My Second Trimester World, the fifth month
Ok, so here's the thing. This is my first pregnancy. Everything is new and everything about bubs, whose womb name is "Parsley" (just a reminder, in case things get confusing/weird when you catch me talking affectionately about herbs), is new, and every inch of it is happily consuming my world. I have a lot of thoughts, you see (many, many of them), and so these month-to-month updates are turning out to be long. Like, really long. To that I say, forgive me/you're welcome, depending on your degree on interest in reading about other people's pregnancies. Alright, let's get started...
Well folks, my “all-day hangover nausea” has officially gone! I’m only been experiencing waves of nausea every now and then. Sometimes it’s correlated with low blood sugar or poor protein intake, but often it’s random (random to me). I’m already forgetting what the first trimester felt like, which is crazy, hey? My body is tricking me, encouraging me to procreate… often. I see what's going on here. Mamma didn't raise no fool (#10thingsihateaboutyoureference).
So, that Baby Expo we went to? The one I was a little terrified of? It was RAD! We ended up leaving with a cot, organic mattress, pram and Baby Ergo carrier. It was really unexpected and really wonderful.
Mum joined Ben and I on the day. We had free tickets and heard from friends you can get really good bargains, so we thought why not? My expectations were low, the whole “expo” thing gave me the heebie jeebies, but I saw it as an excuse to eat at my friends’ new café, and maybe get some freebies. So early one Sunday morning we drove to the city, and after toast and coffee at Crompton, we entered expo land. 6 hours later we emerged, buzzed on baby goods and wheeling a cot out to the car. How did that happen?
From about week 10 of my pregnancy I started researching prams, cots and mattresses, as I knew these were things I would care about. A nice change table? Not so much. A pimp pram? Heck yeah. I asked my friend why I was so excited about a pram and she said “Heidi, prams are the sports cars for women in their 30s”. Oh Lindsey, you’re so right. I even went to a store a few days before the expo to test out some prams in real life. Huh, let me tell you, ALL the internet searching in the world is not as useful as a visit to a store & trialling prams in person. I was mulling over the Baby Jogger City Select for functionality (I need my pram to be good on dirt roads & I like the ease of their second seat attachment. Plus the price point is good, even if it is a little heavy to move), the Bugaboo Buffalo (Bugaboo's new, all-terrain model. I found it a little stiff, but they’re a well-liked brand and I love buffalos, so…) and the new Joolz Geo (their advert is offensively beautiful, it’s all-terrain, super smooth and so easy to push. Plus it collapses really easily and has a big shopping basket. And Ben has hipster hair, so it's kind of an obligation we get a stroller like this. But it’s not cheap...).
Anyway, I assumed I would surely end up choosing one of these three prams, likely saving all my pennies for the $1700 Joolz Geo. It felt inevitable. But when we stumbled across the Jané Epic stroller stand at the expo I paused, and not entirely due to the fact that I adore the name Jane (Jane Eyre). I’ll do a full review when I we actually use the pram with our baby (not a baby model like we used at the expo), but the reason we ended up buying this model was that it ticked pretty much every box that was important to us. It has great suspension for all-terrain walking with amazing, special tyres, it’s super easy to push one handed (before buying a pram, try it one handed with your non-dominant hand!), as well as being easy to fold and pretty light. You can adjust the handle bars, the super comfy looking seat can face you or face out, and the material looks really nice and easy to clean. There’s also a 3 year warranty, tyres included, which was highly appealing. And lastly, while it’s an 80-year old Spanish company, we really like the people who have brought it to Australia. They were by far the friendliest company we dealt with at the expo. In fact, a girl who went to my high school was on the stand. I’m all about the good vibes and signs, people! After a bit of a google on choice.com.au, and discussion with the Jané folk about any concerns we had based on choice's review, we we bought one (in black!), at the reduced expo price of $800 and all the extras that were thrown in for no cost (yeah, we were really happy we went to the expo!), including a bassinet, rain cover, shopping basket attachment and cup holder. Woot woot!
