Even though Fabian and I were “trying” to get pregnant for a few months, we were approaching it in the most relaxed way we could. The month that we conceived, I was honestly just expecting my period since we both had summer colds around ovulation time. I thought the intense boob soreness was just a pms thing, but I realized that my boobs were way bigger (from my vantage point) than usual — which is what prompted me to take the test. It was an almost instantaneous double line and I started bawling. And it wasn’t overjoyed to tears — I was more shocked about what this meant on a very big scale.
We had been talking seriously about becoming parents for about two years, but any time we set a month to start trying, I would freak out a little and delay it. Fabian has been an absolute champion throughout all of this — supporting me, talking through all of my doubts, and always reminding me that whatever I decided was 100 percent okay.
I questioned my motives around becoming a mom — did I just feel pressure to do it because it was expected of me? Did I just want to be part of some club that I saw a bunch of my friends entering? Would it change our lives in a truly positive way or fuck up this nice little thing we had created with just us two? Would I be able to be a good mom given my family history? Did I have the skills to cope with the difficulties of motherhood? Would my kid end up resenting me?
Intense and libido-crushing questions, no? I saw an astrologer about it. Asked the tarot about it. And for a long time made no decision at all. But after a bit of a hippie epiphany (at a yoga retreat no less) I realized I wanted to go for it to create more love in the world. And here we are.
This post isn’t meant to be the self-indulgent ramblings of a pregnant person, but I realized how helpful I found it to read about other women’s experiences — especially during the first trimester — when I felt the most isolated. So I decided to share mine in hopes that some other woman, feeling sick and exhausted on her couch, can find solace in knowing that they’re not alone and it’s all ok.
I’m 14 weeks pregnant and here’s how it’s been so far:
Am I supposed to feel different?
The first week or two after finding out, I felt pretty normal. I even started to wonder if it was a bad thing that I didn’t have morning sickness (lol). But mostly chalked it up to my healthy lifestyle choices and the fact that I was already taking a vitamin B complex and prenatals (also lol). Then I thought: Oh wait, I’ve needed a nap every day for the past three weeks. Is that the exhaustion they talking about?
The morning sickness
Around week seven the nausea hit me like a train. I know some say it’s more like “all day sickness”, but mornings were definitely the worst for me. It was mostly food-related — just thinking about food (what I happen to do for a living) made me sick. I luckily never vomited, but my mornings and many afternoons were consumed with this constant sick feeling.
All my usual routines went out the window. My whole food coffees were suddenly gross. Ditto smoothies. Or any “healthy” breakfast that’s normally my jam. In fact, most foods that I normally really enjoy — big salads, roasted veggies, smoothies, or pretty much anything I cooked myself were all disgusting to me and made me more queasy just thinking about them.
A combination of finding foods that worked for me in any given moment and making sure to eat first thing in the morning.
Toast was a huge part of my diet for a solid month. First thing in the morning, I needed a slice or two of toasted sourdough with butter and sea salt to settle my stomach. Coffee was out of the question (the taste and smell were a total turnoff), but English Breakfast with a little milk helped perk me up and keep those caffeine withdrawal headaches at bay.
Food delivery was a savior. Thank goddess for New York City and the insane amount of food you can get delivered to your door at any time of day. There was one week when I was very into ordering a bison burger with caramelized onions and avocado from Bare Burger. I’ve heard other women say they were totally put off by meat in the first tri, but I craved it, along with carbs. All the carbs.
By most evenings, I would start to feel normal-ish, but cooking was still out of the question, so I would order healthy-ish stuff when I could, to fit some veggies in — bowls from Dig Inn and Inday, salads from sweetgreen and Westville, veggie curries — stuff like that. I could make myself eggs, cheese on toast, Greek yogurt with berries, and reheat Amy’s soups — but that was kind of it.
Again, all things with bread were a great comfort — toast, simple sandwiches, bagels. As were cold drinks like sparkling flavored waters, ginger kombucha, and lemon water.
A few non-food related things that helped
Peppermint essential oil was non-offensive enough that it would kind of momentarily clear away the nausea and helped with energy and headaches.
