30 Weeks Pregnant: Things I Love About My (Early) Third Trimester

January 12– January 18: 30 Weeks 0 Days – 30 Weeks 6 Days.

I think the beginning of my third trimester has been my favorite part of pregnancy so far. This may be partly because I finally started seeing a chiropractor—which providers and friends have been recommending for months—and my muscles and joints have been feeling much better than they were. Here are some other reasons I’m enjoying this stage of pregnancy:

1. I’m unmistakably pregnant, which is a prerequisite for many of the following perks.

2. People are incredibly nice and respectful. Goodbye catcalls. Hello strangers who ask genuine questions about my baby and my experience with pregnancy. Sometimes men still tell me I look great or beautiful, but it’s often at the end of a short conversation (instead of opening with “Hey gorgeous”), and doesn’t feel sexual, objectifying, or threatening. The next step for society is that we treat all women nicely and respectfully, not only the pregnant ones.

The teeny dark lining on this silver cloud is that sometimes people’s well-meaning or conversational comments are annoying. Many people’s opinions about how big pregnant women should be are informed by entertainment media, in which most women portrayed are in their second trimester. I’m not abnormally big, thanks. I’m just past the cute, photogenic stage of pregnancy that magazines like to publish.

30 Week Bump

30 week beach bump.

3. All the support I arranged months ago is kicking in. At this point my prenatal group sessions (equivalent of doctor’s appointments) meet every two weeks instead of once a month. It’s great, because it’s kind of like a support group.

We hired birth doulas (Britt Fohrman and Alexis Cohen) back in October, and we just had our first of two prenatal sessions with one of them. We didn’t talk much about our birth plans or preferences, but we discussed what Richard and I can do now to prepare mentally and physically for birth. If it’s not obvious from several of my type A blog posts, one of my challenges is letting go of control—a big barrier to natural birth. In our session, we discussed some techniques to help me practice surrendering control.

We also started our birth prep class with week, which was fun. On Britt and Alexis’ suggestion, we signed up for Rachel Yellin‘s Birth Prep Class, which focuses on relaxation, self-hypnosis, and other techniques for a achieving a natural birth (I will blog about my experience with the birth class once we’re done it in a couple weeks). Part of our homework (Or “home fun,” as Rachel calls it) is to spend a couple dedicated minutes a day bonding with and affirming our partner, which is really sweet.

4. I feel more comfortable asking for and receiving help. At no point in pregnancy has it felt great for me to do heavy lifting. Lifting is a whole-body action, and I always feel the brunt of the weight in the weakest link of the chain: the hypermobile joints in my pelvis. However, before I had a big belly I felt like I should’ve still been able to lift heavy objects, so it was harder for me to ask for help and I would often turn it down, even if it was offered.Richard has been giving me a hard time about this because doing too much manual labor inevitably leaves me complaining of aching joints and insomnia.

Maybe my aches and pains have been going on long enough that my will for independence has finally been crushed, maybe my obvious belly makes me feel entitled, maybe the conversations I’ve had about letting go of control have sunk in—in any case, I’ve been slowly accepting more and more help, especially from Richard. And, for the first time this week when the cashier at the grocery store asked if I needed help to my car, I accepted. However, I wasn’t quite ready to accept his repeated offers to help me get the groceries from my cart to the checkout conveyor belt (granted, grocery carts are deep when you’ve got a big belly in the way! P.S. So are top-loading washing machines)

5. I’m getting extra love, support and care from my partner. I don’t want to gush over my hubby too much, but I have to say I could not ask more a more dedicated partner. Day-to-day, he’s been incredibly willing to help me out physically. Although, he sometimes makes me explicitly ask for help (even if he knows I need it) so I can practice requesting what I need.

He’s also been prioritizing being present for birth-related stuff, while still attending to a career that provides for us and the baby. On Wednesday, we started the day with a two-hour meeting with our doula, he worked from home for the rest of the day, in the evening we went to a 3.5 hour birth prep class, then I drove him straight to the airport to catch a red-eye flight to New York that would land just in time for him to start work in the morning. Unlike the week-long business trips he’s taken in the past, this time he was back two days later to support me.

