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.
- 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
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.
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
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.