I’ve been meaning to do some kind of documentation of pregnancy over the past several months. Really, I have! But the truth is that when life as you know it is consistently changing on a near-weekly basis, it’s kind of hard to know where to start. Not to mention, there’s been nothing extraordinary or compelling or particularly unique about my “with-child” experience, so it felt a bit boring to share the relatively normal happenings of cooking this babe.
That said, I’ve been super interested in the experiences of other women – particularly other runners – throughout my pregnancy, so I thought it might be worthwhile to offer my own perspective to the mix. Additionally, I definitely plan to write a birth story, mainly for myself, so in order to bridge the gap between my last post (a 50-mile race recap) and my next post (birthing a human)…I figure a little pregnancy overview could be some good context. 🙂
I certainly don’t have time to give a week-by-week breakdown of how things have gone (nor do I expect anyone to be too interested in that), so instead I’m going to go through my experience more thematically.
Generally, there is a lot, a lot, that can happen throughout pregnancy, and I’m fortunate that overall I’ve felt pretty good and been able to maintain a semblance of “normal” life. I’m very cognizant that I’m lucky in this regard, so please know that any griping I might share is fairly benign in my brain in the grand scheme of it all.
Just to quickly go back to the very beginning, which feels SO long ago, I think it’s worth mentioning how I discovered this baby was a thing. In short, it’s kind of a tale as old as time: we weren’t “trying” yet, but we weren’t not-trying. Adam and I decided toward the end of last year to not actively avoid pregnancy anymore, but we were both very aware that these things can take time, patience, and luck. Well, luck was certainly on our side – as three positive tests this past February would confirm.
I didn’t even take the first test thinking it would be positive. I had felt a glimmer of vertigo for a few days, my period was a bit late (which still felt unreliable), and I happened to have a test at home. Low and behold, the faintest of plus signs showed up. In a state of utter disbelief, I immediately drove to Walgreens to buy more tests – this time, the ones that showed up digitally with words. I took one, which came up “PREGNANT” after a minute or so, and then the other showed “YES+” pretty immediately.
I paced around the house like a feral animal for the next half hour waiting for Adam (he was run-commuting home from work), trying to decide on some coy or clever way to tell him. It’s pretty trippy to know you’re about to drop a bomb on the person you love most, so when he walked in…the only thing I could muster was a face that mostly looked like I’d seen a ghost. He immediately asked what was wrong, and I fumbled out a half-laugh, half-whisper: “I’m pregnant.”
It took about 10 minutes of him trying to navigate that I was okay and that this situation was okay, but after I’d composed myself (yes there were overwhelmed tears) and confirmed that yes – this was great, both of us were pretty darn happy. Dumbstruck and probably in shock, but happy!
Again, this feels so long ago, but the first trimester was a very precarious and somewhat anxiety-filled time for me. Looking back, I felt pretty detached from the whole “being pregnant” thing for the first 4-5 weeks of knowing. I made necessary lifestyle changes, and it was definitely on my mind, but I was also acutely aware of the miscarriage risks throughout the first 12 weeks and didn’t want to be oblivious to that possibility. Not to mention, while this baby wasn’t prevented, they also weren’t necessarily planned – so in that regard, this hadn’t been something I was anticipating or waiting on for a long time. I recognize that this mentality is an enormous privilege, and looking back – it’s hard to believe that the way I feel about this little baby now was the same little baby back then. I guess you could say it took me some time to really internalize and process that the tiny poppy seed of cells we discovered on a dark February night would grow into a living, breathing, human.
Otherwise, when it came to the first trimester, generally I felt pretty good. I had a month-ish long stomachache (not really nausea, just discomfort), vertigo, and a fair amount of fatigue, but overall I can say I was pretty lucky when it came to early pregnancy symptoms. Vegetables took a hiatus for a couple of weeks, and white flour products became a staple for all three meals (still the case). We saw my doctor right at 8 weeks, in which a tiny heartbeat was confirmed and my official due date was established: October 20.
