(Hawaii - 20 weeks)
I thought I’d write down some thoughts about pregnancy so far. My experiences are certainly not unique but they have not been glorious or picture perfect as it seems to be commonly portrayed either. In the first trimester, I felt so unsure about everything and because I was hesitant to talk to others, lived a lot in my head.
How I felt: The first few weeks were filled with a lot of conflicting emotions. Overall it seemed so surreal. I felt equal parts excited, worried, incredulous, paranoid, and blessed.
What I didn’t expect: To feel so out of control. Granted, that partly had to do with hormones but I didn’t realize how much crazy it would get. Physically I had no idea what was going on—was I hungry? Nauseous? Did I have to go to the bathroom? All my signals were mixed up. Thankfully I didn’t have severe morning sickness, just an all day hung-over, motion sick type of feeling which surprisingly was only alleviated by eating (and I sure did lots of that).
I’d really like to be a balanced, even-keeled sort of person so when the pregnancy hormones hit, the highs and lows were exaggerated even more. I would feel myself flush with anger or annoyance over trivial things or laugh uncontrollably during inappropriate situations. I’m lucky I didn’t get invited to anything important during this time that required social finesse.
Emotionally and mentally I thought I had prepared pretty well but that all went out the window. Thinking about the enormity of parenthood would trigger moments of panic and doubt. I also had a few minor complications early on and it drove me crazy to have to wait and hope for the best and wait some more. I felt like I spent those early weeks holding my breath, trying not to get my hopes up, then alternately fearing the changes and responsibilities in the near future.
What I avoided: In the early weeks, I bought lots of pregnancy books, but reading the first few chapters, especially in the beginning when they talk about all the things that could go wrong made me incredibly anxious and I promptly hid the books underneath the bed. I also stayed off chat boards and Google as much as I could. I’m all for information but there was too much out there and it quickly overwhelmed me. I gleaned enough to get me by and then just had to shut the rest out and focus on remaining positive. I was also fortunate enough to have medical providers that are pretty practical in their advice and encouraged me to trust my intuition and logic to make good decisions for myself.
What helped: Eating every few hours helped appease the motion sickness monster. My taste buds gravitated towards really tart things so I would guzzle lime juice mixed with Sprite and consume an alarming amount of grapefruit and Sour Patch Kids. I took a quarter pill of Unisom and B vitamin religiously to help with the nausea and as a side bonus got some great sleep (except for the 2am bathroom treks). My saving grace turned out to be my weekly acupuncture appointments. I adore my acupuncturist and was amazed at all the symptoms (headaches, slow digestion, nausea, back pain) that could be alleviated with a few efficiently placed needles. The time spent there was also really calming and helped me center myself and be able to connect with the experience more.
I never knew: that once you are pregnant, your immune system lowers so your body doesn’t attack the baby. Makes sense right? However this suppressed immune system also leaves you susceptible to all sorts of nasty germs. I battled a two-week cold early on and sadly since a lot of medications were off the table, instead relied on my neti-pot to pull me over the edge. Also, around my 12th week I got shingles (painful recurrence of chicken pox on a nerve ending), which I would never wish on my worst enemy. I would actually say that it was big turning point for me. My perspective shifted when I realized that really a lot of things were out of my hands and I just had to do my best to keep healthy habits, be kind to myself, and stay positive for myself and the little one.
Alright, reading through all that, maybe I should've titled this "Confessions of a Worrywart" :) More to come on the 2nd trimester, thanks for taking this journey with me!