Officially in the final stretch of pregnancy. What began as sitting on the toilet, trembling as I held up the plastic stick that showed a bright pink positive result, is now a mix of immense gratitude and fear as I get closer to giving birth and having a child.
The last 10 weeks haven’t been easy. At all. They brought new challenges that were incomparable to the first trimester.
I absolutely loved my second trimester (most of it) and the way I felt. I loved seeing my body change, feeling kicks for the first time, and settling into a new home. I still love all of that.
But as I get closer and closer to the end, I have this feeling of dread that grows larger, ballooning in my chest, that I can’t quite seem to deflate.
I’ll break this post up into different categories so it’s easier to read. I’ll cover pain, mental health, birthing options, COVID restrictions, and more. But I’ll also talk about joy, bonding with my baby, nesting and other happy things. Thanks for tuning in.
The biggest obstacle of the last 10 weeks has definitely been the pain. For someone who has never broken a bone, been to hospital or really had any serious injuries in my life, pain is new territory for me. I’m not quite sure how to handle it, but any time I’m in pain, no matter how little or extreme, I also start to worry.
I almost immediately think something is seriously wrong.
While this is something I’ll need to work on throughout life, it’s better to be safe than sorry and go get something checked out if you’re unsure.
My pain began around 24 weeks when I started to have excruciating and acute back pain. I remember being in Ali’s car curled into a ball as we went through a drive-thru because it hurt that badly and I couldn’t find any way to sit comfortably.
To combat this pain, I started doing back exercises which helped a lot until… I pulled a muscle in between my ribs. An intercostal muscle tissue to be precise.
With that pain, and the back pain, mixed with sciatica pain which prevented me from walking, and sudden pelvic pain, I felt like a complete disaster for weeks. I phoned the doctor and he wanted to check my organs, for blood clots and do other exams – but thankfully, results were clear and he concluded that it was just part of pregnancy. And because everything is so squished, it would take a while to heal. The seriousness of it (the crying in bed, begging Ali not to go to work) lasted about three weeks, and it gradually subsided, but if I don’t limit my movement throughout the day, it still comes back, even seven weeks later.
Therefore, I’ve found my walking limit to be about 15 minutes (not ideal when you have a dog) and I’m in bed for 8pm at the latest most nights because lying on my side in my beloved pregnancy pillow is really the only thing that completely stops the pain.
However, I will say, that besides all this pain, when I’m lying on my side at the end of a long day, watching videos curled up in my pillow, and I feel my baby’s little kicks – it really seriously is all worth it.
Preparing for Birth
If you know me in real life, you’ll know that being pregnant and giving birth has always been a huge fear for me. This was a surprise pregnancy and while part of me thinks that I’d have just bit the bullet and decided to get pregnant down the line anyway, another part of me thinks that I might have always been too scared to get pregnant.
I’m glad to say that overall, pregnancy has been so fun for me and I’d happily do it again (we’ll see how the birth and parenting goes before committing lol), but I really think being thrown in the deep end of this life-altering surprise really left me with no choice but to tough it out and try and enjoy it.
However, we still have the birth to get through.
Some days I am genuinely excited for birth. I feel empowered, ready, prepared, super confident. And then there are other days, like today, when I genuinely have tears in my eyes just thinking about it. About all the things that can go wrong. About losing control of my body in the midst of the pain. About being left alone for part of it due to Covid visiting restrictions.
I’m not going to share my birth preferences online because that will always invite opinions. “Try this instead, it’s way better,” or “Seriously? Do you really think that’s a good option?”. But I will say that doing the NCT course and reading guided meditation sources has been extremely helpful and is the only reason that I feel at all confident that I can do this.
However, there’s one big thing that’s stopping me from completely relaxing when it comes to birth.
Pregnancy During a Pandemic
And that’s… Covid. When I got pregnant, I was so scared and sad about going to my appointments alone (Ali has only been allowed at the 12 and 20-week scan, none of my other antenatal appointments) and experiencing this surprise pregnancy without him by side. Thankfully, so far, those antenatal appointments have been a breeze and I’ve coped alone. But for women who get bad news at theirs or faint after getting their blood taken, I’m not sure how they cope.
In Glasgow and the surrounding area, the maternity restrictions haven’t been updated since August 2020. Even when we reach level 0 (we’re currently in level 2), there are still going to be heavy restrictions on having your partner there before and after labour.
If you arrive at the hospital in active labour, your partner can stay until two hours after the baby is born. But if you arrive to be induced, you cannot have your partner there until active labour begins which for some women, can take up to 24 hours. I honestly cannot imagine having to go through an induction completely alone, and then the first few hours of labour without Ali by my side. Not when we’ve done these birthing courses together which emphasise the crucial importance of birth partners and remaining calm together.
Even if I don’t get induced, and we arrive together and have the most blissful birth imaginable, he still needs to leave after two hours. That gives one hour of skin-to-skin with me and the baby (as recommended by experts) and then Ali has one hour to bond with the baby before leaving until the next day. Not only is that difficult for Ali to leave this new little life that he’s just brought into the world, but it leaves absolutely no time for me to rest after just having expelled a whole human from my body.
I know that these thoughts are a bit controversial and trigger up emotions for people (it can seem overdramatic to some) but this is what I’m struggling with right now and that’s totally valid.
