The Joys Of Creating Life…
I like to compare pregnancy to a video game. There’s the beginning where you’re trying to figure everything out, the middle where you’re just gaining experience, and the painful boss battle at the end that usually sucks.
In every game I’ve played, there’s been one horribly difficult area or big battle that takes you hours, days, or even weeks to defeat. You get annoyed, you yell and swear then throw your controller at the TV. When you finally beat it you’re just so happy you’ll never have to do it again and you can finally move on. Of course, a few years later you might want to replay that game; which means you have to play that ridiculously hard part again. (I’m looking at you water temple) For me, that part is like the first trimester of pregnancy. It’s uncomfortable, emotional, painful, and annoying as hell and once you’ve gone through it once you don’t want to do it again. But you still might. (Unless you had a really easy pregnancy… in which case, tell me your secret)
Pregnancy No. 1
As soon as I found out I was pregnant again it was a mix of happy and… not so happy emotions. My first pregnancy was mostly pretty standard; morning sickness and zero energy the entire first trimester, having more energy and wearing bigger tops in the second, and in the third… I moved to a new city, had bad sciatica, ate far too much chocolate, then at 37 weeks found out the baby had stopped growing and I needed to be induced ASAP, which led me to the hospital and my newborn being stuck in the NICU for almost a week. Then I had to learn how to deal with a premature infant who wouldn’t nurse or sleep alone in a crib. All that might have turned me off of wanting another one. Well it’s too late for that now, because here I go again.
Pregnancy No. 2
The first few weeks I was pregnant I didn’t actually know it; as is common since there are few or no symptoms. Five days after my period should have arrived I took a pregnancy test, and bam: two pink lines. I told my husband right away because I knew it wouldn’t be long before I started feeling run down and nauseous, and I would probably need some help at that point.
Well, before any of my pregnancy symptoms could appear I got a cold. One morning I woke up and my throat was on fire. Pregnancy and a cold do not go well together. The lowered immune response means my cold lasted way longer than usual.
I typically get over a cold in three days, left with only a minor cough. Well this time, after a week into the cold I was still feeling like crap. Of course, during that week I also started getting those wonderful pregnancy symptoms of constant nausea and no energy. It was like having the stomach flu and a head cold at the same time… all while taking care of a toddler. Bleh.
At eight weeks pregnant I was still nauseous, had very little energy, and still had a head cold. Of course, this is when I also figured out that sinus symptoms were a normal part of pregnancy that I just didn’t get the first time around. Yay.
Smells started to really bother me at this point. Everything smelled bad. The blankets, the clothes, a clean dishwasher… everything smelled bad and it sucked. The smells were messing with my food cravings and aversions too. Suddenly I hated naan bread and hummus, and carrots and broccoli made me sick. Even peppermint tea, my go-to drink, made my stomach unhappy. At least once a day when I would be sitting down, watching TV or eating, I would get such a strong sensation that I was going to vomit. This was more than the usual ‘bleh’ nausea; this was a ‘drop everything I’m going to spew’ feeling. I would run to the bathroom, sit by the toilet and wait. Each time I simply focused on my breathing, stared at the wall, and waited until the feeling passed. Fortunately, it usually did.
One evening, during week eight, from so much coughing, sneezing, and from the added strain on my abdomen, I couldn’t stand up without significant pain. That was something I had not experienced with my first pregnancy, and it was something that started happening often. Luckily, all I needed to do to help it was to lay down for an hour and I felt better.
I had my first ultrasound at week nine, which went as well as can be expected. I’m not a fan of being asked to lie on a table with a full bladder while someone presses on my abdomen, but after the complications with my last pregnancy, being able to see that everything looks normal on an ultrasound is very reassuring, even if during the whole thing I’m thinking “don’t pee, don’t pee”.
At week ten, the vomiting became more frequent and I realized I needed to pay more attention to every single bite of food I ate. Instead of picking up a bagel and chowing down until it was done, I ate very slowly and completely stopped when I started not feeling so great, rather than power through. This seemed to help. Not always… but things were better.
First Blood Test
At week 11 I had my first round of blood tests done, and thankfully I don’t really mind needles, but I was worried I would feel faint afterwards. I sat in the waiting room when I was done and chowed down on some bread I had shoved into my purse earlier. I was a little faint when I left, but no more faint than I had been since the start of my pregnancy, so I wasn’t concerned. I was looking forward to getting my blood test results, although I was sure when I got them it would show my nutrient levels to be low since my diet has been so limited to starchy foods. Since I don’t eat meat and wasn’t able to eat any of the iron-rich vegetarian sources, I knew my iron levels might not be great either.
At the start of week 12 the nausea started to subside… barely. The extreme food aversions and sensitivity to smells was just as bad, but this time I had no appetite at all. I also noticed new aversions to foods like edamame and popsicles. WTF popsicles? I was definitely throwing up less and the nausea seemed slightly better during the day, but at night it was getting worse. A few times just brushing my teeth nearly made me vomit.
End Of Trimester Follow-Up
During week 13 I had a doctor’s appointment where I got to listen to the baby’s heartbeat and go over the results of my blood test. The doctor said everything looked good with the baby, and my blood looked good too; although my iron levels were a little low; not super low, but lower then optimal levels. Honestly, based on how I’ve been eating I would be surprised if my iron levels were normal. An apple and bagel based diet? Not super healthy. Fortunately, I knew that when my appetite came back and the rest of the nausea/food aversions subsided, I would be able to increase my iron levels quickly with things like soybeans, quinoa, and hummus.
A Summary Of My First Trimester
Everything smelled awful
Most things tasted awful
From what I understand these symptoms are common in most pregnant women, but not universal. Some women have no symptoms whatsoever and some women have it much, much worse than me. Seriously, pregnancy can really be debilitating for some women, and while I do not enjoy pregnancy, I am thankful I only seem to get the common, harmless symptoms.
Overall, the hardest part of the first trimester, for me, was probably the extreme food aversions. I could only eat bagels, apples, and bland pasta for most of the first trimester. As a nutritionist, this sucked. I know I wasn’t getting all the nutrients my body needed, but the alternative was me attempting to eat healthy food, then throwing it all up. I did try this, and it didn’t go well. Thankfully, prenatal vitamins and supplements exist so I wasn’t doing too bad.
Did you have an easy or a difficult pregnancy? What kind of symptoms did you have? What what your go-to food during the first trimester? Let me know in the comments below 🙂