Shadea and I sat down for another chat, this time with both of us fairly far along in our second trimesters. It’s always so refreshing to sit down and talk with this girl in a practical, humorous, and honest manner, and this session was no exception. Today’s topics include: transitioning from first to second trimester, finding both emotional and physical balance, feeling sexy and empowered while pregnant (or trying to!), and how to face your limits and accept help and support when it’s offered.
S: Hey girl!
Sorry to keep you waiting.
No, I literally forgot today.
When Lauren and I were making plans for tonight (she does her laundry here), I mentioned, I will have to chat with Shadea at seven, and she just now said, you’ve got to do that thing with Shadea, and I was like OH RIGHT, YES. I DO. I TOTALLY remembered on my own.
So no worries.
I just finished dinner and I guess I was eating slow
Because, you know, food tastes so hella good these days
YES MA’AM, everyone asks what I’m craving and I’m like FOOD IN GENERAL.
Same way here. “Oh you have banana pudding this weekend? I need banana pudding like NOW.”
I’m super pumped about this! Not sure if this is how you did things before, but I just have a general idea of things to cover.
I mean, we can talk about food first.
I’m always down to talk about food, and I love talking to you about ideas and whatnot, so I’m excited!! Ready when you are!
Well in general, I’ve had a pretty easy second trimester. It’s almost over and I feel like throughout this process I’ve been kind of waiting for the hammer to drop. And it finally did, and I guess I wanted to see if you’d had a similar experience or how stress has affected you.
Yes, OK! Remind me how many weeks you are now – 23?
Yes – 23 weeks and…..4 days.
Right, and I am 21 weeks and 6 days. (when this was written)
So, how did your first trimester transition into your second? Was there a noticeable difference or was it more of the same experience?
It was pretty seamless. I didn’t have any incredible sense of passage or demarcation between them. Honestly, it seems a little arbitrary.
I’m kinda middle ground. It wasn’t a huge dramatic change, but I definitely noticed some changes. I think I didn’t really FEEL pregnant at all (since I was never sick) until week 12, and so moving into week 13 was like, Wow, suddenly pregnant! And that feeling only grew from there.
(And that god-awful fatigue lifted pretty quickly in second trimester, so I felt more normal again and less dead.)
Also, as I’ve told you before, I had a hard emotional adjustment in my first trimester, so moving into that second trimester, along with that idea of Wow, I’m Actually Pregnant really shifted my mood in a positive way, overall.
I don’t think I had the sensation I was really, really pregnant until about 20 weeks. Going in for the screening, straining to look/not look at the sex, and finally “popping” is what did it for me.
Yeah, for me – just because of my sad brain, I kinda felt like I just gained weight at first. Like that was where my brain went first, to a sort of negative space – but as it continued to grow and take that shape, it definitely felt more real – I think somewhere in that 12-13 week mark, I noticed my belly being in my way in a different way? I know that seems early, and I don’t think I was really SHOWING then – but I leaned over to pick up laundry or something, and something about that leaning was just subtly off, just slightly different than even gaining weight would have felt.
Are you feeling the physical ramifications of this huge and growing belly yet? (Accident prone? stretching and moving… not being able to lift things – overall dealing with the physical limitations)
I don’t feel that huge yet, oddly? I know and understand I’ve got a Serious Pregnant belly now, but I guess I tend to wear flowy clothing anyway, especially at work – so at work, I don’t feel so much like it’s HERE’S BELLY.
But in the past week or so, I’ve started prepping some Spring!!! Maternity Clothes, and dresses and showing off the bump is more of a priority. I think in the beginning, you do feel kinda awkward in your body, and the middle-end of second trimester is when you’re like, No, look at this cute belly!
Did you feel that way?
Oh yes. I definitely ordered some dresses and made a point to embrace the feminine primping side to try to counter-balance the feeling that I was just gaining weight.
In terms of body changes besides clothes – yeah, I’m really starting to feel it. Not bad or drastic at all. I get a back ache at the end of a long day, especially if I’ve taught or taken a dance class. And sometimes my hips ache. Both things aren’t DRASTIC at all, but I feel like it’s that sort of mind change of – OK, this is going to be a part of my everyday life now. Enough to make the monthly chiropractor visit a necessity.
I notice it more in ballet and yoga and stretching. Ballet especially! I do my grand battements (kicks) and they feel like they barely come off the ground, ha! Especially in comparison to where they used to be even last fall. When we do stretches forward, there’s just not as much room, and it takes me longer to come back up!
Yes! The yoga adjustments and the real, pressing need to stretch before bed so I can sleep comfortably through the night – and having to adjust based on what I’m capable of.
