Featured images photo credit: EAM Photography
Make sure you’ve read part four of the story here before reading on.
Before you read any further, know these things:
- This is MY experience. I’m not here to compare myself to anyone else or weigh my hard against yours. I have a new understanding for difficult, high risk pregnancies and loss during pregnancy, but know that my difficult and my loss might not be the same as someone else’s. That doesn’t negate anyone’s experience!
- I don’t necessarily endorse every single tip or belief in the resources I’ve linked, but I still think they’re really great resources worth sharing.
- I’m still learning! I might get some things wrong entirely here, or what worked for me might be wrong for you. Please give me grace and know I’m not writing to claim I know anything about babies or parenting. I’m just sharing what I’ve learned through my own pregnancy journey — I named my blog “Lessons Learned & Life Loved” for a reason. As I’ve already mentioned, every pregnancy is different, and one of the biggest things I’ve learned is there’s no such thing as a “normal” pregnancy.
- Expressing my honest dislike for and difficulties with pregnancy in NO way relates to my love for my daughter. More women SHOULD feel empowered to talk about the less-than-beautiful, downright awful parts of pregnancy. As always, I feel called to write about this, and if something I write in this specific post helps just one person, then it’s all worth it. If this post isn’t for you, move on.
Month 7: life-changing, breathless, achy
In the third trimester, I started to get serious about educating myself for birth and postpartum life. Truthfully, birth hasn’t been something I’ve feared; maybe because this pregnancy has been so awful that finally getting her out of me will be enough relief for any physical pain not to matter. Ever since I passed two kidney stones fused together when I was 19 and the doctor told me that I could birth a 50 pound baby and have no issues, I’ve been confident about one day giving birth. I’ve never wanted to get an epidural for that reason, but the more research I’ve done, the more I’ve realized that in my opinion, a lot of the risks outweigh the benefits of an epidural, including tearing.
My mom got an epidural when she had me, and I gave her a fourth degree tear; if I have one fear about birth, it’s that. Another fear that manifested this month was not passing the glucose test for gestational diabetes. Luckily, I passed, but they did tell me I was anemic, so I added in iron to my plethora of pills. This also meant adding in stool softeners and Miralax.
Baby girl was head down at 25 weeks, which is definitely good news as long as she doesn’t flip between now and birth. This also means we still didn’t get any good pictures of her face, which I guess makes sense because at this time, we didn’t plan on posting her face ever on social media, so she’s making that decision really easy for us.
Summer started during this month, and I noticed stretch marks on my tummy for the first time on May 21. Laying out and getting a tan has made me feel better about my body, but now that I look pregnant, I have to remind myself that I’m not fat. I’m so thankful I went through the physical transformation I did in 2020 (read about it in I LOST 1/4 OF MY BODY WEIGHT IN 9 MONTHS!), but it’s definitely a mental struggle to see pregnancy weight gain and the other changes in my body as a good thing. This summer, I’ve set a goal to walk 30 minutes six days a week, and even though it makes me a little breathless, I always feel good once I’ve done it.
This month, despite the aches and pains in my changing body, I finally felt some happiness surrounding pregnancy. I confirmed my long-term-sub for the fall, which was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. My mother in law did so much to help us get baby gear and get the nursery ready, and building such a strong relationship with her during this pregnancy has been one of my favorite parts of the experience. While I’ve been surrounded by so many supportive family members and friends, she has been my number one confidant and advocate through the entire journey.
My mom has been very helpful too, but, something I think I’ll learn to be more true as I begin to parent my own daughter, I also feel like she’s hard on me. She wonders why I take so many pills and supplements, and I let her get in my head about the sleeping pill I take for morning sickness affecting the baby. I stopped taking it for two nights at the beginning of June, and on that third day, I threw up right after dinner while simultaneously peeing while leaning over the toilet. I can’t imagine becoming a mom without her in my corner, though. I’m truly so excited to watch her, my dad, and my in-laws become grandparents for the first time.
One thing that has amazingly happened the farther I get into pregnancy is my general anxiety decreasing. I carry a lot of it in my jaw and started wearing a nighttime dental guard in the last year because of it, but as the school year neared an end and summer began, I no longer felt better wearing it at night and decided to stop wearing it altogether. I sleep generally well, perhaps because of my Unisom and being off work for the summer, which is something I’m incredibly thankful for. As this pregnancy progresses, all of the worries I had about this being horrible timing for a teacher to have a baby have really been replaced with gratitude. Sure, it’s not fun being outside in Missouri heat in the third trimester, but most days, I can literally lay naked in my house and not do a thing. What better way to spend your third trimester of pregnancy? God’s timing absolutely nailed it for me there!
Month 8: anticipation, confidence, strength
This is the first month I’m writing in real-time. My sister in law hosted a friends and family baby shower that was so perfect. I felt so loved, and I knew that baby girl was so loved by her village already. My favorite part was that everyone got us books instead of cards, so baby girl has a giant library already. My husband and I have been reading our dog Daisy and my bump bedtime stories from this collection, and it’s been one of the most special experiences during our pregnancy.