However, there really is no way around it unless I had a home birth which I’m not entirely comfortable doing for my first baby.
If you’re the praying kind of person, then I would pray that my baby comes on time, I don’t have to be induced, and that I could potentially go home that day or the next with Ali so we can enjoy our new life together as a family of three without any interruptions. I know that’s a big ask and not totally realistic, but the thought of anything else is really stressing me out.
Which leads me to my next point: mental health. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and PTSD, my midwife team has been really good at checking in on how I am doing. At every single appointment, I have been able to confidently say that I feel good. Happy. Elated, even, sometimes.
But I’m not sure if the hormones are changing, or it’s the Covid impact, or what – but I don’t feel so great anymore. I can’t pinpoint it down to one thing, but those elated feelings have pretty much completely worn off and I spend a lot of my days feeling sad. This is a relatively new thing, about a week or so, so it could just be a phase that fades – but it’s a real thing and it’s hard.
I think being tired all the time doesn’t help either. Where I’d normally get a little buzz or pick-me-up from seeing friends or family only leaves me more exhausted.
However, I’m doing well at recognising how I feel, talking to Ali about it, and doing things that make me feel better. But I will be discussing it with my midwife at my next appointment so I’ll see what procedures they have in place for that.
Now onto some more happy things. The last time I wrote on here, there was a lot of happiness about seeing my body change and I’m glad to report, that’s still the case. Ali and I laugh every single day about how quickly things change and all the crazy things that come with it.
I love my bump. I love styling my bump, finding clothes to fit it, showing it off. I love taking pictures. I love standing in the mirror and just seeing this new home that I’m living in. It seriously is so cool. I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s just such an awesome thing that my body can do. Everything has changed and moved and grown and stretched, but it all still works. Like, I can still move and sing and dance – albeit slower – but it’s like, I’m still alive despite a whole other human being living inside of me for 9 months. Wacky.
Now, I can’t see my feet or pick stuff up from the ground or walk my dog until she’s tired out, but I can create fingernails and hair and organs by just lying down and watching a movie. That’s nuts to me.
My favourite thing about pregnancy is still seeing him move. Every time I go to a midwife appointment, they ask me how his movements are and I say “Crazy” and when they put the Doppler on my tummy to hear his heartbeat, they get kicked right back and my point is proven. This little guy literally moves around 24 hours a day. I don’t know if he ever sleeps! I really hope so haha.
It’s not just little kicks and punches, it’s entire bum wiggles and twerks. I can see him swimming around, stretching out, rolling around – ALL DAY LONG. It’s absolutely crazy.
I will put a movie on and spend the entire time watching him instead. He never stops. He’s doing it right now. It sort of takes me aback, like the moment the rollercoaster
Your stomach flips and everything kind of stands still for a minute. Then he’s wriggling about comfortably and I can just poke him back and we can hang out together.
This is by far the thing that has bonded me with him the most. Ali gets jealous because he can’t experience it the way that I can, and I feel super lucky that I get to experience that. I will definitely miss all the little quiet funny wriggles when he’s out. It’s just the best ever.
Another thing that makes this whole thing totally real is the nesting. I don’t feel particularly “nestful” if that’s even a word but I have had a bit of an urge to get organised and ready. But I think most of that is just practicality rather than instinct.
However, it’s been so fun to prepare the house for him. We started with clearing out his room and putting down new carpet and fresh paint. Then we got a cot, changing table, drawers and a nursing chair. We found a bunch of clothes and other random baby things on Facebook marketplace. And then we did a huge shop to get the rest of the bits and pieces, as well as postpartum care for me.
The only thing really left for me to get are nappies. I think I’m going down the cloth nappy route so I need to do a bit of research on all of that before committing because I don’t even really know where to start (or what size he’ll be).
When He’s Here
I am about 9 weeks from having my baby but I’m only 5 weeks away from being full-term and then really, he can come whenever he wants. I could literally have a child here in 5 weeks. That’s madness to me. But once I’m through the birth and over my Covid fears, he’ll be here and he’ll be ours. The thought terrifies me and excites me. I don’t really care much about the sleepless nights or the random meals I’ll eat or the lack of reading and writing time I’ll have. I’m excited to see my son. I’m excited to know what he looks like, what he’ll be like, what we’ll be like together. I’m excited to take him out and let people meet him. I’m excited to dress him and bathe him and rock him to sleep. I’m excited to be loved back, to be needed. I’m excited to write about him and photograph him and love him unconditionally. I’m excited to do things my way and start somebody’s life from the very beginning, teaching him what’s important and shaping him to be a good, strong, respectful and courteous man. I’m excited to do this alongside Ali, who is truly going to be the greatest most attentive dad ever. Sometimes I still think of Ali as the funny flirty guy I met in Albania when I was 16 and I can’t believe that I am literally having his child, but the whole story just makes me so happy and grateful.
Okay, literally crying now so I’m going to wrap this up.
Thanks for sifting through this cringe-fest and rant. I don’t get too into my feelings about this kind of stuff with people but I felt like I was bottling up so much so it’s an exhale to get this all out and write about this huge transition in my life.
I hope you found some comfort in this if you, too, have ever felt this way.
Feel free to message me on Instagram if you want to chat about anything. Always look forward to hearing from my readers. Love, Beth