We also bought a Bloom Alma Papa cot (the dark brown colour) and organic mattress at a crazy reduced price. It was floor stock (tip, always ask if they're selling the new expo models at reduced prices!), and it happened to come with a fantastic mattress that ticked all my organic fibre requirements while still being firm (which is important for babies). I probably would have gone with the white cot if I had the choice, but there was no other floor stock and we saved a tonne of money so I am super thrilled. And lastly, mum spoilt me with a Baby Ergo 360 carrier. We tried it with a baby model and I nearly ran out of the expo, stealing the fake baby. Again, I’ll do proper reviews later (because I know how mind-numbingly difficult it can be to decide on these purchases, prams in particular) but for now, we’re pretty darn happy. That night, after a surprisingly productive and busy day, Ben and I crashed on the couch with takeaway souvlakis and a movie. It took a lot of restraint not to strap on the Baby Ergo while watching Harry Potter, let me tell you.
Ok, those of you who tuned out at the words “baby expo” can come back now. This week on the food front I baked some salmon and actually enjoyed it – win! I’ve been taking a prenatal vitamin which has the omega 3 fats DHA and EPA in it (though I'm still keen to up my intake of DHA), and I’m good with things like anchovies (keenly throwing them in pasta dishes and bagna cauda) as well as tinned fish, but a salmon steak has been a little off-putting until now. I’m thrilled to be eating a good chunk of wild, Australian salmon again. In terms of preparation, I love baking fish in parcels or simply grilling it on the barbeque. I’ve also been eating quinoa salads with roasted pumpkin and made a batch of pumpkin soup (give me all the pumpkin, please!). Pasta remains one of the best thing in the world, recently overtaking potatoes, and cheese is still pretty high up there (I'm eating a lot of sharp cheddar).
It’s funny, I’ve always eaten well, you folks know that. I love my veggies, I’m a quality produce snob and real, whole food is my jam. Good chocolate, doughnuts and homemade ice-cream are also favourites, and pre-pregnancy I'd have something sweet after dinner at least a few times per week. But these days I’m finding I am not interested in sweets. I’ll occasionally have some chocolate, but the whole “craving ice-cream and hot fudge sundaes", that classic pregnancy cliché hasn’t hit me. Maybe some people crave things like mad and others don’t. Does it come down to the nutritional adequacy of your diet and blood sugar levels, coupled with mood fluctuations? Possibly…I cannot really say. But right now, I don't seem to be one of those people who HAS TO HAVE A CERTAIN FOOD...NOW! At the start I felt like potatoes and burgers, sure, but it’s always been a case of “what on earth is appealing” in a world of unappealing food? I’m hoping this changes and I get sudden, severe cravings for weird foods. I’d love to be dipping odd things in mustard. But for now, I’ll deal with feeling only marginally excited about food, while respecting it’s importance in nourishing bub and managing nausea. And I promise, my post on pregnancy eats is coming!
Body and Clothes
My belly has definitely grown this week and it’s hard to wear any clothes that don’t show it off unless they’re of the mumu variety. But that’s great, because I love showing it off! I find it amusing when people look at me at the shops, “is she pregnant or did she just have a really big sandwich?” They’re probably not even looking, let’s be real, but in the spirit of narcissism, let’s say they are.
Anyway, to help keep this growing body comfortable, I bought a pair of maternity jeans from Just Jeans this weekend. Though I did get a pair from Ripe, they’re a tad big for me at present. I went a size up to compensate for some extra butt/thigh growth (my usual size was unattractively tight), but it’s a brand that appears to have a big difference between sizes and right now they’re on the looser size. Once my belly grows they’ll be able to stay up without it being a plumbers-crack situation, but for now they're in my wardrobe. I think they’ll be a third trimester pair of pants. A friend suggested I buy a pair from Just Jeans in a size smaller than usual because of stretching (thanks, Emily!) and they’re been AMAZING. Gone are my old jeans, even the loose pairs I was tying with a rubber band, which no longer works unless I walk around with my hand down my pants to void the zip cutting me, and that's socially unacceptable, so...
