Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Truth about the Third Trimester

{You can read my first trimester post HERE and my second trimester post HERE.}

Here we are... 39 weeks, and I am a large insomniac with hip pain. I can't complain about my pregnancy, because overall it has been a wonderful experience. I've had no sickness and very little fatigue. I've passed every test with flying colors... glucose, blood pressure, weight gain, etc. I was able to work out at least three times a week up until my 37th week. The baby is completely healthy and right on track with weight, heart rate, fluid levels, etc. I am seriously blessed.

30 weeks

But I have also been humbled. In my vanity, I thought I would get through these last few weeks with make-up on my face and skinny ankles, while pumping out an incline walk and lifting weights at the gym.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

I danced into my 36 week appointment ready to take on the world. I eagerly asked my doctor how long she would let me go past my due date without threatening to induce. When my doctor said she would probably let me go up to two weeks late with no signs of complications, I skipped out of the office in glee, thinking "I will be a Pitocin-free woman. You take your sweet time Baby Russum. 5 days, 10 days, 12 days past due... you'll find me at the gym if you need me."

...Two days later I couldn't even walk. In the middle of "Baby/House Project Weekend 2013" my left hip gave out on me. I was in horrible pain and could only limp around for the next two weeks {you can read more about it here and here}.  My main physical goal for each day was to get out of bed in the morning without crying or collapsing. Thankfully, a chiropractic adjustment last week and icing my hip multiple times a day has eased the pain and increased my mobility somewhat, but I am far from the sprinting, glowing full-term woman I thought I'd be... but let's back up now and review the whole third trimester.

33 weeks

Real life...
The first half of the trimester was pretty much a breeze. At 30 weeks, I felt like the perfect size of round and had maternity photos taken. Around this time I started noticing bigger movements from the baby instead of tiny kicks and flutters. I could suddenly tell where the baby's rump and legs were and it was fun to trace the form of a tiny human beneath my skin. Thankfully, my bladder hasn't been too affected by pregnancy, but ever since week 30 I can't sleep longer than 5 or 6 hours without getting up to pee, so I usually have one bathroom stop in the dark around 5am every morning. During week 32, we went to San Francisco for our anniversary and I conquered the hills on foot. Although my back would get a little sore by the end of the day, I basically walked myself and the baby all over that city. Later that week, I went camping in Washington, and except for the second night when our air mattress got deflated, the whole ordeal was pretty easy and fun. But then we got back to Arizona during week 33 and that's when things started to slow down. I was getting bigger and bigger, it was HOT outside, and I was feeling overwhelmed with unfinished baby projects and the fact that school would be starting in a few weeks. To top it all off, I discovered I had to take BREAKS during the day, which involved sitting on the couch and resting. The type-A, firstborn, crazy person in me did not like this, but I quickly learned it was necessary. Other than needing extra rest though, everything was going great until the great hip injury of the 36th week.

It is common to experience hip and back pain throughout pregnancy, especially in the final weeks as your ligaments actually spread out for labor due to the cleverly-named hormone, "Relaxin." However, it is not so common to lose your ability to walk because of this pain. Although I had a doctor, nurse, and massage therapist tell me my hip pain was "pretty normal" during my 37th week, I had a feeling this was simply not true. If it were so normal, why didn't I frequently see other full-term pregnant women limping around in their final weeks and wincing in pain with every move? I did a little reading online and learned about Pubic Girdle Pain and Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction, which seemed similar to what I was going through. Then I started reading accounts of women online who said they could not roll over in bed or put on their underwear because rotating one leg out from their body was impossible. This was starting to describe my current situation. I felt some comfort in knowing other women had experienced the kind of pain I was encountering, and also felt reassured that it was not normal. The type of pain these ladies described only affects about 10% of pregnant women.

Most women online {and my doctor} said there are no real cures... short of using crutches in your final weeks or simply delivering your baby. However, a few people mentioned that chiropractic adjustments helped, so I called up a chiropractor I hadn't visited in two years as quickly as I could. Hallelujah. As of my appointment a week ago, I have been getting better day by day. The chiropractor said I have a sprained ligament where my lower back connects to my hip, which could have been caused by the baby or might have happened when I was lifting or rotating something the weekend I started feeling pain. We'll never know. She massaged the fluid out of my back, adjusted my hip, and told me to ice it a few times a day. Although I walked out of the office still limping, I instantly noticed that I could raise and lower my hip from sitting to standing with almost no pain, which was a HUGE difference. Over the next week, the pain subsided day by day and my mobility increased. My hip still hurts and I still ice it a few times a day, but it is so much better than before.

