35 weeks pregnant + motherhood reflections
I’m 35 weeks and 4 days pregnant today and Jojo is 4 days short of 19 months. It was fun for me to go read the 35 week update from Jojo’s pregnancy after I wrote this one.
One of my biggest realization since Jo was born was that I expected motherhood to be fulfilling all the time. Now that I’ve realized this, when motherhood is rather unfulfilling and draining, I can label it as such, “oh here’s one of those unfulfilling moments of parenthood.” Many an afternoon motherhood is not the source of fulfillment in my life and that really confused me for a bit. Some days/moments in newborn life (i.e. middle of the night wake-up calls when you haven’t slept more than a two hour stretch for days) felt like suffering to me. Motherhood is a sacrifice. I find it a hard balance to acknowledge the difficultly of the newborn time, but not live in / only talk about how rough it was. I think there is a great purpose to how hard that time is.
Now that Jo actually likes sleep, I’ve genuinely been enjoying our entry into the toddler years. Our days now are more in line with what I was expected early motherhood to look like. Playing make-believe, building forts, “mattress stomping” (aka when I take her mattress out of her crib and put it on the floor and she steps up and down on it and she thinks it’s just a grand ol’ time). And the idea of sleepovers in our sunroom under the stars has me beyond excited for when she’s big enough to sleep in a sleeping bag. When I was growing up, if there was a meteor shower my mom would make a pallet on the driveway and we’d sleep outside under the stars so we could wake-up and watch it. I can’t wait to do that with my girls.
The other day Jo found her shadow and was like, “WHAT THE HECK IS THIS THING?!!” It was heart-achingly cute.
I don’t think motherhood is all about my enjoyment, but man, it’s so nice when you’ve slept and a day goes smoothly with only minor hiccups, but I’m finding that I typically only feel like the day went smoothly on days I see clients / work outside the home. Stay at home mom life is such a recalibration of what “things going well” means. I’m continuing to learn certain lessons over and over again. Like, how a measure of a good day isn’t how little Jo cries or convincing myself x meltdown could’ve been avoided if I would’ve just done xyz. “Things going well” now means something more like, I was able to regroup after a plan fell through and make a new one on the spot or I had patience for Andrew or Jojo around xyz when last week I totally lost it on them for xyz or I reached out to a mom friend for support when a day went remarkably bad.
When I’m overwhelmed with motherhood these days I know I’m going to get a break when Jo goes to bed at the glorious hour of 7pm and sleeps until 7am. I know Andrew and I are gonna have at least 2 hours of chill time – together or separate – in the evening to recharge. However, with a newborn you have no predictable recharge time because you likely will be up throughout the night…and then you repeat that for months. So, because of that, maternity leave scares me a bit when I think about it. I think there’s purpose, growth, and a lesson in resilience to be found in those early days of parenting that calls moms and dads to be so self-sacrificing, but I’m nervous to do it again. But then I think about how Jo is going through a massive baby-loving phase and I can’t wait to see her interact with her little sister and I can’t wait for baby to be here.
Something else I’ve been thinking about…Jo wasn’t one of those baby’s who slept easily. After nighttime feedings she would be awake for at least 45 minutes, which was the hardest part of our sleep struggles. I was thinking how I did everything “right” with her sleep. I followed the rules. I didn’t nurse her to sleep. I did the eat-play-sleep cycle. I set a bedtime flow early on. AND we STILL decided we needed to sleep train. All that to say, this time I’m much more, “screw what they say is right. We’re going with what works for that week!”
In April, Andrew and I went glamping (sans Jojo) outside of Austin (we did our babymoon for Jo in Austin too!) for a little pre-baby getaway and it was awesome! I really wanted to go to Hawaii, but Andrew suggested what if we saved on airfare and instead used that money to stay somewhere nicer than we normally would. We stayed at this Airbnb for 3 nights and it was such a cool experience. The tent was so fancy. I mean, it had a bathtub!
Highlights of the trip included:
getting to try a Moon Milk latte from Summer Moon Coffee. Still not entirely sure what moon milk is. It involves white chocolate, I think. Was super good.
this hammock outside the tent. So nice to sit and read and journal in nature.
slow mornings at the tent w/ coffee cake (I used this mix and it was tasty!)
not having to cook any lunches or dinners for a couple days.
