So far, I’ve announced my pregnancy and provided an exhaustive list of how I’m prepping for this boy’s arrival, but I haven’t really shared my day-to-day experience of expecting a child. As I near the end of the third trimester (37 weeks tomorrow), I thought it might be nice to offer a diary of sorts. Here are some of the major moments as well as the everyday occurrences that have been a part of my experience.
- Finding Out The Sex: We had to go through IVF and did genetic testing as part of the process (more about that here), but when planning our transfers I declined to learn the sexes of the embryos. Truthfully, I had a gender preference (at least for baby #1) and I didn’t want it to impact our transfer plan of going with the healthiest embryos. That said, pretty much the minute the procedure was done and there was no turning back, I wanted to know. As soon as our nurse confirmed it had worked, I had her write the sex on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope. When I got home, my beau and I opened it together and I SCREAMED! I was so so soooo excited. We were both pretty sure it was going to be a girl – only because I wanted a boy so badly. I set up a camera to film our reactions and I’m so happy I’ll have that forever. I also like that we still got to experience a fun “surprise” moment of learning the news. Everything else about the process was so clinical and this felt like the first normal pregnancy experience. No gender reveal for us – by the time I was ready to tell people I was pregnant I didn’t want to have to keep any more secrets.
- Sharing The News: I wanted to wait a while before telling anyone I was pregnant because I was just too nervous. It took us a very long time to get here and I felt like I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I waited until I was 19 weeks to share on social media/with work but I told close friends and family when I hit the 14-week mark and had fun telling them. Most were variations on a belly pic or sonogram with a cute text, but these were the more memorable:
- My Parents: The only people to learn the news early (week 8) because they knew I was undergoing fertility treatments. They had come to NYC for a visit and when they arrived at the apartment, we gave my Mom her Mother’s Day present, which was a gold charm. My Mom started a charm bracelet when my brother got married and the only charms are simple, engraved discs – one for each child’s wedding and each grandchild. It took her a minute to understand but after prodding “we thought you might need another charm for your bracelet…” she freaked out. My Dad, quiet for the first time ever, was nodding with silent satisfaction.
- My In-Laws: We told them on Father’s Day and snuck a sonogram into the card.
- Mark, Allison, and The Boys: Before our trip to see them at the beach we FaceTimed to go over activity ideas and showed them a sonogram for our “big idea” and asked the boys what they thought it was. They guessed a dinosaur.
- Matt: I called and said “I was thinking how crappy it was that you couldn’t go home for Thanksgiving (because Karina is due then)…so we decided to cook up a baby and stay here for the holidays too.”
- Steph: She was vacationing in Aruba so I texted to ask what language they spoke there. When she replied Dutch, I texted back “In that case, ik ben zwanger.” I imagined her running to a pool boy for a translation.
- Amanda: I RSVP’d to her baby shower with a plus one…and sent a pic
- First Kick: I started feeling flutters around week 18 while I was in Savannah but wasn’t sure if that’s what it was. Around week 22 I started feeling real movement.
- Babymoon: I didn’t want to waste a trip when I couldn’t enjoy alcohol. A good glass of wine or cocktail always takes my vacations to the next level. Plus, my doc said no plane travel. Buttttt there’s still merit to a little getaway when doing so doesn’t require lugging baby gear or arranging childcare. I found a list of car-free trips from NYC and sent it to Albert. Next thing I knew, he booked us a trip to Cold Spring for my first time at a bed and breakfast. Fall foliage, antiquing, hiking…pretty perfect weekend.
- Cravings: I haven’t really craved anything or had any aversions. I think it’s because, pregnant or not, I’ve always been someone who eats a ton and craves all the foods so it’s just par for the course. I did think pomegranate seeds tasted “off” once and haven’t bought them since. I do crave alcohol. That’s less a “yen”…more just something I generally miss.
- Kicks: The “flutter” (what you feel before the real kicks start) was like an eye twitch/spasm in my belly.
- Boobs: They’ve gotten bigger and I am HERE for it. It’s always looked like two peas on a board up top so I’m loving these coconuts. I just stare at them in the mirror sometimes.
- Weight Gain: My doctor said I should only be gaining 25-35 lbs total. “Eating for two” is supposedly nonsense; pregnant women should only eat 300 extra calories/day. By the second half of pregnancy I was trending at 1 lb/week and trying to keep things in line by exercising 4x/week. I’m definitely giving myself grace (I’m growing a human!) and don’t expect to snap back immediately, but at 36 it’ll be that much harder to get myself back in shape post-partum so I’m trying not to veer toooo far off track while pregnant.
- Coffee: I was eventually told I could have 8 oz./day, but by that point I had cut out caffeine entirely (especially when I was trying to do everything to help my chances while TTC). I learned I was a full-on addict and went through legit withdrawal when I stopped cold turkey. I love the ritual of coffee, though, so I’ll have decaf on the weekends and will have hot tea once it’s chilly. Very excited to switch back to the real deal after this baby’s born.
- Sushi/Oysters/Tartare/Deli Meat: My doc said sushi from high quality places is fine for special occasions, but I’ve decided to just play it safe. If I really want it, a California roll or something without raw fish satisfies that craving. I hear you can microwave deli meat but, again, I’m just steering clear altogether. I’ve always hated lox so I have no problem skipping that.
- Tuna/Swordfish: My doc said tuna once a week is fine (and never bigeye tuna), but I’ve just avoided it so I never have to wonder if my serving size is too big. She did say never swordfish, which is something I would cook relatively frequently, so I’ve supplemented our dinner rotation with salmon once a week instead (especially after reading the omega-3 fatty acids in it help baby brain development and are associated with higher IQs, advanced motor skills, and fewer neurological problems).
