A baby fills a place in your heart that you never knew was empty. –Anonymous
Babies expand your capacity to love and receive love. I am now 26 weeks along in pregnancy and so grateful to be able to experience this beautiful expectant season, once again.
Every season in life has the potential to change, grow and mature you in countless ways. As most mommies and daddies anticipate the birth of a child as a huge life change lingering in the not-so-distant future, the actual season of pregnancy is like a meadow of wildflowers- little gifts of beauty waiting to be picked.
But, pregnancy also holds unexpected physical, mental and emotional challenges- it’s not all easy or ‘rosy.’ So far, this pregnancy has surprised me in several ways and thrown me a few curve-balls, but we are grateful for a healthy little girl growing big and strong with each passing week.
Here is a little peek into my journey so far…
How far along are you?
Our sweet little girl has been growing in her mommy for the last 26 weeks. I began feeling kicks and movement around 16 weeks, which was much earlier than when I was pregnant with McKaela. The placenta is posterior (on the back wall of my uterus) and therefore makes it very easy to feel any and all movements!
How is this 2nd pregnancy different from your first one?
To be incredibly honest, my first pregnancy sailed along beautifully without many, if any, challenges. I felt fantastic, ‘thought’ I looked pretty amazing with my bump (until month 9!) and didn’t have any significant discomforts. However, this time around, pregnancy hasn’t been as ‘easy.’
Mood– my hormones and therefore, emotions, have been on a roller-coaster ride. I don’t cry over ‘nothing’ but I often cry or get emotional over small, petty things. It is easy for these things to blow up in my mind and heart.
Fatigue– From day 1, this baby has worn me out. I have taken more power naps than I have in my lifetime. While the fatigue dramatically subsided as I entered the second trimester, it has not fully diminished and I still find myself walking around like a zombie some days. Unfortunately, it is also an incredibly busy time for my work and our family (purchased and fixing up a new home) so adequate sleep is challenging to get but highly valuable.
Nausea– Thankfully, this diminished mostly once I entered the 2nd trimester, but I still have days when eating is just not appealing. HOWEVER, I am aware and thankful that my symptoms are mild compared to some women. I realize some individuals struggle with this the entire 10 months and gratefully, my body is adjusting.
(20 weeks pregnant)
Do you have any food aversions or cravings?
Aversions… While carbohydrate foods were more appealing during the first trimester, I didn’t have any strong food aversions. There were meals when I just didn’t want to eat meat or the veggies didn’t look appetizing, but this was a day-by-day scenario. Now, finishing the 2nd trimester, most all of the healthy foods I regularly eat are appealing and tasty.
Cravings… For several weeks I craved milk! I simply couldn’t get enough! Occasionally, McKaela wouldn’t have milk with her meals because “mommy drank all of it!” Finally, I got smart and began buying a second gallon each week. 😉
NUTRITION NOTE: During pregnancy, it is critical for mommy to consume adequate calcium. Not only is she trying to meet her own calcium needs but she is actually building another skeleton! Most prenatal vitamins don’t have too much calcium because they also contain a significant amount of iron and these nutrients compete for absorption. Dairy provides a rich source of calcium to meet those needs. If you don’t eat dairy, due to allergies, intolerance or preference, it’s wise to speak with a Registered Dietitian or your OB/Midwife to ensure you are meeting recommendations. More on How to Choose a Prenatal Vitamin coming in a few weeks!
What are you doing to make this pregnancy memorable and special?
When you are expecting your 1st baby, a full 9-10 months is spent thinking about, planning for and talking about the baby. I remember when I was pregnant with McKaela, I would talk to her during my commute to and from work. I would sing, pray, tell her about my day and share how excited I was about her arrival. It became a habit and something I enjoyed during those 30 minutes driving each way. But the second time around, your time, energy and thoughts are diverted a lot more.
These are 3 things I am doing to make this 2nd time special, in its own way:
- We pray for the baby at least 1 time per day as a family and usually more often.
- I have begun a special book for the baby that is filled with prayers, scriptures, thoughts, dreams , nd hopes for her. My husband and I write in it whenever we feel inspired or excited to tell her something. It is our special thoughts for her. We will continue to write in it as she grows and one day, on just the right occasion, we will give it to her. This was an idea I began when I was expecting McKaela and have continued over time to write her little notes and prayers.
