*Disclosure: Before reading, I would just like to offer the courtesy of letting you know that I briefly touch upon some sensitive topics below, such as miscarriage/pregnancy loss*
Considering I will be entering my third trimester in just a couple weeks (100 days to due date!), I am out of the throes of the first-trimester and well into what most would call the blissful second-trimester. Even still, I couldn’t think of a better way to introduce my blog than to share my first-time mom, first trimester pregnancy experience.
So, buckle up friends.
The first trimester (weeks 1-12-ish), for me, looked like a lot of:
- Wanting the yucky symptoms to stop and then worrying every time they eased up for even just a couple hours
- Forums. Lots and lots of pregnancy forums.
- And Apps. All the pregnancy apps.
- Lots of praying and thanking and trusting God
- Wanting to throw up just thinking about what are, normally, my favorite foods
- Barely eating because I’m nauseous. Nauseous because I’m barely eating.
- Sometimes literally feeling like I couldn’t stop my tears once they started
- Turning from my left side to my right side in the middle of the night. A thousand times.
- Finding a food that you can stomach today and then being repulsed by that same food the next day
- Touching my belly all day, everyday. And then fighting the urge to while out in public
- Googling every food that I’m about to eat to see if it’s healthy for the baby
- Being introduced to prenatal vitamins and genuinely wondering how that HUGE horse pill is going to fit down my throat
- Counting down. To the first appointment. To the second trimester. To the birth. To the child’s 18th birthday. Etcetera.
- Marveling at what a mother’s body goes through in order to grow another human
- Saying to myself “this can’t be the same pregnancy I saw in pictures on Instagram” as I hold back my vomit and try not to pass out
- Feeling accomplished when I would shower, brush my hair, put on deodorant, and wear real clothes all in one day
- Wanting to explode with the news every time somebody asked me how I was doing.
- Noticing every little pain or twinge or sensation in my body
- Thinking about the baby (names, gender, who it’ll look like, their personality, etc.)
- And ALL the pregnancy memes!
It was, really, quite the experience.
With all that fun stuff being said, there are a few valuable key points that I’d like to elaborate on regarding my first trimester experience that might be helpful to other mommy-to-be’s.
There are so many forums and online communities available for pregnant women. Personally, I found them the be very helpful, but it is also very apparent how they could be detrimental to an expectant mother. I personally frequented the forums on the ‘What to Expect’ app that included mothers who were also expecting their babies in the same month as I am (September 2020).
The obvious upside to this is that you are seeing tons of questions and conversations from expectant mothers who are in the same exact stage of pregnancy as you are. Once a question/topic is posted, lots of women respond, so there is lots of feedback available, much of it from mothers who have been through pregnancy before and have one or more children already. I found it to have a very ‘community-feeling’ atmosphere where mothers could share their exciting first ultrasound pictures, their creatively-constructed social media announcement setups, and their normal everyday concerns about becoming a mother. There were also forums about women whose husbands had left them, who had been kicked out of their houses by their parents, or who were considering abortion. The forum community provided support and hope for women enduring these situations.
My personal recommendation on the forums is to be aware of your own mindset before deciding to frequent them. Along with all the positive stories and questions, women also shared their stories of loss and grief. Which leads me into the second topic I’d like to elaborate on.
I am an imperfect Christian woman, and I am not afraid to admit that the first trimester of pregnancy can be an anxiety-provoking time.
Along with knowing many people who had personally endured the pain of miscarriage, during this time the forums I mentioned above had many stories of women who were pregnant after having a previous miscarriage. As often as once a day there would be a post from another woman who had gone to their first appointment only to realize that their baby had passed away. This is why I recommend to be aware of your mindset before frequenting the forums. Seeing so many of these stories could potentially invoke fear/anxiety in the heart of a first-trimester expectant mother. However, even when avoiding such forums, you still may get some responses that threaten to plant seeds of worry in your mind. I remember in the beginning some people would say things like “I hope all goes well”, “if it works out”, or “it’s still early” with an expression that seemed closer to skepticism than hopefulness or excitement.
God knows the desires of my heart, but there was nothing that I could tell myself to directly refute the fact that a miscarriage was possible. There was nothing that could be said to change that. So I did what I knew to do and I handed it over to God. And I was blessed with a truth that provided comfort: Today, I have been commissioned to carry this baby inside my womb. And I was thankful each day for that truth. Miscarriage is the scary name for losing your baby early on in utero. Once the risk of miscarriage goes down, then there’s a whole list of other things with other names to fear, and then when the baby is born, there’s another whole list, and so on and so forth until the end of this life. I had this revelation early on, and it has saved me much anxiety. There is a never-ending list of things that you can fear for your child. If I let the fear of miscarriage cripple me, then I would have to let the fear of stillbirth cripple me, then SIDS, then a car driving too fast down my street, then disease/sickness, etc. etc. etc. I wholly recognize that these things do happen, but letting the fear of them happening enslave us is no way to live.