I told a handful of family and friends, which was definitely fun, but otherwise it wasn’t very hard to avoid talking about – surprisingly. I think it’s a blessing that typically, in your first trimester, you don’t know you’re pregnant for at least a third of the time (~4 weeks), meaning that by the time you get used to the idea and get confirmation of a growing baby, you are already closing in on the second trimester.
A lot of people told me how great the second trimester would be – and I can soundly say that this is 100% accurate. Aside from tiring a little easier than normal, I generally felt like myself from weeks 11-22 or so. I was able to tell more people which lessened the burden of feeling like I was keeping a secret, and for the most part people were so excited and kind whenever we’d share the news. People would say things like, “You’re going to be great parents!” to which Adam and I would secretly both think, “But how do you know that??”
We also took a big trip to Europe during weeks 15-17 which was absolutely perfect timing. A lot of people assumed that this was a “babymoon,” but I joked a lot that this trip had been in the works for much longer than this baby had been. Nevertheless, it was serendipitous timing in terms of me feeling great and us no longer as concerned about miscarriage risk. We had such a good trip, and I didn’t miss out on alcohol or certain soft cheeses as much as I expected. We walked a lot, ate a lot, and enjoyed a big adventure just the two of us.
We only had one slightly scary baby-related moment in Amsterdam. We were standing with a walking tour group, about to start our tour of the city, and out of nowhere I got really spotty vision and thought I was going to throw up. I sat down on the curb and everything nearly went black before I slowly started to come to. I drank a full Nalgene of water and was fine after, but it was scary! Hypertension is very normal in the second trimester, and it seemed like I was struck with a temporary bought of it.
One of the highlights of that trip – and of pregnancy – for me was getting to run the Wings For Life race in Munich. The race is perfectly set up for someone who’s pregnant (not to mention for people who are traveling abroad in general). You run until a car “catches” you, meaning that the distance and speed you run are entirely in your control, and there’s no assigned finish line. It was no pressure, but it still felt like my last opportunity to run/race feeling like myself before the reality of a new body took over. My goal was to try and run 16 miles (8:15 pace) because I was 16 weeks pregnant the day of the race. I ended up running 20 miles (7:45 pace) and felt equal parts energized, satisfied, and proud. It felt like the universe knew this was my last hurrah and gave my legs a little extra pep and endurance to take it all in…because I certainly hadn’t run that far or that fast in a long time.
In general, the second trimester felt like it scooted along with a lot of normalcy and general excitement. I kept thinking I was looking pregnant and/or feeling the baby, and it’s hilarious to me to look back at “bump” photos I took back then where I was convinced I was showing. Nope!
After spending what felt like forever in the “20-something” weeks, I hit week 30 a little over a month ago, and I’ve just now hit week 35! It finally feels like I’m counting down instead of counting up, which is a fun feeling.
Starting in week 27 or so, the reality of “being pregnant” actually, finally hit. The weight gain, the slow down, the energy zap…all of it ebbs and flows, but generally each of these things pick up a little each week..particularly in the third trimester. I tell people, particularly my running friends, that most days by the afternoon, it feels like I ran a 20 miler every morning – even when all I did was walk the dog for 30 minutes. My appetite has been off for over a month now, which I expect to only continue until baby comes. I’ve admittedly been a little disappointed with pregnancy hunger. I get full very quickly, and big meals have been giving me mild heartburn, so I’ve morphed from a three-meal eater into a general grazer.
Otherwise, Adam and I have been diligently prepping ourselves for our little roommate to join. Our nursery exists; it’s not clean or actually ready, but there’s a room with a crib and a cute mural that’s filled with gifts from friends and family. We’ve taken three classes so far – Infant Care, Baby Safe, and Breastfeeding – each of which helped us come more to terms with the reality of becoming parents. We have a pediatrician, a few daycare options, and we’ll tour the hospital this week. Slowly but surely, getting ready for the big day.
Oh yea, there’s an actual human inside of me, crazy! Sometimes I get a little cross-eyed when I remember that I’m carrying human life – with all their cognitive and physical particularities. Wild!