Our birth prep class is taught by a yogi-shaman-hypnotherapist, which is outside of Richard’s normal realm, but he was open-minded and accepting during class and has been on board with practicing techniques at home. That said, he was a little discombobulated by a questionnaire included inquiries like “What is your vision for birth?” and “What do you want your baby to feel during birth?”

6. It’s time to concretely prepare for the baby.

For me, the first trimester was rough, the second trimester involved a lot of watching and waiting, and the third trimester feels more action-packed. We’re meeting with our support team regularly, our nursery is well on its way to being assembled, and taking conscious time to bond with each other and the baby. It feels exciting that there are things to do. Here are a couple other action-items I’ve got on to do list:

  • Choose a pediatrician
  • Register ahead at the hospital (for less paperwork on the big day)
  • Figure out how to get a breast pump using my insurance
  • Buy a crib mattress (I have one all picked out, I’m just waiting until my Babies R Us reward dollars vest)
  • Complete nursery with smaller staples (e.g. nail clippers) and consumables (e.g. wipes) so we’re baby-ready
  • Pack a hospital bag
  • Write out my birth preferences
  • Keep brainstorming middle names (we agree on the first name, but the middle name is a continued issue of debate)

7. Superficial things bother me less.

I found out how mom’s start wearing mom-shoes. At this point in pregnancy, bending over to tie up my shoes is a chore and low-support shoes with slippery soles are a hazard. Frankly, supportive, slip-on shoes with grippy soles are not cute. At this point I don’t care. Today I’m wearing both compression stockings and Klogs, which I think may even be at the grandmother level of sensible attire.

Klogs and Compression Stockings

Compression stockings and Klogs. Sensible Attire Level: Grandma

9 Weeks Pregnant: New Joys

August 17 – August 23: 9 Weeks 0 Days – 9 Weeks 6 Days.

Our first night in our new home, we ordered sushi for delivery. Pregnant women aren’t supposed to eat raw meat due to potential pathogens (not to mention that many fish are off the table due to environmental contaminants), but we were lucky to find a restaurant with a large selection of vegetarian rolls. Yum! A couple of the veggie rolls were packed next to the fish rolls Richard ordered, which could obviously allow for cross-contamination, but I opted not to worry about it. At some point the stress elicited by obsessively following all the guidelines perfectly must have just as many negative health consequences as being a little more lax about the rules.

I love doing yoga in a hot room, a love hot tubs, and people always make fun of me for wearing sweaters in the summer. Pregnant women aren’t supposed to do things that raise their body temperature, but my beloved piping hot baths have been an ongoing temptation. At our prenatal appointment this week, the doctor told Richard that elevated body temperature negatively affects the baby’s brain development, and ever since then he’s been strictly enforcing the rules. Our first full day in our house, we discovered that the pilot light for the water heater didn’t stay lit for longer than a few hours, which dissolved my fantasy of sneaking into a hot bath behind Richard’s back. (Update: We didn’t get the water heater fixed until I was 16 weeks pregnant, so I didn’t get a hot shower—let a alone bath—for a long time).

Now on my sixth week of relentless nausea, I began having some moments of despair. Before I got pregnant, I had tons of little joys in my day-to-day life. I used to take Foxy on walks up Bernal Hill, which has a fantastic 360 degree view, or for a long walk or run along Ocean Beach. Now I’m too fatigued. I used to love negitoro maki, exotic cheeses, oolong tea, and Philz Mint Mojito Iced Coffee. Now all of these are advised against (Update: later in pregnancy I discovered a Swiss Water Decaf Mint Mojito Iced Coffee). I even read the other day that chamomile and ginger tea, which I’ve been drinking all along, can be risky for pregnancy! I used to get a sugar fix from green tea cheese cake, brownie sundaes sundaes, and sour patch kids, but now dessert makes me nauseated. Even most yoga doesn’t feel good for me any more (I’ll post more on this in a few weeks).

