Tag Archives: Pregnancy

If Becoming a Parent Was a “Real” Job

 

Google has a funny idea of what "postpartum" looks like.

Google’s idea of what “postpartum” looks like. Google is sadly mistaken.

 

You got hired for a new job. Congratulations! You’re told it’s the best, most rewarding job on the planet. You will be paid in things worth more than money, more than gold, things you can’t fully fathom yet. You get instant tenure, and your significant other is your co-worker. Many people want this job, but not everyone gets it. People have paid thousands and thousands of dollars to get this job. Some people spend their whole adult lives hoping for, wishing for this job.

You’re promised 40 weeks of training for this job, though you may wind up with a few more or a few less depending on your boss’ schedule. This training is not easy- it includes many challenges such as fatigue, extreme physical discomfort, financial risk, illness, mood swings, extreme weight gain. Some people enjoy the training, but many more hate it. Even more hate it but never say they do out of fear of judgement because the perceived “norm” is to love every moment of the training. Training includes a few classes, monthly visits with experts, books, literature, panicked late-night Google searches, and peeing your pants when you laugh. As the weeks go by, it becomes more and more clear that soon your training will end and you’ll be out on the floor, finally earning your new job title.

After many months, you’re given your final test, and lucky you: it’s open-book. All your hard work and studying are about to pay off, and you go into the test with a handy cheat sheet of your exact answers to all of the questions you studied.

Unbeknownst to you, some jerk switches the test out last minute for a different test, one longer and harder than you expected. You TOTALLY DIDN’T STUDY FOR THIS. And yet, you pass. You’ve earned your name badge, and the second your test is over, you’re officially employed by a tiny, screaming person that only you and your co-worker can please.

Only, your employer speaks in an ancient, mystical tongue that you can’t understand. You and your coworker proceed to spend every waking moment (and they’re all waking moments, aren’t they?) scrambling to decode this ancient tongue and figure out how to make your boss stop screaming at you. You find yourself exhausted, dehydrated, starving, and mysteriously bleeding heavily for weeks, all while feeling guilty for wondering why you ever wanted this job in the first place. You and your co-worker, who used to get along famously, barely speak for weeks and even months. You both trudge along, taking rides on an emotional roller coaster through moments of pure, unconditional love and pure, crazy-making frustration. The days are long, and to quote Melisandre from Game of Thrones, “The nights are dark and full of terrors.”

 This is the initial postpartum experience for many first-time parents.

One day, you wake up and things are easier. And certain things keep getting easier, while others stay challenging and even increase in difficulty at times. You and your coworker slowly learn how to meet your boss’ needs while juggling your own (and each other’s). Eventually, you start to let go of control and begin the humbling process of admitting you have no idea what you’re doing. You do what works to get the job done, and throw away the rest. You do all the things you said you never would and bite your tongue when cheeky seasoned employees of other tiny bosses call you out on changing your plans. Your new normal is still a challenge, but when the joys start to outnumber the frustrations, your boss becomes the most amazing person on the planet, and obviously a smarter, cuter, better boss than anyone else’s.

And it really does get better, and all the people who you want to smack right now for telling you this with a pitying smile are right. And you will survive this. Ask for help. Demand help. Take breathers. Be patient with yourself. Kiss your partner. Kiss that baby. Drink lots of water. And know you are not alone. Somewhere out there at 3 am, there is a new mom feeding her baby in a dark room, just like you, staring out the window at a big world that she no longer knows how to fit into.

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As in labor, in the postpartum there is an important difference between pain and suffering. Please don’t hesitate to use these resources if you need them and talk to your partner and healthcare provider about how you’re feeling. Please.

1-800-PPD-MOMS

The Symptoms of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety (in plain mama English)

International Cesarean Awareness Network

 

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Hindsight

Pregnancy is humbling. Labor is really humbling. Living in the postpartum and looking back on my pregnancy and birth is extraordinarily humbling. Many lessons were learned the hard way, but I think that’s the way many have to be learned and earned. Here are some rambling observations that I’m still dissecting:

 

  • Babies change everything.
  • Everyone says “You’ll never sleep again!” It’s annoying, but they mean well. They’re also mostly right.
  • Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, the baby changes it up. Example:

Monday: (bragging) Babby slept for 4 hours straight last night, then was up for a feeding, then asleep for another 4 hours! Life is good.

