Friday, 30 October 2020

Pregnancy Diaries; The Second Trimester

The Second Trimester; Weeks 13 to 26 
The second trimester to me was a game changer. I spent most of the first trimester feeling like utter trash. As soon as the nausea feeling eased off, pregnancy felt so much more enjoyable. When I see people I follow on Instagram announce they are pregnant, a fair percentage always say how bad their first trimester was but then how much more they enjoy the second trimester. I definitely fall into this category, and when I think back over the past few months things were a lot easier. 

At work I was so much happier as I felt I could move around, wasn't needing to constantly snack on crackers or hide lemonade in my hydroflask to get by a day! 

Between week 20 and 21, the UK went into lockdown as the coronavirus pandemic hit. It feels weird writing about it and reflecting back on the time, but for me the pandemic actually changed and shaped a lot of my second and third trimester. I was working as a full time teacher and as I was pregnant I fell into the vulnerable category. This meant I was very lucky that my school were able to accommodate me working from home throughout the pandemic which I was so grateful for; not having to travel on public transport and keep myself at home and safe. On the flip side, there was a lot of guilt which I felt from not being in school, even though there was lots to be getting on with regarding home learning! It was also a weird adjustment finding routine in the everyday and being at home everyday; I went for 14 weeks without seeing anyone except Brad or medical professionals and missed my family and friends so much. It definitely was a big adjustment to life but I felt very grateful it didn't happen in my third trimester or when the baby was born, meaning I had time to adapt and get used to the 'new normal'. 

The baby has been the same size as … 
The second trimester has the best size comparisons! The baby has been the same size as a lemon 🍋, a pokemon card (this one made Brad very happy!), 90s Bubbletape bubble gum, a Simpsons doughnut 🍩, an avocado 🥑, a disposable camera (very on brand for myself, and one of my personal all time favourite comparisons!) 📷, one of the aliens from The Toy Story movie, the 'World's Best Boss' mug from The Office, a mango 🥭, a Wonka bar, a banana, a Furby (aka best 90s toy!) and finishing up with the eggplant! 🍆

Antenatal Appointments
My antenatal appointments went through a massive change as a result of the pandemic. I was living in Whitstable, but my doctors and hospital was still based around my old address. This was deliberate, as when we moved, we didn't want to lose our place on the waiting lists for my upcoming hycosy operation and IVF treatment (where we were top of list pre-pregnancy!) and then when I found out I was pregnant, my job was closer to the hospital than back in Whitstable. At my booking appointment, the hospital midwife advised me to keep the hospital the same whilst I was working until the end of July, then switch over to the services where I lived at the last minute ready for the birth. This seemed like a logical plan, and meant attending appointments would be easier work wise etc. I was waiting to be assigned a midwife at the local centre, had an upcoming scan and then the pandemic happened. 

I'm half thinking Brad doesn't ever read my blog and will never see this photo - I had to include it as this was the day of the 20 week scan - he was highly unimpressed with my bubblegum anti bac gel! 

On the Friday of the last week before lockdown, I had my 20 week scan scheduled at a sister hospital to my usual one. We arrived at the scan to find out it had been cancelled, without us being told and was told we had to come back the following week. Given the circumstances and that pregnant people were considered vulnerable and should be shielding, we pushed to be seen that day given we'd travelled about 1 and a half hours to get to the appointment from Whitstable. We had to then go to my usual hospital for later that afternoon to have the scan. It was a pretty surreal experience as I was told on the phone the hospital was in lockdown and I'd have to be given a security number to come into the hospital for my scan... when we finally got into the hospital it was eerie; security guards on the doors and the corridors were empty. It felt a little bit like the opening scenes of The Walking Dead! When we got to the scan, the baby was in an awkward place and the sonographer was having a hard time getting the right measurements and pictures. There was a chance they'd have to see me again, so we explained to the sonographer how far we'd travelled and our circumstances and she suggested I went for a walk, did jumping jacks and then she re-scanned me and managed to only just get what she needed! We were really grateful to her and her patience with our child who seemingly hates photographs already! 

From this experience, we knew we needed to change my antenatal care to be closer to home. 

On our journey home from the scan, I started getting a sore throat with a slight cough. I think most people had the 'is this coronavirus?' thoughts at some point in lockdown or the run to it... fast forward to Monday and I was constantly coughing, was going through countless tissues and had zero energy. My temperature was up and down but we didn't have a thermometer to check for sure. 

