When I first learned I was pregnant, I remember wishing I could fast forward to the third trimester of pregnancy. Let’s pass by the morning sickness, the fatigue, the endless days of worry that I would miscarry in the first trimester; past the days of looking chunky but not yet pregnant, of tight-waist bands and baggy maternity clothes in the second trimester; and move right to the hugeness of the home-stretch! What were those last few months like? Big belly movements, heartburn and Braxton-Hicks contractions.

When I finally reached my third trimester of pregnancy, I became more and more excited to meet our baby. I was no longer throwing up but I was sore and waddling. These discomforts were made easier by the joy I would feel every time I felt my unborn child kick or move, reminding me exactly how worth it some physical discomfort was. My over-large stomach was so full, I could see elbows, knees, heels and fists rolling and thrusting under my skin. I made sure to make some home videos of the wave-like swells because I knew my daughter would love seeing herself moving in my belly when she was older.

The third-trimester also meant the arrival of a nasty guest: Mr. Heartburn. My stomach was so flattened and elevated in my abdomen from the baby that I could only eat a little at a time. If I ate too much I would feel my stomach contents start to back up into my esophagus and it would burn, baby, burn! Because I was eating less, my weight gain leveled off. It was like having temporary gastric bi-pass surgery. I couldn’t have eaten more even if I had wanted too.

Time seemed to slow down when I finally reached the last few weeks of my pregnancy. I was full-term and I knew I could go into labor at any point. I began to over-analyze every cramp, twinge and Braxton-Hicks contraction, wondering if it could be the beginning of the end. Braxton-Hicks contractions felt like a tightening of my abdominal muscles–they would get rock-hard and my stomach would clamp around the baby, like multiple dress-rehearsals for the final act. At first they were mildly uncomfortable but at the end of my third trimester they started to get painful.

As it turns out, my third trimester of pregnancy didn’t drag on as long as I had anticipated. I went into labor at 38 weeks and 0 days…and gave birth to a healthy, beautiful, baby girl.