A Bump in the Road - The First Trimester
So it’s been a few months since I’ve had the time or energy to put together a new blog post, and for good reason. A lot has been going on in my life. I returned to full time work after 2 years of self employment (running my online business from home) and I started growing a tiny human!
Whether you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while or it was a happy accident it’s still a massive surprise when that little blue cross appears marking the start of a new chapter in your life…. A little bump in the road of life.
I always imagined I would have kids one day but that real need and desire to have a baby “right now” never really kicked in. I kept waiting to wake up one day with an ache to be a mother but it never came. I was completely content with my life just the way it was and never really felt the need to add another person to it. So why have a baby you ask? Well, If I’m truly honest I decided to start trying for a baby for two reasons. The first being my age and the fact I was looming closer to that fertility decline point of 35 and because my husband John has been patiently waiting for kids since before we were married (9 years ago). That’s not to imply I was against having kids, I knew I would never regret having kids (and always imagined I would) but there was a possibility I would regret not having them if I left it too late.
Life, has a habit of not working out exactly the way we plan though, and once the decision was made to try for a baby it actually took another two years of trying to actually fall pregnant. Man, what an emotional rollercoaster that was! We spend so much of our lives trying NOT to get pregnant and are warned when we’re younger not to have unsafe sex or you WILL get pregnant (which is actually laughable when I think about it now). What I soon realised though, was that “window for conception” is less like the 3 metre glass mansion window you imagine and more like a tiny doll house window. I went from not being sure I was even ready for a baby to suddenly questioning what was wrong with my body and stressing that the choice may have been taken away from me.
Finally it happened though and as I sit here and write this I’m currently 23 weeks pregnant and just past the half way point. I thought this would be a good time to have a look back over my first trimester and offer some insight into my journey for those who might be about to take the leap into parenthood. From one novice mother-to-be to another.
I don’t like starting on a negative but let’s get real for a moment…. Pregnancy isn’t all fluttering belly kicks, ripening breasts and glowing skin (unless it’s from throwing up all day). I quickly discovered there are many parts to pregnancy that just outright SUCK, and so many things women just don’t seem to talk about… Well that or i was just never really interested before (which might be closer to the truth).
Here’s a run down on some of my ‘not so great” moments in the first trimester.
You know what they say… “there’s never a right time to have a baby” so there are always going to be special events or plans that need to be adjusted (or cancelled) when you’re pregnant. I guess it’s just another way your little bundle starts preparing you for parenthood before they arrive.
My pregnancy came at a time when I had a trip to Bali planned, two weddings and the boozy Christmas period filled with events. Loving a party…. and a drink myself (I am Australian after all), this was pretty hard to get used and I did feel a little on the outer. Have you ever noticed how obnoxious people are where they’ve been drinking and you’re sober?
I wish I had a magical fix for this but unfortunately (like most things in pregnancy) it’s just something you have to get used to. The best advise I can give is just try to enjoy not having a hangover! If you try substituting your regular drink of choice with mocktails or lime and soda (provided no one you know hears your drink order) you’ll also avoid any questions about why you’re not drinking.
As your body produces more of the hormone progesterone during pregnancy, muscles in your body start to relax which in turn allows gas to build up. This all leads to bloating, burping, and flatulence…. Sexy I know, but just get used to it, it’s only going to get worse.
In my first trimester I felt like I was already sporting a baby bump at 8 weeks, purely from bloat. In retrospect it was nothing compared to what was coming but when you’ve spent most of your life eating healthy and working out to maintain a flat stomach it hits the ego hard. I just tried to up my water intake and eat smaller meals, but again, it’s just something you have to get used to.
It did make me feel quite uncomfortable in my clothes though, the same way any girl does when she’s put on weight. I was really surprised at how quickly my regular pants became unsuitable to sit down in all day with extra pressure on my abdomen.
I had to buy a few pairs of low slung maternity jeans with an elastic waist early on and they were a life saver. Loose fit dresses were also great but only lasted me until my belly started to get big (after 18-20wks) and then they became too short in the front.
I was extremely lucky that I had no vomiting through my first trimester, I know this is something some women suffer with through their entire pregnancies. For me I just had a general seediness which would last til around lunch time. It felt very similar to being hungover, and what do most of us want when we feel hungover?… Yup, CARBS & GREASE! Well i do anyway.