Yes! You have to keep up with that stretching daily. Missing one night can have a huge effect on the next couple days. If I stay on top of the back stretches, the hip stretches, I maintain that sense of normalcy. And I think I’ve been driven not to let it go too long or get too bad, and let it become a thriving problem. Staving it off with paying attention to it.
In general, I think this trimester has been about finding emotional and physical balance.
Yes, I agree, emotional balance for me, especially.
I did have kind of a[n actual balance] scare in the shower, slipped and fell a few weekends ago, and all in all landed alright.
We had gone canoeing all day and I think I was a little fatigued.
Oh no! You fell! Glad you are OK — the shower is scary sometimes!! Sometimes I get dizzy, and I have to really stop and make myself aware of what I’m doing. You can’t just breeze through your shower like you used to.
It was just more of a shock than the actual fall, and then the worry. But I landed on the meaty part of my ass, and kind of slid into the fall. Lol
Have you gotten a lot of advice and opinions as you’ve gotten farther along?
More just anecdotes than advice. The best thing I’ve done is totally offload the childcare problem to my husband, which seems to be the most prevalent topic people want to discuss, and then I get to say “Actually, that’s not my problem to solve. Davis is figuring it out.”
That’s awesome, that Davis is taking on some of the decision making and take it off your plate. I love it when our men are really involved and team players instead of just bystanders.
I’ve gotten more unsolicited opinions that I would like. I totally know that that’s just a huge part of it – a part of both pregnancy and mothering that you have to get used to and have to become strong enough to ignore and not let it affect you.
Ooph. Yeah, the strength to remain yourself is hard, to steel yourself against worries given to you, against judgement real or imagined.
But I am already an anxious person, and it really stresses me out, that constant battle to ignore unsolicited opinions. I’ve had people come out of their way to come talk to me about something that has NOTHING to do with my personal health, and so after hearing that You should be worried… I feel like it’s another battle I have to fight.
That worry, like your shower slip – any little thing seems like it COULD be monumental. And even if you are committed to being strong and trusting your own truth – you don’t want to be arrogant and ignore something potentially dangerous.
Which I assume is what you mean by balance, especially emotional.
Gawd, it’s the hardest thing to be your own advocate for positive thinking. Especially with the doctors. We had something small and potentially meaningless come up on our screen – a small about of fluid in the little one’s brain – and, woof, the rigmarole to alleviate that worry was like pulling teeth out of the doctor.
Because they know they can’t honestly say anything definitive short of an amniocentesis, which has its own risks.
Yes! And you have to balance Trusting your Gut and Trusting a Medical Professional.
Because society teaches you to trust your doctor above yourself.
I basically had to say “Look, I know I’m low risk, and you said the chances of issues is 1 in 800, and that this symptom alone rarely indicates the defect you mentioned, AND my screen came back normal.”
So yeah, staying emotionally balanced in the face of that.
The doc was just so dry and matter of fact.
And I get that – it’s not their job to assuage my fears, but to talk about results in a scientific manner, but goodness, it’s hard.
I think it goes back to that sort of mentality we discussed in our last chat — millions of women have given birth — and moving on from that, millions of babies have been born in all KINDS of circumstances.
I really continue to feel like pregnancy/baby society pushes fear on you. I get that weekly You’re This Many Weeks email, and of course, they send you a ton of other emails you didn’t ask for. And it feels like EVERY email is like 7 THINGS TO AVOID AT ALL COSTS or 21 FOODS THAT WILL ABSOLUTELY HARM YOUR BABY IF YOU EVEN LOOK AT THEM.
These days, I just delete them without really looking at them.
Ugh, that sounds awful!
And even if something *were* incredibly and awfully wrong, there’s not much changing it at this point So, it’ll just have to be dealt with when the chicken comes home to roost.
Yes, I think of that too – even if something is quote-unquote “wrong” with my child – I’m not going to not love her because of it. We will roll with the punches.
And you have to consider – for the most part, women give birth to healthy babies. Even in the 50-60s when women were smoking and drinking – they mostly turned out OK. Not that that’s a GREAT EXAMPLE to live up to but – I’m just saying if our parents were born overall good, us eating sushi isn’t the end of the world.
Yeah, especially if the stress of it is more detrimental than the actual small likelihood of exposure.
YES. Lauren and I talk about this a ton – the stress that comes on me from worrying about/trying NOT to worry about things that COULD be bad is probably just as potentially harmful, if not more.