Tuesday: Babby slept for 5 hours straight last night, then was up for a feeding, then asleep for another 4-5 hours! Life is blissful.

Wednesday: Babby slept for SIX HOURS STRAIGHT LAST NIGHT, then was up for a feeding because I freaked out that she slept so long and then slept for another 4 hours! Life is blissful. Parenting is easy!

Thursday through End of Time or End of Sudden Growth Spurt, Whichever Comes First: Babby eats every 2 hours, day and night. She is also a catnapper during the day, sleeping in no longer than 1 hour increments sporadically throughout the day. Life is tired. Parenting is coffee.

  • Though my experience as a doula was invaluable before I became pregnant myself, I now can’t imagine hiring a doula who hasn’t experienced birth/motherhood personally. I get it now, on a whoooooooole ‘nother level. Not to say that a doula who isn’t a mother herself isn’t worth her salt, just that going through labor and birth yourself gifts you with a magnitude of empathy, compassion, and first-hand experience that completely alters the way one doula-s.
  • It took a solid 3 months to begin feeling normal again, or at least to feel comfortable in my new normal. I didn’t even fully stop spotting until Week 13. I still sometimes pee my pants. My maternity jeans are too big, my pre-pregnancy ones are too small; yoga pants are the answer.
  • It also took 3 months to remember I have a husband. Our first real conversation happened during Week 12. We now snuggle and laugh and are best friends again… but it took time, and it’s something we actually have to work on and make time for now. It’s harder, but we appreciate each other more now than ever.
  • It took 3 months to love my pets again. Oh, my poor sweet babycats. Thank god Steve is a responsible adult, because I forgot to feed them for at least 2 months. They went from being All Important to Total Annoyances for awhile there. I threw around the term streetcats a few too many times. Luckily they still love me and even love the baby who turned their lives upside down.
  • Increased breastfeeding retention and quality maternity/paternity leave go hand in hand. Period. I do not believe for one second that I would still be breastfeeding if Steve hadn’t been home for almost 2 months. Paternity/maternity leave in this country is shameful and affects every one of us who have been a child or a parent (see: everyone). Leave needs to be long, it needs to be paid, and it needs to be available to every. parent.
  • Now I have All the Motivation, All the Creativity, & All the Great Ideas… and none of the time.
  • Key relationships have evolved. Some for the better and some for the worse. Being judged for my birth story and parenting choices does not sit well with me. ALL births are to be respected, no matter what they look like. Fanatics on both sides of the homebirth/hospital birth spectrum would be wise to lead with compassion and not judgement or pity. (The pity is the worst for me… just because I had an induced hospital birth doesn’t mean I was traumatized or fooled into falsely believing my experience was beautiful and powerful, thanks. I could go on and on here… and I will! In a later post).
  • The bills just keep coming. One perk of this is that I no longer feel anxiety over money, which used to be my biggest anxiety trigger. Acceptance in these matters is vital to my sanity.
  • Breastmilk poop does stink. Maybe not at first, when kiddo is going 3 times a day. But when her Poo Schedule becomes once every couple of days… yeah. It smells. Like cheese. It’s horrible. “Breastmilk poop doesn’t stink” is one of those Whoops! Lies of Ignorance I told when I was doula-ing before becoming a parent myself. Very sorry about this one, guys. Oh, and while I’m at it I need to apologize for “Sleep when the baby sleeps” (really good advice in a perfect world, but not gospel).

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February Used Birth Book Giveaway

Click here to enter the giveaway!