On the Sunday, I self referred to my local hospital and by Monday morning, I was called up by my local midwives and they took my details and we talked about what had happened so far. They could hear on the phone how bad my cough was and had concerns. I also had to have a urine test repeated but due to my symptoms I was unable to go to the midwife centre myself and as myself and Brad didn't drive, we were a bit stuck with what to do. The midwives arranged a no contact drop off of everything I needed, and then came and collected it the next day. They also kept phoning that week to check in with my suspected coronavirus symptoms, and urged me to call the hospital or 111 if the symptoms got worse. My symptoms did get worse, and 111 was called, but I couldn't get tested as 'I could still say a full sentence without losing my breath'. The midwives recommended I stock up on paracetamol to keep my temperature down, and to get hold of a thermometer if I could to keep a track of my temperature which I did, and luckily I had no temperature. I felt utter rubbish for 2 weeks, but luckily got through the symptoms. The worry was 100% there though as to what effect this would have on the baby. 

Pretty much the day after my symptoms left, I lost my sense of smell. At first I didn't think much of it. Then Brad would say 'oh dinner smells nice' and I would have no response whatsoever to it. I sat and smelt diffusers, perfume and even Mint Original Source shower gel and it smelt like a very faint peppermint and I knew something was up! The doctor and midwives said there wasn't a lot they could do about it but to keep an eye on it. 

My other appointments for the second trimester included a repeat of my booking appointment but this time with the midwives at my local centre, which was literally a five minute walk from my house. What was quite nice about these appointments is that for where I live, I was assigned two midwives, and told the likelihood is they would see me throughout pregnancy and even potentially when I gave birth. I also had another scan, as we'd moved areas, our local hospital's policy was to have their own scan records, which I felt very lucky to be able to have an extra scan and see the baby another time, even though this time I was on my own for the appointment. 

Forever surviving off of sweets! 

As my nausea wore off, I got my favourite foods back slowly but surely. The day I ate chorizo eggs on toast for brunch was a good day people! Ice lollies, frozen Capri Suns and ice cream was still one of my favourite things to eat. I also loved fizzy sweets and fizzy drinks... basically all the unhealthy things! 

The second trimester meant saying goodbye to nausea which I was so glad of! I was quite lucky that throughout the second trimester I didn't get many symptoms. I had the odd case of heartburn or indigestion... I've never had heartburn before so it definitely felt weird to experience for the first time. The only persistent symptom I developed was sciatica down my left hand side however working from home made it really easily manageable... other than the one occasion where I stood up and my foot lost feeling and I nearly fell over! 

Mental Wellbeing; 
My mental wellbeing again was generally okay as could be during the second trimester - it's safe to say having a pandemic and adjusting to being at home all the time was enough to keep my mind busy and the anxiety and depression at bay for the time being. I was lucky that Brad was working from home then furloughed from his job, so we ended up spending a lot of time together. As I know many people did, I found being stuck at home okay but not seeing my family really difficult. I did also have a constant niggling worry that something was going to happen to someone I loved. I found taking regular breaks away from social media helped my mental wellbeing stay on track, as well as in the end avoiding the daily press briefings and the news as it only amplified my worries. 

One positive choice I made to help my mental wellbeing during this time was joining Cat's Finally Pregnant Hangout ... Cat has a fabulous Instagram account, which provides lots of support for those going through infertility - she was actually the first Instagram account I followed in the infertility community, and her account taught me so much throughout the past two years. I've been to her fertility events that she hosts, have listened to her brilliant podcast 'Finally Pregnant' and decided to make a positive choice and took the plunge to join the hangout to be able to connect with other Mums to Be who were finally pregnant too. It was so lovely joining in on Zoom calls and being a part of the Facebook group, especially mid pandemic as you could see other people's experiences and get support when you needed it. 

Cece & the bump - one sunny garden afternoon during lockdown, and one of the first times I could see more of a firm bump! 

Physical Changes; 
My stomach was the first real aspect of my body I could feel changing in the second trimester - it became a lot harder and firmer. I still didn't majorly feel there was much of a bump there... I'd see other Mums to be on Instagram that I followed, and some were weeks behind me with clearly defined bumps. In the second trimester, one of the best physical changes was definitely being able to feel movement and kicks. It starts as weird butterflies and rumblings, and then developed to starting to see my belly move and feeling jabs in the side and back, which I loved. 

  • Organising the whole house during lockdown getting ready... we really made the most of being stuck indoors by making our house as tidy, organised and spacious as possible. 
  • Having the cot delivered alongside many other baby essentials - this was something originally I thought I'd buy later into my third trimester, but not knowing how long lockdown would last, we decided to order as much as possible as early as possible. It felt very surreal going to bed and seeing the cot in our room each night! 
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