My heart is with all those who have endured this type of loss. I am still trying to learn the most loving words/actions to use with mothers who have experienced a miscarriage in the past. I would love if you could send me an email/message letting me know what was the most/least helpful words or actions for you during your healing process.
“This can’t be the same pregnancy everybody else goes through” is what I would constantly think to myself. And that is absolutely correct. I’ve talked to so many moms who said that they breezed through their first trimester, but I am not ashamed to say that my first trimester was HARD! This spirit of comparison would cause me to feel inadequate at times when I could barely get off the couch, let alone clean/cook/wear actual clothes. But, what they say is true: every pregnancy is different. There were women who had an easier time then me in the beginning, and there were women who had it way worse. I felt much better when I started to live my own pregnancy rather than thinking about all the other stories I had heard or seen on social media.
My husband was a saint during the first trimester! From getting me snacks before I got out of bed to fight off the morning sickness, to doing most of the housework when my exhaustion set in, I was so blessed to have him there by my side during those first 12 weeks. I found that it was helpful to be open with him about how I was feeling and what I was going through because naturally, he just didn’t understand. And I didn’t expect him to. Because truthfully, I really didn’t even understand all of it yet. It was this really interesting (challenging at times!) journey of us learning how to best be a team during the tougher times of the first trimester.
My recommendation: find a person/some people to go through this part with you. It can be tough and if you start to really struggle with symptoms, it is so helpful to have people there to help you out or to just talk to.
Betrayal. Once it hit, that’s all I felt was betrayal. Whoever came up with the term morning sickness set a great deal of us up to believe that we were going to wake up, puke once, and then continue on with our days as the beautiful glowing image of maternity. As I mentioned before, every pregnancy is different, and not all women even feel sick during pregnancy at all! But personally, mine was nothing like the movies. I will say, I never once actually threw up. But I came close many times. It was truly all-day sickness.
“Whoever came up with the term ‘morning sickness’ set a great deal of us up to believe that we were going to wake up, puke once, and then continue on with our day as a beautiful, glowing image of maternity.”
I would have to eat something small before even sitting up out of bed to prevent the nausea from hitting right away. Then I would have about 90 minutes where I felt okay because of a prescribed medication I took at night (Unisom and B6). But when it set in, I didn’t want to do ANYTHING. It was exhausting. And the only way to make sure it didn’t get worse was to eat; which was the last thing I wanted to do. And on top of that, almost ALL food looked/sounded/smelled disgusting. And if I found a food that I could tolerate, chances are, the next day it would be gross to me again. With the exception of tuna fish sandwiches (this baby LOVES tuna, so since I could only eat it in moderation, I created Tuna Mondays 🎉 where I get to eat a tuna sandwich each week). It got to the point where I felt like it was every single hour that I had to have a snack or the nausea came knocking. I think I did little else than lay on the couch for weeks during the worst of it. The seconds felt like days. This was the hardest part of the first trimester for me, so that’s why out of all the symptoms I experienced, I chose to mention this one. A few things that helped/seemed to help are:
- a warm shower
- writing letters to my baby
- Unisom/B6 combination (always ask your doctor before taking any medication)
- sucking/biting on slices of lemon
- making sure I never got too hungry
- ginger or peppermint tea
- my ReliefBand – I had it prior to pregnancy, check it out here
While I found the all-day nausea to be the most difficult symptom to cope with, some other symptoms worth mentioning were headaches, extreme constipation, insomnia, exhaustion, loss of appetite, bloating, sore breasts, and decreased sex drive. Also, I got the flu for the very first time at around 4 weeks pregnant (a week before I took the pregnancy test). I started to notice most of my first-trimester symptoms easing up around 11 weeks, and eventually they completely phased out to be replaced by second-trimester symptoms by around 13-14 weeks.
Folks, there it is! The ups and the downs. I would be hard-pressed to find one single word to sum up my entire first-trimester experience. It was as exciting as it was challenging, as beautiful as it was yucky, and as soul-strengthening as it was physically exhausting. Through it all it was certainly a blessing to witness all the changes that my body had to undergo in order to produce a little, tiny human.
All throughout my pregnancy I’ve read tons of different pregnancy experiences, so I pray this one was helpful or informative to you or somebody you know! Please feel free to email me with any questions/comment/prayer requests, or to share your own personal first-trimester experience. Second trimester update coming soon!
P.S. I don’t know why or how pregnancy pillows work so well, but they just do.