The home stretch of a healthy, 37-42 week pregnancy can feel like an eternity.
Unlike the mad dash misery of morning sickness, this is a plodding, back-aching time when just rolling over in bed seems like a circus act.
Here are a few aspects of this time that have struck me as still true during my second pregnancy.
- Your partner will have cute pet names for you during this part of pregnancy (Waddles, Shamu, Weeble-Wobble…), which if anyone else in the universe used toward you would elicit their swift and painful demise.
- If you were ever a drinker, this is where you may start daydreaming about those cold, delicious, happy-makers you favored. In my case, it’s strawberry champagne, or a cranberry Sex On The Beach. Pleeeease!
- Your other children, if you have them, are getting a serious dose of independence, as you inform them several times a day that they’re either going to have to do it themselves, bring whatever it is to you, or do without. Sheesh! How do they know you just got comfortable?
- If you’re anything like me you’re planning out your “after baby wardrobe”. You know, after most of the spit-up has subsided, and your hormones are leveling out. After two limited-clothes pregnancies and a six week NICU stay with our first I have learned that I enjoy a larger capsule wardrobe. Making sure you love and or actually use every piece of clothing is a joy if you like that kind of personal challenge. So is daydreaming about what statement you want your new look to make, and how you’re totally going to rock it.
- Referring back to your partner, they will start to get almost more antsy than you. I wince at a twinge of pain while getting comfortable on the couch and my husband practically leaps for the go bags. Not yet, Honey, not yet. On this same thought, your significant other, and others around you, may start to insist on doing more for you. Whether they are worried you may strain yourself, or just want you to stay off your feet for a few more minutes, I would suggest you let them take care of you as far as you are comfortable. Don’t milk it, but if they’re getting up and ask if you’re thirsty, or offer to take over making dinner so you can sit at the breakfast bar and chat with them, take them up on it. It helps them feel useful, and gets you a couple more minutes with your feet off the floor.
- Your kids, especially kindergarten and younger, may be getting needy, clingy, and often try testing rules that have long been in effect. This is totally normal. They just want to make sure things aren’t going to change too much in their little worlds. I have found that taking a few minutes a couple times a day to specifically concentrate on your little one, either reading a book, singing favorite songs, or just snuggling while chatting, will go a long way toward allaying their fears. We get so wrapped up in what is going on with ourselves and what needs doing that it’s easy to forget the one on one attention that small children thrive on. Besides, snuggles are good for mama, too.
- Your cravings are as real as ever. Right now a few of mine are raw baby carrots (we’re talkin’ up to half a pound a day, people!), fruit, and a big bowl of breakfast cereal in the middle of the night. And don’t be surprised if a few food dislikes rear their ugly heads again. Suddenly the idea of cooked celery, peppers, and onions sends my nose across the room. Blame the hormones. As usual.
- Foot and leg cramps…Just ugh. Although most of mine have not lasted more than a minute, they can strike at any moment. However, middle of the night hopping cramps in various parts of one leg and foot for long enough that driving the next morning is kinda out of the question? Yeah, it’s possible. Yeesh. Since I suck at taking pills I have found some good food sources of the minerals we need to keep these painful things mostly at bay. Cucumber, pickles, celery, potatoes, watermelon, broccoli, and leafy greens are at the top of my personal list. After checking packages I recently discovered that a serving of potato chips actually has more electrolytes in them than the average sports drink. Go figure.
- Nesting is not a joke. You’ve had baby stuff on the brain for months now. If your go bag isn’t packed already, you probably know almost down to the smallest detail what you will be putting in it. A mildly annoying doorknob that occasionally sticks is now your nemesis. Your underwear drawer must be organized by color, size, and what time of the month you usually wear each piece. You have two weeks worth of dinners in the deep freeze. Last nights dishes may be piled up on the counter, but dang it, your bathroom mirror is sparkling! For the most part, as long as you’re not hurting yourself, or neglecting the needs of your family, I say go for it. It may raise a couple eyebrows that this particular project is suddenly the most important thing in the world, but in a way, maybe it is. You never know.
- Sleep! When you’re not obsessing over that one doorknob that sticks or mercilessly culling your smaller kitchen appliances you are so tired you can’t sit comfortably for more than five minutes before you find yourself nodding off. Indulging in a nap with your smaller children, or getting yourself to bed an hour earlier may help with the worst of this. Really, I think it’s a way for our bodies to makes sure that we get the rest we need, and that there is enough energy reserved for our little temporary parasite to put on the finishing touches they need before their grand entrance.
- Three words: Braxton Hicks Contractions. Some moms barely notice them, others of us sometimes have to just hang on and breathe through the more determined of these sporadic practice contractions.
- Scolding your unborn child for punching your bladder or cervix, or kicking that same rib again. Yeahhh, I don’t think this one needs an explanation.
- Heartburn and acid indigestion are thankfully not one of my consistent symptoms, but when they strike it’s usually in the middle of the night. I have friends who practically lived on chewable acid reducers for the second half of one or more of their pregnancies. Sometimes these attacks have triggers, such as drinking too much liquid with a meal, eating too big of a meal, or food with any kind of spice; other times it’s just something you have to live with for a while as you’re popping a couple tropical fruit flavored pieces of chalk an hour after just eating a freakin’ bowl of cereal.
- Incontinence and having to pee as often as a preschooler with an unlimited supply of juice boxes. My advice? Panty liners are our friends, always use the toilet five minutes before you leave for somewhere, and never trust a sneeze. Also, there is no shame in keeping a spare pair of underwear in the bathroom. Just sayin’. (This one very much applies to the first few days to possibly weeks after baby is born, too. Everything is so screwy down there nothing is a sure bet.)
This is by no means an exhaustive list of late pregnancy symptoms and strangeness. There are a multitude of ways our minds and bodies mess with us during this special time of motherhood. But the main objective is always the same: A healthy, happy baby and mama. Sometimes you just have to look down at your ever enlarging belly and laugh. It may be miserable, embarrassing, and downright weird at times, but it’s worth it.
Do you have any advice, funny stories, or seriously off the wall symptoms? Let us know in the comments about some things you have noticed or experienced.