Pregnancy Journal: First Trimester
In case you missed the announcement on Facebook and Instagram: I'm pregnant! Kristian and I are overjoyed (and a little freaked out of course) and so thankful that we didn't postpone trying to conceive. Now that I’m starting to feel more like myself (thank God for the second trimester), I thought I’d post a little pregnancy update for those who are interested. Ever since I got married, I’ve been fascinated by hearing about other women’s pregnancies, but I wasn’t so fascinated before marriage...so, I totally get it if this isn’t the post for you.
That said, if you ARE curious about how things in my first-time pregnant mama world have been, read on! I promise not to go into any gory details.
Due date: 11/6/17
But I doubt I’ll give birth on that date. How do I know that? 1) Most first-time moms do NOT give birth on or even close to their due dates, unless they’re having a planned C-section. 2) If you chart your fertility using NFP/FABM, you can usually pinpoint a very small range of dates during which you may have conceived. The OB/GYN or midwife will date your pregnancy from your last period, but that’s not as accurate, for obvious reasons. In any case, based on my conception date, my due date is probably more like mid-November.
Let me just say that when you’re just married, 33, and hoping to get pregnant, it’s really easy to interpret every single possible sign as proof that you’re in the family way. I tried not to do this, but I did think it was odd that when Kristian and I met up with my parents and sister/sister’s fiance in Utah for a ski weekend that I was dizzy the whole time. I also had a cold (turns out that’s a common symptom of early pregnancy since your immune system is suppressed to give the embryo a chance to implant and thrive), which I thought was maybe the reason why I had vertigo. When I complained to my dad (who is an ear, nose, and throat doctor) about it, he looked at me slyly and asked, “Christina, is there a chance you could be pregnant?” Of course, there was more than a chance, but I didn’t want to jump the gun just yet. I knew that I was still too early on for a home pregnancy test to pick anything up.
Date of Pregnancy test: 3/4/17
Shortly after we got back from Utah, I picked up a Clear Blue Easy pregnancy test from the grocery store, but had to wait till the next morning to take it (agony!). Kristian and I were both pretty sure that I was pregnant at this point, as I was late for my period, my basal temperature had been higher than normal, and I was feeling unusually tired...but you never know! The next morning, I took the test while Kristian was making breakfast, and when it flashed “pregnant”, I went into the kitchen and told Kristian he was a Daddy. We embraced and I felt a joy (and fear) that I thought would make me burst.
First Trimester Symptoms:
My symptoms varied from week to week, but I had the typical nausea (never threw up, thankfully) and extreme fatigue, especially during weeks 7 and 8. I have to give major props to mamas who work full time during the first trimester; there were days when all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and my gratitude for working part time from home was boundless. I also continue to have “super smell,” occasional mood swings (one day I cried four separate times), and sloooooooooooow digestion.
My #1 craving, especially during my worst weeks, is TACOS. There’s something about the savory, salty, meat/eggs-and-vegetables combo that really works for me. Fortunately, I live in the land of novelty tacos, so I’ve had lots of options to choose from (Torchy’s is by far my fave). I haven’t craved anything sweet, and for a few weeks I didn’t even feel like eating super dark chocolate, which is normally one of my favorite foods.
My midwife told me that eating small, protein-packed snacks throughout the day was the best way to keep the nausea at bay, and she was right. She also said it was completely fine to gain up to 8 pounds the first trimester just from snacking to keep from throwing up! Of course, I had to deal with all of my old eating disorder demons and freakouts about weight gain (more on that in another post), but when my midwife told me that I should consider NOT getting on a scale for the duration of my pregnancy, I felt an instant wave of relief. I’m learning to trust my body, and remember that weight gain during pregnancy is good, so long as it stays within a healthy range--and I trust my midwife to let me know if she’s concerned about my eating/exercising habits.
Thankfully, I’ve been able to workout at least a few times a week for almost the entirety of my first trimester. I know that’s rare, and I chalk it up to the fact that my symptoms aren’t severe AND that I was already at a pretty good fitness level before I got pregnant. I definitely had to take more breaks and found myself yawning as I did my burpees, but working out (even if it was just a brisk walk) gave me a sense of normalcy that I very much needed.
Spiritual and emotional challenges:
The biggest bummer for me during week 10, which also happened to be Holy Week, was not being able to make it to the Easter Vigil--for the first time since my freshman year of college. I look forward to the Vigil all year, and at our parish it’s particularly beautiful. Kristian and I reflected on the fact that this was just the beginning of the sacrifices, big and small, we would have to make for our baby.
The biggest struggle for me by far has been the vulnerability that comes with growing a new life within my body. Never have I felt more susceptible to the dangers of the world: to all of the potential threats to my health or my baby’s health--to the threats to my family’s safety--to loss and disappointment. It is by far the most paradigm-shifting life change I have ever or will ever experience, and everyday I’m reminded of my need to surrender everything to the Lord. Because the reality is that I don’t have ultimate control over my or my baby’s health; I don’t have ultimate control over God’s plan for my family; I don’t have ultimate control over my fertility or my time or my body or really anything. And that is an important--albeit difficult--lesson for a control freak like me to learn. (And if ever had a difficult time understanding why a pregnant woman who felt alone and unsupported would be tempted to get an abortion, I don’t now. But more on that in another post.)