And that brings me to my main point... a mother's intuition doesn't only apply to the baby. While most doctors will tell you, especially as a first time mom, that a symptom or discomfort is "normal," trust your gut if you don't agree with them. While chiropractic care is not for everyone, I am so glad I went and tried something different to find relief instead of believing that my limp was "normal" and suffering through such extreme pain for three or four more weeks.

Also, I should note my only other weird, painful symptom of pregnancy... I like to call it the "burning needles sensation." Ever since I started experiencing round ligament pain around week 13 of pregnancy {which is a dull achy feeling as the ligaments around your uterus stretch down near your bikini line}, I would also notice a stinging sensation in this region from time to time. Usually the stinging would last only a few seconds and it happened only every few weeks. However, around week 33 the stinging sensation on my right lower abdomen {below the bump} became INTENSE. It usually flairs up if I'm really active for a long period of time, and I can expect to feel it daily now around 5 or 6pm when I'm finishing up afternoon errands or making dinner. One of the first times it got really extreme, I was in the checkout line at Walmart, and the stinging hurt so bad I hunched over my shopping cart in pain. The checker was convinced I was in labor and started freaking out. I assured her I was not in labor, but she made me sit on a bench for a while until she was thoroughly convinced. Apparently, there is a big group of nerves that attach to the round ligaments that can flair up during pregnancy. It's not harmful, but, as I described it to one of my friends, it feels like twenty hot needles slamming into my skin from the inside out. It's pretty brutal, but I'm used to it now. And it's nothing compared to not being able to walk...

Oh, and pregnancy insomnia. It's real. Mine kicked in around 33 weeks when we got back from traveling. My insomnia is not due to discomfort. Before the whole hip fiasco, I was sleeping perfectly through the night except for the one bathroom trip. My mind simply will not shut off and I can lie awake for hours thinking of everything that needs to be done before the baby arrives. Usually, I eventually just hop out of bed and start doing some of the tasks, often until 2, 3 or 4am.

37 weeks

Rumor has it...
This is where I tell you about other things that can happen during the third trimester that I did not personally experience. I don't really know what to add here, because I think every woman just feels big and uncomfortable by the end, and it plays out in different ways. A few symptoms I've heard of, but thankfully have not experienced, are pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel and numbness in the hands. I have, however, had a run-in with the cankles for the past few weeks, which started after I lost my mobility. Now that I am walking a bit better, icing often, and propping up my feet during the day, my swelling is actually getting better. Some women experience really bad swelling from the second trimester on, so I'm very thankful I've only had to deal with swollen feet on and off for a few weeks. Oh, and I've also heard that the bowling-ball-in-the-crotch sensation when the baby drops down can be really brutal, but since Baby Russum is as high as can be, avoiding early labor at all costs, I have no idea what a bowling ball in the crotch feels like...

I'll be back with details on the final days and labor+ delivery after this little one arrives! 

|Linking up with Baby Talk|


Jessica said...

SO excited that the baby is going to be here so soon!! I will be praying for a healthy and safe delivery!!

Bek said...

So happy for your family, and so glad you found some relief via the chiropractor! Praying for safety and smoothness for your delivery! :)

Tanisha Muench said...

Pains are inevitable especially on your last days of pregnancy. These are caused by the contractions in your uterus and the development of your body. It's also caused by the movement of your baby. It's helpful to undergo chiropractic adjustments to make sure your body is ready for the delivery.

US Health Works - Lynnwood Center

ThistleAshD said...

totally agree- you need to trust your instincts. For several weeks I kept complaining to my doctor that I was itchy and she would tell me to take benedryl or oatmeal baths. Finally at 39 weeks it was so unbearable I harrassed her enough that she had me take a blood test which prompted an immediate induction due to this choriostisis thing with bile salts. It can cause still birth if not dealt with. Scary! And thankful I advocated for myself!

Hope baby Russum comes soon :)

Michelle Levine said...

Hang in there and thanks for sharing !