I found out I was pregnant at roughly 4 weeks along.
Anyone who tells you that pregnancy is an amazing, special time is a magical pregnancy unicorn, at least when they’re talking about the first trimester. I know every pregnancy is different for each woman, but in my case, the first trimester was ROUGH.
I spent the first two weeks after I found out, wondering how I got so lucky that I was feeling so “normal”. Aside from my boobs feeling like overfilled water balloons, and still being shocked by the news, I wasn’t fatigued or feeling sick at all. I was still able to eat the foods I enjoyed normally, and was able to workout and run 4-5 days a week. I vividly remember being halfway through a run during week 5 and thinking “I feel so great, I must just be one of the lucky ones!”…I didn’t even have time to knock on wood before week 6 showed up and knocked me right on my ass. This was right around the time we’d started our bed project – I had to abandon Jeremy halfway through and tell him to finish it himself. Sorry, honey.
First it started with aversions to foods I normally loved, since my go-to meals strangely just didn’t sound appetizing anymore. Within a few days, this progressed to complete food aversion. It got to the point where if I could just go without food of any kind for the foreseeable future and not die of starvation, that would have been my first choice. Everything sounded, looked, and smelled disgusting, and I wanted to throw a tantrum every time my stomach would growl because DON’T MAKE ME EAT, body! I was also completely exhausted – there were times when I would have to take a break from walking up the stairs, or brushing my teeth by sitting on the bathroom floor, because it felt like I’d just run 100 miles. I was feeling so terrible that I had to give my ticket away to a Neil DeGrasse-Tyson talk, an event that I’d been looking forward to for MONTHS. So sad.
Once the nausea kicked in full-force, it was pretty awful. So bad in fact, that in an effort to avoid having to call out sick or hide getting sick at work, that I actually kept an oversized Tupperware “puke bowl” in my car. Gross, I know. Thankfully, I never actually threw up, but felt like I was on the verge of it 24/7. I don’t know how women with Hyperemesis do it, you ladies deserve a gold medal for surviving that. I could barely handle how I was feeling – I would come home from work every evening, try to choke down some mashed potatoes or applesauce, then crawl in bed and just cry about how awful I felt. The worst part was not knowing if/when my hormones would settle and the sick feeling would end, and suffering alone since we didn’t want to tell anyone until the second trimester. I remember sitting on the couch one night with Jeremy halfway through week 6, saying “I don’t know how I’m going to do this. I can’t handle being pregnant and I have 34 weeks to go.” I felt so miserable, ungrateful and guilty. I know several women who have had a hard time conceiving, and here I was, complaining about how awful I was feeling while this amazing thing was happening. It was a confusing time, emotionally. Luckily, the major nausea tapered off within 4 weeks, my moods leveled out, and food sounds super-appetizing again now that I’m in the second trimester. And by super-appetizing, I mean I may or may not be turning into a culinary vacuum cleaner.
In lieu of this month’s favorites, here are some of my first trimester favorites that helped make the hardest trimester a little bit more bearable.
1. Chimes Ginger Chews
Jeremy brought home some of these chews from Zingerman’s a while ago, and I never really tried them until I started feeling sick. I’ve heard lots of good things about ginger for nausea, so I always kept a few of these on hand just in case. In my purse, in the car, in my pocket, etc… They’re really spicy without being too sweet, which really helped ease the nausea when I wasn’t sure I could make it through work without getting sick. Plus, they’re low in sugar which is much better than popping sour candy or Preggie Pop Drops, which I found were just glorified Jolly Ranchers.
So, bananas were my saving grace when my blood sugar would dip (because food sounded so gross that I just wouldn’t eat), which would then lead to serious nausea. I learned the best way to fight the nausea was to never let myself get too hungry, so I always had bananas with me because they were a small amount of food with just enough sugar to keep me going. I’m surprised I didn’t turn into one considering how many I ate. I would send Jeremy to the grocery store and ask him to get 2-3 bundles of them, and they’d be gone in less than a week. My first trimester record was 18 bananas in 5 days….yes, really.
3. Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30
With the exception of the green haze of weeks 6-10, I was able to get these weekly workouts in when I was feeling good enough. It was a workout I’d done before I got pregnant, and is a great way to get some endorphins flowing, build muscle, and get a little cardio in. It was gentle enough that I was able to handle it even when I felt too weak to run or do intense strength training, but I still felt like I got a good workout in when I was done. Now that I’m in the second trimester and my tiny belly is starting to make an appearance, I’ll have to adapt to another workout program that is easier on my abs (don’t want to get Diastasis Recti!), but this was great for the early days.
4. Glow Nurture App
I downloaded this app shortly after I found out I was pregnant. I love data and facts, so being able to see exactly how big the baby was at the moment, and how it was developing was really reassuring in the early days, when you don’t actually feel anything going on down there. I still haven’t actually felt any movement yet, but I need less reassurance now that I’m out of the danger zone. It also has a daily health log, and appointment reminders. The community forum can get a little catty, but I otherwise really enjoy the app. Available on Android and iOs.
5. La Croix Sparkling Water
This stuff is like the nectar of the gods during pregnancy. When I couldn’t stomach food, but would get so nauseous from being hungry, this sparkling water would be my first go-to item. The flavor (my favorites are Lime, and Cran-Raspberry) made it easier to take down than regular water, and the carbonation would fill my stomach up to take the nausea down long enough for me to eat something small. If this sparkling water were a person, I would be in love with it – it was a life saver!
6. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatals
I did a ton of research on prenatals before I actually made a purchase, and this one had the best reviews as far as how good they were for you, and how little they aggravated reviewer’s stomachs. When you already have all day nausea, you don’t want to add anything else into the mix to make it worse. Thankfully, these prenatals have been great. They don’t have a strong (read: gag-inducing) taste, and never upset my stomach even when I couldn’t stomach food along with them. I also think they may have played a role in me never actually getting sick.
7. The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin
We were gifted this book by one of Jeremy’s coworkers, and I read through it just out of curiosity. If you’re hoping for a more natural birth (hope is a strong word, since you can’t really plan much of it), this is a great read even for expectant mothers. I’ve learned a ton about the actual stages of labor, and what to expect every step of the way. Jeremy has recently picked it up as well, and it’s helped him to learn about the process of birth, and the best ways to be supportive during that time. Because of this book, we’re in the process of interviewing Birth Doulas — even if you’re not interested in hiring a doula, this is a MUST read for anyone you want in the delivery room as your support.
8. What to Expect When You’re Expecting
I know this book is the gold standard of pregnancy reading material, and I’m so glad I have it. It is super-detailed, and extremely thorough without being cheesy, or biased as some prenatal books can be. It is a great reference to have on hand when you’re experiencing weird symptoms, or are just curious about what should be happening during your current week of pregnancy. I highly recommend it for first-time moms who don’t know what they’re in for, it’s been a great resource for me!
9. Ingrid & Isabel Bellaband
As a first time soon-to-be mom, I’m definitely not naive to the fact that at some point my normal clothes (or at least some of them) won’t work for me when my bump grows to beached-whale proportions. However, that didn’t stop me from trying to prevent spending money on maternity clothing just yet. Tops were not an issue in the first trimester, but bottoms are a whole different story. PREGNANCY BLOAT IS A REAL PROBLEM, guys. By roughly week 8 or 9, it was too uncomfortable to try to button pants, but I was able to get by on the hair tie trick. However by week 11, that wasn’t cutting it anymore. Insert the Bellaband – it is a super-soft, smoothing band that you can wear over almost any unbuttoned/unzipped bottom, and it comes in several colors. I picked mine up at Target, in the color “Natural” to see if I liked it. Well, the verdict is in, and I LOVE it. This has allowed me to stretch the use of my pre-pregnancy clothing since the only thing growing right now is my belly. This is a MUST have, and I will definitely be picking it up in the other colors soon.
So, what were some of your first trimester favorites (or survival items)? If you’re reading this and you’re in the middle of the first trimester, good luck to you – you can do it! It gets so much better for most women, I promise!