First Trimester Recap
Let's chat pregnancy!! Many of you have asked for updates, and I am promising to do my best to share whenever possible. SO, here it goes!
It seems that each trimester of pregnancy brings its own unique set of delights, challenges, important decisions, and learning-curves (hah). My first trimester was marked by a few distinct things and I can't wait to share all the juicy details with you.
My 1st Trimester Recap
Marked by week 1 to week 14 of my pregnancy.
The Important Dates
Week 3.5 – August 12: saw a positive (!!) test result on a home pregnancy stick! I used Clear Blue, because it says “pregnant” or “not pregnant” and I didn’t want to squint at potentially invisible pink lines. I had *not* missed a cycle yet, but took the test because the app I was using told me I should! I was expecting my cycle the next day and was so surprised to see a positive result; the test I'd taken 3 days prior was negative! As I know now, “negative” then really just meant that I didn't have enough hCG in my urine for the test to pick up. SO FUN! You can read more about my day-of findings over on my blog baby announcement HERE.
Week 8 – September 12: confirmed the start of a healthy pregnancy with our doctor via a sonogram. This was SUCH a neat pinch-me experience, hearing our baby's heartbeat for the first time. The printout we got from the sonogram didn’t look like much, but the heart was beating so so fast! Michael cried (I’m a weirdo and didn’t) because it still didn’t feel very real to me.
Week 10 – September 25: Before our next big appointment, we had ALREADY decided that we wanted to go in for the Cell Free DNA Test. This test is just a mother's blood draw (from my arm) and will test for a variety of fetal genetic markers. We were initially only wanting the test because we were eager to know the baby's sex, but it was nice to hear that everything in the baby’s DNA looked safe and sound. Aside from the genetic information, this test is the soonest (and most conclusive) way to learn the sex of the baby. If you're having a boy, the Y chromosome will be present in the mother's blood and if it's a girl, there will be no Y chromosome (because girls are XX). It’s WILD to me that you can find out your baby’s sex so early in your pregnancy these days! (Nearly) gone are the days of worrying if your ultrasound tech “missed something” at the 20-week anatomy scan.
Week 11.5 – October 9: 12-week sonogram and baby is starting to look more like a little human! The baby was lying on its back with its feet crossed at the ankles and her arm over her head. Either he or is a drama queen, or already a good napper. The baby wasn’t quite in the right position, and the ultrasound tech was moving the wand all over my belly to try to get the baby to move. The baby wouldn’t move and she looked at me and said “your kid is uncooperative.” I laughed and said “good start.” 8 weeks old and already not following directions. This is a diagnostic sonogram and it was (again) so exciting to see and hear the baby. We had a normal reading for the “nuchal fold” (or thickness at the back of the neck), which is a good indicator that everything is progressing normally. An abnormally thick “nuchal fold” could be a sign of SO MANY things, but the ones they're most concerned with are Trisomy 13 (Patau Syndrome), Trisomy 18 (Edward's Syndrome), and Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome). I was perhaps strangely unworried about these results. I feel really strongly that Michael and I are going to be blessed with the EXACT baby we're meant to parent! We were eager to get definitive results so that we could best care for our little jellybean and get the best education for after birth. At this appointment, we sat down with our midwife and she “opened” the results of our Cell Free DNA test. We scrolled down to see that baby was negative for ALL tested genetic markets and that there it was our baby’s sex. (For now, I’m keeping this information private-ish) For some reason it feels very intimate, and I’m not ready to share on the wider internets just yet. If you have my phone number, feel free to text me and I’ll happily share.
How My Body is Changing
Though my belly was just slightly bigger than before, my main body changes were that I started retaining water and more body fat around my hips, booty and thighs, pretty much immediately. (And my boobs are huge—it’s weird like, “are these even MINE?”). I felt and looked constantly bloated—I think a lot of it had to do with the foods I was eating (more on that later)—and for a moment it really took me back to before I found real-food nutrition in 2013 and before I healed my gut and systemic inflammation. It almost felt like I was filling the parts of my body that used to be inflamed back out. Even though I know a good bit about body chemistry and the changes to expect during pregnancy, it was still a jarring experience …and I know I'm not alone here. 1st time Mom especially may not show an actual baby bump at all during the 1st trimester, but a lot of us ARE gaining in weight and size. It can mess with your head (or it did mine) as I wondered if I was doing something wrong, inflamed for any reason that should be of concern, or gaining weight too quickly. I was also too tired and nausea a lot of days to do any regular exercise, which made me feel like I was just blowing up real fast.
Now that I'm through this phase and have collected more data points via my own research, I want us all to remember that if you're doing your best to live actively (regular walks are a good way to do this), eating mostly REAL FOOD (not all processed junk), doing your best to get good rest, and staying hydrated, your body's changes are healthy, wonderful, and preparing YOU to sustain that sweet, precious life both now and after birth. Take a deep breath, buy some bigger pants, and know that ALL IS WELL, your body is doing exactly what it’s supposed to.
I am counting my lucky stars that I have pretty minimal nausea most days, no cravings for sugar (which is VERY weird for me), and some food aversions.
