[21 April, 2015]

tri 3

I am writing this in the last few days (or hours, who knows?!) before labor, but I wanted to jot down some details about the third trimester because I am sure it will be so far from my mind once baby is in my arms.

The third trimester has a reputation for being uncomfortable, and I noticed too that at around week 30, things started to become noticeably more difficult. This is when baby grows the most and the belly suddenly pops way out. I could feel the expansion of my uterus and the skin stretching, like things inside of me were exploding but in very very slow motion. The growing weight put pressure on my hips and legs, so I began to walk slower and become more out of breath when walking up the stairs. I could feel that there was a larger volume of blood now, and I even got my first nosebleed while in the shower. Until my stomach dropped (around week 37), at times I ran into breathing problems as the uterus now pushed up on my diaphragm. Constantly feeling like there is not enough air in my lungs, coupled with constantly stretching skin and internal explosion is what made this period, what they call in very vague terms, "uncomfortable."

Other common complaints are bladder and sleep issues, which haven't been too bad for me. That is, until the stomach dropped, and then I suddenly had to pee every 5 minutes. I sleep on my side ok, though sometimes I do find myself slightly rolling onto the stomach to my pre-pregnancy usual sleep position. Sorry, baby, if I squished you in any way!

I thought carrying a child was some mysterious process where it is somewhere in there. But turns out, it's not that far away, it's actually right there, under only a few layers of skin and muscle. Growing baby means growing movement and a stomach that goes crazy with rolling bumps and flattening valleys. It's fun and crazy and fascinating and sometimes inconvenient but also usually very amusing.

I've had enough energy throughout, although there are days I just have to lie down for a bit or flat-out nap. I'm continuing to work and the week before my due date, suddenly, everyone wanted me to accomplish all these projects! The differences in maternity leave and overall work vs. family balance are stark between Russia and the US. I will have to make it a conversation for another time.

At week 35, I took some professional pictures to document my body. It just so happened that I ended up with two photo sessions. The first one was by a fancy professional studio photographer who was looking for pregnant women for an exhibition she is organizing in June. I had never been a model in a studio before, and this gave me the chance to showcase my body in a novel way.

Then J expressed interest in doing something together, to document our growing family, not just my body. The second photographer, also very talented, does her sessions in a more photojournalistic style outside of a studio. We walked around the city and tried to capture moments of togetherness and anticipation. I felt a bit disappointed that I had to wear a coat outside (it was the middle of March; as you can see, there is still ice in the canals), so I am not even sure how much my pregnant belly, or baby, shows up in these, although I guess it does enough.

The official due date was April 20, but on April 17, J presented a paper at a conference here in St. Petersburg. Baby and I had an understanding of waiting until after the 17, although preferably with a few days of giving us time to rest and recuperate from my last-minute work stress and J's last-minute conference. The 20th is also Hitler's birthday so I was rooting for even a later date. The 22 is Lenin's birthday, so if it happens then, I'll take a socialist revolutionary baby any time.

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