I’ve discovered minimalism and it’s changing my life in the most amazing ways! I’m paring down my library and am offering giveaways during the next few months. Books will be gently used and will center around pregnancy, birth, the postpartum, and parenting. This month I’m giving away:

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This giveaway runs until 2/25/14 @ midnight. Please share with any doulas, midwives, libraries, birth centers, clinics, birthworkers, or pregnant women who might be interested! Visit the giveaway here.

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35 Weeks and In Denial

I’ve spent the past 10 minutes staring at a baby swing. It spent the last few months tucked away in the nursery, and this morning I decided it was time to put it out in our family room, where it now takes up approximately half of the livable space. It’s okay though- the swing needs to stay. It’s visible proof that a baby is coming, and soon.

I have hit a major point of denial in this pregnancy, and with reflection I see now that it started with those two pink lines almost 9 months ago and never quite went away. Denial is a spectrum of emotions, and while it was quite severe in the very beginning, and then strong in the second trimester when I didn’t really even feel pregnant half the time, now at 35 weeks it has reached a whole new level of intensity. I am having a baby, apparently.

In my head, I know this is the case. I am super pregnant right now, physically. I’m huge, for starters. My belly has swelled in the past week, and is now something I have to work around. 10 days ago I was laughing while telling my husband about a post I read on a pregnancy forum, where a woman timed how long it took her to roll from one side to the other in bed. “Two minutes!,” I exclaimed. “I mean, it takes me a few seconds, but two minutes?” 10 days later, and guess what? Last night it took me more than an entire minute to roll over in bed. It used to be a simple 11-step process:

  • Wake up
  • Realize I need to turn over
  • Analyze how much longer I can stand lying on same side to avoid the hassle
  • Brace myself for the popping sounds of pelvis and sacrum
  • While grunting, turn 1/4
  • Turn the other 1/4 onto my back while propping myself up with my arms
  • Turn another quarter
  • Turn all the way to the other side
  • Rearrange in-between-knees pillow and resituate under head pillows
  • Realize I have to pee
  • Curse profusely

Now it’s an entire 2 minute saga with all of my former 1/4 turns consisting of mini turns and inches, all of which radiate pain throughout my pelvis and back, which stiffen even in the short 1-2 hour increments of time between rollings-over. I am definitely pregnant.

Life during the day is full of constant reminders of pregnancy also- my waddle, the many sneeze-n-pees that are seemingly unavoidable no matter how many Kegels I do, the 40 lbs of baby I haul everywhere, my big, round belly which always finds its way out of my shirt to be on display, my severe dislike of all items just out of reach (which seem to be, well, everything these days). Now when I drop my bar of soap in the shower, I just stare at it for what seems like an eternity while I justify rinsing and ending my bathing right then and there: “Well, let’s see. I showered late yesterday at around 2. I don’t think I sweat much… did I? Americans over-shower, anyway. I’ll just wash my bangs and call it a day.”

I’m definitely really, really pregnant right now, and yet I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that this jabby, squirmy little creature inside of me will soon be on the outside, and in my arms. I tried to explain my denial to my midwife, and told her I basically need permission to start getting really excited and to do all of the little things we still need to do to get ready for this child. I believe she said something along the lines of “Val- you’re having a baby. And soon. I just had two first-time mamas go into labor at 37 weeks. It’s time to get ready.” Then a look of worry crossed her face. “Have you, you know, looked at the homebirth supply list yet? The one I gave you when we first met??”

Over the weekend we had a big yard sale and were finally able to clean out our front hallway, which had been filling for the past year with boxes and bags of crap that I’ve been collecting to get rid of. We made a few dollars, which was great, but more importantly everything that was not sold was bagged and delivered to Goodwill yesterday afternoon. Our hallway is now clear of debris and I feel like I can breathe a bit more. Okay, that was the last big to-do. The baby can come now. 

Except, the baby can’t really come now, because it’s way too early and nothing else in the house is ready. All of her things have been kept in her room, hidden from sight, and I think this has played a part in my denial. So out came the swing to the main room we live in, and there it will stay. I don’t know if we will ever use it, or if Babby will even enjoy it, but it’s staying there until she comes so her mother can stare at it every day and hopefully realize that soon there will be a tiny person in this house that will fit in it.