Speaking of smells, I had to get rid of all strong scented things like candles but using citrus scents in our essential oil diffuser (like grapefruit and lemon — but NOT lemongrass) helped improved things. I tried sea bands acupressure bracelets for a little while, which seemed to work, but I was never sure if it was a combination of the other things I was doing.
I’ve gone to acupuncture a few times as well, which has helped with stress, anxiety, and feeling a bit more balanced.
Disordered Eating Challenges
I found all of this food stuff very hard to cope with at first, and noticed a lot of deeply ingrained diet mentality beliefs I still had lingering in my psyche. Most notably: Bread doesn’t have nutritional value and should only be consumed as a treat and most of your meals should be centered around vegetables. Oh, and all these carbs were going to make me gain weight (huge eye roll). I hated that these thoughts were flaring up at a time when I was supposed to be the most kind to my body, not nitpicking that I would gain a few lbs — especially since I’ll be gaining at least 25 over the course of this whole thing.
While vegetables are great, I simply couldn’t stomach a lot of them, especially raw ones, during this time. I learned to put aside the guilt I was giving myself about not getting more than my daily recommended value and embrace what I could eat. And bread — real bread like sourdough made with good-quality flour — does have quite a bit of nutritional value. Plus, it was satiating, filling, and comforting. All things I really needed. I’ve gone through a lot of Bread Alone sourdough loaves and I’m still going, and that’s a good thing.
I also had some weird shit about eating before certain times of day that I didn’t even realize was an issue until this experience. Like how I’ve always had a rule that I don’t eat lunch before 1 p.m. Which is completely arbitrary and dumb and I think comes from hating my first couple of office jobs, so I would hold off on lunch because it was my one joy of the day and I was sad when it was over — but I digress. This highlighted a way that I was previously not letting myself eat intuitively (i.e. not eating at times when I was actually hungry) and was still restricting myself in small ways. Luckily, the threat of a nausea flare up got me out of this unhealthy thought pattern real quick and I’ve continued to eat as intuitively as possible now that I’m feeling well again.
The combination of exhaustion, nausea, and complicated food-related stuff made me realize the importance of being kind and gentle with myself and letting things unfold as they should. It forced me out of forcing myself — if that makes sense? And it was a much-needed reminder that food is fuel and that all food is good food.
The turning point
At week 10, we had a vacation planned. I was really worried I’d feel awful the entire time and not be able to enjoy all the food or beaches in beautiful San Sebastian. But I was also really optimistic that I’d be starting to feel better by then, so I kind of psyched myself up that this was going to be my turning point. And, miraculously, it was.
I armed myself for the 12 hour door-to-door journey with a Dig Inn roasted chicken bowl for dinner on the plane, apples, lots of Lara and Perfect bars, and a cheddar, sweet potato, and avocado sandwich. Having these things to keep me fueled along the way was huge and I definitely attribute it to setting me on the right track. The first day we took a 3 or 4 hour nap but managed to get out into the Old Town for tapas, none of which grossed me out.
We slept in the next day and I had breakfast ready in the fridge (we did a quick food shop on the first day) and I was even able to have a beloved coffee while looking at the ocean. I settled in and barely felt a touch a queasiness at all the whole trip. I made sure I had snacks when I needed them and took naps nearly every day, but otherwise was fine.
Back to normal-ish
When I got home, I realized I needed to clear out some things like scented candles and that lemongrass essential oil (as I mentioned above) that were triggering sick memories or something. But once I did that, things got steadily better.
After a few bumpy days here and there, I’ve been able to gradually get back into a normal routine. Smoothies still aren’t my fave, but Juice Press ones are totally fine (the babe has expensive taste, apparently). And a couple of weeks ago I was finally ready to get back in the kitchen. Starchy fall squashes, homemade soups, and sauteed greens are all getting the greenlight, as are grilled salmon, roasted chicken, pasta with veggies, grilled cheese, and toast (of course), so I’m following that.
I’ve done a few things with journaling and meditation to keep me present and in touch with my body during this time, which I’ll write about in detail in another post. For now, we’re super excited to be starting our little family and I can’t wait to see what else pregnancy brings. I know there’s plenty to be freaked out by but I’m just so damn curious about it all, that I’m going to keep trying to stay centered and roll with it.