Getting everything ready seems far less urgent
This baby’s room is coming together far less quickly than Jo’s. I don’t feel as rushed. We got a dresser that was my grandma’s and Andrew painted it this weekend. I went with Sherwin-Williams’ Kendall Green for the color and LOVE it. Also picked up some new drawer pulls from Anthro for it.
We have all the essentials, now it’s just getting the baby clothes washed, organized, and put away.
Body warming up for birth
Growing a baby is the most truly awesome thing I’ve experienced. But my hips are so achy and my belly is so tight at this point! Some days I’m very ready to have my body back to myself so I can move easier and not have low level nausea be a constant anymore.
Last Friday (34 weeks and 6 days), I felt like baby girl had dropped. I’d had “lightening” sensations the week prior and I could suddenly feel her head in my pelvis more, my underwear felt constricting around the top band, my belly shape changed, and (the most unpleasant) a few days later hemorrhoids popped back up. After Jo’s birth it took months for the external hemorrhoids to go away and I haven’t missed them lol. Here we go again since I know they’ll get worse with pushing!
I had sporadic prodromal labor with Jo and I’ve had some super minor achy cramps start up this past week and a few painful sensations in my uterus and back in the middle of the night that wake me up, so we’ll see if everything ends up playing out similar to how Jo’s did. I have started listening to The Birth Hour podcast again just recently, since I like hearing about other women’s birth experiences. Sometimes in the evening after dinner I go into our sunroom and lay there and put an episode on and listen to it as it gets dark and the stars come out and it’s such a peaceful way to end the day. And other days I’m so massively uncomfortable by the end of the day that I just moan and groan to Andrew or my journal. Such is pregnancy!
For Jo’s birth I asked the Resident in the room to break my water when I was 8cm, since it hadn’t broken on it’s own yet and she offered. I think it’d be cool if labor started with my water breaking this time around…but who knows! My only slight concern that runs through my head about birth is about how tired I am these days. I’ve been thinking, “I’m gonna be too tired to push this baby out!” But lately when I’ve said that I’ve shifted it in my head to something different, like “you grew this baby, you will push her out” or “labor is waiting 9 months to meet her, the birth will be easy.”
Family maternity photoshoot
In May we took our annual Laguna Beach trip and did a maternity photoshoot while there. I had this idea to have us all wearing swimsuits and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I just got the photos back this week and loved how they turned out. Here are a few, if you wanna see:
This pregnancy vs. Jo’s pregnancy
In some ways I’ve been able to enjoy this pregnancy more. I’ve definitely been more relaxed. For instance, sensations that would’ve had me thinking “this is labor! OMGSH. It’s too early!,” now come and go without me getting worked up.
This pregnancy has also been rougher since I haven’t been able to nap when tired and have been sick a lot more (2 sinus infections that got bad enough to require antibiotics, 2 bouts of food poisoning, 1 week long stomach bug) vs. in Jo’s pregnancy I don’t think I got sick once. Such is life with a toddler who is in daycare!
Just this week I’ve started to get so uncomfortable, especially towards the end of the day when I have a practically full grown baby + an adequate amount of food in my stomach that I get panicky that I can’t make it 4+ more week because everything is so tight and achy. And then my brain goes to, “there’s no way I’m making it to my due date.” But honestly that’s probably how everyone feels towards the end. I’m tired of being pregnant, but I’m in no hurry to not be pregnant. The 12 hours after welcoming Jojo into the world were the most magical of my entire life and I don’t want that time to be over. Giving birth and meeting Jojo was the first major life event that I was recovered for and the day was not clouded by my eating disorder – (aka the day wasn’t plagued with thoughts of needing to run or eat a certain way, as my graduations, wedding, and honeymoon were).
Then newborn life with the sleep deprivation, hormones and unpredictability, and sacrifice being a mom requires came crashing down. We’ll see how this postpartum time goes. We learned a ton. I’ve grown at least a smidge more capacity for things not going smoothly / as planned (as they seem to not with a newborn/toddler). I’ve realized there are just certain things that aren’t fun to do with a toddler and that’s okay but doesn’t mean I won’t ever get to enjoy them again.
