Pregnancy gets a lot more fun in the second trimester — it’s when you finally get to reveal the news to family and friends and your belly starts to show so you get to start dressing the bump and showing it off. It’s also when you get to experience what, in my opinion, is the BEST part of pregnancy - baby’s little kicks and movements! At first, the kicks are so gentle and small and they just feel like muscle spasms, but as the weeks advance, the kicks get progressively harder. I felt the first kick at 22 weeks, and it was right after I laid down to go to bed — they say that baby is lulled to sleep by mom’s motions and tends to wake up once you settle down to sleep or sit down to rest. By the following week I could feel him start to become mildly active during the day, and the week after that I felt him kicking up a storm whether it was day or night and he hasn’t seemed to let up since! An active little guy, this one! By the way, the second trimester is also when you get to find out the gender if you want to know, and we found out we’re having a boy. (See my post “How To Bake Your Own Gender Reveal Cake” here.)
Pregnancy comes with many joyful moments and I feel lucky that my experience has been generally pleasant and easy-going, but it does comes with its fair share of uncomfortable symptoms. Other than having constant migraines, I seem to have bypassed many of the common first trimester pregnancy symptoms, but I sure am making up for that in the second! My worst symptom by far has been heartburn. Constant heartburn, day and night. My doctor prescribed medication for it, but it still gets to me and it is extremely painful. Apparently not just an “old wive’s tale,” experiencing heartburn during pregnancy has been scientifically linked to having a baby born with a head full of hair. Well, if the level of intensity of the heartburn is relative to the amount of hair present at birth, then this baby is going to come out looking like Cousin It, I tell you!! Another major symptom I faced was constipation and hemorrhoids that caused some pain for a few days every other week — so unpleasant and so uncomfortable, and also probably not something most people want to talk about, but I’m telling it like it is here so that other mamas-to-be reading this know that it’s normal and not to be alarmed by it (heads up — it’s painful and there will be bleeding!). Some other minor symptoms that came and went were ear stuffiness (that feeling like you have water in your ears), leg cramps (seriously, there were a few solid weeks where I was waking up every hour at night with leg cramps!) and insomnia (at least once a week, I was wide awake between 2-5am). On the bright side, the extreme exhaustion I faced in the first trimester subsided and I got my energy back!
My lowest moment of the second trimester was during week 16 when I was diagnosed with placenta previa — this is a condition where the placenta covers all or part of the cervix, and if the placenta doesn’t migrate upwards and away from the cervix as the uterus grows, it blocks baby’s passage out through the vagina and requires a C-section to delivery baby safely. I really don’t want to have a C-section, and though I understand that it could become required if there are complications during labour and delivery, it upset me to even have the chance at a vaginal birth taken away from me so early on. I cried for two days straight, but then I pulled myself together because it was still early on and there was a very good chance that it would correct itself. Sure enough, by my next appointment 4 weeks later, my placenta migrated a good distance away and this was no longer a concern. It definitely highlighted how strongly I feel about not having a C-section and I will do whatever is recommended to avoid this fate. (By the way, this is just a personal choice, I’m not against a woman’s choice to deliver via C-section; to each her own, I’m all for whatever method gets the baby out safely. I also love that there is a movement to change the vernacular, and that the term “belly birth” is being used in place of Caesarian section.)
Sleeping during the second trimester gets progressively more difficult as the bump grows and I’ve been sleeping in a pillow fort every night. I bought a “pregnancy pillow” early on, it’s shaped like a giraffe and has been a godsend! This pillow has been such a lifesaver that he even gets a name — Gerrard. I’ve also been using pillows of varying firmness to prop under my belly to support it when laying on my side. You can buy a wedge-shaped pillow for this, but I made do with what I already had. Sometimes the most comfortable thing to do was shove some of the duvet under my belly.
I caught a cold early on in the second trimester and it hit me hard, lasting for two weeks, and it turns out there aren’t many cold-relief medications that a pregnant woman can safely take to alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms. I don’t even know how I caught it, I hadn’t been around anyone who was sick, and I’m always so cautious about not touching things in public, and if I have to touch things, I’m careful not to touch my face until I’ve had a chance to thoroughly wash my hands. PSA: if you are sick, or think you may be getting sick, kindly stay away from a pregnant woman. Trust me — she will understand if you have to cancel plans! Having a cold is 10x worse while pregnant than it is for the average person.
