Pregnancy Diary | Weeks 20-39
Reflecting on the second half of my pregnancy.
Better late than never on the pregnancy diary, eh?! If I don’t document this now, these months will disappear from my mind, I assure you. My memory is atrocious, at best. Throw “Mom Brain” in there and it’s a wonder I remember anything at all.
What a completely different ride these weeks were and they definitely went by quickly. Anything seems faster than those slow first trimester days, or at least that’s how I felt. You should check out my recap of the first 20 weeks before diving into this post. Or be a rebel and don’t, choose your own adventure.
There are lots of big moments between 20-39 weeks. Something major for me was that I really started to show around 29/30 weeks. The bump had been so easy to hide and by the end of November, there was no denying that baby had grown significantly. It was kind of nice to finally have a noticeable bump if I’m being honest. My imposter syndrome runs so deep, I swear I didn’t feel legitimately pregnant without it. Which is ridiculous, but I felt how I felt.
Honestly? I should have better documented this middle part of pregnancy, but I’ve done my best to blab on about some of the bigger moments and hopefully, I don’t screw up this recap completely. Here’s a little highlight of some of the major moments or notable pregnancy things.
The 20 Week Ultrasound
I didn’t discuss this in detail in my last pregnancy diary but this one is bound to be somewhat of a novel, so what the heck. At my first midwife appointment, the different Prenatal Genetic Screening options were laid out to me. To give you a very vague idea, here in BC (Canada), there is the SIPS test, which is covered under our provincial healthcare. SIPS requires blood to be drawn at two different points (the samples are then compared) and the earliest you could receive results is at 15 weeks. The other option is the NIPT test which costs $500-$650 depending on where you go. NIPT requires one blood draw, provides results as early as 11 weeks, and can also give you an early indication of fetal sex. Adam and I discussed it and being scared and just wanting the results faster, we decided to pay the money and get the NIPT test, even though every one of my local Mom friends just opted for the free SIPS test.
I went in at 11 weeks and the midwife clinic called me a week later with the results: inconclusive. There hadn’t been enough fetal DNA in my bloodstream for the NIPT test to work. I was trying to be rational about this, but I hadn’t even realized that this was something that could happen (apparently it only occurs in like 1% of test results, yay me) and I felt really uneasy about it. Luckily, the midwife told me “not to stress about it” (LOL), to go back and re-try the Harmony NIPT test at no additional charge, but most importantly, suggested that I also go in for a SIPS test right away (because my window for the first blood draw was closing within a few days) just in case the second NIPT provided the same ‘NO’ result.
As I’d suspected, the second NIPT test didn’t work. It’s a relatively new screening, so the reasons for these uncertain results aren’t concrete and merely explained as potential inflammation, a high BMI, or if the test is done right after exercising. I felt scared, especially when at my next appointment, the midwife was mentioning scary things like Trisomy 18 having a correlation with failed NIPT test results. They wanted me to meet with a geneticist to discuss what it could all mean, but I had to decline. I hadn’t seen any soft markers at the 20-week ultrasound and all of it was just making me anxious. I felt like meeting with someone who would just be explaining worst-case scenarios to me wouldn’t be helpful. Luckily my SIPS results worked and were all good news, and we were able to get our money back for the failed NIPT test.
Do I still feel worried about it? I guess deep down, a little bit, but amongst many other stresses, it is super low on the list. I also realize that a vague mention of a scary outcome is nothing compared to what can show up at a 20-week ultrasound. Everything in the anatomy scan presented as “normal” which our ultrasound tech kept repeating robotically between her silent pauses while she searched for images. As for the baby’s performance at our 20-week ultrasound, it wasn’t ideal for pictures. A bit camera shy, the Little Bean faced away for the entire hour-long appointment, just turning around for a few quick minutes at the very end. The sonographer was able to snap a couple of photos of the baby’s profile, adorably sucking on its thumb, before sending us away.