Her bath-time basket, filled with tiny towels and her little octopus thermometer and bath accoutrements has been placed in the bathroom. This afternoon I am dedicating a shelf in one of our kitchen cabinets to sippy cups, breast milk storage bags, etc. I moved some lightweight furniture around today to get our room (which will be her room for the first 1-2 years) storage and pack-n-play ready. Her family room changing-station basket will be completed today and placed next to the couch. Her car seat will be installed this week. We tour our top pediatrician’s office in a few days.

I can be in denial forever, but that is not going to change the fact that this kid is coming out in the next few weeks. All of my nesting, all of the cleaning, the painting, the furniture assembling, the clothes washing, the reorganizing, the learning, the reading, the phone calls, the planning, it’s all for a reason- though the past few weeks it has all felt like busy work, like I’m playing house.

When will it feel real? When the first pangs of labor begin? When she’s on my chest, covered in vernix and blood and my tears? After days and nights of watching her breathe and counting her fingers and toes? It doesn’t feel real now, but I can say that I am anxious for the arrival of this tiny stranger, and to get this party started (but also completely not ready for a newborn. Life is hilarious!)

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Appley Compotey (?) Desserty Goodness

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My predicaments:

  • I was craving something a little sweet
  • I was feeling rather lazy
  • I wanted an apple, but they were mealy. Totally edible, but just not appetizing raw.
  • I am all stuffed up from this neverending head cold and wanted something with some ‘zip’ to unclog my nose

My solution:

  • Throw apples in a pot with a bunch of stuff

Time needed: 2 minutes prep, 5-7 minutes cooking on medium heat

Skill level required: Common sense

Ingredients:

Apples (I used 1 large Granny Smith and two smallish medium something or others- made 2 servings)

Honey

Cinnamon

Water (Optional: pre-brewed nettle or pregnancy tea for extra goodness)

———–

You can stop there, but if you like a little heat, I recommend adding a bit of

Ginger, freshly grated

Cayenne- just a pinch! A little goes a looong way

 

“Instructions:”

Cut up your apples into bite size pieces. Throw them into a small pot and turn the heat onto low/medium (on our gas stove I had them on a 4). Spoon in some good honey. Sprinkle in some cinnamon. Grate some ginger into it all. Maybe a pinch of cayenne? Add a splash of water, or if you’ve just brewed some pregnancy tea like I had, splash some of that in. You just need a tiny, tiny bit, enough to help the apples not burn. Stir that stuff around. Bask in the glory of Fall smells. After about 5-7 minutes the apples should be happily cooked and tender.

It shouldn’t be so simple, but it really is. It’s a great, easy way to use up apples and satisfy cravings quickly. The spice from the ginger and cayenne also opened up my nose allowing me to actually taste! Which is a pleasure I haven’t been able to experience in days. This dish is good on its own, but also could be a delicious topper for morning oatmeal/hot cereal! Or poured onto a puff pastry sheet and then baked… mmm. I wish I had more apples.

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Super Autumn Pregnancy Energy Lentils&Beets Recipe

Sometimes I enjoy a bit of actual food with my goat cheese.

Sometimes I enjoy a bit of actual food with my goat cheese.

An old friend of mine used to make an incredible beets and lentils dish. I don’t remember how she made it, so I made my own version and man, is it good. And FAST. And EASY. Which makes this impatient and always hungry mama-to-be very, very happy. I don’t ever follow recipes and don’t measure, but believe this version is so simple it’s almost impossible to screw up. Best of all, I only dirtied one pot/lid, the cutting board, and a knife.

 

  • Skill set needed: Common Sense
  • Ingredients:

Garlic – I used about 5 of various sizes, because I LOVE garlic and use it so much it takes a lot for me to actually taste it.

Onion – Either one small or medium. Whatever you have.

Lentils – 1 cup. This made quite a few servings.

Beets – I used about 5 or 6 small-ish beets.