I think that the stress of the modern over-inspection is really frustrating and I joke I’m just “ignoring” I’m pregnant, when really I think I’m thinking and observing it a *healthy* amount. It just seems like I’m ignoring it in contrast to how others seem to put themselves and the process under a fuckin microscope.
Yes! It’s great that we have all these modern sciences and technologies, but again, as we’ve discussed before — birth is very primal. At some point, you just have to go with it. And getting obsessed with that Modern Mindset can just make you more and more worried. We make decisions out of fear and not out of rational thought or even weighing risks.
So how do we cope?
I’ve done a certain amount of “shutting out” myself. Not out of dislike for people, of course!! I love that people care so much and I love people checking in on me – but I feel safest and coziest and most confident when I’m in my nest — with Shaun, for the most part, or in small groups of close family and friends.
So when I’m in my little nest, and only occasionally seeing friends/family whom I trust and who I know trust my intuition — trusting my gut isn’t as difficult. I think the more you open yourself to multiple opinions, the more you are DEFINITELY going to get them.
For me, the other related aspect of all this is something that – and you can tell me if you’d rather not discuss – is about re-calibrating the balance of your sexual life. Which, normally, is a great outlet for me and frustration.
Haha, well, let’s go ahead discuss and then I can use whatever I feel comfortable with publishing.
Sex and sexuality is related to coping for me, to finding a little bit of peace, to feeling sexy and not “fat and pregnant.”
How has that been different for you?
I do feel like I feel more wholeheartedly sexy, just in general. More confident in general, and more confident in my body in a way that translates into sexuality.
I feel less like I need to look for problems in myself.
I think when you DO acknowledge the hard work your body is doing, and that you’re growing bigger because you’re growing a life – you feel a bit more at home? It’s bizarre, all these changes – but also I loooove my belly now in a way I never have before, I’ve always hated that part of me or felt obligated to hate it.
So now, with this acceptance, I feel more confident.
Yeah, I get that! Totally, 100%.
The confidence part is unexpected. Once it’s obvious you’re pregnant, it becomes kind of fun.
I just really feel like I’m bringing my a-game, and I can’t tell if it’s because I want to make sure it’s obvious, or because it is and it’s a fun aesthetic to play with.
But the irony is that although I feel more comfortable in my body overall, I am noticing we’re having less sex, and that’s probably because, well, being pregnant is exhausting and the mid-week hanky-panky is mostly on hold.
And for me, sex is source of confidence and intimacy and that changing dynamic has also been a way of feeling off kilter. Doesn’t matter how it’s changing – more or less or just different – the change is an adjustment and affects you. For me, feeling too busy or preoccupied and then frequency going down made me feel a little guilty at first. Not huge overwhelming guilt, like this small tinge that I could be doing better at something, both for myself and for my partner. So that’s another area where I’ve felt off-balance and had to recalibrate.
Yeah, I totally get that!
I think no matter how much we fight the society that raised us in a problematic way, women still feel pressured that to be a Good Woman or a Good Wife/Partner, you have to be sexually available constantly – and not only do we sometimes as WOMEN not feel that, as pregnant women, we especially do not always feel ready and available!
But I’ve also felt for a long time that intimacy is better when it doesn’t feel rushed. If we feel obligated to do it X number of times a week, it’s not organic and it can feel forced.
But if we wait until we’re rested or have a chunk of time — it’s waaaay better for everyone, especially pregnant women with delicate emotional balance – and I think couples feel more emotionally connected.
It’s just a change from that sort of college-aged woman into a grown, adult woman, I think. Or for men too – you’re not 21 for forever and your body and your tastes and your drives change.
OK, here’s another topic I’ve been thinking of lately: ACCEPTING HELP and accepting your limits.
I’m very much an I’m Gonna Do It Myself woman! I was raised by a kick-ass single mom who somehow ran her non-profit and kept us in line with school and church and choir and dance and a hundred other things.
Your mother is a goddess.
Bless you for saying that.
And I’m very ambitious just in terms of Being a Good Woman and a Fulfilled Woman and doing everything I feel called and compelled to do — even if it’s impractical to try and do ALL of that.
So I think being pregnant makes me struggle with how much I CAN actually do.
Yup yup YUP.
I’ve always struggled with that, from high school on — I’m always waaaaay too busy, or else doing nothing at all as I recover from being so busy — and I’m trying to find better balance when I’m pregnant.
There are days when I’m exhausted by the end of the day, and I’m running errands and trying to see people, and I will literally just be like PUSH YOURSELF!!! And this is not the time to be pushing myself.
Because it just augments your reality.
It definitely makes you feel like you need to be ok with asking for help – with asking for time.
