It's time for me to share my thoughts on my second trimester of pregnancy, following my first trimester reflection. The second trimester is usually understood as starting at the beginning of week 13 and finishing at the end of week 26, but definitions can vary slightly. As is the case for many people, my second trimester was easier than my first— well, the latter part of my second trimester anyway!
I'm going to keep this post short and sweet because as I write this I'm 33 weeks pregnant, there is a heatwave, I have lots of baby organisation to do and I'm tired!
*Please note, this post mentions food and body size (other people's comments about my body).*
The constant nausea that kicked in early in my first trimester continued until around seventeen weeks. I felt demoralised because I know that for many people the nausea tends to end around week 12. Mine just kept going on and on and on, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week with no pause. Urgh. It did lessen ever so slightly about week 14, but it was still the ever-present, grim theme of my days and nights.
However, sometime during week 17, it lifted and I felt like a new woman! I could enjoy the simple pleasures in life again such as watching TV, reading a book or playing a video game. I even had a cup of tea and started eating toast again, after being off them for weeks. Once the nausea abated, the variety of foods I could eat broadened and I returned to more normal meals. Thank goodness!
Aches and pains
I experienced intense fatigue during my second trimester which lasted for many weeks. I was confused about why I felt so tired because everything I read said that exhaustion tends to be stronger in the first trimester and then lift in the second. After some weeks, I gave up on trying to squeeze my symptoms into bullet point lists from books and accepted that everyone is different. Books, articles and YouTube summaries don't capture the nuances of individual experience. I know it's obvious, but when you're in the thick of a new experience, it feels unnerving not to fit the template.
I had quite a few other small issues. For a few days, my feet burned with a stinging sensation and the only thing that would take away the pain was plunging them into iced water. A novel experience. I had a week or so of very vivid dreams which I think must have been down to the hormones, although that being said I have always been a very vivid dreamer anyway. As my bump grew, sleeping became more uncomfortable too.
Oh my goodness, the excitement of having a baby ramped up in the second trimester! My husband and I became more and more keen to see and hold our baby. Although the scans made me nervous (in case of a problem), it was absolutely wonderful to see the baby.
At some point, I began to feel my baby moving with subtle swishes at first and then brilliant little kicks and punches with hands and feet. This was so much fun! My husband and I just kept feeling more and more love for our baby as the weeks took us closer to meeting her.
I began to get things ready for her arrival; buying clothes, blankets and so on. Getting set up has been really exciting and kept me pretty busy!
Honestly, the intrusive questions and unwanted (and often dubious) advice have been tiresome at best and infuriating at worst. Some common examples include:
Are you taking prenatal vitamins? (Yes of course. Also, that's personal).
Make sure you go to all your midwife appointments. (I know. Of course I will, I am anxious about getting the right care and I wouldn't do anything to compromise my baby's health).
Eat x, y and z. (Please stop telling me what to eat, especially as you don't know I have a history of an eating disorder).
Your bump looks huge, it must be a girl/boy.
Only x weeks! Your bump is so big for x weeks! (Please stop commenting on my body).
Are you eating ginger biscuits? These will stop the sickness. (They don't.).
Enjoy every moment of your pregnancy. (I am happy to be pregnant, but have you tried enjoying life with 247 nausea?)
Sit down / don't walk around / don't rush / don't crouch / don't bend like that / don't lean over / don't bend your back. (Aargh!! These incessant comments make me want to scream. I know how my body feels and my body's capabilities. I am just trying to get on with my job and life. I will listen to medical advice if I need it and right now I don't.
People are quick to tell me that such interactions are coming from a kind place. I know they are. But I don't like the comments and they put a strain on my mental health for various reasons. My body is like public property that is available for observation, discussion and even fascination. It's a feminist issue. I'm fed up with it.
I worried a lot about the health of my baby and whether everything was okay. I think it's normal for a lot of people to worry about their baby in pregnancy. I had a couple of moments of panic when I found myself fearing that something was wrong with her, especially before scans. However, everything has been going well and the more time that passes the less worried I feel.
People have asked me if being pregnant with BPD has made my mental health worse. It hasn't. It has stayed the same, or perhaps got even better. I've been very settled in my life in the last few years with my relationship, home, dog, work, getting married, writing my book and so on. DBT changed my life, taught me how to manage my intense emotions and helped me feel calmer and happier.
I hope seeing a person coping with pregnancy alongside BPD provides some reassurance and hope for those of you who are pregnant or are hoping to have a baby in the future. I have written about my experiences of perinatal mental health care in another post if you are curious.
I hope this post has been helpful and I hope to write a reflection on my third trimester when I have the energy. As always, sending empathy to anyone reading who may be experiencing loss, infertility, anxiety or other difficulties; sending you all my best wishes and kindness.
- Rosie x
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