What’s New: The baby has a new trick – he or she has gotten long enough, that I can sometimes feel him or her on both sides of my stomach. It’s pretty neat. We also started our Childbirth class last week. There was a lot of “sharing” which is a little awkward, but also a little affirming. We have 7 more classes to go, and I’m hoping at the end we will both feel nice and prepared for labor and delivery. On the food front, my new favorite thing is roast broccoli and I’ve also developed a fondness for milk. I’m drinking about a cup a day (I started drinking milk again in the first trimester, but it has definitely picked up in the last month or so). On the symptom front, heartburn has become more frequent and it’s lasting longer, but it’s still not a daily occurence, which is good. I picked up some Tums at the supermarket today though, because I think it will only get worse from here.
Appointments I’ve Had: In the past month, I’ve had one endocrinology appointment (all is well with my thyroid) and one midwife appointment. It was my last every 4 weeks appointment, and now we switch to every two weeks. We’re getting there! I also had my gestational diabetes test, which wasn’t as nauseating as I feared (my friend told me to ask for the “red one” and it was fairly unobjectionable). Even better I passed, so no gestational diabetes here!
Preparations Completed: The crib has been purchased and assembled (by my lovely wife). We think the next must buy item is a car seat. We won’t be able to take the baby home without it!
Where I’ve Been: At the beginning of the month, I went down to Williamsburg to visit with my Grandma (who just turned 90 and lives there) and my Mom (who drove up from North Carolina for the visit). We also went down to Virginia Beach to see my sister, who lives there. It was so nice to see my family (my Grandma, in particular, I hadn’t seen since our wedding!) and catch up. My mom and I also did some outlet shopping while there and got me some more maternity clothes (It’s so nice to have clothes that fit) and the baby some cute outfits.
What I’m Reading: I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth this month. Written by Ina May Garten, so is sort of the mother of modern American midwifery, the first half of the book consists of birth stories, the second of the lessons Garten has learned about childbirth. I thought I would find the birth stories cheesy, but I actually found them really empowering – “That lady had a 10 pound baby naturally, without so much as an episiotomy? I can totally do this!” Next up… books about breastfeeding!
Oh, second trimester, you have been so good to me. You took the stressed out, exhausted, nauseous woman I was, and turned me into a happy pregnant lady. Once you arrived I stopped worrying so much about miscarrying, and started feeling more confident in myself and our growing baby.
You are the trimester where I became visibly pregnant. It’s so weird to spend about half your pregnancy with no one knowing you are pregnant unless you tell them – but now… People ask when the baby is due, tell me Congratulations, offer me a seat on metro. It’s pretty great.
You are the trimester when I first felt the baby move – tentatively at first. Unsure of what I was really feeling, but then stronger and stronger until there is no mistaking what is going on. Until our baby’s little feet make my belly bounce. I hear that by the end these kicks may be painful, but right now I can’t get enough. Dance away, little baby.
You gave me more energy, I could tackle projects, cook dinner, stay up past 9. You took away my nausea. Food tastes good again and I want to eat it. It’s not that you were completely symptom free, there were those leg cramps in the first half of the trimester and that heartburn that has showed up in the second half, but even those were mild, nothing to write home about. You made me feel normal again, which is the best gift of all.
So thanks, second trimester, I will always treasure this time we had. You are just what I needed.
Thyroid disease is really common – especially among women. From what I’ve read 10% of women will probably develop some type of thyroid disease in their lifetime. A slightly underactive thyroid probably won’t cause any symptoms that you would notice (fatigue and weight gain are two of the common early symptoms – but life being what it is, even if this happens, you might not notice. I know I would never think being tired or gaining a few pounds were a sign that something is wrong).
I mention this because an underactive thyroid may not be noticeable, but it can interfere with conception, and can increase your risk of miscarriage if you do conceive. This is true even if your TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) is in the “normal” range for women (.5 – 4.5). Most endocrinologists/fertility specialists recommend a TSH level below 2.5 for conception and a healthy pregnancy. I wasn’t aware of any of this when we started trying, but my general practitioner caught my elevated TSH level during my annual physical (and it was only slightly elevated – 4.51, just out of the “normal” range). The good news is that hypothyroidism is easy (and cheap) to treat – just a daily pill. My prescription costs me $10/month. That’s not my co-pay. My insurance doesn’t pay anything (because it’s under my copay), that’s just what it costs. I feel lucky that my GP was on top of this, because otherwise it could have taken us a lot longer to conceive. (We had two unsuccessful attempts before discovering my elevated TSH level. We got pregnant on our first try after I had gotten my level below 2.5 on medication).
I want to share this public service announcement, for folks who think they might want to get pregnant someday – when you go for you annual physical, ask your GP if they check your thyroid level (and if that’s not part of their usual blood work, ask them to add it). It’s a simple blood test, and if you are one of the women who has thyroid issues, you can get them under control before you are ready to try for a baby.
(P.S. There are lots of causes of fertility issues, this is just one that I have experience with. Because it is so common, and especially because it is easy to treat, I just wanted to make folks aware of it. I wish I had known about the effect that having an under (or over) active thyroid could have on conceiving before we started trying, so I am spreading the word).
I read 7 books in September, 6 fiction and 1 non-fiction.
A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie. This is another Miss Marple mystery. I am slowly and haphazardly trying to make my way through them all. They never disappoint. I kind of want to be Miss Marple when I get old.
A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny. This is the second book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series set in small town Quebec. It is an especially appropriate follow-up for Agatha Christie, because most of the books in the series (including this one) have won an Agatha Award. Agatha Award are given to “traditional mysteries” that exemplify the spirit of Agatha Christie (good mysteries with no explicit sex or excessive violence). Their awards list is always a good place to check when looking for a new mystery author to read!
The Amulet of Samarkand: The Graphic Novel by Jonathan Stroud. Graphic Novel adaption of a children’s book involving magicians and genies. It reminded me a little of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but for a much younger audience.
Lightning Thief: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan. The Graphic Novel adaptation of the kid’s book, now a major motion picture. Well done, I thought.
How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less by Sarah Glidden. A graphic memoir about the author’s Birthright trip to Israel, and the questions it raised for her.
Zig and Wikki in Something Ate My Homework by Nadja Spiegelman. This is a Toon book, so it’s a graphic novel for early readers. Nothing brilliant, but would probably amuse a 6 year old.
The Ballad of Tom Dooley by Sharyn McCrumb. Sharyn McCrumb is one of my favorite writers – especially her Ballad series – set in the mountains of Western Virginia and North Carolina. She gets that sense of place down so beautifully. This is her latest, but I recommend any of the books in the series (The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter is probably my favorite).