I really love balance. Like a lot. Like trying to be both concerned and care-free about this whole process. Eat right, but not to the point of stressing. Get exercise, but OK, today, I simply CANNOT. Get projects done, but Jesus, can someone help me and just do this for me today? I want to be there for so and so, for their birthday, for their wedding – but goodness, I don’t think I can. I just really don’t think I can. So what do you do? I mean I think there’s a lot of self-forgiveness involved in this process because you are realizing your limitations as human being with another human being developing inside of you.
I mean, the concept of balance has been a great life mantra, and is especially useful these days!
I think that NOW is the time to learn that lesson. It takes a village to raise a child — and fighting the help that is offered and given freely and with love can be detrimental to your own mental and physical health – so NOW is the time to learn to accept help, and ask for help, and let people HELP you. Before baby gets here and life becomes EVEN WILDER.
I literally laid in the park today and asked my friend Maral to paint my nails.
And I felt indulgent, but it’s also like – Hey! She is totally willing! And I would be too if the shoe was on the other foot – if my pregnant friend was asking for help with something innocuous like that.
Which for me, is always a good barometer: asking if it’s something I would do for someone in my position.
Yes! I literally just had this conversation with Lauren yesterday!
When I was getting married, I spent so much time analyzing whether or not I deserved all the gifts and showers, or how much everyone helped me or celebrated Shaun and me at this big event in our lives.
I was just so OVERWHELMED with love, and I’m *cough* a middle child *cough* used to always craving MORE attention and love, and so to get so much concentrated love and help made me feel like I didn’t deserve it.
And I’m DETERMINED NOT to do that, with my pregnancy. I want to live up every moment and celebrate being celebrated, and not fight off love or help or being celebrated because I feel like I don’t deserve it.
You would never do that to another person! Asking if they “deserved” something – why are we trained to be so self-critical?
Ah well, I think mine is rooted in someone gas lighting me, and telling me that I was just lucky and that people loved me because they didn’t know better.
YES. I have had the gas lighting experience also, and it makes you lose that sense of self, of what you know to be true.
It’s hard, and it takes a lot not to listen. And even though i haven’t spoken to this person in 8 years, I can’t get that voice out of my head.
Adolescence is such a delicate time in building and shaping the source of your self-esteem.
I think when you’ve been taught to mistrust yourself and your perception of reality, ACTUAL love is the hardest to accept.
It is – but I also think it makes you better at loving.
The understanding of what love really is comes in contrast to that kind of conditional love that you can get and that scars you.
Yes! I feel like I’ve spent the last 2-3 years focusing, intentionally working on working on myself and learning to trust myself again, and that I have self-worth, and that I am allowed to take up space in the world.
And pregnancy feels like the ultimate test of that — you HAVE to put YOU and your intuition first.
You have the license to do so.
Because the selfishness is strangely mixed with selflessness and that’s also a strange balance to strike
But I suppose it doesn’t matter *why* so much you’re doing positive things so much more so that you *are*.
And hopefully those habits – those positive aspects that you are forced to learn and relearn – are what you take from the process.
That AND a baby, of course
Yes. It’s absolutely the time to learn that No is a complete sentence, that you don’t owe beauty or sexiness to anyone, that you can absolutely say, “That doesn’t work for me!” and leave it at that. No explanations needed.
It is OK for you to say, I’m not doing that because I don’t want to and I need to take care of myself and my family.
Or I AM doing XY&Z because I just fucking want to, because it makes me happy and I care that it happens. These are my priorities – if they sync with yours, then cool.
Yes! It’s a truly ADULT achievement to get to that — I know living here in Paducah, I sometimes feel like I’m still a kid. And now is my time to not only accept I’m an adult but assert it.
I think it’s OK to also poke fun at the concept of being an “adult.”
Like “Ooo, I’m adulting so hard today. Tomorrow, I will eat pizza and ice cream!!”
Yes! One of the few good things about being an adult is you CAN have cupcakes for breakfast, and if you’re going to pay bills and taxes and insurance and all that MESS, might as well indulge every now and then.
I think people lose that a lot — when they become adult, they feel they can only have adult fun or show maturity by being fancy.
Well, my dear — any closing thoughts?
I think in general, this phase has been about dealing with the punches, with external and internal struggles, in a way that reiterates how a *part* of a larger network of relationships and community you are, how that foundation of support is key, how self-love and care is necessary. Overall, just finding that balance!
Yes! That balance between being self sufficient because you are absolutely capable…and also relying on others because you are a fallible human who needs a hand up or a crying shoulder every once in a while – as we ALL do.