We first saw baby when they were a tiny blob attached to a yolk sack in week 8. By week 12, they looked a little more baby-like. My fondness for that little life grew exponentially watching them move around during that appointment, and I think that’s when it really hit me that that was MY baby growing.
We knew early on we wanted to be surprised what the sex was – which has added a layer of fuzzier expectations to the whole thing, which I’m actually very grateful for. I’m someone who makes plans and gets a very specific idea in my head of how I hope and want things to look, so by not knowing the sex of the baby, it isn’t as easy to get a certain level of expectations ahead of time. This has been a welcome blessing, and at this point I mainly just think of them as “baby” over anything else. I have had wavering instincts between girl and boy throughout the past several months, but at this point I am pretty split either way – and I don’t care either way! I’m just excited to meet them, and I’m hoping the not knowing will encourage me to push a little harder. 😉
Baby has been steadily growing right on track over my whole pregnancy, and from what we can tell genetically and physically, everything looks normal. They started moving ever so slightly right around 19 weeks, and ever since – fetal movement has been the biggest uptick in terms of week-by-week progression. Some days I’m convinced my baby moves more than any other fetus ever (not true). They are wiggling and kicking and hiccup-ing all the time, and it’s so endearing and amusing to me. I have a feeling that while having them on the outside will be infinitely more fun, I will likely miss the closeness of feeling them whirl around all day (and night). Baby responds immediately to the sound of Adam’s voice, popsicles, cold water and when I lie down at night. Sometimes though, they flip around for an hour for no reason at all. Active little babe!
As of right now, baby is head down (good!) and their little booty switches which side of my stomach they want to hang out in, which consequentially means I get kicked by a little foot on the opposite side very frequently. I’ve actually started calling baby “Little Foot” because sometimes I swear I nearly see a tiny foot outline when they are really going to town.
It already feels like baby and I are a twosome, and I’m getting so anxious and excited at this point to meet our little one. Some days I get totally overwhelmed with the feeling of wanting a squishy baby to hold right NOW, but generally I want them to stay put and grow as much as they can before their grand entrance.
As of our 32 week ultrasound, baby weighed a little over 4 lbs, which I’m certain has jumped up over 5 lbs at this point considering my own recent slowdown. We have a small collection of mostly gender-neutral clothing, and I’m admittedly excited to shop (read: online shop) for them once they are actually here and we know them. I’m so curious what they will look like, if they will have hair or not, what color their eyes are, and generally what kind of a little person they will be. I have a feeling they will look like Adam at first (it seems like most newborns appear like their dads?) but who knows.
STATE OF THE UNION (ME)
I feel like I’ve mostly covered this, but I thought I’d include a few specifics about how I’m feeling mentally and physically.
In totality, I’ve felt like myself more often than not throughout pregnancy. I’ve had to relearn how to balance my energy, which has probably been the biggest shift. In other words, I can’t go for a run in the morning and a walk with the dog at night. Things that I wouldn’t have blinked at typically completely wipe me out now, and in general I feel a bit sleep deprived and foggy most of the time. I definitely have a little bit of pregnancy brain, and I’m getting a new bout of clumsiness that I’ve never had before.
Otherwise, my main symptoms include: spidery veins on my legs (probably the thing I dislike the most), sneezing – all the time, round ligament aching/pain, mild finger swelling, peeing round the clock, very restless sleep, and my newest thing – snoring?! I’ve never snored in my life, but for the past few weeks I’ve started waking myself up with little jolts of snoring. The increased blood flow apparently is to blame for this – as it goes directly to nasal membranes. Oh, and…as someone who has never, ever had much of a chest, I’ll just say that those specific changes have been astounding to me.
