Pregnancy is exhausting. As I enter the third trimester, Charly has grown big enough that she is occupying the majority of my insides, meaning all my organs are permanently squished up at the top. This in turn means that my stomach is squished – so I always feel over-full even though I am starving (leaving me feeling constantly unsatisfied); I feel nauseous most of the time; my reflux (which has been horrifying since the day I fell pregnant) is now pretty much non-stop and no amount of Gaviscon, changing what I eat or changing my position makes any difference at all; and I feel out of breath even sitting still as my diaphragm and lungs are unceremoniously shoved into a corner.
And then there is the sleeping… I can only sleep in a giant pillow nest made up of 6 pillows of various sizes and fillings – one to support my back, 3 under my head, one to support my chest and belly and one for between my knees. This is all fine and well (as long as I ignore Brett’s less than subtle noting of how his side of the bed seems to be shrinking) until you take into account needing to get up to pee every 5 – 15 minutes throughout the night.
It is worth pointing out that with my giant baby belly getting up from sitting in a low chair or from lying down pretty much anywhere, is a two man job or it requires finding purchase and leverage on objects surrounding me. My pillow nest once built is no joke to get out of – I have images of using a pole similar to those used by high-jumpers to escape – the need for which inevitably kicks in the second I have managed to snuggle down comfortably into the nest itself. And so begins the maneuvering to get out of said nest without messing up the design that has finally brought an element of comfort, using the bedside table and leg momentum, without waking Brett – hahaha. And so it begins and continues through the night until Brett leaves in the morning for work when, on the rare occasion that I have the option to sleep in and the neighbours are not running what sounds like a fully-fledged factory as they do their renovations, I move all the pillows to the centre of the bed, add his one pillow to the nest and finally fall asleep for an hour and a half – bliss.
At our final antenatal class for the year last night, I was thrilled to hear from a mommy due exactly a month before us, that she experiences exactly the same pillow nest gymnastics at night (and her husband & mine nodded knowingly at each other regarding their loss of bed property). We also chatted about the things we are most excited for once the babies come – outside of the babies themselves of course. We wholeheartedly agree on the fact that, even though the babies will be waking us up every 2 hours for feeding, sleeping comfortably without having to pee for a whole 2 hours at a time will be indescribably wonderful! Top of my list without a doubt is going more than 20 minutes without dying of reflux. Oh! And I can barely imagine getting up without my back spasming and having to wait as it decides whether or not you will be allowed to shuffle-walk like a hunchback to your destination, slowly unfolding like Keyser Soze at the end of The Usual Suspects.
On the topic of antenatal classes, last night was bittersweet. Brett and I take a little time to get comfortable and get to know people, and last night as the third time we were around the others was so lovely and we had just felt the beginning of bonding with these other parents-to-be. Since we joined halfway through this course, we will probably not see them again and when we attend the first 3 classes next year with new people, I suspect it will be a repeat. I did give my blog info to a few of them in the hopes that they might contact me and stay in touch (easier to remember Pregnant in Cape Town than all the names and surnames); but we shall see – I know how crazy and manic this time is for people.
Last night’s class covered a few interesting topics. Postnatal Distress (PND) (or postnatal depression as most of us know it) was addressed by a psychologist who talked us through some of the signs to look out for and treatments. Did you know 80% of women will experience the baby blues (emotions all over the place, feeling tearful and overwhelmed and sad – even though we are “meant to be” blissfully happy) but this generally lasts from day 3 or 4 to 2 weeks after the birth – totally normal, nothing to worry about and will resolve itself.
Baby blues that last past 2 weeks should be treated as PND, characterised by severe sadness, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, feeling inadequate or incapable of being a mom, lack of interest in the baby, extreme anxiety or panic attacks, loss of interest in things previously loved, to name only a few of the potential symptoms. This is also fairly common (1 in 10 women experience it) and should be addressed as quickly as possible by notifying a doctor and seeking counselling and often a mild, safe-to-use-while-breastfeeding medication. The other end of the scale is the rare (1 in 2000 women experience it) postnatal psychosis which is usually brought on by extreme trauma in pregnancy or birth in conjunction with previous psychological difficulties and will require hospitalisation – someone suffering from this is likely to harm themselves and potentially the baby too.
Also covered was waterbirths (including another disturbingly soundtracked video), jaundice in the first few weeks after birth (not always dangerous, but your doctors will be able to identify when it is), Group B Strep (a fairly rare, difficult to diagnose bacteria you may carry that could potentially make your baby sick when you give birth) and a brief visit from a group called Dudes to Dads that I loved the sound of.
Dudes to Dads hold an event once a month, bringing together new dads and dads-to-be along with a panel of dads who are getting the balance of parenthood-work-love-life right; to give the boys a space to talk through parenthood and what to expect and ask questions that they may not feel safe asking in front of their pregnant hormonal partners (not their words – mine). Brett has been amazingly supportive though all of the pregnancy and is super excited about being a dad and I have no doubt he will be an incredible one, but I will be chasing him off to the next D2D event on 11 December.
I worry that although Brett “knows” that the sleep deprivation, constantly crying baby, overtired emotionally fragile wife is a reality to come; his “it will all be fine” and “we will handle it” attitude is a little influenced by the traditional echoes of older generations that they survived it just fine and so will every generation to come because we are genetically designed to do so. Older generations did not in fact “do just fine”, they bottled their feelings to the point that it often stunted their relationships with each other and their kids, and on occasion even made them really ill. I love that we are more open and able to talk things through and I think that the importance of being exposed to other dads from our generation who are brutally honest about the downs but can also express their experiences of the ups will be of huge benefit to him and to other dads-to-be. I am waiting on the electronic flyer from the D2D team and will post it on social media as soon as I receive it.
Having mentioned the downside of Charly overtaking my insides, it is also worth noting that I have found I absolutely adore the often-uncomfortable feeling of her moving around. I can sit for ages and watch my tummy jump around and change shape as she practices dancing or kickboxing or imitating a washing machine or tumbledryer or whatever it is she is up to in there – and she is very active. I can’t remember the last time I managed to follow a whole conversation or TV show without being distracted by my bouncing belly; for me it really does make it all worthwhile, even if it means some days I feel seasick from all the motion inside of me