My story

Second trimester

In the second trimester, I started to sense a connection with other mums. It was as if I had entered another parallel world that is accessible and understandable exclusively by mothers. And I hadn’t left it since. Never before had I been given an option to take a look into this world, therefore it was as if a gate to a different galaxy opened in front of me. Previously, when my eyes met another mum’s eyes, I didn’t feel anything special. Maybe just the realisation of how different lives we had lived. However, when my eyes meet another mum’s eyes now, I sense a strong connection and an exchange of a secret signal, that says: “We know… :)”. We know we both belong to that mysterious club.
It was also interesting to observe what everything I’d started to sense during the casual conversations. When I was, for example, talking to other women about kids, suddenly I was able to recognise quite naturally, whether that woman had kids herself or not. If it was in her words, eyes, smile, or reactions… it was always beautifully transparent. I also started subconsciously splitting women to the groups “kids” and “no kids” and adjusting subjects and style of conversation to both groups. I didn’t even realise this up until one day when I’d caught myself telling my friends without kids about my boys not even half as much as I did to the ones who had kids. But there were some unpleasant changes as well. I remember, for example, that I suddenly didn’t feel comfortable going to the places where people were having fun. Where I used to have fun myself not too long ago too. Not that I went there very often now, but sometimes I happened to meet my friends at a pub. They got themselves some fancy drink and I got myself a glass of water or, in a better case, a tea. Watching the people around me drinking and having fun without having to worry their lives will change in a few months, always made me envy them. I longed to have a drink, light myself a cigarette, and not care about anything except the hangover that would wait for me the next day. I couldn’t accept the fact that this kind of fun was going to be over for a long time for me now. That’s why I gradually started to avoid the “fun” places. Not that I felt better then, but at least I didn’t have to watch it from the first row. In the second trimester, we were also going to find out the sex of our children. Midwives also mentioned the option to undergo a test to reveal an increased risk of congenital developmental diseases, but we refused it. We took it that even if the test would confirm something, what difference would that make? Healthy or not, they would be ours. Therefore we stayed with revealing the sex only. Although Yaw was playing with the idea of making it a surprise, I think that at that time we’d both had more than enough of surprises :). I wanted to know it and prepare for it. Besides, I’d hoped that at least one of them would be a girl. I always wanted a girl. They told us we were having two boys. When they told us, to my own surprise, I felt such a sharp sting in my heart. It was as if they had told me something was wrong with them. My eyes filled with tears and I struggled to hold them back. For goodness sake Ivanka, calm down! You are having two healthy boys, what is your problem here? Pull yourself together… I tried hard to turn my feelings by at least 90 degrees. However, I did not feel anything but a disappointment. I was overwhelmed by a sharp, deep sadness, I even I had to pop in the loo to cry after the scan was over. I don’t even know whether I was crying over the “verdict” or my feeling of it… Sure, every woman has preferences about the sex of their baby. But at the same time, (almost) every woman says that it doesn’t matter, as long as he or she’s healthy. I saw it the same way, and yet I couldn’t fight my deepest feeling. In a weak moment, I even thought I’d rather not have them at all! A terrible feeling. I tried very hard to feel differently. However, I am sure you too know what it’s like when you’re trying to feel something, but the more you try, the more you feel the complete opposite. Fortunately, as time (or nature?) did ‘Her’ work and little by little I started to get used to the idea of having two sons and gradually got to enjoy it too. After all, as one of my close friends had said – ‘I’ll have three loving men at home!’ – and I liked this idea more and more each day :). Today, I can’t even imagine any other sex combination for my kids. One of the things I liked the most about the second trimester, was the care and attention that flowed to me from every direction. I got a “baby on board” badge and wore it all the time, especially when traveling via the tube. It was really miraculous. The second I appeared in the carriage, one/two people were immediately rising from their seats. Especially, young women. I found it very nice in the beginning. However, with the increasing weeks of pregnancy, it was most necessary. If someone happened to sit silently when I parked just above him, it truly took me by surprise. Especially, in the later stages when I didn’t need my badge to indicate the pregnancy anymore. Once it even happened that one young man and myself were both heading to the last free seat. When the man saw that I was heading for the seat too, he immediately sped up to get there first. When he settled down, he really looked satisfied … :). Speaking of travelling… It is known that in around half of the pregnancies a lot of couples decide to go away for a couple of days. It is a rather logical step – when you know that your family will soon expand with new members, so we wanted to use the time for ourselves. We were not an exception either.  When I was about six months pregnant, Yaw and me went to Rome for the “last” weekend out as a couple. I was very afraid of how I’d handle the flight, but it was seamless. No dizziness, no pain, no nausea. I probably would not risk it in a later stage of pregnancy, but the sixth month was still relatively pleasant for flying. Many pregnant women ask me if they can fly, but I do not dare give any advice on this matter. The question of flying in pregnancy is very specific to each one of us and there is no universal advice here. Everything depends on the woman’s state. As always, you need to listen to your body and your doctor if really worried. If I had felt bad or like staying home, I would have stayed. What started to cause me real difficulties in this trimester was going to work. I knew I was going to stay home soon, but every single working day was a little hell for me. Firstly, I had to travel 1.5 hours there and back each day, which was in my state extremely exhausting. Secondly, the environment at our work wasn’t… let’s say the most pleasant at the time. However, with great self-denial, I made it up to the end of the day and worked until the end of the seventh month. Many women wonder what is the ideal date for them to start maternity leave. Again, in my opinion, it always depends on the circumstances of an individual woman. Someone can afford to stay home sooner, some people can’t. However, I would never go beyond the bearing boundary. In the article first trimester I describe the physical difficulties that occurred to me at the beginning of the pregnancy. They say that these problems disappear in the second trimester, which was true in my case. However, I suddenly started to feel short of breath when covering the distances I had previously managed to cover without any difficulties. The half-hour walk had suddenly become a challenge, the hour walk a mission. I was panting as if I had run a marathon after walking only a few meters. The biggest stumbling block was the stairs± Those I’d managed to walk up only with regular breaks. I remember how Yaw had to keep pulling me every time we went up the stairs or a slight hill. It would have taken at least three times as long if I’d had to walk by myself. That is why in the mornings we always left to get to work at least 15 minutes earlier than usual. I’ll never forget the never-ending stairs at the station that literally didn’t let me breathe. After a few days, we were recognised by the station staff who wished us a nice climb :). This panting state had only been getting worse with the increasing weeks, so please don’t be surprised if you suddenly start to feel like a freshly blown balloon.