Emotionally, I think I anticipated to have been much more weepy and dramatic as a pregnant person than I have been. I’ve had my moments, but overall my mood has been fairly steady. I have Adam to thank for a lot of this; he knows I/we need to be in bed early enough to get enough sleep, he’s taken over chores without me having to ask, and he’s generally just shown a level of accountability that is very comforting and helpful. I do tend to get a little emotionally charged (whether it be scared, overwhelmed, sad, etc.) in the middle of the night, but generally I’ve been able to talk myself down. The things that trigger me the most are thinking about the implications on my family as it currently stands. I’m sad thinking about my pets not getting as much attention, which I know is inevitable. Their worlds are going to be totally changed as well, and considering at this point all of my photo-taking, song-singing and generally fawning-over attention gets spent on the pets…it’s going to be a transition.
I also get sad thinking about Adam and I no longer being just “us.” It’s been so easy to be a team of two for so long, and while I know our baby will enrich and challenge and change our lives for the better, there’s something somber about the end of an era for our twosome. These feelings are typically rectified, again, by Adam – who is simultaneously so excited for our little baby but also cognizant of the other relationships involved.
We are on the precipice of life as we know it completely changing, and yet…I still know that there is so much we don’t know. I know we don’t know how difficult it will be at times. I know we have likely never worked together to the extent we’ll need to once baby arrives. I know we don’t know how just how transient our days will become, and I definitely know we have no idea how much we’re going to love this baby. Being on the brink of meeting someone I know I’m going to love instantly is perhaps one of the “biggest” feelings of anticipation I’ve ever had – and it’s on my mind every single day.
I can’t leave this post without discussing running and how it’s been going.
Before I even got pregnant, I was very aware (probably too aware) of just how much of an adjustment my running life would take during this time of life – and beyond. It gave me a lot of anxiety, to be honest; running is a fundamental part of my identity, my routine and my happiness – so it was and is scary to think of what will happen when it can’t be as much of a mainstay.
So far, when it comes to running through pregnancy, I feel very fortunate. I was able to run basically the same mileage and paces (without speedwork) throughout the first trimester and into week 17 or so of the second trimester. I averaged 50 miles a week through week 15, then 35-40 through week 24 or so. Since then (early July), there’s been a steeper drop-off which was expected.
Currently, I need to take a day off between days that I run, and when I do run it’s between 4-5 miles generally – which I’m still very happy with! The biggest discomforts are generally carrying more weight, round ligament stretching, and feeling like I need to pee every half mile. I’m guessing I’ll start more of a run-walk routine within the next week or so, but overall I’m very pleased to have made it this far with activity that still resembles “going on a run.”
I’ve been much more okay with cutting back and slowing down than I expected because honestly…I didn’t really have another choice. Not to mention, when running feels hard and doesn’t feel normal, you’re generally less inspired to partake. Walking, on the other hand, feels excellent – and my little doggy is thrilled with the uptick in my morning walks, which I try to do each day I don’t run.
I’ve also been exceedingly blessed to have friends that are either very happy to go slowly with me or are pregnant/new moms themselves! Running with other people has been my best running over the past eight months, and I’m grateful to my whole crew more than ever before.
Otherwise, when it comes to activity, I haven’t been doing much other than running, walking and hiking. I’ve swam a handful of times, but it’s honestly too much of a production for me to get to the pool, and occasionally I’ll make sure I can still do push-ups (I can!). Other than that, I’m pretty satisfied with my activity level given the limited energy I have to work with.
All that said, I am SO excited to begin the upswing of the running process rather than the downswing I’ve been on for so long now. I know it will be long and challenging, but I’m really excited to feel a little more in control of my own body and abilities than I do now. I plan to be patient and celebrate little victories along the way, and I’m hopeful that my ability to have run this long into pregnancy will help me get back into it once I’ve recovered from birth. This might be super naïve, but I’m not even too dissuaded about how much more flexible I’ll have to be with timing when it comes to running and baby. It will look different, no doubt, but after some time has passed – I hope to be able to optimize my schedule in order to get the most out of my time with baby while still embracing my identity as a runner.
And that’s all she wrote, folks! More like…that’s all she could write before falling asleep at the keyboard. We’re in the homestretch, and while I think the next five weeks will move somewhat slowly due to chores and anticipation and literal slowness (on my part), I know in the big picture of it all…this baby is close. I cannot wait to know them and start our life together as a family of three/five!