I feel like I blinked and ended up in the third trimester, this pregnancy has been flying along! Likely because so much else is going on in life – finishing school, moving to another country, launching a travel retreat – but somehow I ended up in the third trimester! One thing I’ve heard over and over during this pregnancy journey is that every pregnancy is different, and mine surely has been vastly different from a lot of other women’s stories that I’ve read and heard. Here are some updates from the second trimester!
If you missed the first trimester update, make sure you check it out here!
Cravings, Aversions, and Symptoms
One of the things I get asked the most is if I have any pregnancy cravings, and unfortunately (or fortunately), I don’t really! Every once in a while (maybe once a month), I’ll be in the mood for some fast food chicken. Likewise, there are no foods that I used to love that I can’t stand anymore. Thankfully I can still tolerate spicy foods and peanut butter and fruits and everything else that makes my stomach happy.
While what I eat hasn’t changed at all, how I feel after eating definitely has. In the second half of the second trimester, I started developing heartburn. I’ve still been unable to identify what exactly triggers it, but I do know that fatty foods and sweets makes it particularly bad. I’ve been trying not to eat late, and I elevate my head while sleeping, but sometimes even drinking water creates acid reflux. Supposedly heartburn means your baby will be born with lots of hair, so I should probably start stocking up on conditioner now! On the positive side, my skin has been on 100 since getting pregnant! I’ve had to switch up my skincare routine to be more baby-friendly, but otherwise we out here glowing to the max.
Weight Gain, The Bump, and Movement
Although I started showing around 16/17 weeks, I feel like my belly really popped at 20 weeks. That’s when I could no longer wear clothes that could disguise my stomach. While I haven’t been too focused on weight gain, my doctor recommended that I gain no more than 30 pounds during this pregnancy. So far I’ve gained 20 pounds, 15 or so of which happened in the 2nd trimester. I’m still wearing mostly non-maternity clothes (with the exception of jeans), just opting for lots of dresses and stretchy pants.
I actually felt the first kicks while attending the Cincinnati Music Festival! Earth, Wind, & Fire were playing and I felt a little push in my stomach. Of course I started crying because I’m a crybaby and although Jonathan wasn’t there to experience it, my best friend was! Now I feel kicks all the time, especially after eating and when I lie down to go to sleep.
Fibroids, Ultrasounds & Finding Out the Gender
Although I haven’t shared yet on social media, we’ve known the gender since the middle of July! Before moving, I was getting monthly ultrasounds to track the growth and progression of two fibroids which were pretty close to my cervix, so we found out a bit earlier than the 20 week anatomy scan. These days you can find out the gender as early as 9 weeks with a genetic screening blood test, but we weren’t THAT eager to find out. We’re keeping the gender to ourselves for a bit longer, so don’t ask me!
I was a bit worried about the fibroids, because one was the size of an orange and blocking my cervix at the beginning of my pregnancy, but they since shrunk a bit and moved around as the baby has gotten bigger.
Prenatal Care in Kenya
One of my worries about moving to Kenya was whether I’d be able to find an ob-gyn who I loved as much as my doctor in Jersey City, but it was actually very easy to find a doctor here. For additional peace of mind, I went with an ob-gyn who trained in the US, but in general, prenatal care in Kenya is far more noninvasive than it is in the states. As I mentioned earlier, I had been prescribed monthly ultrasounds for fibroid monitoring in the US, but doctors are so used to dealing with fibroids here that when I mentioned them to my Kenyan doctor, she expressed absolutely no alarm.
In the US I was also offered all sorts of additional and medically unnecessary interventions – genetic screening, a Zika test because I’d gone to Honduras earlier in the year, etc – whereas here, they just check my urine, check the fetal heartbeat, and send me on my way. This more relaxed and normalized approach to maternity care has actually helped reduce a lot of the anxiety I was feeling about whether our baby would be healthy, based on all the interventions and ultrasounds I was offered or had to do in the US. Another prime example: the birthing class we took recently discussed how breech babies are regularly delivered vaginally in Kenya’s public hospitals, whereas in the US, breech babies are often synonymous with c-sections. The cost of care of maternity is also significantly cheaper in Kenya; my recent hemoglobin test to check my iron levels cost $10 (without insurance), while the unnecessary Zika test I had in the states was about $16 (with insurance).
Traveling During the Second Trimester
Finally, we’ve managed to do TONS of traveling during the second trimester, which is the best trimester to fly due to possible miscarriage risks during the first trimester and fatigue and early labor risks during the third trimester. During the second trimester I traveled to Cincinnati, flew to Nairobi, took a babymoon to the coast of Kenya, and flew to Lagos. If you’re planning on flying while pregnant, here are some tips to make it easier. If you can afford it, I highly recommend taking a babymoon too, it was amazing to reset and recenter ourselves before the final weeks of life as non-parents!
Before I wrap up, I want to quickly mention that I’ve had a hard time being as open with this pregnancy as I wanted to because people have been so quick to insert their opinions and suggestions into what Jonathan and I should and shouldn’t be doing as we prepare for our baby. There’s a difference between sharing advice based off your personal experiences and being all up in someone’s business with unsolicited opinions that are often made based off generalizations, assumptions, and lack of information. I’m hoping as we get closer to delivery and childbirth that people can have a greater respect for the sanctity and miracle of this process and try to respect our privacy as much as possible.