I’m trying to come up with something to say about the early weeks of pregnancy that doesn’t sounds trite. I’ve already scratched off things like, “The first months of pregnancy are tricky, complicated, long, hard, exciting, and stressful.” The truth is, it’s all of those things, plus an extra layer of difficulty since as many of us know, women are typically advised to keep this intensely emotional time in your life a secret. (I was only semi-successful at that part, which is fine; Only you should decide when you tell people about your pregnancy.) Luckily – and I do mean luckily – my former supervisor figured it out only days after I did (a woman of childbearing age telling someone that she needs to go to multiple doctors appointments while simultaneously reassuring them that nothing is wrong is a huge spoiler, FYI) and thankfully she was in my corner and completely supportive. Had she not been, I would have had to tell way more white lies about where I was and what I was doing instead of sitting at my desk or making myself available for colleagues at 7:45 in the morning, which I was pretty terrible at doing during those first weeks. OK, let’s be real, I was pretty terrible at that to begin with since, for most of my life, I was not a morning person. I’m now paying my dues since the little often enjoys waking in the five o’clock hour.
That said, I still want to offer hugs to every woman out there who’s in her first trimester—especially if it’s her first pregnancy, when it’s especially new and scary and overwhelming. I have felt your pain (and your nausea, and your anxiety)! Here’s a list of what can be most concerning, so you know you’re not alone:
In those especially early days, I was constantly distracted by how little I knew about my baby. At times, even my nausea brought my comfort because it confirmed (at least, to me it seemed to) that the pregnancy was still progressing. Thankfully, the period of uncertainty passed quickly (again, for me; I can't imagine how women with high-risk pregnancies endure prolonged stress and concern at that first-trimester level) but still, hugs to everyone currently in this stage (or those who have it ahead).
I’m not good at secrets, you guys. This manifests itself in a number of real-life ways, but it was especially a problem during the early weeks of my pregnancy when my partner and I were opting not to share our news yet. That is a hell of a secret to keep, especially when you're someone who is historically terrible at keeping secrets at all.
While I felt super uncomfortable at times, my nausea never led to any gross or embarrassing moments in public, a fact for which I’ll be thankful for pretty much everyday of my life.
I feel something weird in my stomach. Is everything OK? I’m headache-y. Is everything OK? Am I supposed to be this tired? Or hungry? Or nauseous? How is it possible that I’m all of these things at once?
OK, this might have actually been a blessing in disguise at times. I’m normally a fairly picky eater, and I know it’s annoyed my husband on more than one occasion (though he’s usually smart enough and nice enough not to say anything about it). However, at the beginning of my pregnancy, I would go from zero to OFF THE CHARTS STARVING in minutes, which meant that I needed something to eat immediately. And I don’t just mean a granola bar from my purse — I mean an entire plate of rice and jerk chicken from that food truck over there. That said, this was a difficult issue to manage at times because food trucks don’t just follow pregnant women around (although maybe they should…)
The only thing more stressful than getting through a day of work while fighting morning sickness was not knowing when it would end. The uncertainty — plus my nervousness over what other ailments and side effects would stem from the pregnancy — made for more stress than I care to recall.
Those pre-made baby to-do lists are insane. Do yourself a favor and don’t decide to review one right before you try to go to bed. Otherwise, you may or may not find yourself lying awake for three hours, contemplating how on earth you will get anything done ever again. Congratulations!
I struggled enough to be a working pregnant lady, so you can only imagine how concerned I was at the prospect of being a working (or non-working) mom. There were so many what-if's circling through my mind that I could barely imagine the next few months, let alone the trajectory of my career after that.
There's no way around it: Throwing in one new relationship (the one you'll have with your kid) risks throwing your pre-existing relationships into a completely new and unknown phase. You really have no idea how having a baby will affect your friendships, but you're sure as hell going to worry about it: Will you still have time to be there for them? To hang out with them? Will you even have anything in common with them anymore? Will your friends think you're boring now? Oh god, will you be boring now? All I can say is that these questions will A) work themselves out in time, and B) when they do, none of it will be as horrible and messed up as you're worried it will be when your pregnancy in brand new.
On a personal note, a number of my favorite ladies live hundreds of miles away, so I pretty much accepted the fact that the arrival of a baby meant we were destined to years of a Skype-only friendship. Thankfully, this actually hasn't been the case (yay for roadtrips!) though it does still take a pretty insane amount of coordination to make time for each other.
I've written before how it's hard to predict what will happen to your relationship when a baby arrives. One of the few things I recall hearing was that it would magnify any issues in you and your partner have, which, to be honest, was terrifying to me because I interpreted that to mean that issues I didn't even know existed between my husband and I would suddenly derail us. Turns out, this wasn't the case for us. Of course at 10-weeks pregnant, I wasn't thinking logically (because no one is) so I totally panicked about whether or not my marriage would hold up to the test ahead of us.
I kinda feel like the whole "am I ready for this" question never fully goes away; even when your kid is born and living, you'll occasionally look at them and be like, "Yo, what am I doing? I can't possibly be qualified for this." I still ask myself this on a daily basis, but the answer isn't as scary now.
This fear actually lasted until the moment was baby was born, but since it started in the first trimester, I'm counting it.
For the record, my parents and in-laws are lovely people, but still I had no way of knowing what they'd be like as grandparents. And you guys, I've heard plenty of horror stories. I was so concerned about this.
I tried to take comfort in knowing that, though growing a human being inside your body sounds kinda like something from a sci-fi novel if you really think about it, it's the most natural and normal thing in the world. Still, it didn't stop me from worrying about shifting organs, changes to how my body felt and looked, and my lady parts being forever changed (which isn't exactly how it really works but a first-trimester brain is a machine of worst-case scenarios).
Images: Chiawei Lin/Unsplash; Giphy(14)