Truths About the First Trimester that *Apparently* No One Tells You

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

You're pregnant?! Congrats! ...how many freak outs have you had already???

Let's start with the first REAL truth that no one is going to tell you... IT'S OKAY TO FREAK OUT. It's okay to feel immediately wonder how in the heck YOU are supposed to be a parent!
I remember exactly the moment that I read the "Yes+" on the pregnancy test. I felt completely overwhelmed. I felt tiny. All of a sudden my thoughts went to "Oh my GOSH, are we ready for this?! Am I ready for this? What even IS this? Am I responsible enough to be in charge of some tiny human for the rest of forever?!" ...see what I mean??? Freak Out #1.

Whether you've been planning for years, trying for months, or can't believe that it happened at all... you're allowed to feel the full breadth of emotions about this!
Something that I thought was so strange when we started telling people that I was pregnant was the "OH MY GOSH ARE YOU JUST SO EXCITED?!" response.
Thankfully, I am in a very wonderful and stable marriage, and so OF COURSE we were happy... but there were also lots of other feelings going on inside of us. A little shock, some apprehension, some disbelief, more than a handful of nerves about what was coming down the pike for us.
When you find out that your couple is inviting another human along FOREVER, that's a pretty big deal!
Let yourself feel those things. Talk about those things. Reflect on those things. It's okay if you're not glowing all the time at the prospect of life as you know it fundamentally shifting forever. (Sorry... did that instigate Freak Out #2??)

The good news is that whether you're on the far end of the scale and simply THRILLED or on the other end of the scale and simply TERRIFIED... you have a nice long time to figure some things out and adjust before that babe actually shows up on your door step. So take a deep breath. It's going to be fine.

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When I got pregnant, I did what any sane millennial would do... immediately got on the internet to seek out information from a bunch of NOT professionals to tell me what I should "expect" to be feeling as I got deeper into it.
What I've learned since those days of frantic googling to see how many symptoms I was experiencing and what the likelihood was that they meant I was going to have a pregnancy would be is that having expectations about your pregnancy is mostly an exercise in futility. 
Let's just all try to live in the moment and do what we need to do for our bodies right now as opposed to place some random stranger's expectations (good or bad) onto ourselves... deal??
Because as soon as you think you've got "it" figured out, it's all going to change.

But... you are ready this, after all, to get a little truth... so here goes:

Truth #1: Whoever coined the phrase "morning sickness" really did us a disservice. Before you get pregnant you think that there's like a bit of a queasy feeling in the morning, and maybe you'll yack a few times... but after mid-day passes you'll be glowing like Heidi Klum on the runway.
Yeah. Right.
For many of us, "all day and night sickness with momentary reprieves for carbo loading" is what this time really should be called. With any luck, it will end around the end of your first trimester (which did you know is actually week 14ish instead of week 12ish?? I didn't know that until I was praying for said sickness to finally cease and found out I had at least 2 more weeks). Unfortunately, not everyone is in the clear at that 1st trimester point... I, ironically, am writing this to you today as I near week 20 of my pregnancy and just returned to my computer from yacking unexpectedly.
What can you do? ...not much.
Maybe pray extra hard that you'll be one of the lucky pregnancy unicorns who feels energized and beautiful during her first trimester. I have known a few of them-- so, my fingers crossed for you, sister!



Truth #2: When it comes to exercise during your first trimester, bless and release! ....Release any expectations you have about continuing your regular regimen. Release any expectations that you will maintain your running pace. Release any expectations that you will continue to make strength gains.
This is NOT to say that you can't so any or all of those things... but, please, lighten your expectation load and listen to your body. It's okay if you can't muster more than a walk once a week during your first trimester. If you feel that terrible, chances are you're not eating that much either, so your fears of gaining 30 lbs before week 12 aren't going to come true.
I ran a marathon at week 6 of my pregnancy and then literally didn't exercise more than a handful of times for the following 2 months because I simply couldn't... and I was in the best shape of my life.  The last thing that your body and your baby needs from you is to pass out or initiate unnecessary barfing because your pride is injured.
For those of us who love a good sweat sesh more than anything and would rather run a marathon than be forced to eat a box of Crispy Cremes, this truth can be excruciating. It doesn't matter how hard you fight it though... if your body doesn't want to handle your exercise load, it won't let you continue. So be gentle with yourself, and know that you will probably come out of it and be able to get back into a routine in a few weeks.
You baby is more important than your 5-k pace right now anyways. Deal?



Along the same lines as exercise falls energy levels.
When I got pregnant and was reading all the lists of "what to expect" there was one word that I literally had to GOOGLE because I just didn't understand what they meant. What was the word? ..."fatigue." Seems hilarious that I would have to look up what that meant... but I'm not someone who gets "fatigued" and I wanted a proper description.
I wake (**woke) at 5:30 without an alarm, I'd never consider an afternoon nap, I was excited about a hearty exercise routine and very frequently woke up pumped about my upcoming 10 mile run for Saturday morning. So "fatigue" was a foreign word to me... until... one day... one o'cloock rolled around and I actually died for 3 hours on my friend's couch. And then the next day it happened again. And then the next day I barely zombied my way from rising through trying to stuff some peanut butter and pretzels down my pie hole before again passing out for an afternoon nap. This lasted my entire first trimester, hitting almost always at exactly 1 pm... the worst part? I never woke up actually feeling better. I always needed some kind of quick sugar (usually gatorade) to revive me enough to even get out of bed.
My definition of fatigue associated with pregnancy would be something more akin to a zombie being hit by a bus. Daily.
My only advice? Find some good shows to binge watch my friend, because you're not going to be very productive when this time hits you.