- Travel: No travel for moi. Even before the delta variant surged, my doctor was very worried about the spread of COVID during travel after seeing breakthrough cases in her own practice. COVID can be particularly detrimental while pregnant so it’s best to avoid putting myself in harm’s way.
- Alcohol: I know plenty of chill people who have a glass later in their pregnancy, but I can’t stop thinking about how I would blame myself (related or not) if anything was to happen. Also, they say “if you can feel it, you’ve had too much”…but then what’s the point?! I’ll just wait til he’s here and then it’s game on. Most friends have said they didn’t miss alcohol, but I do. I miss it a lot.
- Makeup: I’m not a complicated makeup or skincare person so this isn’t something that affected me, but there are certain things (like retinol) that are no nos. The products in my [limited] routine didn’t include those ingredients so I was cool.
- Around 12 weeks I bought myself a pair of maternity overalls on sale because I’d passed one particular store for 3 years and always thought it looked like the kind of place Meghan Markle would shop. Buying something felt like I’d “made it” in this pregnancy.
- The Bella Band allowed me to wear jeans unbuttoned, extending my wardrobe dramatically without having to buy new clothes. All jeans are maternity jeans with this thing.
- I bought a two-pack of maternity leggings from Old Navy for $20 and lived in them once the weather got cold and I was over jeans.
- Other than those three purchases, I didn’t buy maternity clothes. At all. Many of my existing clothes fit welllll into pregnancy and current pregnancy style is to show off the bump with bodycon or sweater dresses. I bought several of those for very cheap ($25 and under) on Amazon and will still wear post-pregnancy for a very different lewk. I’m also lucky that flowy dresses are in fashion right now. I did buy some new clothes from places like Old Navy/Target. I just made sure to get everything with an elastic band and in one size up. All those clothes fit me throughout pregnancy and then snap back post-partum. True maternity clothes (with their rouching and extra panels) can only be used for a very short window of time so I saved a lot of money taking this route. Also, let’s be real, I’m not going to go back to a size 4 immediately after giving birth so clothes that are forgiving to a bump are perfect in the months post-childbirth.
- In the first trimester I was just pretty tired. Nothing insane, but it was just harder to get out of bed and some afternoons I considered taking a nap (but powered through).
- I got a lot of headaches in the first trimester. Some of that was definitely due to withdrawals when I cut out caffeine, but they persisted for a bit and I was getting daily headaches around 3pm or 4pm. I would also get lightheaded anytime I stood up from a laying down position. Nothing bad; just a bit of a nuisance that disappeared in the 2nd trimester.
- I pee all the time. True, I’m making a concerted effort to drink more water, but the pee breaks have increased exponentially. Other bathroom activities…not so much. This has always been an issue for me, but it got way worse during pregnancy.
- Around week 23, I started getting acid reflux/heartburn. One weekend when I went particularly hard (Taco Bell, mounds of BBQ, etc.) it actually kept me up at night. I’d never heard of this as a symptom but when I started asking around alllll of my currently pregnant friends revealed they’d been experiencing it too. Avoiding certain foods easily keeps it at bay so it’s no big.
- Starting around week 18 I was getting charley horses if I did a strong leg stretch in bed, but that got better when I drank more water.
- Only now, in the last week or so, have I started to feel some light back pain in certain positions. I’ve also gotten a little bit of swelling in the legs as of this week. It’s really nothing crazy and I can’t complain since I’m truly in the home stretch now.
- Here’s one nobody tells you about: When you’re 9 months pregnant and pee (which you do all the time), it’s hard to wipe because there’s a giant belly blocking you. It’s not a huge deal; I just found it kinda funny. And I know that’s definitely TMI, but there ya have it.
Hmmm what else? My doctors have been great and while I’m not at one of the “fancier” hospitals, it’s been so convenient having Mount Sinai so close to home. With this bambino due Xmas day, I imagine some crazy situation where my water breaks and there are no Ubers around to take me to the hospital. It wouldn’t be ideal, but with the hospital only .99 miles away, I could walk my big ole laboring belly there myself if I absolutely needed to. I don’t think that would really happen, but it’s comforting knowing things would be ok if it did. I’m pretty sure my beau would move mountains to make sure I wasn’t walking down 5th Avenue with contractions, but that’s also because he’s been pretty supportive throughout this whole thing. From handling every injection during IVF to cutting back on boozy work events as we approach delivery to an unspoken agreement where he takes out the recycling every night to his Goodwill trips and storage unit cleanout, he’s been making things easier.
Being pregnant during a pandemic has been kind of ideal. Sure, things have loosened up as of late, but socializing is simply not what it once was. It means I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on too much and keeping it a secret early on was much easier. And without being out in the world quite as much, it meant I avoided the onslaught of opinions that everyone seems to have. I was able to trust my gut and approach this pregnancy in a way that felt right for me. For instance, I didn’t read a single pregnancy book. I knew too much information would result in anxiety for me so I just took everything day by day and asked my doctors if I had any questions. And I worked out regularly, taking cues from my body to understand when I needed to pull back. And I didn’t buy all the stuff. I knew maternity clothes weren’t going to be necessary for me so I didn’t buy them and I didn’t pick out a mound of baby things that will only overcrowd our NYC apartment. Not having so many opinions flooding in meant I could have a chill pregnancy that really worked for me.
Overall, I haven’t really had many symptoms. No morning sickness or real pain…it’s been super easy. And people are so nice to pregnant women! Now that I’m very clearly pregnant, people offer me their seat on the subway and strangers I pass outside congratulate me or tell me I look beautiful. Life is pretty much the same as before I was pregnant except I’m not wearing crop tops, my Peloton metrics are down, and I can’t have booze. It’s a very easy pregnancy (I’m lucky!) but if given the choice I’d want the crop tops, a PR, and wine. Just being honest.