Kale – About 4 or 5  big leaves

Water

Salt

Olive oil

GOAT CHEESE

Optional: Stock of some kind

 

Gently heat some olive oil in a pot. Mince up your garlic and chop your onion and throw them in the oil. Have “a moment” where you close your eyes and waft the delicious smells that are cooking. Savor this. Remember the first trimester when you couldn’t stand to smell ANYTHING cooking? Feel a deep sense of pride about making it through early pregnancy. You’re doing it!

Measure 1 cup of dry lentils and dump them in. Stir the onions, garlic, and lentils around in the oil. Mmm. Now pour in some water. How much? I don’t really know. I put in about 2 cups at this point (I think?), stirred, then turned the heat up a bit. Put the lid on.

While that was cooking, I took care of my beets. I chopped the ends off, then washed and peeled. I chopped up the beets into small pieces so they would cook quickly, then dumped them into the pot. I’d try for medium heat- you need the lentils and beets to cook, but don’t want to over or under do it. I added a bit more water so that everything was just covered. You could totally use stock instead of/in addition to water- I didn’t because the only bouillon I have has MSG in it and I’m trying to avoid it. Set a timer for 20 minutes and go relax. Feel free to celebrate your decision to make a healthy meal by eating a large piece of  cake, like I did. (My doula brought me half of a homemade cinnamon cake to yesterday’s prenatal visit. I love her so.)

Once the timer goes off, you know it’s almost time to eat. Take off the lid and give a stir, then work on your kale. Take a few big leaves, rinse, and rip off chunks in a size that’s appetizing to you. (Kale cooks down a lot, for those unfamiliar with it). I try to avoid the chewy, large center vein. Throw your kale chunks into the pot and stir around. Turn your heat to simmer, with the lid off, for about 5 minutes. Carefully test out a beet to make sure they’re cooked to your liking. If the pieces are cut small, they should be perfectly al dente. Turn off the stove.

Spoon into a bowl, taste and salt accordingly. Add your goat cheese. Take a picture of it. Take 2 more because you take horrible photos. Post to Twitter. Offer to share the recipe, then write a post about it. Realize you should probably not offer to share recipes that don’t involve proper measurements. Stir your now melted goat cheese around your dish and wonder why you don’t eat more goat cheese.

Now enjoy your meal with a cold glass of apple cider and take a nap- you deserve it!

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Handy Tips for Partners of Pregnant Nesting Women

I just wanted to share some words of wisdom with all of the partners out there in pregnancy land. If your lady is pregnant, she will at some point enter a nesting phase. This phase may last throughout the entire pregnancy, come and go, or strike right at the end. There’s no telling when she will enter this phase or how long it will last, but it’s important you prepare yourself for what’s to come.

Here are some handy tips for the partners of nesting women:

Don’t:

  • Look bewildered when you find her crying in the bathroom cleaning baseboard with a toothbrush (your toothbrush. You can get another one.)
  • Ask confusedly “But where do you want me to put this?” when she hands you something to put away. You should know where it goes. If you don’t, just put it somewhere… but choose wisely. Should she find said item later on in a place it does not belong, well, that’s on you.
  • Say a WORD when you come home from work and the house is in shambles. She started 34 different projects at the same time and she knows what she’s doing.
  • Complain when she brings the kitchen into the bathroom. She may be trying out some natural cleaning solutions- corn starch, baking soda, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and other ingredients may take up some vanity space for awhile. It’s okay. Everything’s going to be okay.
  • Just recklessly try to clean something with an unlabeled spray bottle. There’s no telling what sort of concoction she’s made in there, and you can’t just go spraying unauthorized creations on the furniture. However-
  • Don’t ask her what’s in each spray bottle. I understand this is a no-win situation… I didn’t say it makes sense. She will eventually label each bottle, you know, in her spare time.

