When I reflect on my third trimester only a few things come to mind. My growing belly and my increasing levels of fatigue and discomfort. Oh, and worrying that baby was trying to make an early appearance. That’s honestly about it. Thoughts of my third trimester are consumed with memories leading up to the delivery of my baby boy. However, I acknowledge that the moment I had been anticipating for nine months, was not the entirety of my third trimester. The few months leading up to my delivery, deserve reflection, even if brief.
The beginning of the third
I am teaching, at a new school yet again, and I can’t say that I am very happy about my teaching situation. I’m teaching Kindergarten in a classroom not fit for kindergarten. There are no washrooms and no cubbies. The hooks for the children’s jackets and backpacks are too high for the little munchkins. The room is too small for the number of students I am responsible for. And the previous teacher hasn’t left much behind in terms of teaching supplies and learning materials. All summer long, I tell myself that I am going to work up until the Christmas break, as baby boy is due on December 24. But when school starts, with each passing week, I find myself moving the date forward. I have more than a handful of challenging students in a space not adequately fit for Kindergarteners and the support I need is nonexistent. I am not happy. I am miserable, actually. And I am super impatient. I feel like I am doing myself, my baby and my students a disservice. I am constantly giving myself pep talks, out loud, in front of the students. I am constantly asking, pleading, begging 3-5 year olds to help me figure out how to make our days better. I am constantly apologizing to the growing baby in my belly and begging him to stay put for a little bit longer. By the end of October, my second month teaching for the new school year, the end of my seventh month of pregnancy, I call it quits. I am done. I need to take care of myself. I need to take care of my baby. I also need to throw a baby shower for my bestie!
The middle of the third
My house is under construction, it has been since summer. My room in the basement is being renovated for the arrival of my baby and partner, both of whom will soon be moving in. As such, I’m camping out in the family room, on the couch; two normally extremely comfy couches are pushed together to give me some extra space. My growing belly, frequent trips to the washroom and lack of privacy make the situation a little less than ideal. But, I am home and no longer have to worry about the stress of work, the situation is temporary. I am happy. My partner and I take a prenatal class, which proves to be useful and fun. It’s hard for me to contain my excitement. I’m having a baby. I’m going to be a mommy!
I’m not the only person that’s excited about the babe growing in my belly. A dear friend offers to do a maternity shoot for both my best friend and I…besties having babies, only two months apart! As well, I get another maternity photoshoot from my photographer brother.
Netflix becomes my life! I nest, like a crazy person, while watching Netflix during breaks. I ponder about what to pack for the delivery…all I know is that I want to drink coconut water during the delivery. Real coconut water, not that fake stuff; I want bottles and bottles of the good stuff, even if they cost almost $5 a bottle.
When the renovations are complete, I organize my living quarters and watch ‘The Good Wife’ in its entirety as well as all the dark British Crime Show dramas I can find. It’s great. I am calm, and as long as I take breaks and don’t go overboard with cleaning and organizing, I am not too worried about baby boy showing up too early.
The due date
December 24th comes and goes. I feel like baby will come any day. I am super paranoid about whether or not I am experiencing real contractions. Everyone tells me I will know when they are real, but I’m not convinced. One night, while my partner sleeps the night away, I toss, turn and squirm. I take a record number amount of trips to the washroom. I walk up and down our bedroom. I am sure baby is coming. I quietly time my ‘contractions’ with a contraction tracker app on my phone, and the app thinks they are real. So real, it instructs me to head straight to the hospital. Deep down, I know these contractions aren’t real and ignore the app.
During a midwife appointment, a couple days after my due date has come and gone, I am sent to have an ‘emergency ultrasound’, to make sure things are going alright with baby. The previous ultrasound I had, had some weird results about the baby’s size; I’m told not to worry, and that sometimes technology fails. I’m worried. As well, I am booked for an induction on January 1st. I cry. Induction to me, means interventions, unnecessary money-making interventions. I’ve read the articles. I’ve watched the documentaries. I want to have this baby naturally. I want to have this baby at the Toronto Birth Centre.
Walk, have sex, my midwife tells me. Go ahead, drink your red raspberry leaf tea. Eat your dates. I try it all, but baby boy isn’t budging. As my induction date gets closer, the more I worry and the more I try to maintain calm. I am trying hard to be at peace with whatever may transpire on January 1st. As long as baby is healthy, that’s all that matters…I tell myself this over and over again. Regardless, I try to do everything within my power to get the little guy out before the 1st.
Acupuncture! Yes, I think…that should do it! I book an appointment to get acupuncture right after my emergency ultrasound, on December 29th. The acupuncturists are all booked, but they understand my plight, they understand my worry, and tell me they will squeeze me in. While getting my ultrasound, I feel a small gush, I feel wet. I ponder silently about what it could be. When the lab tech finishes checking me vaginally, she exclaims “you’re wet!” I feign shock…”Really?!?” “I wasn’t sure…I felt a bit wetness. But… I wasn’t sure.” She checks the table and says “It’s clear. It’s not pee. You must go to your doctor at once.” I am confused, excited. “But, what about my acupuncture appointment?“ “No acupuncture she says. Go to your doctor!” “Go now. Baby is coming.” I leave the office in a state of bewilderment. Is it really happening? Is baby coming? I cancel my acupuncture appointment and go straight home.
