I’m sure you can already guess the topic of today’s blog post. Pregnancy and all of the challenges that come with it – especially during the first trimester! As I write this, I am just starting week 12 of my pregnancy. Although I had some ideas as to what pregnancy might entail, I was a bit unprepared for all of the changes and challenges it has thrown my way.
I do want to put a quick disclaimer here. Every pregnancy is different. Every mom is different. You may not experience the same symptoms I have, or you may experience them differently than I do. I share my experience so that you can mentally prepare for possible pregnancy symptoms. I always advise you to speak with your doctor about your symptoms.
In the few weeks that friends, family, and coworkers have known that I am pregnant, several people have already said “enjoy the pregnancy,” “pregnancy is wonderful,” and “I really enjoyed being pregnant.” While that may be true for some people, that has not been the case for me. Pregnancy has been rough on my body and so far (besides being excited to have a baby at the end of this journey) I have not enjoyed any aspect of being pregnant.
While I was aware that nausea (morning sickness) was a common first-trimester symptom, I did not realize that heartburn, fatigue, and (all sorts of) aches are also very common. Headaches, frequent urination, constant hunger, and mood swings are also likely. For most of my symptoms, they come and go day-by-day, sometimes hour-by-hour.
The first symptom I noticed, a week before I took my pregnancy test, was that my breasts hurt constantly. It was more than just a tenderness or sensitivity – it was straight up pain. That lasted from then until around week 11. They still hurt now, in week 12, but it has lessened considerably.
Right at week 5 is when the heartburn and nausea hit. Thankfully I wasn’t throwing up a lot, but I felt like I needed to ALL the time. It was very frustrating.
It was also hard to sleep. Nights were (and still can be) harder than mornings for me, despite the fact that some clever person decided to call it “morning sickness”. Every time I would lay down, I would get really awful heartburn. Having never experienced heartburn before, in my life, I thought this was just a different side of nausea.
It wasn’t. Did you know that heartburn can make you throw up? Yep. Fun times. It also makes me cough a lot because my brain thinks that will help relieve the awful feeling in my throat. It doesn’t.
One thing that has helped my heartburn is to drink a small amount of warm milk mixed with honey (you can also sprinkle in some cinnamon) right before I go to bed. Another option is TUMS, or Mylanta. However, those didn’t work well for me after several weeks. There were other tips and tricks I tried when dealing with my combination of nausea and heartburn.
As my baby has been growing, my body has been changing to expand and prepare for future growth. This leads to different aches and pains in my abdomen area. I was concerned about this at first, so I called my doctor. She assured me that as long as the aches or pains were not concentrated to a single side, or accompanied by sharp back pain, or blood, that it was perfectly normal.
I do want to point out here, that some spotting is very normal in pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. It still makes my heart skip a beat when it happens. I use self-affirmations to keep myself from going into an anxiety tailspin. Slight spotting is normal and nothing to be concerned by. I remind myself this out loud and take a few purposeful breaths to keep calm.
When your body is pregnant, your cervix becomes tender. So anything from exercising, lifting, coughing, a pap smear, or even having sex, can cause a small amount of spotting (not full out bleeding). Call your doctor if you are concerned that it may be a larger issue.
This is an ultrasound photo taken when I was 9 weeks pregnant. I may have cried a little bit, seeing this new life on the screen while holding my husband’s hand at the doctor’s office. Hormones may be causing me to be more emotional than normal, but I think anyone would tear up seeing their child for the first time on an ultrasound.
Speaking of hormones, they did some whacky things to my emotions the first month or two of pregnancy. Once, I was doing the dishes at work, and I just started crying for no reason. I’m sure my coworkers thought I was going batty.
I almost forgot to mention smells! My nose didn’t become more sensitive overnight, but has gradually strengthened as the pregnancy progresses. It’s been very hit or miss and it does not seem to have a rule of thumb as to what it likes or doesn’t like.
Along with the change to my nose, my stomach and eating interests/aversions have shifted a lot. I noticed that pizza made me feel quite nauseated as did desserts, so I started to avoid both. However, dairy (especially Mac & Cheese) has been one of my go-to’s for tolerable protein intake!
All of this to say that, if you’re a new mother, struggling with your first trimester of pregnancy, I want to encourage you. Pregnancy is challenging. Even if you want this baby very very much, that doesn’t mean that you have to enjoy every moment of this journey. If you are struggling with symptoms and feeling guilty I want you to hear this.
You are doing a great job. You are a great mom. It’s okay to hate being pregnant. It’s okay to struggle. It doesn’t make you a bad mom, and it certainly doesn’t make you a bad person. You are doing the best you can with all of the changes in your body and hormones. It’s a lot to take in.
I see you. You are doing amazing. I am proud of you. Don’t give up. It will get better. I don’t know what time table it will get better for you, but this will not last forever.
If you drank water and ate food today, I am proud of you. If you didn’t, go see if you can get some food and liquids into your system. I believe in you. Try ice in your water and see if that helps if you’re struggling to find water appetizing.
If your dishes are piled high and your laundry is overflowing, but you are still alive and well, then that is enough. You are enough. Take this one day at a time.
And just so you know, it took me almost two months to catch up on my laundry and dishes (and there is already another pile of dishes on the counter-how?!). Looking forward to going on this journey with you. If you are struggling in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. My inbox is always open (firstname.lastname@example.org).