This week I spent a a little time each evening going through my entire wardrobe. I’d put a show on my laptop (I’m watching An Honourable Woman - wow, just wow) and assess my clothes - trying them on to see how they fit on this new body, throwing some out and packing quite a bit away until next year, making space to highlight the clothes I can actually wear. How good is a wardrobe cleanse?
I'm continuing to love Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth, finding the information on hormones and what our bodies do during pregnancy and childbirth to be fascinating and empowering. I've got a few more pregnancy related books to read once I finish this, which have been lent by lovely friends, but have also been reading Burial Rites as a baby-brain break.
Leg Cramps and Sleep
So, leg cramps. They’re a thing. I’ve always had mild leg cramps at night - “growing pains”, my mum called them (even though they continued long after I stopped growing...suspicious, that). But now they’re stronger, tighter and more persistent, and as a result, I’m finding bed to be a little uncomfortable. One thing that does help is Ben massaging them at night. He’s keen to help out and I am very keen to take advantage of his good heart.
Thoughtful placement of this growing belly helps with the bedtime comfort factor, even at this pot-belly stage. I attended a physio session this week, encouraged by my hospital, and my physio suggested an uppage of pillow usage at night from 1 to 5 (sorry, Ben) - one for your head, one for your belly, one between the legs and two behind your back (to stop you rolling completely flat on your back, which isn’t ideal). I can appreciate how necessary this will be as my pregnancy progresses. Right now I’m using 2-3 pillows and it helps a lot. During this session we also learnt about our pelvic floor muscle and why it is so so so important. Yeah, it’s really important. Why don’t they teach us that in school? Surely that’s more helpful for girls than making silk boxer shorts or learning about The Battle of Hastings? Anyway, my physio encouraged the group to rest our pelvic floor muscles by lying horizontally when you get the chance (couch time is super important for us ladies - take note!) And I need to do my exercises – tightening, releasing, repeating, etc, which will hopefully help the muscle and all my organs down there, reducing my chance of incontinence or prolapse and generally encouraging things to work as well as they can after the whole “baby passing through my cervix” event.
Food and Health
My healthy diet continues, as I can’t help the fact (thank goodness) that I just feel my best when I eat whole, real food. This week I bought a probiotic for Ben and I. Even though I love my yoghurt and eat it daily, I was keen for even more goodness as research continues to support the importance of good gut health regarding, well, everything. Bioceuticals is a brand I love and often get clients to use, so I started Ben on one Ultra 45 daily, while I have the pregnancy specific one. I feel like it’s a good investment in our health, all three of us.
Our Ultrasound and Gender Thoughts
At the end of week 19 we had our big scan. If you’re not already aware, Obstetricians like an ultrasound around the 20 week mark to check for anomalies or concerns, and to make sure everything looks healthy. It’s amazing what they can see at these ultrasounds. We saw bubs’ lips and watched as he/she practiced their swallow like a boss. Bubs kept moving his/her hands and legs, their little thighs and feet flying everywhere, looking so snug in my womb. Ooooh it was so cute.
I always look forward to our ultrasounds and check ups. My placenta is anterior, meaning it sits between my stomach and the baby, acting as a little cushion. As a result, I’m less likely to feel bubs moving in my belly and it’ll be a bit more difficult for Ben to feel anything when he holds my belly. So while it’s common to feel kicks at this point, and I have been feeling little bubbles of movement (“flutters” they call them) every now and then, I’m not feeling any big movements, nor am I likely to for a few weeks. It’s a shame, but what can you do. A good number of women have their placentas in an anterior position and it’s no big deal.
We went into the ultrasound asking our doctor to please not tell us the gender, and there was no slip of the tongue, which I thought might happen. And while I admit that I tried to not look in the genital area in case I would be able tell, I absolute gave myself too much credit considering I am not, in fact, a doctor and this was my second ultrasound ever. I just really didn’t want to know whether we’re growing a little boy or a girl!
