I took my first pregnancy test on April Fools Day, 2017. It was a little on the early side. I knew that the test would've been more accurate if I had waited a few more days, but I wanted to make an "April Fools, I'm pregnant" joke with Beau (except maybe I'd actually be pregnant).
It was negative. And I surprised myself by how bummed I was.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I wasn't even all that sure I wanted kids in the first place. I mean, I wanted them eventually. I couldn't picture my adult life without a relationship with my future adult children (the kind of relationship that I have now with my parents). I knew I wanted to cheer on my future kids during their soccer games, take them on lots of hiking adventures, and snuggle on the couch with a future daughter and watch bad TV shows like The Bachelor while painting our toenails (<—Beau's nightmare). But a newborn? Terrifying. I figured it'd just be a stage of life that I'd suffer through in order to reap the rewards later.
Anyway. The test was negative.
The very next morning, I woke up feeling weird. My boobs hurt so badly that I winced when I gave a friend a hug. Overall, I just felt off. And that was when I knew. I made myself wait a few more days to test again, just to ensure I didn't get what I assumed would be another false negative.
April 5th rolled around and I took another test. I didn't see anything right away, so I went downstairs to make some coffee. I came back upstairs later, glanced again at the test and did a double-take. It was faint. SUPER faint. But there was a second line! Holy crap.
Even though I had a feeling that I was pregnant, I was still shocked. I turned on this album by Caroline Spence (which will forever remind me of early pregnancy), pulled out a box from the closet with all of the letters that Beau had written to me in college, and just started reading. There was no way I was getting work done that day and I guess I wanted to feel sentimental. After my mushy moment with our old letters, I took off to shop for a onesie and some goodies to surprise Beau with when he got home from work.
Later that night, he walked in the door to a fresh made loaf of banana bread and a gift basket on the table. And that was when he knew (I wish I was the kind of wife who made banana bread on a whim, but I'm not, so that tipped him off). We sat down on the couch and he opened the card which officially revealed the big news. Now we were both in shock. :)
We cried, prayed for our future kiddo, and then sat there staring at each other not knowing what to do next. And so began this crazy journey!
I know that I promised to share all the good and positive stuff about pregnancy and motherhood, but that might need to come in later posts. Because friends, the first trimester was hard. There was the nausea, the weird achey boobs, the not-being-able-to-drink-beer and only-being-able-to-stomach-white-bread. But beyond all of that, the hardest part for me was not being able to widely share our news.
We decided to tell our families and a handful of close friends, but otherwise we would hold off until we had our first ultrasound (which unfortunately wasn't until 9 weeks). Beau felt more strongly about this than I did. Being in the medical field and all too familiar with the things that can go wrong during pregnancy, he didn't want to burden too many people with difficult news if something bad were to happen. Meanwhile, I'm an over-sharer (as you've probably noticed) and someone who processes things out loud. So as you can imagine, sitting with this HUGE, anxiety-provoking news for so long without being able to talk about it was quite a struggle for me.
I felt inauthentic when a friend would ask how I was doing and all I could say was "pretty good!", when in actuality, I was terrified. I was scared about whether or not the baby was healthy. I was worried that maybe we made a mistake and took this step before we were ready. I was really content with our life as a couple and fearful of how things would change. I wasn't looking forward to pushing a human out of my body and then feeding said human with my body. The list goes on and on.
Naturally, I channeled all of my anxious energy into going down black holes on the internet. Message boards, mommy blogs, articles about all the things I needed to be doing/feeling/buying in order to be a good mother. So here comes my first piece of advice: Don't Do That.
So now comes the part where I share my advice. The following is for all of those who are currently in the throes of the first trimester or those thinking about becoming pregnant. I hope you find some helpful advice or encouragement here. :)
- Be careful about the information that you're putting into your brain. Choose a few trusted sources (my book/podcast/blog recommendations are below!), and then stop there. Message boards full of comments from anxious strangers on the internet are not allowed.
- Whenever you feel comfortable with sharing your news, reach out to a friend who has gone down this path before you. My friends who were a few months ahead of me were so comforting and helpful, as were those who were already moms. I'm not sure how I would've fared without them.
- If you're dealing with nausea, try to avoid having an empty stomach. I snacked on bland crackers all day and even kept a pack on my bedside table to eat if/when I woke up in the middle of the night. It sounds crazy, but it worked for me! Just beware of gratuitous bed crumbs.
- Don't immediately go out and buy a bunch of maternity clothes. Whatever "bump" you might think you have at 9 weeks is going to get SO MUCH BIGGER and you can probably make your normal clothes work longer than you think. And once you share your news, you may even have friends offer to let you borrow their maternity clothes.
- Stay active while you can! Get out for walks, jogs, hikes, yoga classes, etc. I was pregnant over the summer and really enjoyed swimming laps (even though I looked RIDICULOUS with my belly, floral one-piece, and swim cap). Exercising early and often helped ease pregnancy aches and pains, kept the weight gain manageable, and allowed me to continue exercising later in pregnancy (until those last few weeks when I basically lived in the bathtub). I've had a fairly easy postpartum recovery and I owe a lot of that to staying active/healthy during pregnancy.
