Instead of the traditional roundup of reading for Sunday Sharing, today I want to share a little bit about my first trimester (which ended almost 3 weeks ago). If you’re not into the preggo updates, please feel free to skip this post. I’ll be back next Sunday with my weekly roundup, and I’ll be sharing weekly pregnancy check-ins on Tuesdays starting this week. But there is so much I didn’t write about over the past few months, and I feel the need to share a bit.
I was chatting with some girlfriends over brunch yesterday about my pregnancy so far, and it’s been a challenging few months mentally for me.
The physical. Mostly, I believe I have been lucky with regards to my day to day morning sickness. I haven’t had severe sickness or vomiting, mostly just a low level nausea that comes and goes throughout the day like tides. It was never bad enough to really impact my work, which I did not take for granted. My worst symptom has been my back pain. I’ve dealt with mild to more severe low back pain for almost 8 weeks now, but I’m hoping that will get better as the pregnancy progresses. I lost all appetite in the first trimester and had to force myself to eat most days. I just wasn’t very interested in food (it was the strangest thing), and I lost a bit of weight as a result (but I can already tell that will be easily remedied in the second trimester).
I had a small scare or two in my first trimester. I won’t go into them in detail, but they seem like fairly common scares that women have, the kind that terrifyingly could be completely healthy and normal or a sign that the pregnancy might not move forward. For all my common sense know-better, I couldn’t keep myself from googling with each scare. There, like you might imagine, were hundreds if not thousands (innumerable numbered pages) of women posting about these same experiences, and in almost every case, half had gone on to have completely healthy pregnancies and half had experienced a miscarriage soon after said symptoms. This mixed cocktail of fear and hope, of course, didn’t make me feel any better. Only being in the doctor’s office and seeing the Bean on the ultrasound could calm me.
I was very early on in the pregnancy when I had my first scare, between the fifth and sixth weeks, and I went in to the doctor when I was 6 weeks, zero days (or the very first day of my sixth week). There on the ultrasound was a nice oval-shaped gestational sac and a tiny yolk sac, but there was no sign of a fetus. So the doctor told me frankly that there was no way for her to know for sure if my symptoms were a bad sign, that I was just on the cusp of a key developmental week, and that if I had been a week further along, the empty sac would have been a sign that I would miscarriage, but at 6 weeks, 0, it was really just too soon to tell. We had to wait and come back in another week to know for sure. If all was well, she expected we would be able to see the fetus and the heartbeat the following week.
That week was the longest week of my life to date. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that in a single week my body would create a fetus with a heartbeat. In seven days, y’all. and that all of us this was happening while I still looked just like me and felt just like me was just too much for me to reconcile.
We returned the following week, and she turned the screen towards us and
Bean, when I saw your heartbeat for the first time, (I didn’t hear your heartbeat, I saw it, like a butterfly flapping its wings on the screen) I laugh-cried, gulping in the air, choking on my own relief and joy and fear.
No ones stories could have prepared me for that feeling. The complete overwhelm and beauty of it. The feeling of being so small and so huge and so part of something bigger. I’ll never forget it.
The Secret. As you probably know from reading this blog, I don’t keep many personal secrets, and I’m not a very private person. So not being able to talk openly about everything I was going through after we found out we were pregnant was pretty foreign to me. Although I confided in a few of my close friends and family, I still felt pretty isolated.
I was shocked when I realized (not that I hadn’t known this before, but actually living it is so different) that for the first third of my pregnancy, while I was constantly anxious about whether or not things were ok, on an emotional roller coaster, and not feeling super awesome physically, I had to hide all of these feelings and experiences in case the pregnancy did not move forward. The weight of these things for me (again-an extreme extrovert and fairly public person) was completely unexpected.
I walked around for a while just thinking about how many women at any given time around me might be pregnant without anyone visibly knowing. In some ways, those thoughts gave me comfort because I could just picture us, this group of silently pregnant women, walking down the sidewalk or in the grocery store or boarding the bus, channeling our hopes into our bellies and carrying around this precious, fragile secret.
I understand the need for secrecy. Every person I told before the 12 week mark, I knew in the telling that I would also have to share loss with them if I miscarried.
I send so much love out to any women who have experienced and mourned a miscarriage. Although I haven’t personally experienced one, the fear of a miscarriage made me a lot more aware of how hard it must be to go through– to have so much hope and vision for a little life and then lose it abruptly and not be able (or comfortable) with sharing that so personal and deep loss. I can imagine that the secrecy is a mixed blessing. Mixed in that many women wouldn’t be comfortable publicly dealing with the loss, but also so hard in that there is little public dialogue or support in our culture for women experiencing miscarriages. It isn’t spoken of widely, so it’s hard to even begin to know how to support a woman who has experienced one or how to cope with one yourself.
I have known many women (close friends and close family) who have had miscarriages, but until I became pregnant I couldn’t even begin to imagine the weight of their losses (and obviously still can’t fully).
The control. The only way I have been able to stay (somewhat) calm and keep myself from completely unraveling has been to acknowledge and embrace my lack of control in this experience. The process is so much bigger than me. That doesn’t mean I don’t still worry. I do. All the time. But then I just remember that I can only control how I move through this process (go to bed early. take naps. eat healthy. exercise. Enjoy it! Be grateful). Otherwise, I just have to trust my body and remember that we were made to do this.
The heart. For lots of obvious reasons and some not so obvious, in the first trimester I was very scared and almost wouldn’t allow myself to get excited. I feel grateful to be a few weeks into my 2nd trimester and although I have a whole new set of worries, I am beginning to let myself get excited again. My heart is already so full with love for this little Bean that I’m not sure how I’m going to cope.
and lastly, Not Merely Husband. What a trooper. Without getting super mushy, I’ll just say that he has been unwaveringly supportive since we got pregnant. He is softening in ways I never imagined, and I can’t wait for him to be a father. He has a whole ongoing dialogue with the Bean (that is hilarious-more on that later), and he’s always there to wipe my hormonal tears and hold my hand when things get scary. He’s most definitely my better half.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings and following along on this journey with us.