As my pregnancy progresses into the later part of the third trimester, the symptoms you read about all start happening. They happen without warning, and with such rapid onset that you begin to wonder if you’ve accidentally stumbled into some kind of bad comedy.
For example, one day I came home from work and my ankles and feet were so swollen, I could barely get my shoes off. I had to sit with my feet elevated for hours just to get the swelling to go down. It was rather ridiculous, considering I had done nothing different that day compared to any other, and yet, that was the moment my feet decided to literally balloon up.
For the most part, I’ve been lucky. I haven’t gained much weight, and so far, no stretch marks have shown up on my belly or sides. My hunger is mostly manageable and I don’t have any usual cravings to speak of. (Although, I did have a nice bout over the summer where I craved Italian Ice, but that’s pretty normal of me before pregnancy, so I give that one a pass.)
The last two weeks or so, sleep has been more difficult than usual. When I first found out I was pregnant, I was told no more sleeping on my stomach, for obvious reasons. It was recommended that I sleep on my left side, for less than obvious reasons. (My OB told me that it was because of an artery that runs down the other side, and the left side is preferred for optimal blood flow to the baby.)
Then, as I got bigger, my hips began aching from laying on my side. I tried to put a pillow there, but after about three hours in the same position, I’d start to get painful cramping in my lower back and hip areas. I’d have to get up and drink a full glass of water to get it to calm down. Of course, that would mean I’d have to get up in another few hours to void said water and begin the process all over again.
It was annoying, but I chalked it up to the training I would need for late night feedings when the baby came. I tried not to let it get to me. For the most part, I was able to fall back asleep pretty easily and the growing squirmy fetus in my tummy seemed to rest at the same time as I did. We had a system down.
However, after the last bout of unpleasantness at work, I’ve been having some restless nights. My pre-pregnancy option would have been to drink a beer or two before bed or take a Xanax to quiet my busy brain in order to sleep. But since I can’t do any of those things, I’m left with deep breathing and other meditative techniques that don’t really help much. It now took me close to two hours to fall asleep, in spite of being completely exhausted.
I’ve also been experiencing what I assume are practice contractions. Out of nowhere, there’s a sharp tightening in one area of my belly, which only goes away with some deep breaths. The baby must feel them too, because he’s much more active with each one.
Laying on my side is increasingly uncomfortable as these contractions begin to happen more frequently. I’ve also begun snoring due to the weight gain. I suppose I may have snored before, but the mouth guard I wear at night to keep me from clenching my jaw keeps me from making much noise. Or at least, it used to. Now, in addition to the pillow between my knees, the mouth guard and sleeping uncomfortably on my side, I have to also wear a snore strip on my nose to keep me breathing quietly enough for my husband to get some rest.
I know this rant is not even comparable to what my sleep schedule will be like after the baby comes. I can’t imagine how I’ll be able to function once I’m up every few hours for feedings, but right now, I’m pretty miserable. The side effects of insomnia, the groggy mental fog, the nausea, and nodding off on my feet, are hardly tolerable. I’m hoping that I can get to bed early tonight and catch up on some lost sleep, but with the unresolved stressors, I’m not sure how well that will work.