Getting around on public transportation wasn’t the most pleasant experience in the later part of the first trimester but it became extremely unpleasant in the second. On the one hand, it’s easier to get a seat because people are generally kind and will give up their seat to a visibly pregnant woman (though this wasn’t always the case, but when it was, which was most of the time, I was offered a seat by both women and men equally, and even once by a child!). Taking the subway was the easiest, because it offered the smoothest ride and the most available seats without someone having to offer theirs. Though I didn’t take many streetcars, they were the next-easiest mode of public transportation since they travel on rails so you don’t get jerked from side to side, only forward and back, but this was the mode of transportation where I was unlikely to be offered a seat. Taking the bus was the ABSOLUTE WORST. The bus jerks you around from all angles and the best way that I can describe the feeling of riding the bus (whether standing OR sitting) is that it’s like having your inner abdominal lining tear away in the opposite direction from the skin of your stomach. It was horrible. Sitting sideways made this feeling worse so I tried my best to always sit forward-facing. The drivers made things worse by driving off at top speed as soon as I got on (though some were kind and waited for me to sit down first), and by the constant pumping of the breaks when at a red light. Why do they do this?!! You’re not going anywhere at a red light, so just stay put! This isn’t just for pregnant women, this is for all people, especially those who are standing! Fortunately, my TTC-riding days were few and far between since I had a car most days, but as you can see from how long I’ve spent on this topic, taking public transportation was highly unpleasant and something I avoided as much as possible. The last thing I’ll say about it is this: if you are able-bodied and decide to sit in a blue seat that is designated for the elderly, the handicapped and for pregnant women, don’t just sit there with your headphones on staring down at your phone — it is your responsibility to look up at every stop to see if someone who gets on needs the seat more than you do. Then, you offer it. If you’re not going to do that, don’t sit down there in the first place. Okay, I digress, rant over. :)
Okay, back to the fun parts of pregnancy! This post has been heavy on the symptoms and other downsides, but I promise you that the good far outweighed any of the bad. Getting my energy back gave me motivation to get to the gym often, which in turn boosted my energy even more. I didn’t experience any mood swings and whether it’s the case or not, I attribute this to maintaining a consistent workout regimen accompanied by healthy eating. I’ve never loved my body more in my entire life and have enjoyed “dressing the bump” and showing off the life I’m growing inside me (check out my weekly bump pics in my Instagram Story highlights to see the progress!). I’ve also never felt more stylish. Another fun part was getting to know the various baby items and I did a ton of research by reading articles and blogs and talking to mama-friends to find out which were the essentials, as well as which ones were not-so-necessary. The hubs and I had fun putting together our baby registry during this time (while also overwhelming ourselves by how much stuff baby needs!). The second trimester was also a time spent collecting needed items, and we gratefully received a ton of hand-me-down clothing, as well as sourced some of the bigger-ticket items using Facebook Marketplace — some baby items have a short lifespan and are so expensive that I highly recommend buying used where possible. I even enjoyed my monthly doctor’s appointments because I got to see a snapshot of baby’s development through a series of ultrasounds. The second trimester is also when you take the glucose test that checks if you have developed gestational diabetes, and I’m classifying this test as one of the fun parts of pregnancy because I actually enjoyed it — you drink a very sugary orange drink and then take a blood test an hour later, but it seems that most people are sickened by the drink. It tasted like a non-carbonated, more syrupy version of orange soda. Despite what you may read about it, it’s really not bad!
This pregnancy update may have been a bit all over the place, but that’s what I get for taking until the end of the third trimester to finally get around to writing it! I’m relying on the notes I took as well as memory, but the baby brain finally kicked in so if it seems like a bunch of word vomit, that’s why. Ha! Forgive me. And please keep in mind that all of the experiences I’ve shared in this post are unique to my own pregnancy, so while I’ve referenced symptoms as being normal, every pregnancy is different and you should always talk to your doctor/practitioner if you have any concerns about your own symptoms. Stay tuned because a third trimester update will follow shortly (and hopefully before baby comes!). If you have any questions or want to share your own experiences, hit me up, I’d love to hear from you!