Rav’s Repro is a column in which Erin explores all topics related to reproduction and reproductive rights.
It’s been awhile (14 years!) since I last experienced the third trimester. I remember feeling huge and like my skin couldn’t possibly keep stretching. What I didn’t accurately recall were the myriad discomforts that accompany that ever-growing belly.
I am 28 weeks pregnant, freshly in the third trimester, and in the past week, a whole new crop of symptoms have popped up. This is what they are, and this is how I’m dealing with them. (Sort of. I’m trying.)
At some point in the second trimester, I started having a little back pain. It came and went, and yoga and acupuncture seemed to be keeping it at bay. But now, it’s become a little worse. It’s not debilitating or anything, but my lower back is sort of sore/out of whack all day.
This past weekend, I had an event, and fun fact: standing/sitting/walking in four-inch heels all day pushes that protruding belly further forward, making that pesky swayback remind you it’s there. My feet were fine, my back not so much. Ouch. So, to counteract this, I will be doing a whole lot of gentle yoga stretches, warm compresses, and some acupuncture, too.
Is that a hernia or an alien in my abdomen?
This one’s been a real party. In my second trimester, I often had round ligament pain. It was sharp and annoying and would often pop up when walking.
But, about ten days ago, I began having a brand-new, take-my-breath-away-and-stop-me-in-my-tracks horrible pain. Sometimes this was brought on by a Braxton Hicks contraction, or by standing up, or bending over, or walking five feet across the room.
I can best describe this as an invisible hand reaching for a chunk of my abdominal muscle and slowly twisting it in a vice of limitless force. Dramatic? Yes. It really, really hurts. I have a high tolerance for pain, and this brought me to tears.
Then I did what NO PREGNANT WOMAN should be doing, and went looking online for an answer. Was this a real contraction? Was this a hernia? Was there an alien inside of me clawing their way out?
I finally called my doctor and went in to see him. It was none of the above. He explained that I was experiencing muscle spasms from the strain in my abdomen. He said that once my nerves got used to the pressure, they would stop sending pain signals to my brain. Oh, and this should get better in a couple of days or a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, when it happens, I sit (or lie down if I am not in public at an event in four-inch heels). Not moving is pretty much the only thing that helps. A warm compress to the abdomen kind of helps, too. Oh, and crystals — the larger, the better. Yeah, it's way woo, but whatever, it works. They are cool and heavy and soothing on the skin.
Feel the burn.
As if they were participating in a synchronized Olympic event, the other über-awful symptom that popped up is heartburn. Oh, this is not the G-rated heartburn of the first and second trimester. I’m talking full-on acid reflux, AKA burning-a-hole-in-my-esophagus-and-O-M-G-I-think-I’m going-to-throw-up fun.
So, while lying down to make the painful muscle spasms go away, I have to keep my head elevated in a charming game of trying to prevent bile from creeping up my throat.
What to do? Tums. Tums will help. You will not know how you lived without Tums, EVER, in your life. Also, small meals that are bland AF. If it tastes good, it will give you heartburn. And a surprising culprit — water. Or, I should say, taking more than a tiny sip at a time of water. Whatever you do, don’t drink water while you eat. It makes it worse. There is science behind this, but I don't really know what it is. Google it. Actually, don’t. Just trust me.
So, you said I should be getting all the sleep I can, right?
Remember in the last column when I told you about all the annoying things people say to pregnant people? Yeah. Well, people continue to tell me to get all the sleep that I can. However, between my bladder (that is willing to hold an approximate teaspoon of liquid before I have to use the bathroom), the burning acid reflux in my throat, my back, and the cray dreams (see below), I give up.
Solution? Surrender to resting but not sleeping. Sleep with your head slightly elevated. Use a pregnancy pillow (which doesn't always work for me) or a wedge or a regular old pillow between the knees. And, know that you have my deepest sympathies.
While we’re talking about sleep — weird dreams? Check.
I am always a very active dreamer. Sometimes I have lucid dreams. I dream a lot, and I remember them. Lately, those dreams have been particularly over-the-top.
I have frequently dreamt about solving murders/crimes (I blame the abundance of true-crime TV and podcasts I consume). For what it’s worth, I am an excellent dream detective. I think these could also be construed as stress dreams. We often work out worries and anxieties in dreams.
Great. Sometimes, I wake up and feel like I’ve been working hard all night (often on a tough cold case). I do have some hypnosis/meditation apps that I need to remember to use (because, pregnancy brain) that could be helpful here. That’s about all the advice I have on that one. Oh, and talking about them helps. Do this with a friend, not your partner, because it’s just better that way.
My belly has officially become a shining orb which calls hands to its power.
Lastly, as my bump has been undeniable in its shape and presence, I’ve come to that dreaded place in pregnancy when EVERYONE wants to touch/rub/pat the belly. Now, if I know you, fine; it doesn’t really bother me (just don’t linger too long because that’s creepy). But, if you as a stranger see me (or any other preggo person), please resist the urge to reach for the oracle that is the bump. And don't even ask, because it’s super awkward for everyone.
I realize that it may sound like I am complaining away this week. But, make no mistake, I am profoundly grateful that I have made it this far in my pregnancy. I continue to work on keeping my stress level low and not getting anxious about the million (and one) things that could go wrong. And, I am getting excited about meeting this tiny person with a super-sized soul in less than three months.
Hey, Erin! How’s your pregnancy going?
Well, as I've just rambled on about myself, you know that I am 28 weeks pregnant. I took and passed my glucose tolerance test. Yeah! All of my other third-trimester blood tests came back normal. Yeah! But, I do have some pesky new symptoms that have cropped up. Boo! As with everything in life, I am continuing to take this pregnancy one day at a time, and doing my best to enjoy it along the way. Until next time…XOXO