While some women loose weight in their first trimester from vomiting or just generally feeling too sick for food, I was the opposite. The only thing that seemed to make me feel better was eating. I was especially craving hot chips or anything with bread… my slogan became “I’ll have fries with that”. I’m generally a pretty healthy eater so this gave me a lot of food guilt in the beginning, especially since I was already quite nervous about putting on weight through my pregnancy. I just tried to make sure I was eating healthy when I wasn’t feeling sick and remind myself to listen to my body and give it what it needs.
I was not at all prepared for how tired I would be in the first trimester. People told me I would be tired and run down, to which I thought, “I’m tried from being busy all the time anyway, I can deal with that”… Oh how wrong I was!
It was so hard to get out of bed in the mornings and my brain switched off at about 2pm everyday. There were even two occasions I fell asleep on the kitchen floor (That really happened). For most of my first trimester I felt like even the simplest of tasks (Like standing upright) was the hardest thing in the world. I found it extremely debilitating and it gave me a huge respect for all the pregnant women out there…. How the hell did they get through the day? Not to mention all the mums with kids to deal with as well.
Exercise was hard during this time, purely from lack of energy but I managed to push through and maintaining my regular exercise routine also made me feel better about all those extra calories I was consuming.
The only thing I found that helped was trying to make sure I was eating regularly for energy. Napping on weekends and going to be early during the week also helped but also didn't leave much time for anything else… not that I had the energy for anything else anyway. For someone who’s quite active this was probably the hardest thing I had to deal with in the first trimester.
THE PERKS & HIGHLIGHTS
Now the good stuff! My first trimester wasn’t all bad, in fact I’m very grateful to have been able to conceive a child at all. Falling pregnant also gave me a new respect for my body, and women in general. We are pretty amazing creatures and the things our bodies are capable of are astounding.
Feel the Love
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have found my partner for life in John. Our marriage has been challenging at times (what relationship isn’t) but always full of love, respect and friendship. When I found out I was pregnant, aside from being completely thrilled I was overcome with a sense of love for both my partner and the new little bean growing inside me. It could have been the new rush of pregnancy hormones but I didn't think I could love my little family anymore until I fell pregnant. The connection I felt to my partner at creating a new life together was euphoric and brought us closer than I thought possible… I can’t even imagine what it will feel like when the baby is actually born!
Come on, I can’t not state the obvious… and trust me they get obvious! For someone who’s always been a little lacking in the chest area it was actually nice to feel a little more womanly… my husband certainly didn't object. I went up two cup sizes in my first trimester! I went from barely being able to fill a a cup (small breasted ladies, you know what I’m talking about when there is a gap between your breast and the cup) to overflowing in my normal bras. I had to invest in some new underwear fairly quickly. Later as my middle section expanded having a larger chest also made me feel more shapely and less chubby.
I know a lot of couples opt for the surprise ending but being a complete control freak and a compulsive organiser I needed to know… and now!
With advancements in medical testing these days you can find out the sex of your baby as early as 10weeks with the NIPT Test (which also tests for the chance of Down Syndrome). This was something John and I really wanted to find out (how else do you plan the perfect nursery) so it was great to get this news early.
We could also plan our gender reveal for around the same time we were ready to tell our friends and family we were expecting.
I have never been a very good sleeper. I toss and turn and wake up constantly through the night, I even have to sleep with earplugs because the slightest noise will wake me up. Great for detecting potential burglars but to so great for a good nights sleep.
One of the perks of being supremely tired in the first trimester was that I definitely didn't need to worry about not being able to sleep. I read religiously every night before bed but this was almost impossible in my first trimester. Most nights i’d be lucky if I got through a page before crashing out.
One of the best things about being pregnant… eating for two!
This notion is of course a myth and you don’t actually need to eat for two but being able to add extra calories to your diet without the food guilt was quite liberating. I’ll admit I had mixed emotions about this given I was pretty nervous about putting on too much weight during my pregnancy but when you’re considering the tiny human you’re growing and that fact you know you’re going to get a belly anyway, most of the guilt goes out the window. Most us us are so obsessed with how we look, what we eat and how many calories we consume (I’m guilty!), it was quite refreshing to let go of all that.