People have asked why we’re not finding out the gender, as it’s not that common these days to wait until the birth (though two of my good friends didn’t find out, nor my sister-in-law). So I had a little think about our reasoning and tried to articulate our mutual gut decision to not find out. The fact that both our parents didn’t find out the gender of their babies surely plays a big role, and I also think it comes down to labels. I remember my sociology lecturer in my first year of university describing his observations when putting his baby boy in pink clothing. His description of the surprise, even horror on the faces of strangers when he corrected their assumption that his baby was a girl stuck with me. Even if we don’t intend on planning too much, we can find ourselves holding certain gender biases. Boy equals blue, girl equals pink, and many of us would not feel comfortable deviating from this. Interestingly, it’s more of a travesty to put a boy in pink than a girl in blue... Boys play football, girls do ballet. Not always, of course, but that's a common way of thinking, a default. And while a lot of the time these gender stereotypes are completely harmless (and can even come from a place of truth), I didn’t want to give our baby a label and develop any ideas about who they might be purely based on their gender (and not their personality) just yet. As the lady who fitted my bra last month articulated (you apparently have intimate conversations when standing topless in front of a stranger), if finding out the gender ahead of time we can find ourselves “putting the baby in a box before they’re even born”. And I think she was spot on there, swiftly articulating why Ben and I don’t want to find out. But whatever, right? I am in no way passing judgment on other people’s choices or saying one way is better than the other. It is a personal decision every couple will make, and I think you should just go with your gut. These are just my thoughts, an explanation of our decision, as I knew some people were curious.
And after all that "avoiding gender bias" talk, let me say that I am still crazy excited to find out if it is a boy or girl. As I’ve said before, I’m usually really in tune with my body, having strong gut feelings and all that jazz. And I know many people have a strong, maternal or paternal feeling of their baby’s gender, but not me. Ben and I have now both had dreams it’s a boy (and he was called our favourite baby boy name in each dream), so I think we’ll both be surprised if those dreams are off and it is a girl, but we can totally see it going either way. I think my head says girl but my heart says boy...maybe. Though you won’t be surprised to hear that we have a pair of pink leggings, which our baby will wear regardless of whether it’s a boy or girl. Damn straight.
What we did find out during our ultrasound is that bubs and I both nestle our hands below our chins in the same fashion. Our doctor pointed it out as I was lying down watching the screen, and then I saw it, bubs and I in the same position, our hands and fingers placed identically. It was a sweet moment of connection which summoned feelings in me too strong to describe. We got a 3D print out of our little one, and while bubs totally looked like an alien, I also thought he/she looked a lot like me. My little alien twin.
This week we went on a short road trip for Ben’s work to visit one of his clients in the country. I made sure to not schedule my own clients so I could be his chauffeur and get a bit of writing done, uninterrupted. I really appreciate having a flexible schedule so I can support Ben, as he's the one who works longer hours. It's our thing now - he'll work while I drive, and we play old school music or I listen to podcasts. It's fun.
As a treat to celebrate hitting 20 weeks on Thursday, the halfway mark, we bought a tub of Zebra Dream Ice-Cream from my favourite shop in Bendigo and ate it back at our motel on the bed. That ice-cream, I swear it’s from another planet (another planet that makes amazing ice-cream made of coconut milk and wonderful organic indredients). It’s worth the price tag, people. I used to visit Bendigo once a month for my old job, and would always lust after these tubs, but I new if I bought one I'd probably end up eating the whole thing in my motel room. Having a road trip partner means you can share a tub, and that's really what marriage is all about. We also bought a few things from Cotton On Baby, because there was a sale and I couldn’t not buy a pair of tiny, adorable tracksuit pants, could I? Ben chose a onsie and I found his excitement to be cuter than the baby clothing.
I'm now prioritising baby clothes over meals in cafes...I've changed, man. Though this sunny park picnic in Bendigo, where I finished Burial Rites, was really splendid.
You know how I mentioned last week that I wasn’t feeling flutters frequently? This week it has become more regular and recognisable, like little gas bubbles in my belly. That is, gas bubbles that don’t end up simply being the other kind of gas. It's always a major “womp womp” downer when you think you're experiencing your baby move, only to realise you're just about to fart. So not cool. But now, more often than not, I am most definitely feeling bubs, and it is so sweet/less stinky.