The fetal sex results weren’t allowed to be shared with us at the ultrasound appointment, so the sonographer sent the images to our midwife group and if they deem the results accurate enough, they share the news with us. We had them put the results in an envelope and I picked it up the day before Thanksgiving weekend. I had to wait for an entire afternoon for Adam to get home from work so we could open it together and find out.
As you know, it urns out, we were having a…
Adam and I have been together for 12.5 years and this entire time, I’d been told that I’d only have boys. Adam has brothers, his dad has only brothers, and his grandpa had brothers. I realize that there’s more to take into consideration, but this was just the narrative for over a decade that we took as gospel and I’d long ago given up the idea of ever having a girl. We were completely floored when we opened that envelope, it’s a bit silly, but it was a lot for us to wrap our heads around since our expectation had been a different outcome.
Since it was just before Thanksgiving and we’d be seeing our parents that weekend, we thought we’d do something fun to tell our families. Adam’s brother and his wife, Ben and Anya, who is 7 weeks ahead of us, did this for their own little announcement and it was so cute (a girl as well). As it was very last minute, the only place I could source a pink smoke bomb in time was an army surplus store near us. I got a bunch of them and figured if my mom, Adam’s mom, and my brother each had one, that’d be perfect. So out to the backyard, we went for this mini gender reveal.
They’d tried to explain this to me in the store, but I didn’t understand the magnitude of the fact that their smoke bombs released from both sides. With three of them side by side, they were so powerful that once the tabs were pulled, everyone was quickly engulfed in an intense cloud of pink smoke. The containers sparked as my mother in law kept screaming that she couldn’t see and my mom and brother ran away. It was a hilarious disaster. No one cared what colour the smoke was, only panicking that they couldn’t breathe or see. “I guess it’s a girl then,” my dad said monotonously, as we watched the chaos erupt before us. Here’s a photo of the most intense part of the smoke bomb fail, you can just see my mother in law’s feet poking out the bottom of the cloud.
Wow, I wasn’t prepared for the pelvic pain! I’d been so lucky this pregnancy, for many reasons, but definitely, in that I’ve felt relatively well most of the time, especially considering what I know many women go through. Around 22-ish weeks, I started noticing a sharp pain in my pelvic region when I would lift a leg, especially when putting socks or pants on. Like my pelvis was ripping apart. It would come and go, so I was in denial for a few weeks. I’d legitimately never heard of this, but when I brought it up to some Mom friends, they had also experienced it. Mini Winnie (baby’s nickname because our last name is Winnett) had been sitting low for this entire pregnancy, so it’s a trade-off that I had pelvic pain, but little to no heartburn or real stomach or breathing issues. Apparently a low sitting baby is more common with a second, but she was just snug as a bug down there, so that’s just how it was.
So what the heck helps relieve pelvic pain in pregnancy? Exercise and movement helped immensely. Walking would always hurt at first but then end up easing the pain in the long term. I got a belt for the bump on Amazon that I wore at home sometimes and had to be really disciplined about wearing arch supportive footwear as much as possible. I also made sure to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist, my chiropractor, regular massage therapy appointments, and I even tried acupuncture. I wish I could tell you there’s a magical way to make the pain go away, but realistically, I dealt with it since it presented itself and it only got worse. It was all manageable though and disappeared as soon as she was born.
A Second Trimester Babymoon
At 24 – 26 weeks, we went to Portugal and Spain! I absolutely cannot wait to write more about each place we visited, but I will say that overall, I’m so glad we went on the trip (especially now that no one can really travel). It stretched us a little financially and there were definitely extra challenges thanks to pregnancy, but it was well worth it. Helped to travel in the shoulder season (November) in terms of keeping costs down, mild to chilly weather, and avoiding hoards of people overwhelming each destination. We had to move at a slower pace, taking extra breaks and some afternoon siestas. Food is always a bit part of our trips, so expecting really only enhanced the culinary experience at each place because I was always eating, especially with all the extra walking we were doing! It was a wonderful escape and the end of the second trimester was a great time to babymoon.