Instead of wallowing in self-pity focusing on what I couldn’t do, I realized I had to shift my daily habits to include joys that I can still partake in:

  • Tea. Rooibos is my new go-to. I make a yummy roobios tea latte with maple syrup, vanilla, and skim milk (before pregnancy I drank nothing but almond milk, but cow’s milk has appealed to me more lately). And, tea is even better when enjoyed with friends I can share with!
  • Light, therapeutic exercise. I cleared some space for my mat and got my foam roller, pinky balls, therapy band, Mexican blanket, and bolster in a convenient location.
  • Yoga Nidra. Translating to “Yogic Sleep,” this practice is done lying completely still. Relax Into Greatness by Rod Stryker is my 35 minutes of bliss. This helps so much with the fatigue.
  • Artistic expression. I used to draw, paint, play musical instruments, and sing—skills I’ve let fall by the wayside. My sister bought me a watercolor kit for my birthday and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much free piano sheet music is available online these days, so I plan to incorporate these joys into my day-to-day life.
  • Connecting with the baby. Up until now it’s been hard to conceptualize the baby. On that first ultrasound, it was just a spec! This week, Richard and I went back in for my next appointment with the OB/GYN and we got an ultrasound that actually looked like something. Well, sort of. What it looked like was an apple fritter. But that’s at least it’s something I can visualize growing and developing inside of me. Also, unlike the first ultrasound I had, the baby’s healthy heartbeat was detectable! The other night, Richard kissed me goodnight then kissed my belly and said, “Goodnight, Fritter.
9-Week Ultrasound

Our little apple fritter at nine weeks.

Look at how much she developed by week 19!

16 Weeks Pregnant: So When Do I Get That Baby Bump?

October 6 – October 12 : 16 Weeks 0 Days – 16 Weeks 6 Days.

I’ve put on seven or eight pounds during pregnancy, which is apparently right on track for a healthy, normal-weight pregnancy. However, the voluptuousness seems to have gone everywhere except my belly. I’ve now got the voluminous breasts I’ve always dreamed of having (not complaining) and curvy thighs that can bust through cargo pants (I’ll post that story soon), but still not much of a baby bump to speak of. I got this hilarious maternity shirt, and wore it out this week only to be met with confused glances:

I Ate A Seed

Funny Maternity Shirt from DJammarMaternity on Etsy. I’ll grow into it!

Throughout pregnancy, the most common comment I’ve gotten has been, “Oh, I can’t even tell you’re pregnant!” In the first trimester, this was lovely. I would respond, “Check back in a few weeks. My belly is supposed to pop around week 12!” During that time, suggestions that I didn’t look pregnant were preferable to the less common alternative: “Oh yeah, I thought you’d gained weight, but I didn’t want to say anything.”

Now at the end of my sixteenth week, my belly still hasn’t really popped, and my perspective has shifted. Pregnancy is hard work, and I want something to show for it! Today, I got one of those rare remarks from someone I’d just met: “Oh, I thought you might be pregnant, but I didn’t want to say anything until you mentioned it.” It was all I could do to keep from gushing, “Really? You noticed?? Yay!”

To put it all in perspective, when I express my bump-impatience to women who have been pregnant before, they reminisce, “I remember thinking the same thing in my second trimester. Then by the middle of the third trimester I was so big that I wished I could go back!” And there it is. At every stage of pregnancy there’s something I could choose to be insecure, obsessed, or discontented about. I could also choose to focus on all the things to be contented and joyful about (i.e. the yogic practice of santosa). I have a healthy body, a healthy baby, a supportive partner, tons of resources at my fingertips, and live in an area where I can choose how to move through pregnancy and give birth. Letting my vanity overshadow all of that amazingness would be wasteful. I listen to a recording of 150+ “Joyful Pregnancy Affirmations” for my Hypnobabies course every day, and I will add one more to my repertoire: “My baby knows how and when to create a bump and I will be patient.

Besides if I eat a several bowls of soup and drink the glasses upon glasses of water I’m supposed to be drinking daily, it pushes by belly out far enough to get a pretty convincing bump shot:

Week 16

My book baby, my fur baby, and my baby baby.

If you want to be somebody else, change your mind -Sister Hazel

I’m a sucker inspiration, and I think positive affirmations are incredibly powerful. However, in yoga we have the foundational principles of isvara pranydana, which means surrender of control, and santosa, which means contentment. The statements “You can be whoever you want to be” and “You can accomplish anything you set your mind to” sound great on paper, but they aren’t always true. Sometimes the only way to accomplish them is to change your mind.

