Saturday, July 27, 2013

MY FIRST PREGNANCY - 1st Trimester


When someone hears “1st trimester of pregnancy”, there are two things that are immediately thought of by pretty much anyone: fatigue and nausea. Those are the two things that TV and movies always portray and that I think everyone associates with the term. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg!

Yes when I found out I was pregnant, I instantly realized why I was so tired over our trip, I was sleeping in more, and I took naps. I also noticed a couple things that I could no longer eat, most specifically chocolate. I had a cup of hot chocolate, took a sip, and it tasted strangely nasty and I couldn’t take another drop. Certain veggies started making me gag the moment they hit my tongue such as carrots and green beans. And yes, these only got worse as the weeks passed.

I’ve known women who were so sick their first trimester that they threw up every single day. I wasn’t like that; in fact I threw up only about 5 to 7 times in 12 weeks. However, I gagged and dry heaved a ton. Hormones are affecting everything, including the digestive system, so if you have too large a meal or too heavy a meal, you’re more likely to toss it back up as I found out one night after having meatloaf. It was delicious, but didn’t go over well in the long run as I threw up the first time. Mostly I was just nauseated 24/7 from about week 7 through 14 – to the point of it waking me up at night and hating the thought of food (any food, except pizza oddly enough).

Other than the famous two symptoms, let’s talk about the rest of them. There are many that I thought would be later in the pregnancy, but nooooo. They start nice and early as your hormone levels rise. I experienced crazy emotions, ridiculous gas, frequent urination, sore and tender breasts, sore and tender abdomen, mild vaginal discharge, and nosebleeds.

Some of those you expect. The tenderness in the boobies, and the abdomen makes sense given the uterus is already beginning to stretch for the first time. Just because it’s made to do that doesn’t mean it’s not a new sensation and causes a little discomfort. Between the two, I couldn’t stand to wear anything but yoga pants and sports bras, and even then only when I had to.

The emotions were the main symptom I thought would come later, but they start pretty much as soon as you’re pregnant. I remember being a little quicker to get annoyed than usual even before finding out and I had my first truly hormonal breakdown about 6 weeks in. Greg and I were going out to meet our married friends from out of town, who were also expecting though about 20 weeks ahead of us. I’d been really nauseated so I had my crackers and Gingerale in the car on our way. Now Greg’s been my diet nazi so that I wouldn’t gain too much weight in the pregnancy and just cave to every little craving of junk food. So he says “I’m going to have to check the calorie information on your crackers”. I burst into tears before I can even fully take in the sentence, crying “you can’t wake my crackers away; they’re all that keeps me from getting sick all the time!” He’s not quite sure how to handle this and is trying not to laugh. He settles on just calmly and slowly (like he was dealing with a jumper or something) telling me he wasn’t going to take them away, just compensate elsewhere. I just end up laughing at myself because in my head I knew it was ridiculous and shouldn’t be crying. Here’s a warning, you literally can’t stop the tears. They just happen. Learn to roll with it, or just be like me and get all defensive and tell your hubby (and roommate in my case) to shut up when they start teasing you about it.

The others aren’t as major, but are still very noticeable and I swear no one ever talks about them. The frequent urination is a given, but they don’t say just how frequent. It’s kind of funny during the day, but when you wake up 4 times a night just to pee, it becomes frustrating. The gas is just embarrassing. Thankfully mine never particularly smelled, but it came often and rarely came quietly. The discharge is nothing, just white and mucusy, and annoying. I had to start wearing panty liners or I felt kind gross all the time. I believe my nosebleeds started as early as the first trimester, but they weren’t bad – just bloody snot really. Those got worse for me later…

Obviously not every pregnant woman gets all of those, in fact some get none of those. I will warn you that if you are one of those lucky women, you might have friends who aren’t or weren’t that lucky and want to hit you a little bit. Just sayin’.

So let’s move on to how I spent my first trimester outside of the actual symptoms. One of the first things we did was research. Yeah we know about the birds and the bees, but now that we were knee deep in the reality of it, it was time to learn about the details of pregnancy. Greg went on Reddit and asked about good books, and the unanimous opinion was to steer clear of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”. Good book? Sure. However it will apparently frighten a new expectant mother with all its “what could go wrong” information. The one recommendation we did decide to go with was the “Mayo Clinic’s Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy”. It covers everything from trying to get pregnant to a monthly (broken into 4 weeks segments – so 10 months) breakdown of what’s going on when with both mom’s body and baby’s to birth to pregnancy loss (which we’ve thankfully not had to read). It also covers many symptoms and what you might expect and when and how you might cope with them. It hasn’t scared me once while still being real with what’s up. A really helpful thing it has, that even my OB was impressed with, is a chart of when to seek attention if you’ve got something going on such as pain or bleeding. The consensus is that unless it’s severe, just mention it on your next visit because it’s probably fine (though seriously check that out and follow it, not me!).

