Pregnancy: Part Two

[Part One is over here.]

The Second Trimester

The most painful part of the second trimester wasn’t physical. It was making those damned phone calls…

During the first trimester, my OB had recommended a genetic screening test. It'd let us know the gender of our baby and alert us to any serious genetic conditions like Down Syndrome. She told me it’d cost about $200. Yes! Great! Six weeks later, we got our results. It was a girl (yay!) who was not at risk for any serious genetic abnormalities (PHEW).

Then came the Explanation of Benefits from my insurance, explaining that I’d owe $13,000 for the screening.

Yes, you read that correctly. Thirteen. Thousand. Dollars. Sixty-five times more than the amount I was expecting.

Cue me losing my mind. I blocked off time on my calendar so I could call various entities involved in the process. I called my insurance, the lab, and the OB. They all told me something different. I received bill after bill in the mail, each incorrect in a new and special way. As it would turn out, this nightmare would not end until after the baby was born. Hooray for the US healthcare system.


The concept of a "babymoon" sounded silly to me. For one, it’s a plain dumb sounding word. But also, I don’t tend to be a fan of things that seem overly self-indulgent. I never took an actual honeymoon, for instance. A little escape before baby arrived, though? That seemed like a sound enough idea. We headed to Austin for a long weekend, staying in a nice hotel that we booked with credit card points.

By that point the intense nausea had let up and I had my appetite back, along with a normal-for-me level of energy. The whole time we were there I felt like my “old self." I was able to walk around, eat tacos, go swimming, and otherwise be a human being in the world. I got a prenatal massage in the hotel spa from a lovely nice lady. I drank delicious non-alcoholic cocktails at The Roosevelt Room, which I highly recommended. The Texas heat did get to me a bit while we were outside, but I kept a big bottle of water on me at all times and was good to go.

I was feeling so great that I started getting a little too optimistic. I hadn’t gained weight above my pre-pregnancy amount yet because I’d been so ill during the first trimester. I didn’t have any stretch marks or dreaded hormonal acne. I looked like pre-pregnancy me with a bigger belly. Because of that, I started to think that maybe I’d be one of those enviable women who quickly "bounces back" to their old selves post-delivery. Oh, sweet past Heather, no.

Pregnancy: Part One

The Way Before

I spent a lot of time in my 20s reading mommy blogs. It terrified the guys I dated during that period. I told them all I was reading them because I was curious about what my body was capable of (e.g. child bearing). Let’s get real, though. You don’t watch hours of “Momversation” unless you want children. I was curious about the physical aspects of pregnancy, but I also wanted to be a mother. I wanted all of the other stuff they had, too: long-term romantic partners, houses, etc... They informed my ideas about adulthood more than I could know. They also taught me about the scarier bits of giving birth, adding words like “episiotomy” to my vocabulary.

To give you an idea of how long ago all this was, the babies from those blogs are young teens now. That’s wild to think about. Blogging then was more about sharing your life and less about satisfying sponsors (“Thanks, International Delight Non-Dairy Coffee Creamer!” etc…). It was a much different landscape. But that is another rant for another time.

The Just Before

I got married to a lovely man in 2015. So it was that last year I found myself not only with a long-term partner, but also financially stable (amazing!). It was feasible to start planning for a kid.

Because this is America, the financial side is important. Here, healthcare costs come at you weeks later at mystery rates. We’d both heard stories about L&Ds that wound up costing upwards of $10k, immediately throwing new parents into debilitating debt. That’s not how we wanted to welcome our little one into the world, if we could help it. We agreed to spend a year creating a decent emergency fund before we started trying to conceive.

The year felt long. I hated the waiting. But I’m so glad we did—not because we wound up needing that extra money (thankfully!), but because I got pregnant more quickly than I thought. For, you see, a 35-year-old woman is considered “geriatric” in the fertility world. At 34, I was on the cusp of being elderly. I figured it’d take ages to get pregnant. Fortunately, I did not have that struggle.

After a couple of months of trying, my boobs felt funny. That’s the only way I can describe it. I had a feeling I knew what it meant. My boss was having a going away party at an axe-throwing bar* that week. I figured that if this was really going to be “it” that I’d go out one last time before I knew for sure. I went, threw some axes with careful vigor, and had one beer. It would be my last drink for quite a while.

I left on the early side, excited and anxious. At home, I quietly took a pregnancy test in our master bathroom. Two lines. I’d secretly bought and hidden away a little green onesie for just this occasion. I brought the test and the onesie out of the bedroom to display to my husband, who was on his laptop in the living room. After a long time wanting, and a year plus waiting, this was it.

* Yes, this is, apparently, a thing.

The First Trimester

There is no nice way to say this: the first trimester was hellish. I’m a lifelong pessimist with an overactive imagination, yet it managed to be even worse than I’d pictured.

There was little throwing up and it sure wasn’t “morning sickness.” I had intense nausea that appeared one day and lasted for months. It was there 24/7 and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I had zero appetite. Saltines, apple sauce, and Annie’s mac and cheese were about all that I could eat. Of all the home remedies, fresh lemon in my water was one of the only things that helped. I bought loads and loads of lemons. I progressed from slicing them daintily into my drink to shoving big pieces into my mouth, keeping them there while I grimaced. After a frustratingly long runaround with my insurance, I got the OK for a prescription for my nausea. By that point I’d already lost a bunch of weight.

I work in an office and managed to go in some days, though I can’t remember much of what I did there, honestly. I remembering stuffing plastic grocery bags into my coat pockets before I left the house to make sure I had a place to barf on the train on the way in. I remember covering my face with my sleeve because coffee smells disgusted me—an inescapable scent in an open plan office. I remember having a conversation with my boss during which I told him I just couldn’t operate at 100% for a little bit.

I’d never felt so devoid of energy in my life. At the end of the day, I’d come home and immediately collapse on the couch, not moving a muscle for hours.

That was the first trimester.