All of a sudden, somewhere between twelve and fourteen weeks, I woke up and pregnancy was everything I ever wanted it to be and so much more. It’s hard to say how much of the crappiness of the first trimester was the IVF hormones and how much was normal first trimester stuff, but the day I went off my progesterone injections I had so much more energy.
I was lucky, too, that, like clockwork, my “morning sickness” (ahem, pregnancy induced nausea, which most certainly did not happen only in the morning) disappeared. I stopped having so many weird food aversions and a desire to only consume huge amounts of carbs, yogurt, and oranges.
Off the progesterone and, uterus floating up out of the pelvis, I stopped getting up 5 times in the middle of the night to pee. The early part of the second trimester was marked by an absence of symptoms, mostly. No nausea, no fatigue, no peeing, little moodiness. For several weeks I thought “well, I haven’t gotten my period in a long time so I guess that means I’m pregnant.” Not bleeding felt like the only real clue.
Then my belly started to grow, bit by bit, until somewhere around 18 weeks when I felt like it just popped out and I could see it growing in real time. My boobs went through a second growth spurt too. I reveled in my changing body, staring at myself in the mirror all these new curves, feeling a feminine lusciousness.
I felt well enough to start exercising again and quickly became obsessed with prenatal yoga, all juicy hips and pelvic floors and rooms full of pregnant ladies. Across the threshold of that early more dicey time, and holding onto that faith I’d cultivated, I told myself I was no more likely to lose this baby now than at 35 weeks, and so I might as well enjoy it. (I realize that might sound like a bizarre comfort to people who’ve never experienced loss, but there you go!) I saw my future in these women, huge bellies and powerful warrior poses.
I actually felt like the earth mother goddess I had envisioned becoming. I decided I wanted to be pregnant forever. Those of you who’ve been reading my column are probably thinking, holy 180! And it’s true, it felt that dramatic to me, too. In a way, I think the bliss came in that way it only can after a dark time. I thought often of Kahlil Gibran’s lines of poetry: “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
I was overflowing with joy, with gratitude for making it this far in my pregnancy, with curves and creativity. An expansiveness that connected me to all the beauty and love around me. There would have been a time in my life where this much gushing would have been embarrassing to me, the level of sap I rose to, but not now. I felt a deep empathy for everyone around me, and rather than feeling like all these feelings were a terrible strange burden, like I sometimes did during IVF and the first trimester, I felt so very grateful for them. It felt so good to look at the world with so much compassion and tenderness.
This sweetness and sensuality drew me ever closer towards Simone. I would wake up each morning and stare at her, slightly baffled by how magnificent she was. In awe that there she was, in our bed, yet again, day in and day out. That somehow I was getting to spend my life with this wonderful person. That we had chosen each other, and that we kept choosing each other, over and over, as we plan to do for the rest of our lives. I could lay there, puzzling over how lucky I was, staring at her and snuggling back in, for hours.
Sometimes, though, just staring at her wasn’t enough. I had to have her hands on me, needed her to devour me, over and over please, and just never stop. Every inch of me felt hyper attuned to each touch or kiss, all that extra blood flow and sensitive breasts being put to good use. I was ravenous, pretty much all the time. It might have been overwhelming if it wasn’t so much fun. Our sex is often interplanetary, but during these months there was super extra holy wow total transcendence mind blown don’t worry I never to need to come back from here-ness.
Slowly, as I wasn’t sure at first if it was really happening, the other coolest part of the second trimester began to happen. I began to feel the baby move. At first there was a lot of, “is that?!” But later it was unmistakeable. On a trip away from Simone I captured my belly moving for the first time, real evidence that there was a little person growing inside me. A little person with legs to kick and hands to punch and a head to head butt me with and somersaults to do.
Tiny Dancer makes me laugh and laugh with her/his moves, like s/he’s telling me some kind of joke or discovering something new for the first time or even fumbling around all uncoordinated. Whatever it is, I find it very funny. And I find it very sweet.
I am carrying my baby inside my body, teaching him/her about the world through my experiences. Every good feeling transmitting those hormones through the placenta. Every taste filtering into the amniotic fluid. Teaching her/him the sound of laughter and music and Simone’s voice. Teaching him/her about how beautiful and filled with sensation the world s/he is coming into is going to be.
I felt so present during the second trimester (lots of mindfulness probably helped). Because of my miscarriage, because of how hard we worked to get here, because of all the people I know still trying (or who have decided to build their families in other ways, or not at all), I take nothing for granted. Not a moment. I savor every kick, every new curve, every song Simone sings to our little one. I feel very aware of how fleeting this time is, how we will never be here again.
I can’t guarantee I will ever get pregnant again (I so hope to, of course), but even if I could it would be a totally different experience. A different baby, a different pregnancy, a different time in our lives. And likely (oh, how I hope) I’ll have a little one in the world clamoring for my attention. As I approached the end of the second trimester I became more aware of this transition on the horizon. Baby as beginning and end. The end of this era of us, of me and Simone, of our early years as a couple. It will never be just the two of us, ever again.
As I rounded the corner towards the second trimester I felt both patient and ready. Simone and I are so ready (whatever that means!) for this new phase of our family, a phase that will no doubt call upon us to both strengthen our bond as a couple and release some of our hold. But I felt in no rush to get there, either, as I looked to the last trimester of pregnancy and our last few months together. You can take your time, baby. I want you fully cooked.
I write this in the early days of the third trimester, with a keen awareness that the only thing certain in this journey of pregnancy, of parenting, of life is that EVERYTHING WILL CHANGE. So stay tuned with me for what this last phase of pregnancy will bring. If you’ve been pregnant, chime in with comments about what I should expect next!
Watch the video for more on the second trimester, and, always, sappy moments between me and Simone, and, yup, more tears!