First Trimester Survival
From the day I found out I was pregnant I have been googling pregnancy stuff like a high school student writing a research paper at the 11th hour.
I had NO idea what I was doing (I mean, other than the basics: stop drinking alcohol, don’t do blatantly dangerous stuff, etc.) because I hadn’t imagined it would actually WORK and I’d get pregnant RIGHT AWAY. I thought I had more time to do research! Thank goodness I’d been taking pre-natal vitamins for months already, but basically every time we considered food, over the counter medicines, or weekend activities I had to google it first to make sure that it was safe for this new little passenger I had on board.
The first tip off that I had indicating I might be pregnant was while making dinner at an Air BnB in Cape Breton on our honeymoon. In the midst of roasting broccoli, I suddenly could NOT stand the smell of it. I made Joel take it into another room and hide it from me. The next day we stopped by a Shopper’s Drug Mart (I’m quietly delighted that this Canadian icon is part of our story now.) and purchased MULTIPLE brands of pregnancy tests. BOOM. Two pink lines. A blue plus sign. WOAH.
From there, the symptoms only got more fun! Cramping and bloating and nausea, oh my.
Even better, every single symptom of early pregnancy is either an indicator that everything is going along exactly as it should but also simultaneously could indicate that you’re having a miscarriage so maybe you should call your doctor? Except your doctor won’t see you for an appointment until you’re at least eight weeks along? Which, by the way, seems like an INSANELY long time to wait when you just want a qualified medical professional to tell you that YES, you are pregnant and it hasn’t just been in your head.
So for all of you knocked up folks out there who are simultaneously over the moon and COMPLETELY FREAKING OUT, here are a few things that I found wildly helpful during those awkward first 13ish weeks:
#1. Expecting Better Book.
This book saved my sanity. The instant you find out you’re pregnant everyday life becomes a minefield- eating the wrong thing, drinking the wrong thing, putting the wrong thing on your face, etc. could JEOPARDIZE YOUR UNBORN CHILD. For those among us who tend towards the overachieving/perfectionist way of existing, this is EXTRA problematic. This book is written by an Economist who teaches at Brown. She uses actual information to lay out your options and risk levels in a way that make intellectual sense. Emily Oster is a goddess among women. Spoiler alert: drinking caffeine is pretty much fine. Relax.
We used this adorable little thing to surprise some of the folks we shared our early pregnancy news with and it was very well received.
So we all know we should be drinking more water than we are, but when you’re pregnant and your body is LITERALLY growing a living being (and generating a whole new organ to sustain that being… hello placenta!) you need ALL. THE. WATER. I found that with nausea and food aversions running rampant, cold water with fresh lime juice saved me. This tumbler holds enough that I’m not constantly refilling it, keeps water cold, fits in car cup holders, and is super easy to clean. I’m literally drinking out of it as I type this. Big fan.
Drinking liquids through straws makes it easier/ faster to consume more of whatever your drinking. While this might have been a strategy you once used with margaritas on Spring Break, it can be easily transferred to water consumption now that you’re partying for two and gazing longingly at the Tequila you have to take a hiatus from. My normal metal reusable straws weren’t tall enough for my snazzy new giant tumbler, so I got these inexpensive flexible big ones.
Real talk: I was WILDLY bloated for the first two months of my pregnancy. I had no legit bump so maternity pants wouldn’t fit, but regular pants were pretty miserable to wear. (Plus in the back of my mind I was at least slightly worried that if anything pressed on my abdomen it would somehow hurt the baby… that’s not really how that works.) So HELLO ELASTIC WAISTBANDS! I sized up to an XL and bought these in a few wear-in-public-appropriate colors, as well as a few fun-wear-at-home colors and they’re easily my favorite pants these days. They don’t look ridiculous with a large short sleeved button down, which is nice, since that’s probably the closest I’m ever going to get to being a VSCO girl.
#6. Ginger ale.
THE GINGER IN GINGER ALE HELPS SETTLE YOUR STOMACH. This is a thing. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve encountered on planes who think any old soda has this effect- NO. Ginger. Ale. People. I tried a few different brands that were more or less gingery, but ultimately it was good old Canada Dry that won the day for me. If your nausea is debilitating, talk to your doctor about options- there are good ones! In a pinch I learned that Bendryl helped me curb the worst of it and was safe for me to take. That may not be the case for everyone and LORD KNOWS I AM NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL, so don’t just take my word for it.
#7. Researching options for birth and finding the Birth Center: GET THEE TO A MIDWIFE
More real talk: I have a severe and sometimes debilitating fear of needles and blood. Not “ew, gross!” but rather “GRAB THE SMELLING SALTS SHE’S DOWN AGAIN”. It’s a really serious problem, and no amount of willpower or resignation (and trust me, my will is sometimes scary) has been able to stop my body’s physical reaction to these things that make me pass out. Generally, medical people don’t take this seriously, or they minimize it, or they make me feel even worse about this thing I can’t control and already feel ridiculous about. Not so at the Birth Center where I’m getting my prenatal care, and where, if all goes to plan, I’ll be delivering little Sparkle sometime in February. I have NEVER in my entire life experienced a medical facility where I’ve been treated with so much compassion, kindness, empathy, and genuine care. I’m absolutely in love with the Nurse Midwives at this place and will VERY happily share the name of the practice with you if you’re in the Philadelphia area. They’re amazing.
#9. Telling people I would be ok “untellling” if necessary.
My criteria for telling family/friends very very early on (like, baaaaarely pregnant) was that they would be people I would want to turn to if we had to face a pregnancy loss. It was that simple. Luckily, we haven’t had to face that so far (knock on wood) and it was such a relief not having to keep this secret from at least some of the people we were dying to tell.
I started taking these months before we got married and absolutely loved them as good vitamins. They smell amazing, they made my hair super glossy, and they have NEVER ONCE upset my stomach, which was super critical when random things would send my digestive system into panic mode.