindness, nor any redeeming qualities of any kind. It's not that they didn't see me. A few of them actually eyed me up and down a few times (with looks ranging from mild curiosity, to indifference, to disdain.) I would have been hard to miss. In my mind I fantasized that at least one or even a couple of them would say "Oh you poor dear, you go ahead of me!" But not a single one offered. Of course not. I think there was a time when men were gentlemen, when they would give up their seats for a lady on the train, when they would let a woman "with child" ahead of them in line. Those days are gone. Chivalry. Niceties. Kindness. Gone. Perhaps women's liberation put an end to that. Maybe they figure "Hey, you wanted equality, so stand there and suffer like the rest of us." Except there is no equality because I have never seen a man carrying a small human in his abdomen. They will never know how we suffer. And they don't even care. There are no more princes, knights, heroes. Now there are just cold, selfish, insensitive men standing in the customer service line at Canadian Tire, their eyes vacant as zombies. (Ok, before I start getting hate mail for painting all of manunkind with the same brush, I will admit that yes there are still a couple of nice men in the world. I've met a couple. They just didn't happen to be in that line!)

After 15 minutes I was about ready to collapse. There was a wheelchair by the wall. I was tempted to drag it over and sit on it. Oh to be able to sit at least would be a help. Then the angel of a woman who got in line behind me read my mind "You poor thing. Here why don't you sit on this? I remember what it was like when I was pregnant." I could have kissed her. "I was actually contemplating it. Thank you!" So she wheeled the chair over to me and I sat down. A couple of the guys looked down at me rather sheepishly. Even with me sitting in a wheelchair and my huge balloon feet turning various shades of black, purple and red, they didn't budge, didn't offer to let me ahead of them. I thanked the woman behind me for her kindness. 

I think more concessions should be made for pregnant women. There should be a pregnant express checkout. Special expectant Mom lines at the drive-thru. You should never have to wait, never have to stand, never have to walk more than a few feet to get where you're going. Now granted, I was somewhat less sympathetic before being pregnant myself. I used to roll my eyes when I'd hear someone complain about something and then add "and I'm PREGNANT!" as if that made a difference. Frankly, it does! Now that I know what you go through, those women should be able to get away with anything. Seriously, I think it should even be a valid argument in court. "Your honour, I'm PREGNANT!" "Ok. You're free to go." Even in a murder case. I mean with all those hormones? Please. There should be more expectant mother parking spots. Before I was pregnant I remember seeing so many of those spots and almost being tempted to use them (hey I could be in the first trimester, who would know?) Now that I'm actually pregnant it seems like none of the stores have them anymore. It's not fair. It's like they found out I was pregnant and painted over them all! Or maybe I'm just being sensitive. When I actually find a pregnant parking spot I'm so happy I waddle out of the car proudly displaying my belly like it's some rite of passage. No one would ever question whether I have a right to be in those spots these days. You can see me a mile away.

Most of the time I try to be positive. Unfortunately once in a while I need to vent and I have here, at length. At nine months pregnant, with just a few weeks to go, my body, mind and spirit are stretched to the limit. It's not always easy, but I know it's not for much longer and it's for a really good cause -- the most magical, most significant day of my life.

Life is so strange. I know that when I look back, even at my struggles, I am grateful for the experiences. Things always work out for the best eventually. No matter how tough the obstacles seem at the time, you do get over them. You survive and become stronger. I will get through this. I just have to remember that humour and love can get you through just about anything. I am grateful for the love of friends and family. Grateful for the love I feel for my baby. And grateful that I can still laugh, at life, at myself.

I love to laugh. Especially now. I figure it's a happy earthquake for baby in there and it lets her know that yes, sometimes Mama is sad, sometimes she's scared and stressed and overwhelmed, but a lot of the time she's silly and fun and happy. Life is more of a comedy than a tragedy. You have to laugh.


  1. Thanks... I needed to read this tonight :)

  2. You're welcome! No matter how hard it gets remember, it's only for a brief time, it's for a good cause and the end is worth it. I love my daughter more than life. When I look back at my pregnancy I'm grateful for the experience. Even the worst of days. Cheers. :)

  3. Hi Ann Marie,I really shouldn't be commenting on a blog that's primarily for women,but when I saw your maternity pic I just had to click onto it and check it out.I'm SOOOOO SORRY that you went through such a rough time during your pregnancy,but if it's any consolation let me say that although you may not have felt BEAUTIFUL,you most certainly looked the part!!! I say that because you truly do have or had one of the most AMAZINGLY APPEALING pregnant bellies(and bellybuttons I might add)I've ever seen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Tee hee! Thank you! I am actually happy to say that I DON'T have that belly anymore! I'm glad I took photos as souvenirs though. It's cool to be able to look back at that time in my life. No I definitely didn't feel beautiful at the time but I don't mind seeing the pics now! :)