Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What to Expect during the Third Trimester

Here we are, finding ourselves in the third trimester of pregnancy. I didn't write much about the second trimester, as it remained in our lives pretty uneventful as far as growing humans from scratch goes. But the third trimester, much like the first, is really hard to ignore; the changes and growth in this period beg for attention. Towards the end of the last trimester, the baby is gaining around a pound a week.

We've recently gotten to the point where not only can I feel the baby kick and move, but I can see it as well. Even with all of that interaction, it just can't seem real for me except in small flashes of reality being grasped in the remote parts of my mind. On an intellectual level, sure, I've been down this road before, it ought to be solid as anything in my mind. But on a bodily level, no, I just can't quite believe it.

While, as a husband, I get the pleasure of watching it grow from a distance, for the wife, things get downright troublesome. There are times just sitting around that I hear my wife grunt or exhale a soft moan. When I ask her what's wrong, the answer is usually that the baby kicked her in her stomach or bladder. And the baby isn't used to arbitrary distinctions like "day" or "night."

We're also at the point where the lost hours of sleep seem to manifest themselves as trips to the bathroom. Before we leave the house, my wife pees. When we get to the store, she pees. Before we leave the store, pee. At the restaurant, there may be 3 begrudging trips to the public 'throom. A husband can only imagine what a pain it is for a girl to pee in the first place, much less tripling the necessary times.

Tiredness. The tiredness has set in completely. Our two-year-old can out walk my wife. And something as simple as breakfast can drain her of energy some days.

But there is a certain amount of collateral effects from the third trimester in the husband's lifestyle. Besides offering support and sympathy during those trying times of discomfort, a husband must weather the storm of nesting.

When I was little, we had a golden retriever. She got pregnant when I was in the sixth grade and it was the first time I realized what a natural process the whole birth thing is. Not only in the strikingly magical way that she knew how to give birth and take care of helpless puppies, despite reading nothing about it, being told by no one, and never seeing it done by any of her peers, but also in the ways it worked through her before birth.

She was never a digger. Never. But all of a sudden, swollen with 10 puppies, she started finding shady spots in the yard to dig holes. Deep holes. Three and a half feet deep. Her body was telling her to make a den for her to give birth in and raise her kids. She at last accepted our substitute of a large refrigerator box and stopped desecrating the yard.

My wife is now digging holes of her own; not in the bizarre literal sense, of course. She's started, very subtly, her nesting. I know it will get stronger and become more of a daily tolerance for me.

There might be a sudden concern for paint on walls, or a rearrangement of furniture, shopping for tiny clothes, and sudden and consistent mentions of "being ready." Of course, being ready is a subjective term and I am of the understanding that there is no such thing as being ready for a baby until that baby is about six months old.

In the meantime, solidarity with the one growing your young may involve what sometimes seems like arbitrary organizational tasks. Roll up your sleeves and take it. Your usual routine will be plenty disturbed in the coming months anyway, get used to it.

The wonderful thing about all the discomfort and inconvenience of the third trimester is that you get ready not only to have a baby, but to be rid of the pregnancy. The loss of sleep thing? Nature's ways of getting you ready for a baby who won't be letting you get any sleep. The tiredness is small potatoes compared to the supernatural levels of tiredness you feel in those first few weeks. All those trips to the bathroom are simple compared to all the diaper changing. Those honey-dos can't touch the urgency of a baby crying.

Yep, it all makes sense. While we're in the first few weeks of the third trimester, I keep remembering that it gets heavier, harder, and just plain worse. The pleasure of meeting our new son or daughter is right around the corner, though, so we have much to look forward to.

ETA: The crying! How could I forget the crying? My wife usually as eyes of steel; nothing, it seems, can melt them into liquid. But when she's pregnant, OMG. She cries when she sees a majestic bird flying by. Today she cried thinking about snow (which we don't have here in he suburb of hell). I happen to think it's kind of cute, and it's all I can do to keep from giving her a hard time about it.

I just can't imagine how I didn't think of this when writing the original post.


Amanda said...

Wow, you are an amazing husband! You're very insightful...

Sol Smith said...

Gee, thanks Amanda!