I dare you to Google it.
Week 32 was a new chapter of pregnancy for me. New aches, new pains, more kicks, more heartburn. And my belly! If you watch patiently enough, you can see it growing horizontally at an alarming rate. This kid must be packing on the pounds now. I predict we’ll hit six pounds by my next scan in a few weeks.
I keep having fleeting premonitions that this child will arrive early. I don’t know why. I don’t feel any labor symptoms, I’ve not been told to expect to deliver early, and all the research I’ve done online points to first-time mothers actually having overdue babies. Maybe I’m just slightly worried because my hospital bag isn’t packed yet and I hate forgetting important things when I’m rushed. Like snacks. Food has become increasingly important to me (I was already a hangry-monster before getting pregnant), especially now that I’m in the “bigger stage” and there’s no room left for all my vital organs. Like my poor stomach. It’s nice and squished just below my boobs. I mean, I think that’s where it’s migrated. That’s an unnatural place for a digestive balloon to hang out. And it emanates pins and needles whenever I eat something. Not heartburn, stomach tingles. Not painful, just really weird. Little, but often, and I’m always on the hunt for something that won’t trigger acid reflux (bread = bad, chocolate = bad, fizzy drinks = bad). Because of my stomach’s move and small size now, I’m a grazer. Yes, bring on the cow jokes. Grazing, udders for breasts, even the fear that I’ll actually let out a moo sound when I’m in labor (my antenatal instructor said this is more common than you’d think). I’ve banned my husband from even mouthing the words “moo” or “cow.” I realize it’s udderly (ha) tempting. But, I digress.
Fanny daggers. If you’re British, you’re already laughing. If you’re American, you think I’m talking about someone knifing you in the buttocks. To be fair, that’s pretty close. If you’re familiar with the American phrase, “lightning crotch,” then you know about which I am going to speak (write).
Yes, there, I said it. “Fanny” is the British term for vagina (you’ll never think of fanny packs the same again…), so when I first heard this term I was utterly delighted. The sharp pains that radiate along and through your vagina when you’re pregnant are common. Fortunately, I haven’t had any too bad – nothing that makes me want to double up in pain or vomit uncontrollably – but I have had twinges and moments of soreness. The uterus is a muscle, something I was only vaguely aware of before this journey, and it stretches. A lot. I mean, it’s the house your kid grows up in before entering the real world. It gets 40 weeks to grow and stretch and whip itself into shape. And all that expanding means ligaments get strained, muscles shift, hormones (relaxin) wreak havoc on joints and bones and everything you’ve become comfortable with about your body up until this point. And you get random, weird pain.
To be fair, I’ve gotten lucky. Beside the odd fetal kick to the side of my belly or tiny hand grab into my hip, I’ve not suffered from much pain. I don’t think my abs have separated, or, if they have, I haven’t felt anything because of it. I haven’t really had to curb many daily activities, I’m not on bed rest, and my waddle isn’t as pronounced as I feared it might be. My ribs are happily unmolested and still in one piece. Despite all this, I found myself in a physiotherapy office yesterday listening intently to the process of how to correctly get into and out of bed.
I’m a Type A person. Yes, I’m also Type B (and an ambivert to boot), but when it comes to wanting to do things on my own, get a task accomplished, or even go grocery shopping, I’m a beast. Turns out I’ve been doing a lot of things wrong over this pregnancy without anyone telling me. My pelvis has definitely gotten more sore over the past few weeks. I thought it was because I have a small bowling ball of a baby head lodged in there, which I do, but that’s not exactly why I’m sore. No fanny daggers here, just a dull ache that gets worse in the muscles immediately to the front of my pubis bone. My midwife said some women experience those muscles trying to separate in pregnancy, which is exactly what it feels like some days, so I was a little shocked this was a thing. Your pelvis can be ripped in half by a baby? BEFORE the baby rips you in half through birth? Great. She signed me up to see a physio.
Since I feel mostly fine all the time, I have continued to do things around the house, like vacuuming, sweeping, doing laundry, and mowing the lawn. These are not high-impact jobs, they don’t require much effort from me, and they aren’t what I would consider hard. I’ve been doing these chores since I was in elementary school. However, my physio said most of these chores I should hand over to my husband (and he’s already doing about 80% of the housework now) because it’s not good for my pelvis. This also includes no breaststroke (my favorite swim stroke and one I’ve done as recently as three weeks ago), keeping my knees together while getting in and out of the car (“ladylike”), and sitting on the edge of the bed to put on my underwear each morning. Sexy, huh? My lower back and spine are extremely tight, probably due to shoehorning myself into a terribly unergonomic helicopter cockpit for years. This physio kept commenting on how tight everything was, especially my sacroiliac joints. These are the hinges that connect your tailbone (sacrum) to your hips/pelvic girdle (ilium) and my range of motion was very limited. This tightness is responsible for the pain in my front. Aha.
So, after a nice little massage, some range of motion exercises, and a pamphlet on the do’s and don’ts of pelvic joint pain positions, I walked out of the hospital much more knowledgeable about how I could help me to help myself. As I’m not interested in tearing my lower abs in half due to taking steps that are too big or vacuuming the carpets too vigorously, I have to consciously tell myself that I’m in the later stages of pregnancy (eight months!) and it’s only temporary. All this guilt I’m feeling over not being able to contribute to the household chores, including lifting heavy grocery bags, scooping out the litter box, and using almost any cleaning product, is slightly lessened by my realization that I am indeed a “vulnerable person” now. Asking for help when I know I need it is one thing, but allowing other people to help me is a completely different set of skills. I’ve gotten better, and I’m always working on it, but it still takes effort. This child will not only change the person I become, it’s already changed who I am.
I’m almost ready to meet this little person. Six weeks.
Photo copyright Danielle Reeder Photography.