- We talk about the baby with McKaela and have her talk to her ‘little sister’ as well. She tells baby she is her “big sister” and with a little coaching will say “I love you.” While I think the idea that Mommy is growing a baby in her tummy is a little abstract to a 2 year-old, we talk about babies, responsible big sisters, and caring for babies often (baby dolls help!).
(26 weeks pregnant)
How are you adjusting to your changing body?
Pregnancy brings on physical changes beyond a growing belly and many of these you cannot control. As a nutrition professional, it is difficult to let go of the reins and allow my body to adapt through the process, but this second time it has been a bit easier- not easy.
For years, I have worked on having a healthy self-image and loving my body no matter what imperfections I could see. Healthy weight gain during pregnancy is to be expected, but there was one change that had me mortified- varicose veins. Although every part of me has wanted to hide, I was determined to mentally get over this hurdle as well and I can’t wait to share more in my upcoming post.
There are moments when beauty feels fleeting, but I don’t allow myself to dwell here- mostly. Instead, I choose to focus on truth, not feelings. I believe it is really important to have a few key maternity items that make you feel gorgeous so that during those days, you can walk out the door with confidence.
Why did you choose a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)?
This is my second experience with a midwife practice. The first was for annual well-woman care and then pregnancy with McKaela at UNC OB/GYN and Midwives. Currently, I am with GHS Midwifery Care & Birth Center and have enjoyed my experience thus far.
My first introduction to midwifery was in college while listening to a speech in my public speaking class. A few years later, my sister decided to get her master’s degree to become a Family Nurse Practitioner/Certified Nurse Midwife. After researching on my own and asking some questions, I chose to use CNMs for my well check-ups and pregnancy because I love that their approach to patient care is 100% evidenced based and patient centered. Certified Nurse Midwives are unique because they are devoted to creating an experience that meets your personal preference and health needs. They practice in a variety of settings including hospitals, private practices and birth centers.
Certified Nurse Midwives are Nurse Practitioners (CNP) with Master’s Degrees. They have 100s of hours of practical hands-on experience, certified by the ACMB through a comprehensive exam and get many hours of continuing education every year.
While I cannot speak for all midwife practices, these are a few reasons I have loved my experiences:
- During my labor and delivery experience with McKaela, there came a time when we needed to consult with an OB, surgeon and other healthcare providers. My Midwife knew when circumstances were exceeding her scope of practice. However, she continued to care for me and offer support.
- There has never been an appointment where I felt rushed. My questions are always answered thoroughly. I love how they sit down with me, draw pictures and sincerely want to make me feel comfortable and educated.
- My personal pregnancy, labor and delivery desires have been highly respected, but they also follow sound research-based evidence. I feel they are best at creating a nurturing environment while following a whole-woman approach to care.
Learn more about Certified Nurse Midwives here.
What does exercise look like now at the end of the 2nd trimester?
While I have continued my exercise routine, I continue to adjust movements and intensity based on what feels good. I usually workout for 15-30 minutes every morning, 5-6 days per week and take a 30-40 minute walk most evenings when my husband arrives home from work. The evening walk is more for stress management and “mommy time” but I always feel great afterwards and it gives my husband some special time with McKaela.
Morning workouts include cardio 3-4 times per week and weight lifting 2-3 times per week. All movements are modified as needed. I avoid core and abdominal work including crunches and planks. These can also enhance diastasis recti, the separation of your abs down the middle, which is common during pregnancy. This is a common cause of the “mommy pooch” after baby and requires some specific core work to improve it.
Overall, exercise makes me feel great, so long as I don’t overwork myself, and it has helped me gain weight at a healthy steady pace.
What have been sweetest moments so far?
In the last few weeks, I have been much more intentional about looking for those special moments- the ones that you can either ignore or cherish every second. Sometimes it’s hard. Life gets a bit messy, unorganized and busy. But I am trying to remember to STOP. Just stop and smile… when I feel a kick. The baby movements are the perfect reminder to talk to baby and tell her how amazing she already is!
These are a few more sweet moments I won’t forget…
- When McKaela came over and kissed my belly to tell baby goodnight- without any encouragement. Absolutely precious and unforgettable.
- The ultrasounds- Am I the only one that cries every time!? Seeing her beautifully formed arms, legs, fingers and toes, the shape of her nose… watching her put her fingers in her mouth… I am just mesmerized at the beauty of life. And yes, as I write this I am holding back tears 🙂
- Every night I ask McKaela what we want to pray about before bed. The night she said “baby” I melted.
TRUTH: Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations— that’s what I had in mind for you. —Jeremiah 1:5 (MSG)