Blogging through the unexpected while I am expecting has helped me see how much I’ve grown. I have gained confidence that was lacking in my early days of pregnancy, when I was fixated on all the scary new changes, stressing over the what ifs, struggling to find my intuition.
The lists of “things I didn’t see coming” from my first and second trimesters carried stressful undertones, and now, my tone has lightened as I endure the home stretch. Perhaps this is why mother nature gives us nine months – to cope, adjust, prepare, and most importantly, to relax in time for baby’s grand arrival.
With that said, here are the latest pregnancy lessons, third trimester edition:
- There are wonder workers called doulas who help you every step of the way: Unlike a doctor or midwife – who can both deliver your baby and care for medical needs – a doula’s focus is on you, helping with pain management, childbirth/postpartum education and emotional support. Mothers who have doulas tend to have shorter labors, less interventions and healthier outcomes. When my husband asked if he could bring his Xbox to the delivery room, it grew clear to me that I could benefit from having a labor coach. Doulas help you work with your body’s natural abilities, filling in where medicine can’t.
- Nesting is a real thing: Those overwhelming shopping lists and household projects that I panicked about in my previous blog are near completion, miraculously. Nesting instincts really do take over and baby preparations start to flow. If I could talk to my earlier pregnant self, I would tell myself to chill out.
- Stretch marks are not that big of a deal: The society we live in gives so much attention to stretch marks as if they somehow stack up to the other crazy changes we are going through. I’m just amazed with my body for all that it is doing; pregnancy has made me fall in love with my body, contrary to all of the messaging marketed to us that makes us feel like pregnancy is something to erase. It’s not.
- Everyone can stop counting down to my due date: Less than 10% of women actually give birth on their due dates; it’s impossible for doctors to accurately pinpoint baby’s arrival. This is why it’s not automatically cause for worry if baby decides to come out a little bit past 40 weeks.
- People love pregnant women … a lot: Never in my life have I received so many random outbursts of love. Not everyone likes being in the spotlight like this, but I have found it to be endearing.
- It’s legitimately hard to get up: I didn’t realize how genuinely awkward it would be to stand up from lying down with a big belly. Unless my husband is around to dramatically pull me up, I look like I’m sinking in quick sand.
- There is a fourth trimester: I have been so focused on prepping for the birth that I have given little thought to life after delivery, until now. There is a fourth trimester – post partum. Even if the delivery goes as smoothly as possible, it is still a life-changing event that will take an immense toll on my body physically and emotionally. In society, there is a tendency to overlook this recovery period. The focus is on the new bundle of joy, and the expectation on the mom is just to bounce back. While it is a celebratory time, it is very much a recovery period that has less to do with “bouncing back,” and more to do with healing, bonding, learning, and adjusting.
- Parenthood is a partnership, but that doesn’t mean it’s 50/50: One of my complaints in early pregnancy was how my husband and I were on different pages. I was taking initiative with most of the baby prep, while he maintained pre-pregnancy normalcy, and I envied that. I grew stressed about taking on the full brunt of parenthood as a stay-at-home mom, while he grew stressed about balancing fatherhood with his career out of the home. As the pregnancy progressed, I’ve realized that there are many aspects to motherhood that I simply cannot delegate to him as they are unique experiences to me. Our roles as parents will not be cookie-cutter, split even, and that’s OK. If we can simply draw on each other’s strengths rather than keep tabs on who does what and when, then we will better support each other in this new dynamic (I think).