If you want to be somebody else, change your mind -Sister Hazel

If you want to be somebody else, change your mind -Sister Hazel

In my early teens I suffered from epilepsy. By suffered, I don’t mean I was having grand mal seizures left, right, and center—my epilepsy turned out to be relatively controllable—I was suffering from the loss of my sense of invincibility, from fear of losing control, and from adding the label “disordered” to my identity. I didn’t want to take ownership of any of that yuckiness, and that developed into a sense of dissociation with my body. I guess I thought I’d just hold out and stay in denial until I successfully willed myself to grow out of it. I never did grow out of it.

When I was fifteen, as a first step toward self-acceptance, contentment, and surrender of control I printed out the lyrics to this “Change Your Mind” by Sister Hazel and glued them into my agenda book. Somehow I realized that the only way to stop being a slave to my epilepsy was to start to accept it.

I still have epilepsy, and it does affect my life, but I’m no longer constantly suffering from it mentally and emotionally like I used to be.

Have you ever danced in the rain
Or thanked the sun
Just for shining- just for shining
Over the sea?
Oh no- take it all in
The world’s a show
And yeah, you look much better,
Look much better when you glow

If you want to be somebody else,
If you’re tired of fighting battles with yourself
If you want to be somebody else
Change your mind…

Hey hey-
what ya say

We both go and seize the day
’cause what’s your hurry
what’s your hurry anyway


-Sister Hazel

I am enough. I have enough.

You guys, I did something new in yoga last week!

I was practicing in the lovely and inspiring Dana Damara‘s class, and her theme centered around the mantra, “I am enough.” When we suffer from feelings of inadequacy, we start to practice in ways that feed our ego, which often don’t coincide with what is actually safe and serving for us. Dana encouraged us to cultivate “enoughness” in our poses, regardless of the complexity of the variation we chose. Learning to believe that we are enough just the way we are calls upon a fundamental principle of yoga: santosa, contentment.

Exploring this theme for myself, an article that was making the social media rounds a while back came to mind. It was a sort-of-condescending article about how Generation Y Yuppies are unhappy because we were raised to think we’re special, so we grow up with inflated self-esteem and an unrealistic sense of entitlement. Although many people took issue with the article’s oversimplification of Gen Y Yuppies’ woes, there are some grains of truth in there. Instead of thinking “I am not enough, I’d better force my foot behind my head to make up for that,” many of us think, “I’m awesome. I deserve to be able to put my foot behind my head.” In the end, it’s the same result: we practice from ego rather than from awareness, increasing our chances of injury and decreasing our chances of physical, mental, or spiritual progress. With my inner princess in mind, I modified the mantra to, “I have enough.” This calls on some additional principles of yoga: tapas (non-excess), brahmacharya (moderation), and aparigraha (non-greed/non-envy).

Variation on tree.

Variation on tree with the ankle crossed over the opposite knee.

So what did I do that was new in that class? Well, balancing has always come easily to me—one teacher informed me it’s because I have big hands and big feet, so don’t get too envious. The first time Eka Pada Galavasana (flying crow arm balance) was ever introduced to me in a yoga class years ago, I was able to do it, at least to some extent. Teachers always give students the option to stay in a variation of tree instead of taking the arm balance, but even though eka pada galavasana hasn’t been feeling as great for me lately as I’m rehabilitating from an injury, I’ve never been able to resist flying. Well, last week in Dana’s class I finally transcended eka pada galavasana’s irresistibility.

I was the only person in the room standing upright with my hands in prayer. In a moment of mental weakness, I fell victim to temptation and made a gesture put my hands down on the floor, but I snapped out of it a moment later and pressed my palms back together, this time resting my thumbs on my lips. I repeated to myself, “I have enough. This is enough.” And it really was.

If we cultivate excessiveness, extravagance, and greed on the mat, these qualities will only flourish in our life off the mat. Sometimes the most advanced practice of yoga is not choosing the contortion that challenges your flexibility nor the acrobatics that challenge your strength. Sometimes it’s choosing the simplicity that challenges your ego.