This week I am finally leaving the first trimester of my first pregnancy. Yay! And I say "finally" because I miscalculated. I thought, "Hm, pregnancy is nine months, so once I hit the third month (or 12 week) mark, I'm out of trimester #1. Yippee!" But pregnancy isn't about months -- it's about weeks, 40 weeks to be precise. And 40 weeks divided by 3 trimesters equals about 13.3 weeks, which is where I am at now. I look forward to leaving pervasive nausea and extreme fatigue behind!
Now that I've experienced pregnancy (well, the first part of it, anyway), there are quite a few things that I found surprising. It seems strange that these things do not seem to be commonly talked about -- I mean, if we can talk about things like morning sickness and sore breasts and frequent urination, why not talk about the other intricacies of first trimester life?
So, as you've probably guessed, I decided to dedicate this post to sharing all of those odd little things that surprised me about the first trimester of pregnancy. Be warned -- if you don't like things like mucus, then this post is not for you. If you are curious to find out more about the first trimester, however, read on. (Also, another disclaimer: this is a totally subjective reflection on my personal experiences. The first trimester may not be like this for every woman.)
Things I Wish I'd Known About the First Trimester Before Living It:
- Weird and random nausea. Normally I really enjoy being out in the sunshine during the summer. As soon as I became pregnant, however, exposure to the sun (especially the morning sun) seemed to trigger my normally (for my pregnancy) low-grade nausea into an oh-my-goodness-I'm-going-to-puke-right-now experience. Fun. I've only survived a few trips to the weekend farmer's market this year.
- Snacks defeat nausea. I'm lucky in that, while I did experience pervasive low level nausea, I was not physically sick during my first trimester (and I'm not complaining!). However, I did notice that eating regularly helped manage my nausea. The day I discovered I was pregnant, I hadn't eaten anything all day because I felt so lousy. Not eating makes my nausea worse, while keeping my metabolism steady makes it better, and apparently this is not an uncommon coping strategy for pregnant women.
- Unexpected food revulsions. I expected to have odd food cravings during pregnancy (and I have had a few -- think ketchup and mustard on scrambled eggs). I did not, however, expect to be unable to tolerate certain foods -- and healthy foods at that! I was devastated to find out early on that vegetables made me gag. I love my salads, and the idea of not being able to stomach something as nutritious and vitamin-rich as my beloved veggies was rather scary. However, I soon discovered that what my body (and baby?) was craving was healthy fat. When I added low-fat dressings to my salads, I was able to keep vegetables down again. I also had some major beef cravings early on, which is interesting since I ordinarily eat beef twice a year. I think my body was sending me a message!
- Rise of the super sniffer. So I expected morning sickness. I expected having to pee every five seconds. I expected food cravings, and so the food revulsions weren't all that surprising. But I definitely did not expect to suddenly develop the world's most sensitive sense of smell. Early on, before I even knew that I was pregnant, I told the Best Husband Ever that the rainy day smelled polluted or metallic. I could almost taste it, and it was gross. Other smells that now bother me (that never did) include: window cleaner, our dogs, and my own breath. Delightful.
- More mucus. Expect to have a very wet vagina if you become pregnant. When a woman becomes pregnant, a mucus plug appears in her cervix to prevent bacteria from entering the uterus. So expect to very, ah, juicy. It is normal. I have never used so many panty liners in such a short time.
- Vaginal ultrasounds. When the Best Husband Ever and I went to our first maternity appointment, I was excited at the prospect of having an early ultrasound photo of our baby. What I was not excited about was the fact that, as we entered the exam room, the nurse instructed me to strip down for a vaginal ultrasound. Um, what?! Now, let me first say that the vaginal probe -- er, I mean ultrasound ;) did not hurt and turned out to be fairly comfortable. But I did not like being surprised with the procedure. I mean, I hadn't even known that such a thing existed. I wish I had known to preserve my mental health while we waited for the doctor to come and administer said procedure.
- Navigating to the truth. In researching pregnancy and childbirth, I have found it difficult to suss out what is actually best for the baby, and for me, from the rather rabid battle being fought between home birth advocates and medical birth advocates. I don't know if I'm gullible in nature, but when I read a book published on something as important as birth, I assume that its writers are legit and the editors did not allow the skewing of facts. Unfortunately, this does not seem to always be the case. I have had to be really, really careful about what I believe, because I think that many (but definitely not all!) of the most active home birth supporters are unfortunately more interested in being right than preserving the health and safety of new babies and their mothers. I was so sad to have to come to that conclusion.
- New fears. When I found out I was pregnant, I initially felt bombarded by new fears -- miscarriage, developmental disorders, and cesareans topped the list, not to mention the worries that come with the daunting challenge of parenthood. But I was not surprised by those fears. I was, however, surprised to experience fear during procedures at my doctor appointments that I had been looking forward to -- namely ultrasounds and listening to the baby's heartbeat (which I already wrote about here). Even with our first uncomplicated ultrasound, there was a brief moment while the doctor was searching for the baby that I thought a horrified, "What if . . . ?" Deep breathing and prayer have gone a long way to help in those situations, and I imagine it will remain so for our exciting finding-out-the-baby's-sex ultrasound in a month and a half. I have had to be careful not to allow the what-ifs to flood over me, but just to breathe and pray and trust.
For more first trimester insight, I recommend watching Goddess Leonie's Pregnant Goddess Diaries videos and her three-part Best Friend's Guide to Pregnancy. The latter series has some excellent tips on the wearing of underwear. ;)
If you've been pregnant before, what things surprised you about the experience? If you haven't been pregnant, do you have any questions? Maybe I can help! :)
"Hannah prayed: I'm bursting with God-news! I'm walking on air. I'm laughing at my rivals. I'm dancing my salvation." ~ 1 Samuel 2:1