First Trimester: Keeping it Real
The smile on my face in this photo is the real deal and we are thrilled to announce the news of our first baby. However, it took 3 full months to get to this point, and let me tell you, they weren’t the easiest.
Yes, everyone tells you about nausea and lack of energy in the first trimester. As a first time mom, I did not enter into pregnancy with blinders on, but I also did not prepare for just how hard those first 14 weeks were going to be.
Of course everyone has a different experience, and some women never feel sick during pregnancy at all. If this is you, congratulations! Today I’m telling my first trimester story and keeping it really real. It was not all joy and excitement, and I think it is important to be honest about that.
Let’s dive into some of the struggles women share during the first months of pregnancy.
Fear of Miscarriage
First, I’d like to talk about those early weeks, when you first find out your pregnant. Whether you missed a period or, like me, you tracked everything and woke up 10 days after you ovulated to immediately take an early-detection pregnancy test ;), the moment you realize you are pregnant comes with an overwhelming happiness that is hard to describe. This floating on a cloud feeling is how I expected to feel throughout my pregnancy, but it soon became paired with fears I never expected.
Full transparency, we had an early miscarriage this Summer before getting pregnant again. Yes, we were one of the three known pregnancies that results in miscarriage. So, the second time we got pregnant, I felt the possibility of another lost baby heavy on my mind. Every time I would go to the bathroom, I’d pull down my underwear and hold my breathe. I experienced some spotting, which is enough to make anyone nervous, even though in many cases it can be a totally normal part of the process.
Miscarriage history or not, there are so many unknowns in those early weeks, particularly before the first ultrasound when you are able to hear the heartbeat. It is exciting and overwhelming and scary. On top of it all, if you aren’t telling anyone, you are alone with these emotions, and that can be totally isolating.
During this period of time, more than ever, I leaned on my close girlfriends and family. Never underestimate the power of your lady pack. They kept me grounded and positive, even when I had days of total doubt. Find your tribe, and if you don’t have one, we’ve got you mama.
Now lets address the so-called “morning” sickness. I think most woman who have experienced first trimester nausea will agree that it does not discriminate against the PM hours. From the moment my eyes opened in the morning until the moment they closed at night I felt on the verge of vomiting. Luckily, I never did, so in that way I got off the hook a bit. This lasted for about 5 weeks and then I would get a few hours of reprieve between meals for the next 5 weeks while my nausea persisted. I found it got worse when my stomach would get empty, which resulted in a constant need to eat. Basically, I felt a combination of full, bloated and nauseous for 2 months straight.
These are totally normal experiences, and any woman out there reading this who has been pregnant can likely relate in some way. However, that doesn’t make it any easier. During this time you may start telling people you are pregnant and they are going to build you up with congratulatory remarks. For me, this would bring a sense of guilt because I did not feel celebratory at all. I felt like I had a chronic illness. There was a little bit of shame that I wasn’t enjoying this process.
If you feel this way, just know that you are not alone. This shit is hard and you are absolutely warranted in whatever you are feeling. Yes, keeping a positive outlook is important, but also allowing yourself space to be less than your normal, peppy self is 100% OK.
Is it nap time? This was pretty much always the question on my mind. I’d wake up at 6 a.m. and be ready for a nap by 10 a.m. Then another one in the afternoon. Constantly falling asleep at your desk doesn’t exactly make for a very productive day. Yet somehow, while growing another human, we are still expected to operate at a total normal level of productivity. When you are used to operating at a somewhat fast-pace and typically able to fit a lot into your day, the decreased capacity to get things done can feel paralyzing.
To make matters worse, you can’t just caffeinate your way through the day. Turns out excessive caffeine is bad for babies. The only real solution here is to slow down and sleep more. Honestly, probably not a bad exercise for everyone, pregnant or not. Nonetheless, being tired all the time is rough. I am hitting the 15 week mark tomorrow and am just now starting to get some of my mojo back. The only way I got through the first trimester was lots of naps and saying no to a lot of things. Being realistic about what you are able to take on, then settling into that new norm, is just one way to show yourself some love during this very challenging time.
Anxiety, sickness, exhaustion, lower productivity and a changing body can all lead you to feel like you don’t even recognize yourself. At least it did for me. This has definitely been the hardest part of my pregnancy journey. Months on end of feeling unwell and unproductive really took a hit on my emotional health. There are likely several women reading this who were on the other end of a phone call or conversation where tears were involved. My tears. Lots of them. For someone who is historically not much of a crier, I’ve really made up for it over the past 3 months.
Everyone talks about postpartum depression, but what about the pregnancy blues? They were real for me and are for many other women as well. What helped me through it? Talking about it. Not pretending that I was living in a state of pregnancy bliss. Asking for help. Leaning on my husband, my mom, my friends. Don’t feel like you have anyone to talk to? Seek professional help. Taking care of your emotional health is just as important as tending to your physical well-being during this journey.
Trust that you will start to feel like yourself again. I am going through this for the first time so I can’t speak from experience, but I am sure there will be plenty more of the identity struggle when a new baby enters the picture. It isn’t as though you enter into your second trimester and then it is smooth sailing. A few weeks ago, when I was really working through a lot of this, I reached out to an old friend and she said this…
“Be patient and give yourself grace. Remember, what you practice grows stronger. Choose wisely.” -Jill Peterson, Founder Hermonia
Such great advice and I am abiding by it. I am practicing patience and gratitude and choosing to embrace each moment of this journey. We can let these experiences isolate us or bring us together. Hopefully today, by bringing some of these struggles into the open, we all feel a little less alone and a little more connected.
And I still stand by the phrase…
You were made for this!