-Falling more in love with Kristian as he does so much to support me, especially when I’m too sick/tired to love him in the ways I wish I could. He never complains and is always ready and willing to make whatever strange meal my pregnant heart desires, let me sleep in (even if that means he’s up for four hours before me), postpone travel plans, and put our social life on hold for a little while. It’s uncomfortable for me to receive this kind of unconditional love, but it’s been such a gift and makes me appreciate even more how blessed I am to have him in my life.
-The first couple of ultrasounds. The fact that I could SEE the outline of my baby’s body as early as 8 weeks makes me incredibly grateful for modern medical technology.
-Hearing the baby’s heartbeat, which was the most surreal, humbling, overwhelmingly beautiful experience of my life. I was able to FaceTime Kristian into the appointment, so he got to hear it too. We both teared up and I think it’s one of those “firsts” that will stick with us for the rest of our lives.
-Announcing the pregnancy on social media and being overwhelmed by the joy of so many people, especially my former students/spiritual children.
First Trimester reading list:
Note: I realize this is a long list. There are two good reasons for this: 1) I’m not working full time, and my part time writing work I do from home. 2) I’m a HUGE nerd and as soon as I found out I was pregnant I was so excited to read everything I could about pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, parenting, you name it. It’s like a whole new world of knowledge has opened up for me and I’m loving every minute of it.
(Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase a title linked in this post from Amazon, at no additional cost to you, a portion of the sale comes back to me.)
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin (5 stars)
This book not only dispelled my fears about childbirth, but renewed my desire to have an unmedicated, non-hospital birth if at all possible. I’m praying that my pregnancy will proceed as normal and I won’t need a C-section or any other medical interventions. I plan on re-reading this during the third trimester.
Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel J. Siegel (4 stars)
Yes, I’m already reading parenting books. What can I say? I’m a huge nerd. This book is a great companion to the therapy I’ve already done (and continue to do); it addresses how to parent with love and logic instead of out of bad relational habits you may have picked up in your own childhood.
A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot (5 stars)
I absolutely loved this book. It’s definitely written for moms who already have kids, but I found it helpful for my own life right now. I may never have as detailed a schedule as Holly adopted for herself, but I know that her discussion of the priorities of married life will influence the rhythm of my life from now on.
Then Comes Baby by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak (4 stars)
I’m not always a fan of Dr. Popcak’s writings, but I thought this book was super helpful, and I’d recommend it to any first-time mom. First of all, it assuaged some of my fears about having a newborn/being a mom in general. Secondly, there’s lots of practical advice on parenting babies in it that both Kristian and I appreciated. Thirdly, it’s an easy read, which is perfect for when you’re feeling a bit brain-dead from fatigue during the first trimester. I think this is one that I’ll revisit many times over the course of my pregnancy and Baby J’s infancy. (I gave it four stars because sometimes it’s just so cheesy I can’t handle it.)
Raising a Secure Child (5 stars)
I’m still reading this parenting book, but man is it good. It’s similar to Parenting from the Inside Out, but I’ve found it more illuminating in terms of understanding my own childhood and how it could impact the way I parent.
Meditations for the Expectant Mother by Helen Good Brenneman
This was given to me by a dear friend with five kids, and I’ve so enjoyed the short and sweet meditations. The author is Protestant, but I think the book is helpful for Christians of all stripes. It’s not organized in any particular way, so you can sort of read it at your own pace. A lot of the meditations are geared toward the latter half of pregnancy.
A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy by Sarah A. Reinhard
This is a week-by-week book that has helped me walk with Mary through my pregnancy. I love that the author also addresses practical things like gracefully accepting the changes that happen to your body while pregnant, especially if you have a history of an eating disorder (as I do).
The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Birth by Genevieve Howland
This book didn’t come out till the end of my first trimester, but I’m so glad I bought it. I love Genevieve’s blog/YouTube channel and this book is as thorough as they come. She covers everything from a healthy pregnancy diet to fetal development to how to choose a midwife/OB.
In the Womb by Peter Tallack
If you like to geek out on biology and find microscopic images of the goings on in the womb fascinating, this is the book for you.
Stuff I watched when I was glued to the couch:
Nine months of pregnancy in four minutes (prepare to be blown away)
The Business of Being Born (available on Netflix/Amazon Prime Instant Watch)
What to Expect When You’re Expecting (hilarious)
Juno (a classic)
Father of the Bride Part II (another classic)
All of the episodes of Parks & Rec related to pregnancy (obviously)
Call the Midwife
NB: this show not for the faint of heart, but I loved watching it while pregnant. It reminded me of how normal and natural childbirth is, and that women’s bodies are made to do this. It also makes me super grateful that women in labor aren’t required to have enemas anymore. OUCH.
Blogs that I’ve found helpful:
Whew! That's all she wrote for now, folks. Expect another one of these (hopefully not as long though!) at the end of my next trimester. And please share any pregnancy advice you have in the comments! I'm all ears. :)