That’s the thing. Even some bleeding can be normal and cramping too. No matter how advanced the medical field has become, pregnancy is still very much one of those uber natural things that a lot of it is still guesswork. They can run tests and do ultrasounds to check, but ultimately most often the answer is “that’s normal” or “that can be normal”. There are things they’re sure about such as being a LOT more susceptible to food borne illness and therefore you shouldn’t eat certain things unless cooked to hell or even at all, but there are others that are so variable from person to person that it’s impossible to make a hard and fast rule out of it. Bottom line is try not to worry but always be open with your care provider.

Speaking of care provider, that’s another thing you get used to – seeing one regularly. You’re first visit around 7 or 8 weeks is the comprehensive one. They give you a folder full of stuff you might want or need, including a safe meds list and more info on the practice (such as all the docs there etc.). They give you a full exam just to check you out and feel around to make sure everything’s doing its job (uterus expanding and all). They also give you your official due date. I’ve known a lot of people get one date only to have it change later because they’re smaller or bigger than expected so the doc moves the date. I am lucky and haven’t had any change. From family practice doc visit to every OB visit after, I’ve always been told that I’m measuring perfectly for my due date – yay!

So after the exam and all, they’ll schedule you for your first sono. Greg and I both teared up at seeing our tiny little alien looking baby just as the backbone was forming. It made it real and showed us that we officially had a little life that now depended on us (though at this stage mostly me, but Greg has to help take care of me and therefore us :P). After that you go back every 4 weeks.

The OB I go to is a collaborative practice of both doctors and midwives. When d-day (I call it that frequently – you know, delivery day) comes, it’ll be a midwife delivering unless there are complications at which time they’ll page the doc on call. It works for me since I plan to go natural and they’re totally on board with that. I’ve seen a midwife all but twice in all my visits and I’ve met many of those that are in the practice and liked them all, so I’m in good shape for whenever TC here decides to enter the world in terms of likelihood that I’ll know who’s going to be delivering her and being comfortable with them. From what I’ve heard there are many practices that operate that way (maybe most or all these days, I don’t know). It put me off at first, because I’d wanted to establish a relationship with whoever would deliver the baby, but this has actually worked out really well, so fear not!

One thing the doc, and most books and people, will tell you is that the risk of miscarriage is highest in the first trimester. This makes it kind of an exciting but outright scary time. You read into every little thing thinking it could mean the end of your joy. I had one little bout of bright read bleeding with a little cramping. I freaked and cried a little, but tried to stay calm and REST (rest is the easy solution to pretty much anything that seems to maybe go wrong). The docs usually say it’s probably fine, but they’ll want to know more about whatever it is so they can be sure, maybe even going so far as to give you another sono just to take a look. I called my doc and they said “unless it’s heavy bleeding that lasts a while with severe cramping, it’s fine”. At one point I do believe they gave me another sono just to be safe, but everything was peachy.

Because of this, it’s customary not to tell people about the pregnancy until you’re 12 to 14 weeks pregnant (in other words enter the second trimester). No one really wants to give good news, only to have to give bad news right behind it. Some say that if you’ve been trying for a long time or gone through treatments etc., you might want to tell people to boost your own morale. We followed the keep it quiet philosophy. We told 2 couples, the out of town couple from my cracker breakdown story, and my best friend and her husband…mostly because the same day I got confirmation from my doctor, she knew. Must have been that close relationship radar, because there was no other way for her to have known, she just did. Other than them, we told no one.

This in itself can be nerve racking and awkward. Over Christmas I was antsy as hell. I kept thinking “they’re gonna knoooow!!!” Plus over the three months of nausea, trying to hide that wasn’t always easy. My mother-in-law guessed it a couple weeks shy of when we’d be telling people anyway because she clued in to the constant companion that was my Gingerale. While it can be kind of weird and all, it can also be kind of fun having this big secret. My brother-in-law made jokes about how I wasn’t planning on having kids anytime soon simply because I handed off my niece to him when the opportunity arose (he didn’t realize it was because I had to pee and I was starting to tear up and yeah…). Finally getting to tell people was both fun and anticlimactic. More on that next time!

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