Truth # 3: Pregnancy nutrition is not like regular nutrition. 
We all have grand intentions when we get pregnant that we are going to be THOSE women who continue to eat healthy and make the best choices EVERRRRRRR for our babies.
I actually used to scoff at women (of course only in my head) who said that they could "only eat carbs" and "couldn't remember the last time they ate a vegetable" during their first trimester.
HA! The universe has a funny way of getting us back for things like that. 
Wanna know how I survived my first trimester?? It was really simple... so I'll tell you.
Pepperoni pizza, caesar salad (no question this baby is Italian), gatorade, and gold fish.
Okay, sometimes I had stromboli instead of pizza, and sometimes I had pretzel rods instead of gold fish... but ummmm... you get the point.
Oh... and whole milk and ice cream :) ...I actually had ice cream 15 days in a row at one point.
Hilarious.
Disgusting.
Something I would have ABSOLUTELY judged another woman for doing and ADMITTING before I, myself, was so inconsolably ill and these were the only things that would help me survive a day. Sometimes a calorie needs to just count as a calorie and left in the past.
So here's what I have to say to you about how YOU eat during your first trimester: Girl, do your best... and then just let it go. If you feel great, then BY ALL MEANS keep eating healthy! This is NOT a permission slip to binge on crap just because you're pregnant. BUT... if the thought of something green actually makes you turn green... again, give yourself a little grace and survive until it passes. It will pass. One day you will wake up and want to explore your fridge a little bit more. But until that day comes, don't beat yourself up. Your baby is already doing that enough.




Along with the reading you've done about "what to expect" came probably some reading about "what do I need?" ... Honestly... you don't need much for the first trimester... at least things that you think of as far as relating to pregnancy. But there are a few things that I have found useful that I figured I'd share with you here.

1. A solid set of survival snacks that you keep with you at all times. Hoard them. Label them. Threaten whoever lives in your house so that they leave them alone. There is nothing worse than having only ONE food that sounds like it won't make you barf, but finding that the last one was eaten when your husband was looking for a snack yesterday. Death, tantrums, and full on breakdown may ensue if this happens. Prepare accordingly. Keep gatorades in the fridge, hide goldfish in your purse, keep granola bars in your car. This is serious business ladies. No carb left behind.

2. Find yourself a good waxer. Yes. You ready that correctly. An esthetician who specializes in whatever hair removal you typically do yourself. You know how they talk about how thick and luscious and fast growing your hair is when you're pregnant???... well... news flash, honey. It's not just on your head. You may think that this sounds vain (and maybe a little bit of it is), but comfort is going to be huge the next few months, and anything you can do to eliminate your own personal responsibility (read as: extra energy required) for maintaining just about anything is HUGELY VALUABLE. Find your nearest European Wax Center or other reputable wax studio and buy a package. Just do it. And do it early so that when your... ahem... *down there* is a little more sensitive later in pregnancy, it won't even be an issue anymore because you'll be in a good routine!

3. Find a good toner that won't rough up your skin. As your hormones explode, you may find that some of that long forgotten teenage acne crops back up... and not only on your face. Your body is going through a lot of changes, and that means that you're overproducing some oils... I got zits in the weirdest places... like my FOREARMS on a couple of occasions-- I'm sorry... WHAT?! So grab a toner that will dry out your problem zones before they become real problems. Lots of gals I know struggle with chest and shoulder breakouts at different stages... and it's amazing how quickly it can be fixed with a little alcohol! There are plenty of cheap brands out there-- witch hazel is a good natural option :)

4. While you want to dry out some things you also want to LOTION UP! Make sure that you've got a really clean, moisturizer for both your face and your body! Keeping your skin balanced will help prevent break outs, but down the road will help ease itchiness as your skin starts to stretch out. Remember that your skin is your biggest organ, and that it absorbs everything that you put on it-- so try to stay away from icky chemical moisturizers as you are going to be using A LOT of lotion the next few months!
Try out this lotion :)

5. Exfoliate well, exfoliate often! Along with keeping toner and lotion on hand, the best thing you can do for your changing skin right now is exfoliate! Using a gentle cleanser that doesn't strip your skin will help you not only avoid those breakouts, but **maybe** will help us stretch more gracefully later! There is no way to really know if anything can prevent stretch marks (it's mostly up to your genetics unfortunately) but exfoliating, lotion-ing up, and staying hydrated are our best bets.
I use this scrub on my face, neck, chest, and shoulders a few times a week. We'll see where the jury falls on stretch marks... but for now, I know that this is helping the skin people actually see stay much healthier ;)


Bottom line: The first trimester is about survival. And you will survive. And you will come out on the other side feeling more stable about being pregnant and more ready to start looking into the more practical things... like registry, and nursery decorating, and maternity clothes, and labor prep, and ....okay... no need to start Freak Out #3 just yet ;)

Give yourself some grace these first few months, mama. Take time for yourself, and try to not be too mean to your husband. He doesn't understand how you feel, and that's okay... just remember that he's cute and you do still love him even if he eats the last slice of pizza without asking.

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