We also did a Flytographer photo shoot on the trip, which was absolutely the right call because we had way too much going on to have done a maternity shoot in Jan or Feb.
The Beginning Of The Third Trimester
My third trimester began upon our return home and being December, it passed by incredibly quickly. My pregnancy insomnia didn’t help the jet lag and I was definitely out of sorts for a few weeks. The holidays are naturally chaotic, so it was filled with social time and family gatherings, but instead of Christmas shopping, we were doing a ton of baby prep. We’d concentrated so much on our trip to Europe, that we got back and realized we had very little ready for baby’s arrival.
On the 21st, I had a touch of dark spotting, which I hadn’t had in the entire pregnancy. I monitored it, but things continued into the next day, so I called the non-emergency line at my midwife clinic. They called back right away and after a few questions, we concluded that it was best that they check me out just in case. Since I’d had a LEEP procedure just 6 months before conceiving, they wanted to be sure my cervix was okay. The earliest appointment she could book me in for was the 24th, which was fine because no one seemed too panicked. After an assessment, my cervix seemed okay and was closed but then when she got the doppler out to check Baby’s heart rate, it hovered at around 180, which was quite fast. We waited a bit and tried again with the same result. Again, it wasn’t necessarily a reason to panic, but she suggested I go to the hospital for a Non-Stress Test to be sure and monitor Mini Winnie’s heart rate. So, I spent Christmas Eve at Women’s laying on my side and sipping apple juice. Everything was fine and her rates were back around 150, so who knows what happened at the doctor’s office initially.
We then had a very quiet and low key Christmas at home and New Year’s on Bowen with my brother in law and his girlfriend.
The Last Month
Baby really beefed up those last weeks before her arrival and that did introduce a new level of discomfort. I barely slept the last month and a bit before my due date (as demonstrated in the photo below). Thank goodness for the Kindle App on my phone and Kindle Unlimited because I did a ton of middle of the night reading!
My nesting and cleaning/organizing intensified at the end. Which was frustrating at times because I’d be full of motivation and physically unable to take it all on. I remember one specific day, I’d used Evo to run errands and decided to grab a few groceries before heading home. The stop was a spontaneous addition, didn’t even have my reusable shopping bags with me. Anyway, I ended up with a huge basket full of heavy stuff and the weight was starting to put a strain on my belly. I had to call Adam from the back corner or Whole Foods, sandwiched between the fresh cheese and the pasta display, asking him to bring the car and rescue me.
We’d wanted to re-do our bathroom for years and apparently, it was imperative to me that we renovated it before Mini Winnie arrived. I was absolutely determined! My parents put us in contact with the contractor that they’d used for their home reno last year and he miraculously had time for the renovation before our due date and claimed it would only take him approximately 7 days. There we were, at 36 weeks, starting a bathroom renovation in our 1 bed, 1 bath apartment and moving into my parent’s place.
The bathroom looks amazing (blog post reveal coming at ya soon) and he managed to complete things almost exactly within our timeframe. Here’s a peek at the finished results with that haggard middle of the night I’m so pregnant that I can’t sleep selfie.
We moved back home at 37 weeks and my nesting and deep cleaning continued. Put all the bathroom stuff away (so much storage, it’s a delight) and we did fun final things like packing the hospital bag and washing her little clothes.
I did a TON of walking up until the day I went into labour, though it was more of a waddle by then. I am also proud of myself for attending prenatal yoga at Uphoria until 38 weeks, even if it was comical how little I could manage to do in that last class. This is my last pregnancy photo. My mom took it the day before I went into labour while we were on a long walk near her place.
I know it’s not how everyone feels, but I loved being pregnant, even the hard days and sleepless nights. It was an honour and I hope I’m lucky enough to experience it again one day (but umm maybe not any time soon LOL).
Next up, the birth story!