I went into my pregnancy not really wanting to do too much research. I was pretty determined not to take in too much information on pregnancy so I wouldn't get overwhelmed with advise and expectations. There are some basic things you just need to know though and after a couple of pretty confusing obstetrician appointments I really felt I needed to read up on the basics. Plus when you’re a first time mother-to-be and your body is changing rapidly it’s hard to know what’s normal and what’s not.
Google, while very handy can be about as confusing as asking 6 girlfriends for their advice… you’re going to end up with 6 conflicting stories that are all subjective. I just wanted to know some basic facts so I did a little research:
What to Expect When You’re Expecting
I think everyone has heard of this book… Hell they even made a movie out it. I’ll admit, the only reason I bought it was because I was familiar with the title and knew it was well known and regularly updated. It has since become my bible. There are so many pregnancy books out there, many are probably on par, if not better than this one, this is just the one I chose.
I bought this book about the 14 week mark but I really wish I’d had it from the beginning of my pregnancy. One of the things John and I found most confusing when I first fell pregnant was the medical side. I mean, how do you even find an OB? What should I expect from them, what happens in appointments and what questions should I be asking??? What to Expect was extremely helpful for this and walked me through each month (broken down into weeks). It covers baby’s growth, pregnancy symptoms, Dr’s appointments, prenatal care options, health, labour, breastfeeding and more. The Partners even get some reading helping them to navigate the minefield of living with a pregnant lady. Pretty much every question I had about my pregnancy was answered in this book.
There are heaps of pregnancy apps out there to help you track your progress, weight, offer advice and tell you about how your baby is tracking. Many were recommended to me and after trying a few I found I was using Ovia the most.
There are lots of things you can do with this app, such as track your pregnancy symptoms, get updates on the baby’s growth, check medications, get pregnancy tips and more. I used it mainly for tracking the baby’s growth week on week and getting some insight on what symptoms I should expect. It was really easy to use and John and i would read it together weekly.
Visit their website: https://www.oviahealth.com
Download the App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ovia-pregnancy-tracker/id719135369?mt=8
Talking to My Mum
Super obvious right?
Things have obviously changed medically in the 34 years since my mum had me but the physiology is still the same. Every pregnancy is different (with three children my mother can attest to that) but it was nice to sit down and talk to someone about their journey. It helped prepare me mentally for the first few months.
I was also lucky enough to have my sister and one of my girlfriends pregnant at the same time as me. We are all first time Mums and completely clueless about having a baby so having a little support group to check in with and discuss what was happening with out bodies was so helpful. Pregnancy is hard work and being able to talk to someone else about what you’re going through was the best therapy i could ask for.
More, first-time-mum confusion… What do I need to buy, If anything at all?
I definitely made mistakes in this area and there were things I bought early on that I really didn't need til later or only lasted me through the first few months. Despite the fact your body is going through a plethora of changes I found there were only a few things that were really essential for me in the first trimester.
If I could take a bath in this stuff I would! I’ve used skin oils for a long time but increased my usage to twice a day when I feel pregnant to avoid stretch marks. I concentrated on my stomach, breasts and thigh/hip area and currently (at 23 weeks) I’m happy to report I have none. When you start growing your skin starts to feel quite dry and itchy anyway so moisturising daily (even with normal moisturiser) feels good anyway.
There are a million pregnancy books out there that probably cover the same things as this book so don’t feel like you need to get this exact one, this is just what I bought. It was very helpful for me though to have an information source handy that I could rely on and was purely factual (not subjective). I wish I’d had this the moment I feel pregnant even just to walk me through the next steps in Dr’s Appointments.
My breasts grew quite rapidly in the first trimester which meant I had to invest in some new underwear quite quickly. I decided to buy Maternity bras early because I wanted them to carry me through til the baby was born and after. There are enough costs to worry about when having a baby so I wanted to be smart about where I was spending my money.
With rapid growth also comes sore and swollen breasts so comfort is extremely important and I really can’t recommend BONDS Maternity bras enough for this. Maternity Bras aren’t the sexiest of underwear though so if you’re looking for one that doesn’t look like it came out of your grandmothers closet Bras N Things have a small range that are quite attractive.
Even though i wasn’t officially showing until late in my first trimester my regular jeans were very uncomfortable so if I was going to get through the day sitting behind a computer I needed comfy pants!