Weekend in Rome. The “last” one just the “two” of us 🙂

However, take it that nothing is so bad that it couldn’t be even worse. Although, this seems a rather pessimistic view. However, if you give it a thought you’ll find that on the contrary, it’s quite an optimistic stance to take the positives out of every negative situation. To me, the worst event occurred in the fourth month of pregnancy. Until today it’s not easy for me to think of it. It was the 31st of December and I travelled back to London from Slovakia that morning to celebrate with Yaw on New Year’s Eve. It was about 7 pm when I suddenly started to bleed. When I say that I got scared, I am making it sound a lot calmer than what had really happened me. A fear that cannot be described. Fear when blood in your veins gets physically solidified and your heart is pounding like an alarm siren. That is when I first sensed the feeling of a mother whose children are at risk. Yaw seemed so scared, however, he tried to stay calm and kept assuring me that everything would be okay. Although, I am sure he was trying to assure both of us. I remember me lying on the bed in tears and watching Yaw apathetically running around me and calling an ambulance. I wasn’t able to do anything apart from crying. On our way to the hospital, the nurse tried to talk to me and take my mind off the persistent bleeding. However, I was not able to divert my attention from my children. And I didn’t even try to. I kept rubbing my belly with the palms subconsciously and in my mind, I pleaded to a higher power that nothing would happen to my children. For the first time in my life, I physically trembled from fear. Right after we had arrived to the hospital, they made me have a scan. When I saw those two little black moths moving, rolling, their hearts beating…   My heart started to beat again too and a huge weight had been removed from my shoulders. The weight felt like a bolder that when it was removed and fell to the floor there was an earthquake and everything around me shook. Tears of fear transformed into tears of happiness in milliseconds. Yaw’s soothing hand grip changed to a strong grip of relief. His encouraging look turned into a look of steel love. For a good moment, we weren’t able to get out a clear word. So we were just staring at the monitor like two cuckoos for a couple of minutes. We always remember that Mason (at that time, the “Twin 2”) turned his face to us a moment later, and his expression said something like, “What are you looking at?”. It’s good when stories like this end up with a smile.  
That very same evening Yaw and I got officially engaged. Although it was not completely unexpected (Yaw proposed ‘unofficially’ a few weeks before when we were in Slovakia), it was amazing. I have to say it was the longest and the most emotional day with the most beautiful ending I can only imagine. Soon after that, I began to feel the first movements of the babies. I know I’d been waiting for it like for a revelation. I was all over exploring and wondering and panicking if everything was okay. Until one day when it had finally happened, although at first, I felt it in my belly, just a gentle ripple that resembled bubbles. The boys announced themselves with the first real kick only in the fifth month. Henry began first and a few days later Mason. Since then they had been announcing their presence more and more frequently. Funny thing was that whenever we tried to film them moving and kicking in the belly, immediately that second they’d stopped moving. Jokers! But I managed to catch them secretly – when they were not watching 😉 – record them in their prime of life. If I’d seen it as an outsider, it would have probably reminded me of the return of aliens. However, from the mother’s perspective, it was like watching New Year’s Eve fireworks in New York.
To sum it all up, the second trimester was full of joy and fear, but it really flew by in an instant. However, this quick relative time experience only really occurred in this trimester :). It was a very vague time and I still don’t know how and we happened to be at its end. Or at the beginning of the next one? 😉