My Favourite Pregnancy Knit
My nana knitted my mum this top when she was pregnant. Or perhaps my nana wore it too, I'll surely stand corrected. I adore it and am positively living in it these days. The arms are the perfect length (a little short, because I'm taller than my nana and mum) which means I don't need to roll them up when doing the dishes (I seem to do a lot of dishes, so this makes me happy). The colour, the pattern, the cut, the snugness...it's love. Also, Ben and I have deep affection for Jimmy Grants, featured here and devoured on the way home one day this week.
I mean, it's nowhere near as bad as the first trimester, but it does come on during the day every now and then. Mostly I manage it by distraction and fresh air, as well as making sure I'm hydrated and have food in my belly.
Food and Coffee
Besides Jimmy Grant's falafel wrap, this week I ordered my first “full strength” coffee at a café and drank half of it, only to be told later it was a double shot latte. Whoa, folks! I smashed work that morning. And FYI, the caffeine recommendation for pregnant women stands at a maximum of 200mg a day. I am totally fine with the occasional coffee, as my desire for them is not regular at all and I kind of like having an hilariously low caffeine tolerance. In other food and drink news, I continue to sniff Ben’s wine frequently (I've taken a few sips but don't miss it enough to have a glass myself) and my appreciation for pasta grows. I made rigatoni for lunch one day with a passata, garlic, chickpea, parsley, parmesan sauce. Lastly, toast with avocado has been much enjoyed, and in lieu of toast, these crackers are my crack.
Eve of Eden Maternity Clothing
A really lovely perk of being a blogger is getting sent great brands to sample. Usually it’s food that I might feature on instagram, but a few weeks ago I was contacted by Tania from Eve of Eden maternity clothing to see if I’d be keen on trying some of their clothing. I promptly checked out their goods online and was thrilled to see the small Australian brand had a selection of clothes in classic and clean styles, which were a good price and appeared to be nice quality. I don’t feature anything on the blog that I wouldn’t buy if it weren’t a free sample, so I was pretty excited I could say “yes please” to Tania and receive a generous gift pack of five selected items the following week. Here is what I chose and my thoughts:
- I just adore their black long-sleeved top, with generous belly stretch. I have been living in this, and will continue to do so (you can see I wore it during my big scan above). It's comfortable and flattering and I wish I had it in multiple colours.
- I also went with a white singlet with nursing peek-aboo option, and really like it. The cut is nice, it's practical and feels really great under cardigans or jumpers. It's rare to find something that fits perfectly around my belly and doesn't need constant adjusting. Though I went out to Kong with friends last week and totally got food on it. Christened with kimchi instead of baby vomit, I can deal with that.
- And then we have this lovely blue leaf-print maternity shirt dress which I just adore. It is super comfy, with pockets (yay!) and generous room for belly growth. The fabric feels like a dream and woohoo for colour! (I tend to go for greys and browns as a default). With maternity tights (from Ripe) and little booties, this dress has been a dream for work. I’ll keep wearing this after giving birth, that’s for sure.
- I also chose Eve of Eden's pink tiered maternity nursing dress, which is generous in the flouncy fabric stakes, though the under laying is a little tight-fitting. Come spring and summertime, when I’ll surely still look a few months pregnant and appreciate loose-fitting clothing (especially on those hot days!), I'm certain I'll be thankful for this pretty, colourful dress.
- I’ve loved throwing on this polka-dot sweater with my maternity jeans and converse sneakers for a comfy working-from-home outfit, or around the house with some maternity leggings I got from Target (Eve of Eden have leggings too, and while I haven't sampled them, they look great). It's made me appreciate maternity jumpers, rather than tops that are simply a size up from what you'd normally get. I'm hoping it continues to allow my belly room to grow, as I'd like to wear it as long as I can. Just a casual photo shoot whilst folding laundry... (thanks, Ben).
Thank you, Eve of Eden! You’ve got some gems in your line, for sure. My favourites are the black long-sleeved top and the blue leaf-print dress. I'm feeling pretty spoilt, myself, so am happy to let you know that Tania has offered my readers a $10 discount until the end of July (one use per customer and purchases over $60 only). Just use the code: APPLES2015 at the checkout!