Looking back on the first year of Jo’s life I now think I experienced more anxiety than I realized. Oh, sweet Jojo, our little experimental child. For so much of the first year my first thought when I woke up every morning, “well it doesn’t matter what day it is because it’s going to suck no matter what.” I found it hard to be a new mom. It was hard to have your priorities aggressively and forcefully reorganized (even if I think it was necessary and good for that reorganization to happen). I found it hard to know if this was just what life was going to be like from now on or if something was wrong, but after about a year (~3 months after I stopped breastfeeding, ~3 months of Jo had started to consistently and dependably sleep, ~3 months of Jo consistently taking a bottle and me not having to worry that she was starving, ~3 months after she stopped spitting up, ~3 months of me feeling comfortable with the daycare she was at) I felt different and realized I wasn’t dreading everyday anymore. It wasn’t this obvious doom and gloom that kept me from functioning, but was a subtle dread over every day. Those first few newborn months were the hardest. I jokingly told Andrew the other day that, “soon we’re going to have to go back to hating each other.” To which he didn’t laugh. In those early newborn days when you’re so depleted and resentment is there and there isn’t any space for connection to happen naturally with your spouse…it’s rough. So much tension.
I’ve got a psychiatrist this time around and we’ve got a plan in place for postpartum. Because at that time I could voice, “I think I have postpartum anxiety,” I felt like it couldn’t really be that bad if I had the clarity to know that…but I don’t agree with that now that I’ve gotten to look back on those few months.
This time around I’ve also had pelvic congestion (I think that’s the technical term) and it’s brought me to tears a couple times with how painful it is. It popped up sporadically after sex in the 2nd/3rd trimester and usually only lasted a couple hours. I would be surprise ZERO if a pelvic floor specialist is in my future after this baby busts out.
Another thing I’ve been thinking about a lot that has surprised me…I’m really looking forward to nursing again. Before Jo was born the idea of nursing grossed me out a bit, but I can’t wait to breastfed again. With Jo it didn’t end up making sense for me or her to nurse until a year of age (I was over it and really over pumping and Jo was less and less interested in me and more interested in solid food). I have no ambitions to make it to a year nursing baby #2…we’ll just see how it goes and what makes sense.
Prepping meals prior to baby’s arrival
Wonderful friends and family kept me VERY well stocked with food after Jo’s birth and this time around I wanted to make sure I was just as stocked whether people bring us food or not. There is so little time to do anything in those early newborn weeks and if food isn’t made a priority I think it’s very easy to undereat (whether you have a ED past or not). If you’re interested in adequately feeding yourself and not having headaches the entire time / huge blood sugar swings, I do think you have to be prepared. So I’ve started that process. So far I’ve got 3 lunch or dinners in the freezer that just have to be dumped into the crockpot.
Breakfast was the time of day I had the least help and was most overwhelmed, so I want to have several breakfast options prepped before baby gets here. I really like the breakfast biscuits I made prior to Jojo’s arrival (which I ate all of before she got here haha and had to make more), so I plan on making those again. Eggs frozen in the freezer and reheated are super nasty, so I’d rather not eat that again. But having the biscuits + bacon reading to go sounds like a good plan.
This pregnancy I’ve noticed big slowdowns happen at 20 weeks, 30 weeks and 35 weeks. At those points there were big shifts in the amount of energy I have each day and the type of movement I could do.
I imagine I’ll swim a few more times before baby gets here, go to the chiropractor one more time (I’ve found some type of body work -chiropractor, massage, or even a pedicure that comes with a massage- in pregnancy feels so nice) and do anything else that feels nice and makes sense to me for helping my body rest and continue to open up. My hips feel so loose and, in some ways, unstable already. About this point until birth I like to visualize myself getting as soft and fleshly and loose as possible.
I have a lot of say on body image throughout this pregnancy…but I’ll save that for another post :)
Would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with pregnancy + postpartum. Do you resonate with my experience or was it different for you?