The only major symptom I had right away was exhaustion. I took a nap pretty much every day, and not a short one either. There were some days when I truly felt like I had been hit by a tranquilizer gun—even my limbs and head felt heavy and difficult to lift. One day I even snuck in to the mother’s room at my new job and took a 20 minute nap.
I was exercising pretty regularly for myself until I was about 7 weeks pregnant. One day during that week I did a peloton class on our bike at home, and found myself nauseous on the couch for the next 6 hours. I took a break from intense exercise for the next 6 weeks, and tried to go to some barre classes whenever possible. That made me feel like I was at least doing something.
I did experience some nausea, but no vomiting. The nausea is pretty unreal when it hits, and pretty all-encompassing. Basically you know you’re hungry, but everything you can think of to eat sounds disgusting, and the fact that you’re hungry only makes the nausea worse….viscous cycle. On the days that I did have it, I felt like I had swallowed a vitamin on an empty stomach. That general queasy, “will I or won’t I throw up” feeling.
I started getting acupuncture about once a week around week 11, and I can say I am a huge fan. The first time I got it, I was exhausted afterwards, but woke up the next morning with a renewed sense of energy and appetite, and was able to eat and move normally for about 3 days afterwards. I got hooked on that feeling, and I’ve been going once a week ever since.
The most obvious symptom I had was the food aversions. I would say I went through a solid two week period where pretty much all foods except for macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets sounded 100% intolerable, even fruit. I haven’t eaten macaroni and cheese in YEARS and actually can’t think of a time when I’ve eaten chicken nuggets that weren’t homemade either. I was a little bit frustrated with myself that I couldn’t stomach a lot of vegetables (sweet potatoes sounded DISGUSTING), but I also just tried to adopt a “let it happen” mindset and roll with it. I think Melissa Hartwig best describes what a pregnancy food aversion is like.
It’s not that you don’t want this food. It’s not that you’d prefer not to eat this food. It’s that the smell, taste, or idea of putting this food in your mouth provokes a reaction so violent, you’d think someone asked you to eat fermented salmon heads covered in poo and rolled in dryer lint. You’re thinking, really, Melissa? It’s that bad? Yes. It’s really that bad. This is why I’ll never take pregnancy food advice from someone who hasn’t been pregnant herself—because you have to be there to understand that the word “aversion” is a gross understatement. They should call it Food Loathing. Or maybe Food Repugnance. Or Food Aw-Hell-No. Yeah, that’s probably more accurate.
That’s what it felt like a lot of days.
The same real food-based foods! I am including a lot more “bread-like” options, usually going for a slice of gf toast or a Mikey’s muffin at breakfast. It's exactly what you see over on Instagram (@teacheatrepeat). That being said, about 1 year before we conceived, I was doing my best to prepare my body for possible future pregnancy by eating more fruit (of all shapes and sizes) and more veggie-based carbs (one serving at every meal). My protein, leafy greens, and healthy fat intakes were already topped off at good habits.
Alcohol (I really don't miss it)
Excessive caffeine (some days I still have caffeinated coffee or dark chocolate)
Potentially questionable proteins (like sushi or too-pink burgers at restaurants)
Any mercury foods (for me this is all seafood until I get my mercury levels checked again. They were too high last time I went to the dr, so even though it is HIGHLY recommended that pregnant women eat lots of low-mercury, high-omega 3 fish, I am not eating any seafood at the moment)
I also do my best to make sure that the fats I'm taking in are good, healthy fats …so baby can build some healthy lipid bi-layers of her own! Vegetable and canola oils are especially out (as they have been for years), save for the exceptions when I'm dining out and don't have control over the kitchen.
In a nutshell, my 1st trimester fitness gameplan was: keep up with what I can keep up with! My doctor has recommended that I maintain my pre-pregnancy fitness routine (a mix of CrossFit and lots of walking) as much as possible. I did NOT go to the gym on nausea days, which cut down my workouts a considerable amount. On days when my head was clear, I’d try to do a barre class, or go for a long walk, or maybe fit in a 20 minute peloton ride. It’s only recently I’ve gone back to barbell based classes. I was more interested in staying active than achieving great times and scores.
Favorite Pregnancy Hack
Acupuncture. Seriously, my dr. is amazing. She is incredibly intuitive, but also a wonderful listener. Each time I go in, she targets different points, but I always leave feeling amazing, and the effects last for a few days afterwards.
Favorite Part of the Trimester
HONESTLY, there wasn’t a lot to love about my first trimester other than the “I have a secret!” feeling. I would say the thing I did love was sharing the news with our family and friends. Everyone had such excited responses and it made me feel like we were all keeping this big happy secret.
Least-Favorite Part of the Trimester
Queasiness. “Morning” sickness is a lie. When you have it, it lasts all day.
Preggie Pop Drops! These sour candies helped me get through work on the queasiest of days.
I hope you enjoyed this post! I really enjoyed writing it and creating a space to reflect on the ways our lives have already changed! Thanks for reading.
With Love and Lettuce,