Do:

  • Try to understand the difference between what you formerly knew as “clean” and what now qualifies as clean.
  • Shower her with love and affection. Pregnancy is hard.
  • Be kind- nesting is a double edged sword of primal necessity and crazy-making. We want to nest. We have to nest. But our inability to do All the Things at once triggers our feelings, fears, and concerns regarding our ability to mother/parent and can make us anxious, upset, and a little nutty.
  • Breathe, and remember this is just a temporary phase, as is pregnancy. Soon you’ll have a tiny son or daughter who is going to rock your world in the most incredible ways imaginable.
  • Ask for what you need from your partner. She really doesn’t want to drive you insane, truly. When the time is right, encourage open and relaxed dialogue about what you both need from each other.

If all else fails, print out this handy flowchart and hang it in every room of the house. Follow it to the letter

0642461001379946867_flowchart for partners1_0

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Single Digits. Ermahgerd.

It’s happening! 9 weeks until my *estimated* due date. Single Digits. This means a lot of things, 2 of which are

  • Babby might not be done baking for another 11+weeks. (Not ideal)
  • Babby could be done baking in as little as 6 weeks. (Really not ideal)

Of course, Babby will come when she’s good and ready, and she seems pretty opinionated and stubborn already, so I’m sure whenever she decides to make her entrance will be the right time for her. If she comes any sooner than 6 weeks from now (making her premature) or after 42 weeks (making her “post-term”), home birth is off the table. I’m trusting that she’s going to turn head down (she’s loving her frank breech lounging right now), grow big and strong, and come when she’s safe and sound.

I really can’t believe I’m so far along. Throughout the second trimester (you know, that time when I had All the Energy and could like, do a load of laundry without being overcome with exhaustion?) there were many birth-related activities I wanted to dive into, but felt I should wait on until I was further along in my pregnancy. Now it seems I’ve entered Crunch Time where there is so much to do, and yet I don’t really have the energy or enthusiasm I had a few weeks  ago.

Steve and I were gifted with a beautiful baby shower recently, filled with happy, celebrating family and friends, and of course- baby things. We spent the past weekend putting various pieces of furniture together and figuring out what we still needed, baby-wise. The next few weeks will, I’m sure, become a blur of shopping for steals, Amazon deliveries and trying to cloth diaper the cats.

Hmm. On second thought, I don't think this is a risk I'm willing to take.

Hmm. On second thought, I don’t think this is a risk I’m willing to take.

 

The Fall is my FAVORITE season, and this year in particular is a busy one. Our calendar is loaded with doula prenatals, midwife appointments, birthday parties, pumpkin picking, decorating, Halloween fun, CRAFTING!!!! and general Fall mayhem, which of course flows right into the insanity of the holiday season. We also have more than a few things to do to prep for our homebirth and the baby that comes with it, like creating our birth and (hopefully not necessary) transfer plans, dealing with insurance, shopping for baby, nesting, purchasing necessities such as our birth kit and pool liner, yada yada yada. And, oh yeah, some quality time spent together before we become three would be great, too. We were going to go on a mini-babymoon before The Bean arrived but…

We recently found out that our insurance is quite crappy. We knew our in-network benefits didn’t offer much, but had no idea that we have *zero* out of network benefits. The out of network benefits were supposed to cover the (large) remainder of our midwife’s fee… but now it looks like that responsibility is on us. We are happy to pay as we feel our home is the safest and most comfortable place for our daughter to be welcomed into the world, and the prenatal care of our CPM is outstanding… but of course major unplanned expenses always sting. Luckily, even though a babymoon is now unfeasible, the generosity of our family and friends has covered the remainder of our (amazing) doula’s fee, as well as covered the fee of our placenta encapsulator (more on all of that later), which has relieved some financial stress immensely.

I’m continuously overwhelmed and awestruck by the generosity of family, friends, and even strangers during this pregnancy. Old friends I haven’t seen in 15 years are mailing gently used items and clothing just because they were thinking of us and had the items to spare. Despite some instances in the past few months that have unsettled my usually loving feelings towards my fellow humans, simple kindnesses continue to amaze me and restore my faith in humanity.