On June 26, we did a maternity photoshoot with my favorite photographer. For the first time my entire pregnancy, I felt beautiful. That same week, my husband and I celebrated our fourth anniversary. He always said he’d get me new bands to go with my engagement and wedding ring for each future child, and he gave me my first one, a slim rose gold band with tiny diamonds, as an anniversary gift. Though we’ve been praying for our future children irregularly for years, we set an intentional daily prayer schedule for our daughter specifically.
- Sunday: Her faith & relationship with Jesus
- Monday: Her health
- Tuesday: Her discernment in American culture
- Wednesday: Her relationship with her grandparents & extended family
- Thursday: Parenting Biblically
- Friday: Her friendships
- Saturday: Her future husband (my husband struggles with this one!)
On July 5, we started doing weekly NST tests at our high risk doctor just as a precaution, and baby girl has passed them all with flying colors. Praise God! On July 19, which was at the end of week 34, she measured way above average at over 6 pounds, and she’s still head down. According to Babylist, babies average 4.7 pounds at 34 weeks. This felt like such a win for us; we were told that COVID could affect fetal growth, but that’s not our case. My brothers and I were all big babies weighing over 8 pounds, and our doctor says that usually birthweight like that is genetic.
That being said, I’m hopeful to go into labor naturally. In this month, I’ve taken two online courses that I would HIGHLY recommend to all the mamas out there, even if you aren’t a first time mom: Lactation Link and Built to Birth. I learned about Lactation Link through aeroflowbreastpumps.com, which is where I got my breast pump using insurance, and I learned about Built to Birth from the pre-admission labor and delivery nurse at my hospital. I feel SO empowered to give birth and breastfeed now.
Some not-so-fun symptoms from this month include carpal tunnel. I’ve been writing this series of posts for seven or so hours now, and my hands and wrists are killing me. I’ve had to loosen my Apple Watch band to help compensate, and I’ve stopped wearing my rings (trying to wear my sweet rose gold band though!). I’ve also noticed some minor swelling when I overdo it on activity and don’t put my feet up. I made it through yearbook camp (a workshop to prepare for the upcoming school year, similar to any other co-curricular/extracurricular overnight summer camp) in week 32-33 — one of my biggest anxieties from before I was even pregnant — but my feet and ankles were not happy with me. I’ve also experienced “lightening crotch,” which is sharp vaginal pain, a few times, but that hasn’t been unbearable.
Speaking of pain, my body doesn’t feel great. It’s hard to get up. It’s hard to bend over. No position is truly comfortable, and when I lay down at night, I’ve started to notice I have heartburn. But in week 34, I realized that I feel my best and my strongest when I’m active. Yes, I’m exercising regularly this pregnancy in hopes of keeping myself and baby healthy as well as to hopefully have a smoother birth experience, but I just feel like me when I’m active. I’ve made a conscious effort to exercise 130 days (I’m writing this July 20), which means over half of my pregnancy so far, I’ve worked out. I’m incredibly proud of myself for that, and that alone gives me confidence that I am built to birth and I’m strong enough to do it the way I want to do it, which is as naturally as possible. I’ve gained what I lost back in 2020 and then some (read the story here), which is hard to think about, but I hope I can look back at that journey and find the same motivation to love my body that way again postpartum.
Because of all the complications we had early on, my OBGYN has said she wants to induce me in week 39, but that’s not ideal for me. In my research, I’ve discovered the more medical interventions you use in birth, the more you’ll continue to need to get through it. I’m praying I go into labor naturally before then, and I’m actively going to do things that I know will help put my body into labor on its own. I’m no medical expert, so I seriously encourage you to check out Built to Birth if you’re curious about how to help your body go into labor naturally.
Even though I’m still very much pregnant and the third trimester is not yet over, I’m choosing to end this series here as we anxiously await our baby girl to enter the world. I’m spending these weeks enjoying precious time with my loved ones before my life changes forever. On July 22, one of my best friends from high school came over to watch a movie we saw in theaters together 10 years ago when it came out: What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I had NO IDEA that the character Jules (Cameron Diaz), names her unexpected baby girl Emerson too. As if I needed any more confirmation of my daughter’s name, it’s been with me all along in a super cheesy movie that I loved as a teenager.
I thought my pregnancy series was done when I wrote it out nearly a month ago; however, I’m adding this part at 39 weeks, 3 days still very pregnant with no induction date scheduled and no real signs of labor. I mentioned it before, but if I could go back and skip the NISTs and opt out of the high risk appointments, I would. My doctors made me so certain I’d have this baby by now if for no other reason than because I am considered “high risk” and would have to be induced this week, but I’m not actually high risk at all. There is no medical reason to induce me.
I am so grateful for what has been overall a healthy pregnancy, but I wish I would’ve believed that all along. First time moms with healthy pregnancies very often have their babies closer to 41 or even 42 weeks. My OBGYN is leaving the decision to induce up to me at this point as long as everything is healthy with both me and baby girl.
I made it through both my yearbook distribution day and Freshman Transition Day at work, something I believed I wouldn’t be able to do in month eight, and at this rate, I’m going to make it to the first day of school Tuesday too. I’m prepared for it, but I just didn’t think that’s what would happen, even though that’s what I said I wanted all along.
I mentioned in my last blog post before this series that maybe all along, this blog has been for her too. Maybe some day she’ll read these words and know that even though the road was difficult, the story of how she came to be is a story of life loved.
1 Samuel 1:27I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.