This is the first of what I hope to be a weekly post dedicated to my current (and first!) pregnancy. I’ve been greatly helped by reading about other women’s human-growing experiences, especially when it comes to all things related to prenatal health and wellness as well as maintaining a positive mindset and avoiding a lot of the anxiety-producing issues that tend to surround this phase of life.
This week’s post is dedicated to the lessons I learned (or am learning) during my first trimester. Right now I’m in Week 14 of the pregnancy which puts me right at the line between the first and second trimester.
I hope this is entertaining and educational, because it didn’t always feel that way in the moment.
1. I feel like I became “HUGE” overnight, and no one noticed.
This is an incredibly frustrating part of the first trimester. Not all women gain weight or size (two different things) at the same rate, but it’s likely that the ‘girls‘ gain a bit of size, and your pants start to fit… differently. I experienced bloating that looked like I was already starting to show, but… I wasn’t. No one noticed that I was getting bigger and when I started sharing the news, people would look at me and exclaim “I couldn’t even tell!” This is upsetting for two reasons:
- It made me wonder if I’d ALWAYS looked and felt this gigantic.
- Once you are pregnant, you want people to be able to tell you’re pregnant. Like it or not, pregnancy is associated with a big ol’ belly. When you don’t have one, you feel kind of like you’re lying.
Gratitude: Eventually, I learned that it’s important to appreciate how “small” you are in the beginning because in a few short months, the ACTUAL belly will show up and you’ll really find out what it’s like to not fit in your clothes. Gratitude is key to accepting every stage of this process. Body changes especially!
2. Nausea is No Joke.
Especially since I cook for a living. Beyond that personal caveat, I imagine that nausea even sucks for those who never step foot in a kitchen or grocery store. Why? Because we all need to eat, and that’s hard when you’re constantly queasy. While not all pregnancies are the same, statistics show that MOST pregnant women experience some nausea during the first trimester. Notice I’m not saying “morning sickness” because that’s actually a horrible joke. I would have welcomed only AM nausea in comparison to the all-day kind I enjoyed for 2 months.
Gratitude: Yes, you can have gratitude for nausea when pregnant. Why? Because it means you likely are in the midst of a healthy pregnancy. While doctors aren’t completely sure why nausea typically accompanies that first 14 weeks, most do believe that it’s some evolutionary trait that helps protect the mother from consuming anything that may be hazardous for the growing fetus. Yay Science!
3. My hunger, fullness, and food choices changed.
My pregnant eating experience has been this; I would lose my appetite due to the nausea, then get hit with a wave of hunger when I absolutely couldn’t avoid nourishing myself any longer.
In the beginning, all I could stand to think of eating was gluten-free cereal, eggs, toast, or fruit. Unfortunately (or fortunately at the case may be) my body did not like these things (except for the eggs). I’ve learned that eating bland, carbohydrate-driven foods does not make my nausea go away and oftentimes makes it worse. I fare much better eating real, whole food meals like a lettuce-wrapped burger, tuna salad, or an omelette with avocado.
Sometimes “listen to your body” actually means listen to your BODY. Not your mind. Your mind will play tricks with you during pregnancy… but the body does not lie. I always consume protein and fat before or with my carbohydrate foods.
Gratitude: This is one of the first times in my life that I feel like I have a very healthy relationship with food. I am honest about my hunger and fullness. I’m honest about my need for this or that. I don’t feel torn about making this choice or that choice. I don’t fear eating too much or too little. I feel free to nourish myself without constant consideration of “my goals” or “rules” or “my workouts”, etc. It’s awesome.
4. Pregnancy can be isolating.
You would think that there’s so much joy and togetherness brought about by a pregnancy, but for the past couple of months I’ve felt pretty alone.
Most people wait until the end of the first trimester to share the news with everyone, so that means living your life with others as though nothing MAJOR is happening to you and your body at the moment. It’s a hard secret to keep.
Beyond that, I found that as a pregnant woman, it’s difficult to really compare your life to others. As I would scroll though Instagram, looking at badass women lifting weight, rock climbing, or drinking wine… I’d feel a little… left out. I’m over here doing my baby-growing thing and they’re over there doing their thing.
This feeling even extends into relating with other pregnant women. It may be surprising to some, but every pregnancy is different. So I would talk to other pregnant women and hear “Oh, mine was so much worse/better/different/weird/more/less than yours”. Again, hard to find commonality with the people around you.
Gratitude: There is a very special gift in this experience. When else in your life can you really embrace your own personal journey without looking to the right or left for help on decided what to do next? Pregnancy is a great time to turn inward and really pay attention to your own voice. What do you want to do? How do you want to feel? Are you hungry? Tired? Excited? Just go with your own needs and desires during this time. The time for joining in with the crowd will always be there, but this time is just for you and your growing baby!
5. Emotions. So many Emotions.
Yes. I’ve cried a lot. Way more than normal. It’s kind of funny but also kind of frustrating. What? I can’t watch a tribute to Dick Van Dyke with out sobbing like a child? Who am I? When I was 5 years old, I was nicknamed (by the yard-duty no less), “No-Nonsense Nikki”. Well, that one will have to sit on the shelf till beyond postpartum cause there’s all kinds of emotional nonsense going on right now.
Gratitude: I’m going to direct your attention over to a wonderful woman with an incredible book on the female experience, Dr. Christiane Northrup of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. This point has to do with all women, especially during the more “emotional” times of the month. Instead of looking at your newfound sensitivity as “silly” and “irrational”, choose to see it as a sign. A sign pointing to the depth of your human experience that is wanting to be heard. There are a lot of feelings that I can easily brush off when I’m feeling centered and emotionally stable, but that’s not always advised. Now, when I get emotional about something, it’s an invitation for me to look behind the crying and find what part of me is sensitive to what just occurred. Maybe a show reminded me of childhood. Maybe I’m carrying fear about bringing a human into a very complicated world. Maybe I’m coming face to face with some really profound insecurities. I can’t name them all, but usually, my emotional outbursts are just 2 layers shy of something really raw and vulnerable for me. Try looking at your “hormonal” moments as a great opportunity to deal with some issues that would normally fly under the radar.