Sort of unrelated, read these blog posts/articles when you have the time. Trust me, they’re excellent:

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Resources for the Postpartum Period

My doula partner and I put out a newsletter each month for our small pregnancy, birth, and postpartum support business. This month, we focused on the early postpartum period, and all of the physical and emotional recovery and changes that take place.  We’ve included some really amazing resources from:

concerning postpartum topics like

  • meal planning and recipes
  • visitors in the first week
  • why it’s so important to rest, relax, and bond with baby
  • tips for a less stressful, more restorative postpartum from moms who have been there
  • the physical and emotional realities of the first few days and weeks
  • how to be a great partner during the postpartum

This month’s newsletter is a a great resource for expecting parents and new families, as well as doulas and birthworkers ~ you are welcome to share!

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5 Raw Truths of My First Trimester

TL/DR: My first trimester was a real doozy. I for some reason thought that, because of my professional life as a doula, educator, prenatal/pregnancy massage therapist yada yada yada that I would totally dominate All The Pregnancy, like a boss. The first 3 months were humbling… and completely worth it.

 

Now that I’m 29 weeks pregnant, the first trimester seems like a far and distant memory. I feel worlds apart from the confusion, sickness, and true misery that I felt in the first few months. The first trimester was an emotional, mental, and physical roller coaster, one that I, now looking back, am glad to have ridden. Everyone’s bodies and pregnancies are unique, and my experience may in no way reflect the experiences of others. That being said, here’s the raw truths of my first trimester.

 

  • The term “emotional roller coaster” does not even begin to describe what I felt during those first few months.

I began my pregnancy with the mixed emotions of elation and confusion. When I first joined the 2-line club, I just didn’t know what to think. We were literal newlyweds, just a few days into our marriage, and were going to start trying for a baby at the end of the month. While I was overjoyed, I was also completely shocked, and instantly filled with fear. The mix of emotions continued throughout the first many weeks as extreme nausea consumed me.

Morning sickness is no joke, at least in my case. Mine did not fool around. Day in and day out I was plagued with just miserable nausea. I rarely actually threw up food, but my days were spent either dry heaving, trying to calm my stomach, and lying on the couch wondering how any woman got through this.

The sickness not only made me…well…sick, but it also really screwed with my head concerning the pregnancy in general. By feeling so sick all day, every day, and never having experienced this level of misery before with no end in sight, I felt very alone as well as guilty for not loving every second of pregnancy. Every time I thought I was starting to feel better and that the worst was over, nausea would strike back mercilessly.

pregnancy mafia

 

  • My intense morning sickness led to me sometimes wondering why I had ever wanted to get pregnant in the first place.

I’m going to shoot straight with you here- there were many times that I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore. It wasn’t really rational thought; I didn’t want anything to happen to the baby, I just didn’t want to be pregnant. I didn’t understand how any woman felt that going through that much illness was worth it in the end. As the weeks went on and my morning sickness showed no signs of fading away, I became a bit panicky: What if this was my life, forever?  It got to the point where I honestly could not remember how it felt to feel good again. I had no energy, no appetite, and wondered

Please tell me you've seen David After Dentist. Please.

Please tell me you’ve seen David After Dentist. Please.

It all came to a head at about 10 weeks, when I had just absolutely had enough. I remember sitting on the couch in hysterics, shrieking to my husband that I couldn’t take it anymore. While our family and close friends were rejoicing over this miracle that was growing at an exponential rate in my belly, I felt trapped in what I felt was a failing, weak body. The intensity of my nausea mirrored the intensity of my overwhelming emotional confusion, which created a socially and emotionally isolated experience. I could not imagine the nausea ending, ever, and I was starving. I had dropped 9 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight because I just couldn’t eat anything, and I was a mess.

 

  • Food, once my great love, had become my greatest enemy.

I am a foodie. FoodNetworkGossip.com is one of my weekly hangouts. My husband and I DVR QVC’s In the Kitchen with David. That’s right- we DVR home shopping programming to watch at a later time, when nothing from the show is still actually relevant. We’re going on 2 years of doing this. We have never bought anything. We are weird.

