My third trimester with Jacob was joyful and filled with preparations and excitement for his arrival. There were baby showers and further work on his nursery. We got it exactly the way we wanted it just about a week before his due date and I posted these pictures on social media.
Showers can be a challenge for me because I’m not comfortable as the center of attention (imagine how I was on our wedding day!), but it was so nice to feel all of the love for Jacob and to get so many wonderful items to help us care for him. I felt so much excitement and love during those gatherings that I almost forgot to be uncomfortable in the spotlight :).
Oh how I miss that big belly and Jacob’s kicking and squirming. I never could really tell what was a kick or a punch or an elbow jab, but I remember during that time always feeling his cute little butt sticking out and moving around up near my rib cage. I miss laying in bed with Erik and Jacob, reading to him fro our book of children’s bible stories, and watching Erik feel his kicks with a hand on my belly.
There were lots of uneventful doctor’s appointments, and as time passed I became more and more excited to meet him. My doctor had to be out of town a couple times during my third trimester, which ended up being a blessing in disguise because in her absence I saw the doctor who, unbeknownst to either of us at that time, would end up performing my c-section and delivering Jacob. Although nothing went the way I wanted with that delivery or the outcome, I did have a strong sense of appreciation that I already had some relationship with that doctor, who could not have been more kind, caring, and compassionate at that time or in the days and weeks following Jacob’s birth and death.
We attended a few preparation classes. First was a mindful birthing partner workshop with the instructor who taught my prenatal yoga class. That was my favorite, and not just because it got Erik to do a little yoga ;). I really wanted an unmedicated birth if I could handle it, and the class was such good preparation. I still attribute the ease I felt in the part of labor I did experience to the breathing and mindfulness techniques I learned in that class. I also met with a lactation consultant because I was hopeful and excited to breastfeed, and Erik and I attended childbirth class and newborn care class at the hospital. I’ve often thought back to the other expectant parents in those classes and how happy they must be with their little ones, and how they’d have no idea we lost ours. I hope none of them lost their babies.
The weather was nice last Spring and Summer so I took lots of walks in the neighborhood with Maggie and my big belly full of baby boy. There were many questions and comments and conversations with neighbors I had never talked to before. I never realized how friendly/interested a super pregnant woman can make people. I also dread in subsequent pregnancies questions I got then like “are you so excited?” “when are you due?” “is everything all ready for baby?” “is this your first?”…the answers to so many questions like that will forever be complicated for me, I think, especially when they come from strangers.
I felt so blessed to not experience many of the discomforts I’ve heard of that can arise late in pregnancy. I had more than my fair share of acid reflux, which was definitely uncomfortable and sometimes scary (when I’d wake up in the night practically choking), but I learned to manage that and keep it to a tolerable level by the end. I walked and took yoga and barre classes. We went to a couple of weddings, and at one of them I even danced quite a bit despite the belly being a bit of a hindrance! My main craving was buckeye sundaes from Graeter’s ice cream, and I’m way to embarrassed to admit how often I indulged :). I packed my hospital bags in June (hey, I’m a planner what can I say) and by the time week 36 or 37 rolled around I was really ready to know when Jacob would be here. Those last few weeks were a mind game, knowing labor could start any minute, but feeling nothing happening. But I managed to distract myself and have fun and really enjoy the time with Jacob.
And I’m glad that’s how I remember my last few months with my son – sunny, exciting, joyful, fun, full of love and kicks and booty shakes (him not me). There were also fears. I knew others who had lost babies at this stage of pregnancy. One of the people closest to me had a preemie and I knew all of the stress and heartache that came with that. I worried about a lot of those things, but for the most part, those worries were overwhelmed with happiness and excitement. And I’ll hang on to those positive emotions as much as I can, because I want to remember Jacob that way, and because as hard as I try, I’m not sure I’ll be able to be as positive or purely blissful if I’m blessed to journey through the third trimester with another baby in the future. Nothing is certain, I know that for sure now, so I’ll cling to that happy time as all the more special and precious to me.