My stance on blogging about pregnancy is still as of yet undecided. I imagined when it happened for us I might make a new category on my blog. Or even start a whole new blog dedicated to it. What happened couldn’t be further from that though, I stopped blogging all together.
Now I’m in the second trimester, pregnancy feels a lot more like I imagined. Everyone knows and is excited. We’ve started buying things. I’ve had several scans and can listen to the baby’s heart beat at home.
I thought about ignoring the first trimester. Instead just posting the odd update about incidental things like the nursery. But I think that would be missing an opportunity. I know at times I felt quite lonely and would trawl the forums looking for someone else feeling the same (bad idea incidentally, but I’ll come onto that later). There’s a lot of information out there about how you might be feeling, but it’s not all relatable. This is my honest account of the first trimester and what I wish I had known before.
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It’s Ok To Freak Out
I assumed that as we had planned this baby, wanted it desperately and prepared -as much as anyone can- for it, that I would be elated to be pregnant. That was my reaction when I saw those two red lines (and the subsequent 6 which followed). It was my reaction when we went on holiday a day later, with our happy little secret. It was my reaction on the plane home and for the rest of the weekend. But then something changed. I started to freak out.
I woke up in the night and the magnitude of it all sort of hit me. Nothing would ever be the same again. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if I’m not cut out to be someone’s Mum?
More than anything else, I felt a complete lack of control. The train had left the station and now we were on a journey. A journey with a set end date. Suddenly 8 months didn’t feel like a long time!
Of course, not to patronise mine or anyone’s feelings but hormones play a big part in this. The start of this existential crisis coincided with rising hCG levels taking hold.
As with a number of these points, I changed my mood through talking about it. My Husband assured me he had the same concerns and my family pointed out everyone feels this way. Talking about how your feeling is so important, because there’s a lot going on. Possibly too much to make sense of on your own.
Although hormones in the first trimester are no picnic, as the weeks passed I began to feel so grateful for any hormonal side effect. Feeling particularly miserable, being sick, bloating, weird hairs growing out your face (yep). These are all signs that your body is doing it’s thing. That your baby is developing in there somewhere, no matter how alien a concept that is at first.
Morning Sickness Isn’t Just In The Morning
We’ve all heard about morning sickness. Pretty girls in films politely leaning over toilets and wondering if something might be up. Well let me tell you, that’s not quite how it happens.
At about 6 weeks I started dry retching a lot and by about 10 I regularly channeled the Exorcist. The name ‘morning sickness’ is totally misleading as whilst it is often worse in the morning, it can go on all day. During one particular incident, Aaron came upstairs to find the bathroom walls, floors, fixtures and fittings, plant pots etc … Covered in sick. With me stood in the middle weeping.
It’s not all bad though. It’s strange how fast this becomes the new normal. Starbucks cups double up as a handy vomit receptacle when out and about. A plastic bag can be found in all my handbags and I’m ok with the fact that most mornings I’m going to have to make a speedy race up the stairs.
The advice about eating little and often really works. I know that on the whole I’ve got off really lightly. Aaron and our bathroom, not so much.
Food Aversions Are Weird
I knew about cravings in pregnancy, but was in no way prepared for the food aversions. Seemingly overnight, food and drink you once loved is dead to you. I could throw up at just the mention of some of them. And it’s completely and utterly irrational.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but some of the biggest food aversions I’ve had:
- Coffee (seriously WTF? My beloved coffee)
- White bread
- Sparkling water (I had to hide the bottles from my fridge as they were making me gag)
Even stranger, is the fact that the biggest issue of all for me was preparing food. Even if an item wasn’t on the ‘bad’ list, preparing it, smelling it cooking, or even just seeing it in it’s packaging was enough to make me sick. The dishwasher was a nightmare. The food bin, unfathomable.
Far from eating conscientiously for the baby, it became a case of eating anything I could. Safe foods are bland and largely potato based. During the worst week of food aversions and morning sickness I ate nothing but cereal and micro chips. I realise it’s not the 1990s and I’m not 10, but micro chips appeal for the lack of preparation needed. Requirements for meals become very strange.
You Might Feel More Tired Than You Ever Have Before
The complete exhaustion was one of the hardest things to adjust to. I can’t nap in the day and I wake up between 6 and 7am, so our bedtime got down to about 8pm at one point. Obviously most people still don’t know you’re pregnant so work, seeing family and friends and generally living a normal life have to still go on.
My advice would be to give yourself some slack. I spent a few days on the sofa feeling sorry for myself and it helped a lot. Carrying on as if nothing is happening isn’t sustainable all the time.
It’s Normal To Worry, Constantly
As I left my first doctors appointment she said “I hope this works out”. It was said in a cheery way but it made my heart sink. I don’t think anyone pregnant needs extra reminders that there’s a chance things won’t. With hormones and low energy levels to contend with, it’s normal I imagine to feel extra anxious. Not being able to talk about it doesn’t help either. Every time I went to the bathroom, or felt so much as a prang I’d panic.
