The first trimester is so much worse the second time around, and it's a major sh*t show to begin with. Between the nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, and erratic emotions, it's the worst. And when you're already a mom, you generally have other small people to take care of, too. Small people with immediate needs and not a lot of patience. But you also need to take care of yourself. That's why I committed to doing more than a few things for myself during the first trimester of my second pregnancy.
Let me be clear about one thing: my first trimesters are awful. During my first pregnancy, it really caught me by surprise. I was actually excited the first time I threw up because I knew it meant I was "really" pregnant. That wore off pretty quickly, especially considering I didn't stop puking until about halfway through the pregnancy. Fast forward about three years later, and I'm pregnant again. I had high hopes that it would be different this time, but those were dashed the second I barfed right into my daughter's dirty diaper.
It's been six weeks on the hot mess express, and it doesn't appear that I'll be de-boarding anytime soon. This time, though, I'm doing as much as I can to make it easier on myself. That means cutting myself some slack, breaking the rules, and crossing things off my worry list. I've done the following and you can, too:
I Took Baths
During my first trimester, I got it into my head that I wasn't allowed to take baths. It was something I was OK giving up, but these days, I really enjoy co-bathing with my daughter. A little more research this time showed me that it's fine as long as my body temperature doesn't exceed 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit. It's really hot tubs and saunas that you should avoid, but if a warm bath provides you with some much-needed relief, go for it.
I Ate A Few Forbidden Foods
According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), foods to avoid during pregnancy include deli meat, fish with mercury, raw shellfish or eggs, soft cheeses, and unwashed vegetables. I was diligent about this with my first pregnancy, but I'm taking a more relaxed approach this time. It's not like I'm frequenting Subway on the daily, but if mama wants some chocolate chip cookie batter, you better not come between her and the bowl.
The other day, I bought some salmon burgers. I'd already cooked them when I realized they contained blue cheese. But you know what? It was food that actually looked good to me, and I ate it. And I'm not sorry.
I Stayed Caffeinated
Most articles and pamphlets will tell you that first trimester is the time to cut back on caffeine. I understand that caffeine crosses the placenta and we don't know a lot about its effects. However, cutting it out completely in my first pregnancy exacerbated my fatigue and headaches. I ended up sneaking tiny cans of Coke during my breaks at work just to get through the day.
This time, I know my limits. The March of Dimes suggests no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day. I drink my daily chai and occasional soda with no shame.
I Continued Exercising
I started aerial pole in 2011. When I got pregnant in 2014, I was in great shape and in the studio multiple times a week, but I soon felt too weak to practice at that level. Add to that concerns about the abdominal work, inversions, and risk of falling, and I just decided it wasn't worth it to continue.
I finally started pole back up this past Fall, only to find out I was pregnant again. This time, however, I didn't quit. I put myself in a lower level class, and even when I don't feel like it, I show up and at least watch. It's helped me keep a sense of normalcy and ensured that I still get at least a little exercise, which is important for an expectant mama. Hopefully, this way it won't take me as long to get back in the game.
I Napped Every Day
It's not that I didn't nap during my first pregnancy, but because I was working full time, it wasn't always an option. When it was, I took advantage, but I felt guilty about it and apologized for needing to rest. I remember being embarrassed about it when we spent Christmas with my in-laws that first year.
Not so with pregnancy number two. When my toddler goes down for her afternoon nap, so do I. It's time I would normally spend doing chores or working, but now I either do that in the evening while my kid watches Sesame Street or skip it altogether. Rest takes priority.
I Spoke Up
On my first go, I was hesitant to share how really terrible I was feeling with my medical team and co-workers. It didn't help that when I went to urgent care for dehydration, the doctor scoffed that it must be my first pregnancy.
This time, I let my midwife know at the first appointment about my severe nausea and vomiting and got medication right away. I also talked to my bosses early on about my condition and what they could expect from me in the coming weeks.
I Let Sh*t Go
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was frustrated that I wasn't able to be the teacher and wife I knew I was capable of being. I have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and I spent a lot of time sweating the small stuff.
Now I have a wonderful provider who encourages me to be gentle with myself. This is especially important because I suffer from depression and anxiety. He reminds me that the Earth won't stop spinning if the bed doesn't get made and my daughter won't be permanently damaged if she misses a few days of preschool.
I Got A Diagnosis
This was perhaps the biggest difference. I don't think there was any actual difference in my condition the first time I was pregnant versus the second, but this pregnancy I really pushed for someone to confirm that my symptoms were extreme.
A few weeks ago, my doctor told me what I'd suspected all along: that I have hyperemesis gravidarum. Having that diagnosis has been, above all, validating for me. I'm glad I asked because it turns out that having a medical professional say, "Yeah, this is real" was exactly what I needed to keep on keeping on.
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