In terms of what's appealing, this week it's continues to be fruit (particularly oranges and apples), pumpkin, pasta and potatoes (this week I'm all about roasted kipflers!). I'm also finding I'm needing a lot more meat than usual, and enjoy a nice steak or bolognaise regularly. After a lovely lunch-date with my co-pregnant friend Emma, during which we discussed the beauty of pasta with tuna and anchovies (Em highly recommends this recipe), I made my tuna, chilli and lemon pasta dish, and it was one of the most satisfying meals I've had in a long while. I continue to be amazed at how much pasta I can comfortably eat in one sitting. Bubs seems to love pasta too, as on the days I eat a bowl for dinner he/she is SO active. We see lots of little kicks on those nights.
Eggs are a common feature in my diet, and quinoa is on the menu every other week. I'm also treating myself more than I used to, buying things like avocado, good cheddar cheese and nice juices. I figure I'm not buying wine or Campari anymore, and it's not for me, it's for the baby... ;)
Finally, I'm finding it much easier to drink water than before, and have been loving a weak latte about 2 times a week. Whereas previously they offended my sensibilities, weak coffees taste like regular strength to me now (though Ben and my mum assure me they're not full-strength and that I am indeed drinking weak, coffee-flavoured milk).
Week 21 Appointment
So, what else happened during week 21? Well, we had another appointment with our Obstetrician and found out, after checking Ben's blood type (always a good idea, folks, he was 95% sure but turned out to be wrong!!), that I won't need to have anti-D injections (I'm rhesus negative). Woohoo! I also mentioned the tightening I’ve been feeling across my upper belly, and my Obstetrician assured me that Braxton Hicks contractions can start anytime now, which is basically your uterus practicing before the big event, and that unless they’re regular and persistent, it’s nothing to worry about. The normal belly/uterus pains I have experienced continue, as my uterus and baby grow, and I'm learning to move slowly when standing up after sitting. Lastly, it was nice to check that bubs is growing well, as I've had quite a few people tell me how small my belly is. Even though I feel I'm on track and bubs is growing really nicely (and getting noticeably bigger every day!), after the 10th comment you start to wonder, especially as a first-time mum.
Also, I’m trying to be really good about doing my pelvic floor exercises. I’m not entirely sure I’m doing them right, but something is working down there. Sleep has been better, too. Gone are the days when I’d consistently wake for about an hour between 4-5am, now I’m generally sleeping through (with 1-3 toilet breaks) from 10:30-6:30. I’m wondering how soon is too soon to order a pregnancy pillow…they look so cozy!
So, do you remember how I said I was finally feeling lots of flutters and movement last week? Well after a few really active days Wednesday-Friday I didn't feel much over the weekend. Come Monday I was a little worried, but I recalled my friend saying if I wanted to feel my baby move I should drink a glass of cold water or juice then lie down flat on my back with my head propped up. So I took her advice, and after some time being still and observing, I felt a flood of relief as our little one moved about. Those lovely inner rumblings and tumblings are unmistakable now, and bring me so much joy. And then, to my complete shock, I saw my belly pulsate. It took me a while to realise what was happening, as I can see my belly moving with my heartbeat these days and I wasn't sure it was just that, but sure enough, correlating with a strong inner feeling of a "kick", my belly moved again...Oh, my heart!! I couldn't wait to show Ben. If you poke the side of your cheek with your tongue, that's what it looks like. And now, mainly in the evenings (though not every evening), we'll see a number of sweet kicks. Ben talking to bubs and kissing the belly seems to bring them on more than anything. Well, that and a bowl of pasta. I remember my friend Denita (who had a beautiful baby girl two weeks ago in the USA!), telling me that feeling your baby kick is the sweetest little gift, and that before long I'll feel them regularly and they'll be super strong. I cannot wait. It's such a magical feeling.
Gee, that was a big post, folks. Well done for getting through it! You deserve a plate of pasta to refuel. That’s what I’m off to do. I'm now into the 6th month and that, to me, is bonkers. It's a really fun stage, with nightly kick watching, sweet comments from strangers, and my dad and brother giggling like school kids every time they see my bump. I can tell that time is going to start moving very quickly!