- This is one of my favorite pieces of advice that my friend Allison told me: Say "yes". Once that sweet little babe comes along you'll likely lose a bit of the spontaneity that you have now. If a friend invites you to go out at the last minute, if you're thinking about taking a big vacation, if your partner asks you out on a date night, etc., say yes! Contrary to popular belief, your social life won't be over when you have a kid (more on that in later posts), but it's just easier to say yes to those kind of things now. So take full advantage!
- Try your best not to worry. It's true that a lot can go wrong, but if it does, it's more than likely not because of anything you did wrong. Do your research, do your best to reduce your risk (i.e. skipping alcohol, etc.), and then let everything else go.
- Practice gratitude. I have a lot of dear friends who are trying to get pregnant, who have experienced miscarriages and even stillbirth. It was never lost on me how lucky I was (and not based on anything I did) to be pregnant. Yes, your pregnancy will likely come with some aches and pains, but try your best to remember what a miracle it is to be creating and sustaining life.
Extend grace, to yourself and those around you. Similar to above, this is such a joyful time, but it can be hard. It is not your fault that you feel tired, constipated, nauseated, but that may be your reality. Conversely, for all my friends who have struggled with fertility and miscarriage, I was tempted to feel a sort of guilt for my early pregnancy. After many conversations, I quickly learned that most of my guilt was self-imposed. That said, be gentle with those friends in your life; be measured but open with your joy; and most of all, be patient enough to hear their story and support them through it. Don't let your pregnancy become a wall in relationships, but a door through which you can grow more with moms and those who desire to be moms alike.
Know that it gets better. You'll (hopefully) stop feeling so sick. Your ambiguous is-she-pregnant-or-is-she-just-fat belly will start to feel cute. You'll be celebrated and supported by friends and family. You'll start to feel kicks and hiccups and everything will feel more real. Enjoy each week for what it brings and know that the difficult stuff doesn't last for long. You'll have that baby in your arms before you know it!
And lastly, here are some links to things I enjoyed and found to be helpful during the first trimester...
Books and Resources
The Motherbirth Podcast: My friends Mellisa and Laura started an incredible podcast all about pregnancy, birth, becoming a mother, etc., and amazingly, the first podcast came out right around the time that I found out I was pregnant. During that first trimester time period when we weren't talking about our pregnancy publicly, listening to these episodes felt like I was getting advice from a friend — something I was really craving.
- Great with Child: A sweet book written by a mother to a newly pregnant friend. This one helped me look forward to the joys of motherhood (instead of focusing too much on the negative).
- Nurture: A comprehensive guide to pregnancy, birth, and early motherhood. Highly, highly recommend this one!
- Bringing up Bebe: A really engaging read about an American journalist's experience raising her children in Paris and all that she learned from French parenting.
- Coffee and Crumbs: A sweet blog with essays about motherhood. I also really love their podcast.
- Baby Gear Lab: If/when you start building your baby registry, we (Beau) loved this website for product reviews.
- Amazon Baby Registry: Speaking of baby registries, we did ours via Amazon. They offer a 15% completion discount, a great "welcome box" with free products, as well as $100 in free diapers. I'll do a post soon about our registry favorites!
- The Mama Notes: Another blog that I enjoyed. Caitlin had a baby girl the same week that I did, so I appreciated the timeliness of her posts. :)
- The Bump app: The app I used for weekly pregnancy updates.
Products I loved
- Bella Band: Helps extend the life of your pre-pregnancy jeans/shorts. Just wear this band over the waistband and unbutton. Also useful after holiday meals in the future.
- Speaking of clothes, I enjoyed the excuse to play with my style a little bit. In the first and second trimesters, I stuck to regular clothes that were a bit more flowy and loose around the middle. Think stylish overalls (not an oxymoron, despite what Beau will tell you), jumpsuits, rompers, and big flowy tops. I can't find any links since they're all off sale now, but just wanted to mention that you don't have to stick to only "maternity" clothes. Look for things that will work during pregnancy and afterwards.
- Benefiber: Because if you're anything like me, you'll probably be constipated. Sorry, TMI.
- Prenatal Vitamins: Because the only way I reliably take vitamins is if they're in gummy form.
- Pregnancy Tests: Dr. Beau told me to mention this: Don't waste your money on expensive pregnancy tests if you don't have to. Apparently they all work the same. These are the (cheap!) ones we used!
- Soda Stream: I made a lot of sparkling water beverages to replace beer. Compromise=half-way happy (that's a Stranger Things reference).
- Palmers Tummy Butter: Apparently this helps prevent stretch marks? I think it honestly has more to do with genetics than anything but I used this every day and thankfully didn't get any. Who knows?
- Ginger Tea: Helped with nausea!
I believe that's everything! Thanks for reading and again, feel free to reach out if you'd like any advice or encouragement wherever you're at in your motherhood journey. I'd love to be a sounding board for you. :)
Be back soon with a post all about the second trimester.
Love & Respect,