I call my midwife and she asks me a series of questions and tells me to page her if anything else changes. Nothing else changes. Nothing happens. I call my friend who used to be a labour and delivery nurse for nine years and let her know what’s going on. She says she’ll come over after work. She’s supposed to be with me for the delivery (I’d spoken this wish into the universe many years ago…and now, it was finally happening).
I call another friend who calls another friend and I’m given some very specific holistic advice. Walk for x amount of time. Stimulate your nipples for x amount of time. Take a break for x amount of time and then repeat. Repeat this 3x. I’m told to talk to baby. Let baby know that I am ready to meet him. Get a massage. Soak in some flowers. I follow the instructions, but still no baby. I am starting to feel really anxious, my water has supposedly broken and I haven’t been checked out by anybody. Is baby ok? How would I know? Aren’t I to go to the hospital after 24 hours of my water breaking? I am trying to trust my body, that it knows what to do. I am trying to trust the process. I call my midwife again and let her know my concerns. She tells me not to worry and that she will check me out in the morning at the hospital. If anything changes, I’m to page. I take some deep breaths and begin to feel at peace. I try to get some sleep.
The next morning, December 30th, my partner, friend and I head to the hospital for my midwife to check what’s going on. I’m hooked up to a machine that tracks contractions and realize that I’m having contractions but it’s not full on labour, not yet. I’m in the early stages. She goes on to check me out a bit further and we find out that my water has in fact NOT broken. Dammit, I could’ve had the acupuncture. We leave the hospital with walking on our minds.
It’s still December 30, 2017. I am determined to walk my baby out, but it’s freezing outside. Not one part of me is up for a walk in the cold. We go to the mall. I’m hungry. My meal sucks. I have no appetite. The pains are increasing. I can’t walk. I. Just. Want. To. Go. Home. I’m so uncomfortable and it seems things are finally, truly moving along. Baby is getting ready to become better acquainted. My god this really hurts. Everyone was right, I would know when it was real. This is real. So, so real.
I labour at home for hours, from about 5pm to sometime around 11pm, with my friend and my partner helping me through it all. The rest of my family is watching on at a close distance. The look on my sister and brother’s faces (and the cat) watching worriedly from the doorway; I’ll never forget it. I feel like my body isn’t mine. It’s its own entity, doing its own thing. I try to breathe through it all. Everything I thought I would want to do while in labour is gone. My plans of dancing this baby out, gone. All I want to do is lie down. But it doesn’t work. Not much offers any release. Only during the breaks between contractions, do I feel no pain. I’m rubbed and massaged. I try to dance, for a bit…but then another contraction rocks my body. I can’t do this. How much longer? Can we go yet? I’m a broken record. Finally, my friend says we can go now. My contractions are rocking my mind, body and soul. They are close enough. I’m supposed to go to the Toronto Birth Centre. That was my BIG, ‘want‘ during my entire pregnancy…but when it comes down to it, I can’t imagine surviving the drive there. To a nearby hospital we go. We get to the hospital just before midnight.
My midwife is waiting for me, she checks me and baby out and I’m 5cm dilated. She hooks me up to some fluids and I get into the tub. The tub is nice. But not nice enough for me to forget the pains that are rippling through my body. It feels like an earthquake in my body. I can’t breathe. Breathe for baby my midwife keeps repeating…breathe for baby I say in my mind. I am trying so hard. It is so hard. How do I do this? I can’t do this. I want drugs. I say it, out loud, but not loud enough, not with any conviction. No one takes me on. I endure the pain. I’m told I’m doing a great job, but I don’t feel like it. I try not to think of the pain. Breathe for baby. Breathe for baby.How much longer? That’s all I want to know.
I feel like I need to push. It hurts so bad. I’m banging on the tub. The water looks dirty. Is my hair getting in the water? Stuff is coming out of me, it’s making the water dirty. I don’t want to be in the tub anymore. I want to lie down. I thought I was going to be a boss and deliver my baby squatting or on all fours or something. Throughout my entire pregnancy I joked that I was going to just pop the baby out…’pop’ just like that. I said it for months, and now, all I wanted to do was lie down. Go figure. I let my midwife know that I seriously feel like I need to push. She checks to see how dilated I am. It’s just after 1am and I’m 8 cm. I. Need. To. Push. At 1:13 a.m. I push. I push 3 more times and at 1:26 a.m., he is born. Somewhere between those three pushes he gets stuck. The second midwife hasn’t arrived as yet. No one anticipated everything would happen so quickly. Baby boy is stuck. The midwife calls for a nurse. My friend says something to the midwife, she says my name and says something else to me, it’s all a blur; all of a sudden she’s on the bed over me. Everything happens so quickly I don’t have anytime to be scared. She pushes on my stomach and on my last push, his shoulder is free and so is he. And so ends my third trimester. So begins my Fourth trimster. So begins a whole new journey. 9 months of waiting, 9 months of growing, 9 months of preparing. It was all worth it. It was truly sweet anticipation.