When those words showed up on the digital early pregnancy test, after taking a couple of recently expired regular ones, I knew it was true. My first positive ever. “Alright then.” Between my husband and I – we both can be emotional and non-emotional at the same time. What you would imagine would generate screams, laughs and tears, ended up being my husband on the phone with a friend, me shouting “I need you to get off the phone NOW” and us reacting with a simple “huh”. Honestly, I think were both a bit shocked – it actually said positive. Was it a joke? A fluke? Was it real?
Yes, yes it was real.
Don’t get me wrong, we were both extremely excited – and you saw the excitement build over the following 24 hours as it began to settle in. We were in the middle of quarantine, facing what’s probably one of the most exhausting years of our recent life like everyone else, and there it was. The first truly positive thing of the year.
To be honest, the first trimester has been hell. But call me a realist.
Overall, I can say being pregnant in the middle of COVID-2020-year has been unique. The biggest change had to be the approach to my OBGYN visits. What would normally be that exciting first visit with you and your partner to go in for your confirmation appointment where you’d get to visually see your new baby – was not. Brad waited in the car, I was in the doctor’s office wearing a mask. I took a video, and even called him on FaceTime for a short period so he’d get to experience at least a little bit of it. Then of course being isolated from most people this year, staying home in quarantine, means people don’t see you. So in general, it’s been a little lonely.
The advantages? That hell-ish first trimester could be done working from home. I get to spend even more time with my husband, truly seeing the progression together, and quite honestly having him around majority of the time to help out even more since I mostly didn’t feel great for 3 months. Not having to come up with excuses why I couldn’t do something – no happy hours that I had to skip, or crazy mountain hiking trips that I had to pass up on.
Apps and websites that I’ve found most useful:
- What to Expect app – this is the most reliable for the weekly updates. I found out what fruit or vegetable the baby is each week, what symptoms I’ll face and what interesting tidbits are happening.
- Reddit – of course, I’ve been a Redditor for a decade now, so naturally I joined the pregnany subreddits, and have been engaging with them ever since. Probably the least dramatic of the forums out there with other mothers-to-be.
- Babylist – I loved this website for reviews and recommendation lists. I was able to find “top 10 of XYZ” lists when starting my hunt for baby items that I’d commit myself to.
- Baby Name – this app was one that both Brad and I downloaded, where we would swipe through names, and get matched if we swiped ‘like’ on the same names. This made baby name discovery time fun, especially in the early days of pregnancy.
- Pinterest – we all have a Pinterest account. I fired up some of my old baby boards from years back, and re-organized them. In the recent years, I’ve loved how you can create a main board with sub-boards, where I’m able to keep all things with this baby organized and easy to find. From pinning ideas from websites for registry or nursery items to building inspirational boards, this of course was the best place to house ideas and thoughts.
How I felt
My symptoms in first trimester really were by the book:
Morning sickness – although that’s a joke. I hear some women never really experience morning sickness, some get it during a certain time of the day. Well, I was the one who had it all-freaking-day. But just like the app said, around week 12 or 13, you might get the relief from the nausea. Just like that, week 12, it was gone.
That hangover feeling – yeah, I essentially felt hungover. Like that almost-over-the-edge queasiness with the bit of a headache and fatigue.
Exhaustion – this girl hates naps. But first trimester, if you don’t nap, you are essentially useless. As someone who isn’t a long sleeper normally, my advice to all pregnant women – accept it and get as much sleep as you can. Have 15 minutes and feeling a little tired? Take advantage of it and get 12 minutes of shut eye, seriously.
Clockwork sleep schedule – it’s true, your bladder process doubles. I’ve never peed so much in my life. And it was like it was on a timed schedule too. Every day I’d wake up between 3-4 a.m. to pee – and haven’t skipped a single night yet.
Bloated belly – you might ask yourself if you are already showing and seeing the baby grow! Yeah, not yet – that’s just you bloating. I transitioned out of my normal jeans very, very quickly. And not because I had the belly but because of the bloating. I switched up a size in my mom’s jeans to give myself comfort and stuck to pull-on high waisted loose pants as long as I could. I also used the hairband trick on the button of my jeans – but once I hit week 12, none of my jeans fit and I had to start transitioning to maternity (which to be honest were so comfortable, so I recommend investing in a couple of different colors/styles so you have some options).
Indigestion – oh yes. And forget the Pepto Bismol, ladies. I was sad to not see this on the approved medicine list that my doctor gave me. But fortunately, I already had a supply of Tum’s Smoothies ready to use. This never really went away the entire first trimester.
What I ate (and what I avoided)
Most of first trimester was zero appetite, and eating what I could stomach. My senses were heightened, and my nausea radar was at an all time high. So finding the foods that I could eat without feeling repulsed was mission critical.
Some of my favorites:
Salted pretzels – this seriously got me through the entire first trimester. You could dip in hummus if you need an extra flavor, but the saltiness yet plain flavor was easy to eat.
Ginger candies – not a food, but something I could quickly pop in if I felt a ‘pregnancy hangover episode’ coming on. What I found worked best for me was the constant eating to curb the nausea, as well as these morning sickness candies.
Water – another “non-food” but an essential thing that I had to train myself to take more in. I’m horrible at drinking water, but I had to stay hydrated if I wanted to stay sane, and keep that metallic taste gone.
Pistachios – filling and mild.
Plain Greek Yogurt with Honey – yum, yum, yum. I love some thick Greek yogurt, with a drizzle of honey on top. Add some pecans, and you’ve hit the jackpot. Fortunately I found this to be not only one of my favorite snacks in general (even when I’m not pregnant) but also one really good for you too.
Ginger ale – they say eat ginger when feeling nauseous. I found ginger ale very good when I was starting to feel crummy – both for the ginger taste, but also the bit of fizzy.
Uncrustables PB&J – easy to eat, punch of flavor with the jelly, and easy on the stomach.
Things I couldn’t eat from aversions? Sweet potato (so sad), avocados (even more sad), red sauce pizza and eggs.
Tips for the first trimester
Sleep as much as you can. Trust me, you’re speaking to a night owl here. Getting more sleep than you think you need can make you feel that much better, and your body needs the rest during this important time of the pregnancy development.
Eat what you can. It’s easy to get sucked into the “what you should be eating” lists. But in the first trimester, the goal is to keep things down and keep yourself fed and hydrated. Of course there are foods and drinks you should stop consuming once you find out your pregnant (raw fish, soft cheeses, 32 cups of coffee, etc…) but don’t worry about scarfing down that salad if it makes you feel sick. I found lighter foods, smaller meals, with lots of water helped.
Relax. I attempted to join forums and communities but the stress that some of these mom-to-be’s were posting about starting to stress me out too. I think many women become hypochondriacs once they find out their pregnant, and worry over every little pain or feeling (understandably). Pregnancy is a weird thing! Your body is going through so much change and development. Advice that I read and has made this pregnancy stress free is recognizing that you will feel, see and experience weird and unusual things as your body and the baby develop. If something stands out as mega painful or continuous, or you have bleeding, call your doctor and talk to them.