It’s a Saturday morning and I’m online, trying to snag some free things for my new apartment through various groups on facebook. I’ve got one little foot trying to poke between my ribs, and another body part is showing my organs who is In Charge during this, the 9th month of pregnancy. In case my organs were in any doubt, the baby is now doing a little dance and just sort of kicking everything around.
I’m 36 weeks pregnant. Thirty six weeks. Less than 28 days until my due date. This summer in Amsterdam has been hit-or-miss, weather-wise, but today is actually a lovely day, and “Free Stuff Amsterdam” just gifted me panier bike bags and two carry-on suitcases (last week I scored a huge outside storage unit for our backyard). Though careful (read: obsessive) searching, I have managed to furnish our new home almost entirely through second-hand items. A ton of stuff has been free, or I’ve paid flea-market type prices… and we’ve managed to score some seriously good stuff.
We moved into our own 2-bedroom apartment back in June, when I was entering my 7th month of pregnancy. When I say “our own” I mean it – we purchased an apartment. Our former place was an absolutely lovely rental, but with the whole baby-on-the-way thing, we needed something a bit more permanent (and preferably not up 4 flights of stairs). Finding a place to live in Amsterdam (when you don’t have a ton of money) is never fun and never easy, and as we started to look at our options back in the spring, it seemed that the economy or market or whatever had really picked up – we were looking at “free market” (all-inclusive) rentals in the price range of €1,600 p/month in De Baarjes for a 65 sq meter 2-bedroom. Talk about a change from a few years ago. It quickly became obvious that buying was going to be cheaper than renting, so we went down that path. That path was… well … tiring. A bit overwhelming. As if a first-time pregnancy in the Netherlands wasn’t enough of a “here’s a bunch of stuff you never thought of before that you should probably figure out,” buying an apartment was way, way more intense. Actually, if you’re looking for a good distraction from pregnancy, I’d highly recommend buying an apartment.
But we did it. We moved into our new place in Bos en Lommer, and while the buying & moving process came with a lot of stress, I must say I am absolutely delighted with our new little home and our new neighborhood. Everything we need is close by, the neighbors are friendly, and we have a huge-for-a-city backyard! We’re on the first floor (meaning up one flight of stairs) with a front and back balcony, and our back balcony has a staircase that leads down to our backyard (or as the non-americans call it, our “garden”). Adjacent to the garden is a 9 m2 storage room that we’ve renovated to be a guest room/office. We have hibiscus trees, roses, tons of pots to put more plants, and we get sun in the mornings and afternoon. After about a month of work, we also have new floors, a new bathroom (with bathtub), and most of our things are unpacked and have a place. The kitchen was there when we moved in, and I finally have a huge, giant oven. It’s a perfect place for our little family to begin – though if I had to do it again, I would have moved a bit earlier in the pregnancy, if possible. Around 7 months (28 weeks, or the 3rd trimester) it was pretty much exactly when I started to feel more… well, pregnant. I couldn’t keep up anymore. I clearly remember the day when we spent 3-4 hours at Ikea (because of course we had to spend 3-4 hours at Ikea, I don’t know what the hell we got there, but somehow it took that long) and I was heavily relying on the shopping cart to help hold my le upright. I didn’t do any of the harder physical work of moving (thanks to a loving partner and wonderful friends), but the long days of doing stuff were way harder at 28 weeks than it would have been at say, 24-25 weeks.
The third trimester is the real stuff. My belly – which I still really love – is in the way a lot. Rolling over from my left to right side in bed is a way bigger effort. My feet and ankles are more uncomfortably swollen. And heartburn! I never really knew what heartburn or acid reflux meant before, and well, now I do. I’ve had to dramatically change the way I eat – I feel like there is just no more room inside of me for food anyway, and if I eat within 3 hours of going to bed the heartburn will torture me all night. So my meals are much, much smaller (and my appetite is fairly non-existent, which is a huge change from the previous 8 months where I had the ability to eat like a teenage boy). I stopped drinking orange juice and eating tomatoes and other acidic type foods. The heartburn thing started up around week 34 and while I can mostly keep it under control with some dietary changes, I’ve also become rather good at sleeping in a almost-sitting-up position. I can’t lay comfortably on my back anymore – that stopped around week 33 – and I miss that so much. Pre-natal massages are a godsend. I’m still riding my bike, but I have a feeling I’ll probably stop in the next week or two. In terms of exercise, I’m still doing yoga and trying to walk as much as I can.
I had an “extra” scan at 32 weeks which my midwife advised awhile back – she wanted to check on the growth of the baby, and the technician had told me she wanted to make sure my placenta had moved into the right place (it was a bit low during the 20-week scan, but nothing to worry about). My insurance covered this extra scan because it was ordered by the midwife, and I was thrilled to have another look a the baby. Development-wise, everything was perfectly in order. We still don’t know the sex, but at the father’s request, we did see the baby’s head and chest in 3D. I always thought 3D ultrasounds were creepy and the babies looked like waxy aliens, but oh MAN when it’s my own little waxy alien it turns out it is the best thing in the world, and obviously my baby was also already perfectly adorable at 32 weeks old. Assuming the rest of the pregnancy proceeds normally, I’m still aiming to give birth med-free, hopefully in water, and outside the hospital environment.
I’m addicted to watching birth documentaries. Like other natural-birth hopefuls, I’ve discovered Ina May Glaskin’s books and am devouring everything she’s ever written. I’m oddly not scared of the pain, which I credit to the fact that I have no idea what I’m in for. I am nervous, yes… but the more pregnant I get, the more I realize that I am not going to be able to script out my birth. First, again, I have no idea what giving birth is like. I see videos of women giving birth and I sit here with my giant pregnant belly and wonder how on earth it’s possible, even though in theory I’m only a few weeks away from doing it myself. Second, though I still enjoy pregnancy (even with the new aches and pains), I’m getting more excited about meeting this little person inside me and being a mom. However the baby is born, as long as he or she is healthy and I’m in a safe place, it’s all going to be ok.