I’m a little behind on this post as, at almost 31 weeks, I’m well into the third trimester now. But there’s so much I want to catalogue from this pregnancy and I want to help any of you considering another baby after Postnatal Depression or Anxiety. So let’s crack on!
Generally speaking, the second trimester is the easiest of the three for most women; and this is true of me too, or at least the second half. I’ve generally been feeling great. Physically I’ve had more energy and emotionally I’ve managed to keep my Anxiety in check bar a couple of noticeable exceptions.
The main exception being that I had to deal with several periods of on/off spotting between 14 and 17 weeks.
Spotting is utterly terrifying. When I was pregnant with Caterpillar I had absolute no bleeding from start to finish and then, of course, I had the miscarriage in 2016. Because of this, I find it very difficult not to associate even the smallest amount of bleeding with another impending loss.
Thankfully, this time, popular medical advice and explanations turned out to be true and the small amount of spotting I experienced for several days at a time didn’t turn into anything else and baby is safe and well.
Spotting around the 15 week mark is apparently very common and often just caused by blood vessels in the cervix being very prone to irritation during this point in pregnancy. Of course, knowing this made absolutely zero difference to me emotionally as I was a wreck every single time and got checked out at the hospital on a couple of occasions. This is where a previous loss can really heighten the Anxiety during a rainbow pregnancy.
I found myself angry and resentful during this time as well as anxious. I was ranting “haven’t I been through enough” and “I’m sick of bloody worrying!” And so on. I’m sure I was no fun to be around, frankly. Thankfully, it stopped at around the 17 week mark and, thankfully, I’ve had no more bleeding since.
20 week scan
The lead up to the scan was another nerve wracking time when my anxiety spiked but I rationalise that many pregnant women likely feel the same and it’s not necessary Anxiety with a capital A.
The scan was amazing though! It took a while, and I had to go for a walk, cold drink and choccy bar to get the baby to move into position, but the relief of finding out that everything looks healthy & normal was mammoth.
And for anyone who doesn’t follow me on social media (please do, by the way!) we found out IT’S A GIRL! I must admit I was so happy to hear this and my reasons are probably different from many mums expecting girls.
Due to my PND experience, I’m desperate for the early baby days to be different from when Caterpillar arrived. I’m aware that so many triggers await me and I simply have no idea how my mind is going to react, and if I’m going to be able to stave off another bout of clinical Anxiety. So, frankly, anything that can make those early days feel new and fresh is important to me and having a baby girl instead of a boy can only help with that.
Not to say I don’t have some amazing memories from the early days with my son. I do – but so many of them are also tainted by memories of the mental health problems I was experiencing and this is something I still have to live with and emotionally process.
Also, the shopping has been so much fun!
During the second trimester I also made my final decision to have an elective c-section this time around. Much as I admire other ladies who opt for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) I simply can’t justify that risk in my mind – and I mean emotional risk in addition to physical.
As many of you know, Caterpillar’s birth was frightening, traumatic and had a huge impact on my emotional wellbeing and my early feelings towards him. So many errors in judgement were made by the staff and I didn’t know any better to advocate for myself. Now I do know better and I plan to speak up.
Read more: Birth Story
I’m nervous but I also have high hopes for a better c-section experience this time around and can’t risk the chance of another emergency section by opting for a VBAC. Making this decision feels like a big weight off my shoulders
Other medical appointments
Being consultant-led, the second trimester has been one appointment after another but I don’t mind. I feel very well looked after by the NHS. Physically both baby and I are doing well. I’ve had a 28 week growth scan which was very reassuring and I’ve also had two negative gestational diabetes tests which I’m incredibly thankful for.
Pain & exhaustion
Towards the end of the second trimester, and now I’m into the third, the discomfort in my hips and pelvis has increased, along with breathlessness and generally feeling unfit. I imagine this is part and parcel of being plus size and pregnant so I’m actually grateful that it’s not worse.
Overall I’ve remained optimistic about how I’m going to feel when the baby arrives. I continue to feel confident in my anxiety management techniques and have put additional support and ideas in place to help me. For example, I’m planning to put together a “Fourth Trimester Survival Kit” comprising of my notebook, affirmations, CBT techniques, key blog posts and creative self-care activities. I’ll take this to hospital with me and keep it close during the weeks that follow.
I can’t pretend I feel calm and confident all the time. I’ve had various Anxiety wobbles which have lasted anything from a few minutes to a few days but, so far, no longer than that. I’ve been able to fight back using tools I know work and this has helped build my confidence too.
Hormones also play a part I’m sure, and I have found myself tearful and down at times. This is scary but again short-lived. I’ve also really upped the self-care during these moments which helps.
As the pregnancy has moved on, and I’ve felt free to worry less about the health of the baby and more about the coming months, everything has begun to feel more real and a little unnerving. I feel incredibly happy and excited but sometimes during those times a negative voice pops up and tells me off for letting myself get carried away and not managing my expectations better.
I think it’s unrealistic for me to assume I won’t experience any Anxiety or setbacks once the baby arrives. So instead I try to focus on how I will deal with those moments and keep them as low-level and short-lived as possible.
Ultimately, I have no idea what’s going to happen and how I’m going to feel and this uncertainty is Anxiety’s friend. So I’ll continue to be as mindful and present as possible, take each day as it comes and stay positive but realistic.
On this note, thank you so much to everyone who is following this journey on my social media platforms and the loving support you’ve been showing me. It means so much.
I can’t believe I’m writing this (eeek!) but I’ll be back again with a third trimester update either just before or just after the birth but, meanwhile, if you’re currently pregnant after PND or considering embarking on this journey (or just nosy!) you can follow my #PregnantAfterPND video diary on my Instagram where I’m updating several times a week on everything that’s happening and all the weird and wonderful emotions I’m experiencing! (Just hit the Insta Stories Highlight with the pregnant woman icon).