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Sorry I've gotten a bit behind here. My strep throat infested family has recovered. We're still in the process of buying a house, so that's been crazy. And then my family took a vacation to a place where there was (gasp) no easy Internet access. I know, hard to believe such places exist, but they do and I loved every minute of being almost completely unplugged!
Now I need to catch up here. Please forgive me if this is a bit disjointed or if I cover a lot of ground. In terms of how I'm feeling, the last few weeks have been decent. The heartburn has continued to be awful. During my last pregnancy, my partner used to laugh that we should take out stock in Tums because I chewed my way through so many bottles. This time, there is something about Tums that is really off-putting. The texture and flavor just bother me, so I've been taking liquid Mylanta instead. It helps in the short term, but isn't much of a fix. This time, my doctor has suggested Zantac instead (or in addition to). I usually try to avoid medications, but again this is a situation where it is likely preferable to go ahead and treat. Over time, reflux can damage the esophagus. Plus, it makes can make it difficult to sleep or do other tasks. So I'd rather go ahead and take something than continue to be miserable.
I've also had more pelvic and hip pain lately. I don't remember having this much pelvic discomfort during my last pregnancy. Some of it is siatic nerve pain, which I did experience during my last pregnancy as well. Typically it happens when I'm walking. It feels like shooting pains that start in my lower back and shoot down the back of my body to my lower leg. I think some of the discomfort may also simply be related to the muscles and ligaments in my pelvis loosening up. Either way, it sometimes makes sitting and walking uncomfortable. It is also making it difficult to sleep. I wake up many times a night to roll over or change position because my hips are sore. Sleeping with a pillow between my knees and supporting my belly helps, but not enough to make it totally comfortable. Given that I'm also going to the bathroom about a million times a night (ok, so it's probably not actually a million times...but definitely more than usual), that doesn't make sleeping easier either.
Clearly, my body is getting bigger. I definitely "look pregnant" now. People have stopped asking me if I'm pregnant and have started asking when I'm due. My body just feels different. I take up a bit more space when I'm behind the steering wheel in my car. I can't bend or move in certain ways now that I could easily manage before. Since I've got more mass up front now, my balance is different. It's hard getting used to moving around in such a different body, partially because the changes are so rapid. It was particularly interesting to experience my body on vacation this year. During my last pregnancy, I delivered early in the summer (which means I didn't need things like swimwear). This time, I had to find and purchase a couple of maternity swim suits. (Incidentally, I found it much more difficult to find and buy a maternity suit than regular swimwear. They are more expensive and most stores that even carry maternity suits only have a few to choose from.) Just before leaving on vacation, I read a really wonderful blog post elsewhere online where the author expressed their dislike of the phrase "beach body." Just using phrases like that sets up a very judgmental, body negative framework. The discussion really stuck with me. I try to love my body, but I think most people have those moments where some of the problematic body image messages we receive can have an impact. I was a little bit afraid that being on the beach, with my new, larger body, would provide an opening for one of these moments. Surprisingly though, I felt really good rocking my maternity tankinis on the beach and by the pool. (When it's hard to bend over, it is more difficult than expected to get sunscreen everywhere it needs to go.)
I want to talk a little bit about relationships as well. Pregnancy definitely has an impact on relationships with those around you. In terms of my relationship with my partner, we have had to start making some changes in the way we deal with intimacy in our relationships. For instance, pre-pregnancy it would not be unusual for us to sit up talking or cuddling until 11pm. Now, I'm ready to go to bed at 10pm. (Ok let's be honest, I could really go to bed at 8 or 9pm, but I usually can push through stay up a bit later than that so that we get some "us time" after our other child goes to bed.) Some days, I just don't want to be touched, by anybody in any way. I'm more emotional than usual, which makes it more difficult when we have a disagreement or a big decision needs to be made. We really have to rely on one another more now and communication is an even bigger deal than usual. Talking and listening and being honest with one another are crucial.
I'm also finding that my relationship with my other child is changing. There are certain things that are harder for me to do. He'll want me to lift him up onto a high platform at the park and I simply can't do it. Or I can't carry him around for long anymore. There are still plenty of things we can do, but I'm used to hauling him around and wrestling and playing hard. At 25+ weeks pregnant, it's hard to do this with a 35 lb, 4 year old. He is pretty excited about meeting his new sibling and he can feel the kicks and movements when he puts his hand on my belly. This is a really special time in that regard and I want to encourage him to bond with this new addition to our family. He's had baby dolls since he was very young and he likes to look at and talk to babies, so he's got a basic understanding of what babies are and how they react. But at the same time, it is somewhat of a balancing act. We're buying some of the necessary things to get ready for the new baby. (We're also getting ready to move to a new home, which will be another big change.) Sometimes young children don't understand why "someone else" is getting all this stuff and all these presents and they are not. It's a balancing act to explain this and help him understand that someone new will really be coming to live with us. Even beyond that, it's explaining that this new someone will need lots of time and attention. That they won't be able to communicate in the same way or do anything by themselves. I don't think I'll know how successful our attempts have been in this regard until the new one gets here and we see how our son reacts.
Pregnancy has also changed my relationships with others around me. My family want to be involved with my pregnancy (even though they live in a different state) as do many of my friends, so there is always somebody asking me how I am. This doesn't seem like a big deal, until every person you talk to starts off the conversation by asking about a pregnancy. It can start to feel like they are (and I should be) hyper-focused on the fact that I'm pregnant. As if everything boils down to that one characteristic (even though I'm clearly many other things). I try very hard to keep in mind that these good folks just care about me and want to participate. They're asking because they worry, so I try to respond in a reasonable manner while at the same time not allowing the topic to take over every single second of my conversations.
Since I'm now looking pretty pregnant, unsolicited touching has started to become a bit of a problem. While unwanted touching is often a problem for women, it often becomes worse when you're pregnant. It seems like culturally, we've somehow gotten this idea that a pregnant woman's belly is community property. People seem to feel like it's okay to touch without asking because you've got this thing hanging out in front of you. In my experience, the further into a pregnancy one goes, the more okay people seem to think it is to touch or comment on you and your body. By people, I don't just mean friends or family, but even people I've just met or even strangers. I'm not going to lie, unsolicited touching and belly rubbing makes me uncomfortable. I don't think most people do it on purpose, in fact many probably don't even think about it being inappropriate. They think they're being nice, when in reality many pregnant people don't want to be touched and/or would at least appreciate being asked first. I've discovered that one of the best ways to deal with this is to simply try to avoid being in easily touchable distance. I slightly increase the distance I would normally stand from others. Another tactic that has limited success is putting a hand on my own belly to sort of close off that avenue. If my hand is on my tummy, people seem less likely to try to touch. I've also simply asked people (politely) not to touch or stepped away when someone tried. I know they (for the most part) don't mean it in a rude way, but when people start touching without asking multiple times a day or in inappropriate settings it quickly becomes tiresome. Some people will also say things that they mean to be teasing or whatever, but it is often offensive. "Wow, you're getting big!" or "That baby's making you look tired." Um, thanks? Some days, it's incredibly tempting to respond in kind. "Thanks, your hair looks awfully tired too." While it can be difficult, I'm usually pretty good at self-monitoring those responses and stopping before they make their way out or at least rephrasing in a less offensive manner. (Again, I'll be honest though, every so often one slips out.)