It’s hard to know how wonderful or awful any part of my pregnancy was when I was in the thick of it. Now that it's almost 10 years later, though, I have some perspective on the journey and as sick as I felt during my first trimester, and as uncomfortable I was in my third trimester, I consider the second trimester the worst, all things considered. After talking to other moms, I know that all pregnancies are unique, and I realize how lucky I was to experience fairly routine pregnancies without any medical issues. Both my children were born completely healthy so whatever I endured in that second trimester must have been worth it.
Unless I really think about it. And guys, I am a thinker.
Fellow moms have shared with me that they felt especially terrific in their second trimester, and I say good for them. While I wasn’t feeling nauseous after 14 weeks, there were new aspects of the second trimester that had me almost pining for the earlier stage of my pregnancy. You know, back when I could still fit into my fancy bras. That may seem like an insignificant grievance, but when you’re growing a person inside you and you are consumed with thoughts that solely have to do with that other person, you cling to the tiny details of your pre-baby life as reminders of your original identity before motherhood.
Since I was saving the best for last (the baby at the end of these nine months), the worst came in the middle for me, with the nightmare that was the second trimester:
I didn’t “pop” until I was almost six months pregnant with my first baby. So while you want to keep that extra buffer of space around your midsection, not everyone can tell there’s a fetus in there. It would get stressful for me, especially on crowded subways when I had to defend my tiny bit of personal space more vigilantly. People around me were oblivious to my condition, and that made daily life significantly more stressful.
It really messed with my head to not look obviously pregnant to the world, but to feel so because none of my pants could close. I wasn’t quite big enough for most maternity clothes, and sizing up in regular clothes didn’t make sense because they weren’t made to accommodate the growing areas of my body. I just walked around in blouses and unbuttoned bottoms for a good six weeks until I could grow into the maternity clothes.
Though no one ever commented, I could feel some judgmental eyes on me as the pregnancy pounds started to accumulate, sans a noticeable bump. I thought my pregnancy would be more like it is in the movies, with me gaining weight solely around my middle. That was so not the case. My belly was the last place to start growing, even when I was well into my second trimester.
For some women, the ever-increasing cup size might be a delight. But for me, who reached a C-cup before eighth grade, it was rather alarming to witness my breasts continuing to grow. And it was getting uncomfortable. They got in the way when I tried to sleep, and they were no longer considered an erogenous zone. Nope, they were strictly off-limits due to their sensitivity.
If you’re not super pregnant, it may be hard to appear as such to others. Even though I've been pregnant, twice, I don’t always know if someone else is unless they are clearly days away from giving birth. And I’ve been offered seats from people thinking I was pregnant, when I wasn’t, which has put a major ding in my self-confidence. Empire waists are for everyone, not just for those expecting.
I was so tired in my first trimester and while my energy levels did recover when I entered my second trimester, they would plummet quickly a few hours before I was ready to go to bed. Instead of just feeling constantly lethargic, I could function well and then I’d hit a wall. It was a complete stop, and it often happened as soon as I squished myself between fellow commuters during rush hour.
I waited until I was 14 weeks to announce my pregnancy to my boss and anyone who wasn’t related to me. At that point, I was officially in my second trimester, but I didn’t look pregnant yet. As a result, I was conflicted about sharing my news.
On one hand, I wanted my co-workers to know and share in the excitement. I also wanted to give my supervisor time to plan how we’d cover my maternity leave. But I was a bit worried about how my team would take the news, and I was totally worried about them being able to get along fine in the office without me. Would those 12 weeks of maternity leave prove how useless I was? I feared my team would think I was no longer good at my job (and I was good at my job), or dedicated to it, since I was going to become a mom. I hate that working moms in particular have to worry about this judgment.
I am a stomach sleeper, and always at my most comfortable when I'm face down on the mattress. I managed to sleep this way through my first semester, but with the swelling breasts and expanding middle, it got harder to rest in this position into my second trimester. Being tired, and rarely comfortable enough to fall asleep, is one of the second trimester’s signature downsides.
I didn’t care much about what was safe to eat in my first trimester because there was so little I could actually stomach, with the all-day puking known as morning sickness. So I was relieved to get my appetite back in the second trimester, only to have my junk food cravings thwarted by the nutritional advice of my OB-GYN.
When I finally started to show into my second trimester, I thought I’d be happy. Actually, the dominant feeling was one of relief that my condition was obvious and maybe I could get a seat on the train more often (not really, it turned out). I had felt pregnant for months, and I wanted to be excited to finally look pregnant. But I’ve always had body image issues, so this change, as gradual as it was, still took some getting used to. I had to totally shift my mindset: my body was no longer something to tone and force into clothes in the size I coveted. Instead, it needed to be a nurtured, strong vessel to support the gestation of my future child.
Recognizing my body for its value in this way, as opposed to just its shape and weight, helped to grow my body confidence. And just when I was pretty used to being pregnant, it was time to have that baby, and go through the metamorphosis of the fourth trimester. Good times.
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