As I eagerly await our snowpea’s arrival, I reflect on the many changes that the third trimester delivered.
How many days now until snowpea arrives? I lose track of time. The final month of pregnancy is said to feel the longest, but for me, that rule doesn’t hold true. It’s uncharacteristic of me to enjoy being in limbo, but I must admit, I kind of like being pregnant.
And, more accurately, I’m kind of scared of motherhood.
At 37 weeks pregnant, I theoretically have 3 weeks to get used to the idea of letting go of my freedom (although she could come any day now). In the meantime, here’s a reflection on the third trimester up until this point.
Aches and pains?
Somehow, I thought being nine months pregnant would feel… different. Sure, I’ve gained about 23 pounds and can no longer run. But I can still walk without waddling, and I’m thankful for that. Maybe all the prenatal yoga and barre has helped.
I don’t want to jinx myself by being overly optimistic, but I feel incredibly lucky to be as mobile and free of discomfort as I am. I am aware that my stomach is nestled high up in my ribs and the majority of my abdominal space is taken up by my beautiful 5 lb. girl, but it really feels okay. It makes me wonder why I really needed all that space in my body to begin with.
I go through cycles of sleeping well and waking during the night. But I believe that the phases off sleepless nights have been more closely related to emotional turmoil (as you’ll see below) than physical discomfort (as all the pregnancy books promised me).
Do I dare say it? I might actually feel better as a pregnant person.
Pregnancy during the pandemic cont.
Mourning the loss of my Birth Plan B
Towards the tail end of my second trimester, I mourned the loss of my ideal birth plan. Although it seems counter-intuitive, COVID-19 caused my birth center to close. You would think that accredited birth centers should be available and encouraged for low-risk pregnant people to minimize our risk of coming into contact with COVID-19 in hospitals, but sadly, that’s not the case here. This distressed me. And I tried to fight it.
For a day, I was going to have a home birth. It was really going to happen. I had successfully convinced Daniel to jump on board with my Birth Plan B, and I felt victorious. But as I hastily began to reconstruct my birthing arrangements, it didn’t take long for me to determine that a home birth was out of our budget.
If we would have set out to have a home birth from the beginning, it would have been attainable. But my first trimester prenatal care with an OB led to a few surprise $1,000 bills for “routine” in-network services. This led me to upgrade my health insurance plan to one with a lower deductible but a higher monthly premium. With my current health insurance plan, a hospital birth should be relatively inexpensive because I’ve already been paying it out each month. Home births, on the other hand, aren’t covered by insurance in Massachusetts, so it would be another $1,500-$3,000 expense on top of all the insurance charges I’ve already paid – plus more potentially, if I’m transferred to the hospital.
The reality is that we live in a broken healthcare system. And yet, at 37 weeks pregnant, I don’t have time to ruminate over the loss of what could have, would have, or should have been with my experience with birthing and prenatal care. I’ve accepted that I’m going to have a standard hospital birth. As per COVID-19 guidelines, I will be allowed one birth companion – either Daniel or a doula if I had one – who will not be able to return to assist me if they leave. Knowing that some women were forced to birth alone during the pandemic, I’m thankful that I can at least have one person with me.
Walking the halls will not be permitted to encourage labor to progress, so my midwife advised me to spend the majority of my labor at home if I want a natural birth. Who knows, maybe I will accidentally have a home birth experience under these conditions.
When I come home with snowpea, we won’t have my parents here to support us, as originally planned. Instead, our closest relatives will be halfway across the country. Coming to this realization broke my heart. Pregnancy during the pandemic is by no means ideal (did I mention all of my prenatal appointments between 29 and 36 weeks were canceled?), and yet, these are the conditions that we are faced with.
At the end of the day, it’s not about my comfort, my level of support, or my ideal experience. It’s about my snowpea. No matter what happens, as long as I get to bring snowpea home and we are both healthy, my birthing experience will have been a success.
Mourning the loss of loved ones
What has weighed on me much heavier than mourning the loss of my birth plan(s) is mourning the loss of loved ones during the third trimester. In the span of two weeks, I lost two important people: my grandmother and my best friend. While my grandmother’s passing was ultimately due to COVID-19, the circumstances surrounding my best friend’s tragic death remain somewhat of a mystery. I have tortured myself endlessly to try to imagine what went through Nicole’s head in the day that she overdosed and in the months leading up to it; I have come to no answer but that she is at peace now.
Needless to say, these losses hurt. But I have tried to be strong for my snowpea. I know that she can feel my grief – it has felt like she has cried with me in some moments of sadness and gone silent in others. Grief wasn’t part of my plan for pregnancy either, but I’m learning that life doesn’t fit into a neatly bulleted agenda.
Getting to know snowpea
The greatest joy of the third trimester has been in connecting with my snowpea. Although she’s still on the small side – about 5 lbs. 3 oz. when she was measured at my 36-week growth ultrasound – I can feel how much she’s grown in the last few months. I can even start to sense her personality from the way that she interacts with Daniel and me – kicking Daniel to say hello when I hug him from behind, startling when Daniel blows her raspberries, becoming active and excited when Blue wakes me up to take her on a morning walk, becoming sleepy and quiet every time I lie down on her favorite side…
Nestled inside me with her head down, her smooth back to the left, and her playful feet to the upper right, she’s already perfect in every way. Carrying my snowpea has been such a joy, and I can’t wait to meet her soon.