I had an early scan which helped put my mind at ease. Seeing the baby was even there at all was very reassuring.
Worrying constantly during those first few months -and I guess forever now- is normal. At times I wondered if I’d ever be able to relax, but I can say that having scans and hitting milestones really helps. It’s an incredible thing going on, which is often hard to comprehend. I remember reading in my pregnancy app that over the past week the brain had been forming. I panicked trying to recount what I had been doing. You almost feel as though you should be lying very still whilst all that goes on.
I still obviously worry a lot, but more frequently I just feel disbelief. We’re so lucky. I pinch myself constantly that this is happening. Whenever we have a scan or an appointment and I see everything is going along as it should, I’m eternally grateful.
Googling EVERYTHING Is Tempting
As mentioned earlier, pregnancy and especially those early months can feel a bit lonely. Whilst trying to conceive it’s really hard not to ‘symptom spot’ (my left eyeball just twitched, early pregnancy sign?). During that time I discovered the forums and took a lot of comfort in knowing thousands of other women had felt this way and were at that very moment. Throughout early pregnancy, when your midwife appointment feels like a year away and it’s all still a secret, it can be tempting to look on the forums for answers.
Whilst it’s sometimes comforting to hear what you feel is normal, there’s a downside. You read a lot of tragic stories. I’ve read so many sad stories I partially convinced myself we had no hope of getting to the stage we’re at now. The fact is that these forums are a huge support network, so those going through something bad are perhaps more likely to post. It can give a disproportionate view of things and also makes you dwell on the negatives.
I’ve banned myself from looking now. It’s not that I don’t sympathise, but that it’s not healthy to constantly look to the internet for medical advice. Now everyone knows I’m really enjoying being able to speak to friends and family about it, to reassure myself.
You Might Feel Depressed
I’ve left this one until last, because it’s the point I most dreaded writing about. Prenatal depression is less discussed than postnatal, but it’s actually pretty common. I personally hadn’t heard of it before, or given it any thought. Around the time I started freaking out, something strange happened. Cliche but it felt as though a literal black cloud had engulfed me. I didn’t enjoy doing anything I used to. I felt completely and utterly numb. Time dragged and I felt truly confused and helpless.
Everyone I’m sure feels crap when they’re shattered, sick and hormonal. But this was different and when you feel that way, it’s glaringly obvious something isn’t right. Thankfully it only lasted a month but it was a scary experience and one I hope I never encounter again.
Speaking about how you’re feeling is so important. Talking through it all helped exponentially until a time came when I could see the woods for the trees again. Don’t feel guilty or keep it to yourself. What I’ve realised is that moaning about the first trimester or feeling genuinely awful at times doesn’t impact how happy you are about your pregnancy. Or how much your baby means to you. And it certainly doesn’t mean you’re not going to be an amazing Mum.
I thought being pregnant would feel like one big period. But it really doesn’t. Whilst no two are the same, the symptoms can be extreme. At times the hormones can make you feel as though you’ve lost control of your body, mind and life.
But It Does All Get Better!
Despite reading it a thousand times, I was unconvinced my symptoms would disappear like Cinderella’s carriage on the strike of 12, on the 12th week. Turns out I was right, but what it’s fair to say is that in the weeks leading up to it, you’re gradually feeling better all the time. There’s no magic formula, some people have symptoms all the way through pregnancy and I think having expectations about when things should start or end can be problematic.
But, it really does all get better. The second trimester feels different. We’re finally celebrating our amazing news properly. I’m not obsessing about what might go wrong (quite as much) and I’m able to stay up until midnight again. The micro chips have long gone and my fridge is filled with healthy veggie food.
The morning sickness is down to a bi-weekly occurrence. And the hormones are better. Although in the interest of full disclosure, yesterday my Sim gave birth and I cried. Literally sobbed with happy tears as though I was privy to some magical moment.
People have said I’m ‘glowing’ but I’m confident that’s just them being polite and the fact I’m sweaty a lot of the time.
If you find yourself in the first trimester feeling like you can’t wait for it to end, hang in there! I promise that the stuff they say about it getting easier in the second is true and not just lies to help ensure the Human population continues.
I’m now counting down the days to meeting our little one and the first few months of pregnancy already feel like a distant memory.
In all honesty, there isn’t anything we wouldn’t go through for these tiny people. It starts now and lasts for a lifetime.
Edit May 2018 – Aurora is here! I have written a post on the first couple of months postpartum and the fact I had postnatal depression. It felt right to link to that here, as I glossed over it in this post but did have some signs of prenatal depression when the hormones were at their most intense in the first trimester. It’s so important to share if you’re feeling that way with your midwife. Mine was uninterested and I didn’t push it, as a result it wasn’t noted down that I was at risk for PND.