Meredith’s Musings: The Third Trimester
Article by Meredith McKinnie
I’ll be honest; pregnancy itself was not something I looked forward to. My mom had always insisted she hated it; it was a means to an end. Perhaps her blatant honesty about the condition had something to do with my waiting until the “geriatric” age of 35 before trying to get pregnant. But to my surprise, the first six months were relatively easy. I had barely gained any weight, which for a girl my size is relatively common. I had no morning sickness. I was still working out five times a week, eating what I wanted, not going crazy with cravings. My husband said my mood was the same, not radically hormonal. I felt I was acing this thing my mom insisted was so difficult. And then came the third trimester.
Something shifted, and my body no longer embraced its condition. I found it harder to sleep, couldn’t get comfortable; bathroom trips became necessary as soon as I stood up from the one prior. And these were the minor inconveniences. Years ago, I suffered from carpal tunnel. It was brutal. I can remember waking up in the middle of the night with this numbness/pins in my arms and hands sensation. I tried the braces, exhausted all my over the counter options, and nothing worked. I remember beating my arms against the wall, screaming in pain. The contact with the wall felt better, simply because it was a different pain sensation, the only reprieve I could get. Most of my mother’s siblings suffer from carpal tunnel as well as many having had the surgery to cut the nerve all together. I learned it was hereditary. Factors like weight gain and nicotine aggravated the nerve. After a significant weight loss, my symptoms drifted away. Sometimes if I was lifting a lot of weights at the gym, I would get minor reminders to cut back, but otherwise, my carpal had been dormant for almost a decade.
I remember gradually starting to wear my braces at night during the fifth month, some uncomfortable pulling in my hands. Before long, sleep became impossible. To make matters worse, I was teaching a summer class, and needed to be coherent. I’m afraid I wasn’t. In the mornings, I couldn’t make a fist. I quit getting coffee, simply because I couldn’t hold the cup. I put my hands through the steering wheel; the vibrations would force tears out of the corners of my eyes. My dear husband would dry my hair for me in the morning. He would listen patiently at night, as I screamed and loathed my condition. I said some horrible things; threw water bottles at the wall in frustration. I still see marks as I walk through my house, a small reminder of the pain I endured and the frustration I felt. I understand now why people act out at their wits end; you feel you have to do something. Just taking it day after day becomes unbearable. It’s all you talk about; my friends would call not to inquire about the pregnancy, but to ask about my hands. I’m surprised anyone called me at all. The ones who climbed into the trench with me, they’re my angels. It encompassed every minute of every day for me. It limited what I could do; enjoyment was not an option. And every time the doctor would say, “They will go back to normal shortly after you give birth,” I would laugh at him. He was talking about the next three months; I couldn’t fathom the next three minutes.
Two hours after one of my many screaming fits in the early morning hours of August 11, my water broke. I’ll save that story for another day. But it was a shock; it happened five weeks early, and from the perspective of my frustration, not a moment to soon. In those first few moments alone with her, once they said she was healthy and wouldn’t require a stay in the NICU, I broke down and cried. I put my forehead to hers and just kept saying thank you through the tears. She rescued me from near madness. She knew what her mother needed, and we were both going to be okay regardless. It was my first connection to this little person I had yet to get to know. She was my savior, and I know it won’t be the last time.