For three months, I despised David, Southern cooking, and yes- even butter.

For three months, I despised David, Southern cooking, and yes- even butter.

I love movies with food, I love to cook, I love to eat. Unlike my husband, I savor food, eat slowly, and feel that food is about much more than just eating for survival- it’s about family, traditions, joy, love, soul. I have a very strong relationship with all things food, and that relationship took a real beating in the first trimester.

My favorite foods and foodie scents such as garlic, onions, and a sizzling steak were all vomit-inducing. Not only could I not eat, but I couldn’t be around cooking food- we even went without In the Kitchen with David for a few months; seeing food cooking on television had me running to the bathroom.

It may sound silly to non-foodies, but the altered relationship with food during those first few months really impacted me negatively. I no longer found comfort in food, and no longer felt “normal.” I feel it’s so vital to balance a sense of normalcy with adapting to change during pregnancy, because if you don’t, pregnancy and all that comes with it can be very overwhelming, daunting, and anxiety-ridden.

 

  • Feeling so different and adapting to so much change without any real “physical proof” of a baby made the first trimester an anxious and nerve-wracking time period.

I knew I was pregnant. I even had an ultrasound of The Bean. But I wasn’t outwardly pregnant, I had no belly to rub while looking wistfully out a window, no visible sign of the GINORMOUS, LIFE-ALTERING CHANGE GROWING WITHIN MY BODY. Inside, my body was all glorious piss and vinegar, while on the outside all that was to be seen was a pimply woman sprouting some wicked chin hairs dry heaving into the bathtub.

One Bean to Rule Them All

One Bean to Rule Them All

The first trimester was weird because it seemed my mind and body were not communicating: my body knew I was pregnant, but my mind hadn’t quite realized this fact yet. With no “visible proof” of pregnancy besides a positive test, it’s easy to actually forget why you are having the morning sickness, why you have to physically remove yourself from your own home when your husband has the gall to make chili for dinner.

The mind/body disconnect that can occur in the first trimester can be really intense! Early pregnancy fears of miscarriage, bleeding, cramping, round ligament pain, and tons of other reasons for late-night-Googling-anxiety-fests only add to this disconnect. This is a time when many women are keeping their pregnancy on the down-low, and yet also can really use compassionate, loving emotional and physical  support from the most important people in their lives.

 

  • Unfortunately, sometimes the support just isn’t there.

When I became pregnant, I found support in unexpected places, and utter disappointment in others. This, I was truly not expecting. I personally had a few different people who showed their true colors after I became pregnant. People whom I trusted implicitly turned out to be flaky, narcissistic, unreliable, and just plain unsupportive, which led to greater feelings of isolation during a very vulnerable period of my life.

Luckily, life has a great sense of humor, and while some people were leaving my world, others entered in. Pregnancy is this truly exquisite time for women to get in touch with their needs and explore what their priorities are. Early pregnancy was a wake up call for me- I simply did not have the time or energy to put up with nonsense anymore from people who were not all that important to me. I began to learn to value my needs and practice good emotional self-care. I became important because I was carrying the most important person in the universe. I started setting boundaries and limits with myself and others- something I have struggled with for as long as I can remember.

 

All in all, the first trimester was a doozy. It was emotionally and physically exhausting, and I can say now that it was completely worth it. Once the second trimester arrived, my hormones seemed to settle and I fell into a really awesome rhythm of pregnancy. Don’t get me wrong, the second trimester has its own brand of insanity, but for me it was much more tolerable, and nausea-free!

 

The first trimester was physically and emotionally challenging, and I know that by staying committed to talk therapy (which I started before I got pregnant and cannot recommend enough for those TTC, pregnant, in the postpartum, or even just considering pregnancy) I was able to stay mentally healthy. If you are having a rough time, please consider speaking to someone. Just as in labor, where there is a difference between pain and suffering, in pregnancy there is a difference between feeling sick and tired and feeling unstable and unhealthy. I urge you to always communicate your feelings with your partner and health care provider.

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