I always thought that pregnancy would be a magical experience. I knew there were many women who experienced morning sickness, but it didn’t really seem that bad. I was excited to have the pregnancy glow everyone talked about. I was excited for the awe-inspiring experience of nurturing a human life inside my body. What could be better than that? Turns out, pretty much anything. Having a route canal. Cleaning out your garbage disposal. I can’t even pretend my first trimester was magical, because to be honest, it was an absolute nightmare.
Even though I was excited beyond belief to be pregnant, my dream version of pregnancy was soon no more than a distant childless memory. That morning sickness that I had been so blasé about turned out to be the bane of my existence. I couldn’t so much as look at pictures of certain foods (I’m talking about you, food-court Chinese buffet) without my stomach revolting against the mere thought of putting it into my body. Not to mention, morning sickness was a tremendous misnomer. I was sick from the moment I woke up until the moment I fell asleep at night (usually at 8 p.m. because I was so tired beyond belief). Nurturing a human life inside me turned out to be pretty much nothing like I expected, and everything I dreaded.
During my first trimester, I threw up morning, noon, and night, often opting to avoid food rather than deal with the unpredictable consequences that came with eating. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to nourish a tiny baby growing inside of me while I was barely able to keep down a bowl of plain spaghetti noodles. In fact, the only thing I wanted was to get past that first trimester, because everyday was such a struggle. And if being sick all the time didn’t steal the supposed “pregnancy glow” I was hoping for, the acne breakouts during my first trimester certainly did. I was covered with more pimples than I'd ever, ever been in my entire life, and wanted to hide my face all the time.
I suddenly wallowed in dread every time I turned on the news. I wasn’t sure how I'd ever navigate such a frightening and complex world for my child. I worried about having a girl, about the harassment and prejudices she would face throughout her life. Then I worried about having a boy, about the toxic masculinity I'd have to field and the foreign territory that would inevitably come with raising someone of a different gender.
I knew I was supposed to be happy and elated all the time. After all, feeling that way was exactly what I'd wanted (well maybe not exactly). Even though my symptoms were a sign of a healthy, thriving pregnancy and I should've been grateful for them, in between the bouts of nausea and the emotional roller coaster I was riding, I rarely felt thankful for how well my pregnancy was going. My thoughts, when not consumed by my symptoms, were focused on other things.
Because perhaps the worst part of my first trimester wasn’t the symptoms, but the overwhelming sense of uncertainty I felt in those early weeks. After staring at those two pink lines, I quickly realized I was in way over my head. I'd expected it to take months for me to get pregnant but instead, it happened on the first try. The truth was, I wasn’t ready for pregnancy to hit me like a truck, physically taking me down and emotionally wrecking me.
I wanted so badly to love being pregnant and to enjoy my first trimester, but it was tainted with fear and the fact that I was constantly sick.
I found myself staying up late, worrying about things that had never crossed my mind when I was struck with baby fever. I suddenly wallowed in dread every time I turned on the news. I wasn’t sure how I'd ever navigate such a frightening and complex world for my child. I worried about having a girl, about the harassment and prejudices she would face throughout her life. Then I worried about having a boy, about the toxic masculinity I'd have to field and the foreign territory that would inevitably come with raising someone of a different gender. I worried about whether or not I'd love motherhood like I thought I would, because I certainly wasn’t enjoying pregnancy as much as I anticipated.
I wanted so badly to love being pregnant and to enjoy my first trimester, but it was tainted with fear and the fact that I was constantly sick. I couldn’t stop the negative wheels from churning in my mind or the unsettled food from churning in my stomach. It was something I never wanted to experience again (though I did, four more times). As I entered my second trimester and my hormones leveled out a bit, the physical symptoms started to subside, even though I was never enamored with the state of pregnancy like I once thought I'd be.
Looking back, my first trimester was the first glimpse of motherhood — a thing, I realized, that's so much more messy and complex than I could have ever imagined before I was in the thick of it. Now, I’m thankful for those hard first trimesters that resulted in healthy babies. But mostly I’m thankful that my pregnancy days are over, and that I’ll never have to deal with another first trimester ever again.