As I am slowly reaching the end of my pregnancy – four more weeks to go (only!) – I wanted to document the last few months before everything turns upside down.
This week, week 35-36, I am slowly starting to feel like pregnancy is taking toll on me physically. Until now, I pretty much felt quite agile (to some extent that a pregnant person can feel agile) but now it is getting physically harder to move around. Because the baby turned down in my uterus, I am finally not out of breath and can breathe properly so that’s yay but she is also getting heavier and bigger so I feel like a big seal floating through the air.
Another new thing that came around was the nausea – my doctor told me that the baby’s butt (literally!) is pressing on my stomach which made me sick like a dog for a few weeks. It seems like she finally turned around so the last few days were really so much better.
So far, I have gained about 12.5 kilos of weight and my weight gain slowed down a bit on the past few weeks – likely because of that nausea that was making me not hungry most of the time. I had no sense of hunger of the few last weeks so I was eating smaller portions of food trying to figure out of this was enough – I think since the baby turned, I am now much more in tune with my stomach and hunger feelings.
I know a lot of people get a lot of swelling in the last month of pregnancy because your body retains a lot more liquid but I have not had any swelling yet. I asked my mum and she said that she did not have any either so I am suspecting it is in part genetic. I have also been researching this for a bit and the training program that I was doing during pregnancy mentioned that you should consume less liquids in the afternoon and more in the morning hours as the liquid accumulate in your body towards the evening and causes swelling so it is important to regulate it. The information on this so far has been controversial as some sources indicate that you should always drink a lot of water and some says it is good to regulate it – so far, I have been drinking to thirst but almost completely eliminating liquids around 6pm (I would still take a few sips of water if I am thirsty but in limited quantities) and that has worked the best for me as it helped me to have more uninterrupted sleep and no swelling so far.
People and Body
I feel like this deserves a separate paragraph. If you know any pregnant women, my humble piece of advice is: NEVER TOUCH THEIR BELLY unless you have their explicit permission to do so EVEN IF you are a close relative. JUST DON’T DO THIS.
Here is the thing: yes, pregnant women are carrying babies but they are not ONLY baby incubators. They are still their own individuals with their own bodies and thoughts and emotions. They are not devoid of feelings, emotions and their own body. Also, not every is a hugger type of person – some people just don’t generally like to be touched. For instance, I never liked being hugged as a kid and I know that I am not a sensual person – physical touch is not one of my preferred languages of love. Sure, I still hug people I know well but I really don’t enjoy when my belly is being touched.
So let’s repeat this: unless you have permission and you have asked a pregnant person to touch their belly, don’t spread your hands around. I know you are probably excited and I will tell you if it is moving in case I deem it is necessary for you to feel the baby but remember that I am not an incubator, I am still a separate person who is not a petting zoo. It would be weird if I came close to you and started rubbing your belly, right?
Ah, and one more thing: DO NOT REFER to a pregnant women with phrases like “WE HAVE A BELLY COMING IN THE FAMILY” or ask them to show you the belly. Again, remember that they are still an individual with their own feeling and emotions and they are not an incubator only so be respectful of their privacy. One more time, I know you are probably excited but remember that this experience can be intimidating and overwhelming for young couples who go through this for the first time – everything is changing: their body, their life, their dynamics so be mindful of that.
I am honestly in part grateful to have my pregnancy during the pandemic so that I am not seeing people that often. I am finding it hard to navigate the above and so far, I have most enjoyed being either with co-workers because they still treat me as me rather than as baby carrying device or with friends who recently had babies and who are well aware of the above. I am also very thankful for my parents because they have been very discreet even though they are far away – no demands to send them belly pictures or pose with my belly on camera, not many attempts to swoop in parental advice – mostly just making sure that me and the baby are healthy and happy and cheering silently for every to go well. I have to say that has been the kind of support you can give to someone.
More on People
Two things I wanted to record here: first, people like to give all sort of advice. I heard all kind of things – you should have this and that, you should feed your baby like this and like that, you should buy this and that. Seriously, STOP IT. There is just one rule here: UNLESS you are asked for advice, DO NOT give it. Again, I know you are excited, but again remember – I am going this for the first time and trying to figure out many things and navigate many decisions. It is overwhelming and I don’t need more overwhelming things in my life at this point. Also, I WILL ASK you about things if I am interested in them.
At first, I was getting really frustrated when people were offering me unsolicited advice but after talking about it with my coach, I feel like I am much better equipped to handle it. There are a few different types of advice that I usually get and a few different responses depending on those. If someone offers me things like “You can’t drink tomato juice while breastfeeding” or “You can’t cut your hair while pregnant”, I am saying something like “Thank you for your input, I am going to run this by my doctor who had 8 years of medical school”. Works like a charm most of the time. If the advice is not medically related, before I would usually brush it off but get internally frustrated but my coach helped me to tweak this a bit – when some says something like: “You should put your baby in your room for the first three months”, I am responding with “I appreciate your input and I am going to look into it – this is quite overwhelming to me at the moment as I am trying to navigate this new experience”. This way, I am appreciative of the advice but I am also acknowledging my own feelings so I am not shoving them away and not feeling frustrated.
Another thing about the advice is that it often comes from people who had babies 20 or 30 years ago and a lot of things changed since then – there are new methods, new protocols, new research – so I am always questioning anything coming my way until I make my own mind about things related to my child. At the end of the day, I am the one who is responsible for my child so it is for me to make the final call. So far, the most helpful advice has been from our friends who recently had a baby and they were like a godsend – they let us come in and snoop on their setup and offered a lot of tips and tricks. This kind of advice is very useful because it is practical and recent and hands-on!
Oh yeah, there are also going to be a lot of judgement around you and your baby – are you going to breastfeed or give formula? when are you going to get your pre-pregnancy body? etc. etc. It is honestly UNBELIEVABLE how many things people can shame you for and make you feel guilty. But with this one, I have very simple response – it really does not bother me at all. Unless you have just pushed out an 8-pound baby out of you, I pretty much care very little about your opinion.
The second thing that I realized, also with the help of my coach is that if people offer help, you can guide them how they can help you. For instance, my parents volunteered to buy wardrobe for the baby so I sent them reference pictures of things I like and they just followed that as a guide and compiled what I like. This helped me to get rid of the stress related to “girls need to have all the pink things” that I dislike and also took away the portion of work of finding the clothes so that I can focus on other things. Or having baby registry has been a really good idea because if people want to buy you things, they can buy you exactly what you need and are going to spend money on anyway.
All The Excitement
Nine months feels like a lot but here I am just 4 weeks short of meeting our baby – it is exciting and a bit scary. Apart from managing all the things mentioned above that can get stressful, having a child is a completely new adventure for us and we are excited. It is going to be a lot of learning – it has already been! I am very grateful for every who reached out and sent kind words and things for the baby and just want to give everyone a big hug – these things usually make me tear up. Maybe, just maybe, next time I am writing here, the baby girl is already with us? 😉