Second Trimester Update
***I am not a medical professional, these are all experiences based on my memory. Please see your doctor with any questions or medical advice***
I am almost OFFICIALLY into my third trimester. Where the heck has time gone? Oh yeah, the pandemic. I officially found out I was pregnant on January 12th, but got what I thought was a false positive on December 31st right before heading out to a New Years Even party.
Since then has been a total whirlwind! I told my family mid-February, then the world shut down March 13th, then my second trimester started on March 15th.
It has definitely been a bit different than what I expected my second trimester to be like, but I am in a very fortunate position so I've been able to enjoy it the best I can!
The second trimester is known as the "happy trimester" and I'd have to agree. I felt more back to myself than before. In my first trimester I was dealing with intense baby brain that took an emotional toll on me (i.e. not being able to focus or make progress on work, feeling unproductive and scattered, etc). This trimester I have been able to get so much done and felt like I finally had my energy back!
A few things that I did deal with that were very mild for me: hips popping out (common for me pre-pregnancy, but happened more often given looser joints), legs cramps (not bad though), acid reflux (mostly at night), and insomnia (up from 2-4am most nights).
All and all I had very little symptoms from what I was expecting!
Things That Popped Up
Because of COVID, I unfortunately have now had to attend all doctor and ultrasound appointments solo. In the beginning, this was really pretty devastating that my husband couldn't experience all the things with our first child together. It's kind of become commonplace now and I try not to think too much about it.
The biggest challenge I experienced during my second trimester happened after my anatomy scan around 19 weeks. In the anatomy scan they take tons of measurements to make sure that the baby is growing properly and has all the right parts. I first went into my normal doctors office for my anatomy ultrasound and everything was looking good, but baby didn't want to change position so they couldn't get all the pictures that they needed.
When I met with my doctor immediately following the ultrasound she left me know that the baby had a build up of calcium in one of the chambers of the heart. This would be of no impact to the heart or cause a defect, however it's called EIF which has been loosely linked to Down Syndrome. She told me they were going to schedule me an appointment with the at risk obstetrician at the hospital to get more images and do blood work to determine the babies risk of Down Syndrome.
1) I was shocked, confused, and taken off-guard, 2) I couldn't read any of my doctors emotions and she couldn't read mine, because we were both wearing masks, 3) I was terrified, because we were in the height of the pandemic in Massachusetts and the thought of going to the hospital (alone) was so scary.
The blood work they did for this, is blood work that could have been done at 10 weeks where we would also find out the gender. Because it was an extra cost, I'm low risk, and we knew they'd be doing ultrasound checks for Down Syndrome, we opted out. Biggest takeaway: JUST DO IT AT 10 WEEKS. It's not worth it to wait in agony. The results of the blood work would be back in 2 weeks.
Mind you, this was also the appointment where we found out the gender of the baby. I had asked the technician to write it down in an envelope so my husband and I could open it together when I got home. There I am, sitting in the waiting room for this blood work, holding the adorable ultrasound pictures, the EIF handout, and the gender envelope feeling completely and utterly defeated. Of course we're going to love our baby no matter way, but it is scary to think of your child having any additional challenges in life or medical needs. You want them to be happy and healthy. You feel like you've failed somehow.
We had our gender reveal the following day so I tried to put everything out of my mind for a while (not super easy). I did a lot of research and essentially found out that EIF is so common that most US states do not do any additional testing after discovery. In fact, not all babies with Down Syndrome have EIF, and not all babies with EIF have Down Syndrome. So when I say "loosely" correlated, I mean it.
Early that next week, they could squeeze me in for an appointment to the hospital. I was so scared to go. I needed to call ahead to find out instructions on how to access the hospital due to COVID restrictions. When I arrived, they asked me the normal screening questions and had me switch out my mask. The hospital was a total ghost town and I find hospitals very confusing, so of course, I got lost. Finally, a nurse found me basically staring at a wall and helped to direct me.
The at-risk OB was wonderful. We tried many different ways to flip the baby, because again she wouldn't cooperate (I think we have a sassy one on our hands) and they finally got all of the shots that they needed. Everything looked great from what they could tell, but they of course couldn't tell me anything different about the EIF. The OB offered that they could do an amniocentesis, which if you don't know, is essentially a very large needle that has to take amniotic fluid from your belly. This would confirm with 99% accuracy if the baby had Down Syndrome. The procedure isn't extremely risky, but it is risky enough that for a healthy pregnancy it's not always recommended. I told her I wanted to wait for the results of the blood work and to talk to my husband before I would make a decision about that.
I left the hospital, sat in my car, and cried.
Luckily, only about a week later, I got a call from my doctor that the baby's risk of Down Syndrome was <0.0001%. Those are pretty good odds, so we decided to forgo the amniocentesis and just see what happens once she arrives.
That has probably been the hardest part of my pregnancy so far, the not knowing, the doing it alone. I give moms who do this alone so much credit, you are amazing strong and wonderful.
The Glucose Test
I was pretty nervous about this test, because I reallyyyyy didn't want to have gestation diabetes. It's essentially a precursor for preeclampsia which can lead to preterm labor and some other issues. The test wasn't nearly as bad as I thought! The first version is a one hour test. They give you a 10oz bottle of a very sugary drink, I had the clear version which tastes like very sweet flat 7up. You have 5 minutes to drink the bottle and then are asked to wait 1 hour before they draw blood to see how your body metabolizes the sugar.
After drinking the bottle, I felt completely fine. My tummy grumbled a bit, being like "what is this at 8:45am?!?!". Later in the day I was extremely tired with a dull head ache and wanted to each all the sugary things. But not too bad! I received my results back at a 75 within a normal range of 60-<130. So I think I'm good!
Heading Into the Final Inning
I'm definitely nervous about heading into the third trimester. I'm nervous some of the first trimester symptoms will return, I'm worried that Jeff won't be able to be in the room when I deliver and I worry about what to do with a baby when we get home.
It's a weird time to be pregnant for sure. I had lots of plans to show off my belly, to take a baby-moon, to take photos, have a normal shower, all that "normal" stuff. Sometimes it's disappointing, but maybe it's just that much more special because of how different it is.
I'm staying positive and so excited to welcome our little girl.
What did you experience in your second trimester?