Embracing the bump

Getting glammed up for Christmas holiday parties

The third and final trimester.

In many ways, I felt derailed in my third trimester. All at once, my pregnancy had become high risk, and we were told to expect an early delivery–as early as 24 weeks. Instead of growing into my bump with hopeful anticipation, I spent the last three months fearfully monitoring my baby’s growth.

It started out with growth scans and NST (non-stress tests) at the hospital three times a week. Our initial prognosis didn’t look good. In fact, our doctor told us that if our baby needed to be born at 24-26 weeks, he/she might not survive, and that we could expect to spend months in the NICU. This news was devastating.

Juggling work with my appointments was stressful. I stopped practicing yoga or working out because I had very little free time. I told my girlfriends and family to cancel the baby shower they were planning. I wasn’t in the right headspace to celebrate during such an uncertain time. My husband and I were too scared to build a nursery or purchase any of the baby necessities.

Fall maternity photos along Stanley Park
Fall was dry and sunny on the Sunshine Coast

Little by little, we became more hopeful. The weeks miraculously stretched on, and our doctors were surprised by the growth they saw each week at our ultrasounds. Every week gave me a better reason to smile because I knew that Baby was safe inside of me.

By 30 weeks, we had more reason to celebrate. We slowly began to acquire some baby stuff: a crib, a stroller, a car seat. They stayed in boxes in our second bedroom until 34 weeks. As we started to realize that Baby would be here soon, we finally put together our nursery. By this time, I was enormous and virtually useless. Now I understand why they recommend building the nursery in the second semester! Luckily, our friends and family came to our aid; on a cold, late-November day, I came home from work to find our nursery complete. My husband had even painted the wall with mountains for our little adventurous babe.

My last month of work (November) was physically challenging. I began to really pack on the weight and felt heavy and tired all the time. Even walking up a flight of stairs made me winded. Few of my maternity clothes fit and I began recycling the same three outfits. I was always hot and uncomfortable, even lying down. And I developed other nasty symptoms, including terrible heartburn, acid reflux, and swollen fingers from carpal tunnel syndrome. The research said these things would go away soon after giving birth, but I continually felt uncomfortable and couldn’t wait for this time to pass.

Trying to enjoy the growth of this bump
Finding beauty in my new body

We kept moving forward by loving each other in and amongst the tears. There were so many days when we were caught up in despair and agony, wondering if our baby would make it. But somehow the months plodded on and before we knew it, it was December–our baby’s birth month. We managed to make it full term and give this baby the best possible chance on the other side.

As I try to process all that has happened over the past four years of trying to conceive, multiple IVF failures, and a high-risk pregnancy, it’s easy to feel morose and bitter. But when I look at these photos (that almost didn’t happen), I can’t help but feel gratitude and love. I am grateful for the experience of motherhood that allowed me to grow another life inside of mine. I’m honoured to have a partner who stood by me through the entire journey and never gave up on us. And I know that whatever the outcome of this baby, I have been given life’s most beautiful gift. So I will remember to smile and choose love over fear.