My First Trimester World
I have to start this post by saying thank you, sincerely, for all your love and excitement regarding our baby news. My goodness! I could not stop smiling all day, reading the sweet comments on my blog post and Instagram annoucement picture. What gorgeous, warm, sunshine-giving people you are. Ben and I (and bub!) feel the love, so thank you.
I had originally planned on sharing our baby news a lot sooner, like around the 9 week mark. I'm not really one to hide things, neither is Ben, and we both found keeping this secret rather difficult. Actually now that I look back, to almost everyone we saw in person we blurted out the news. I tested positive at 3 weeks, which in pregnancy talk is 5 weeks because you add two weeks on (who knew?!), and then it was a whole month before our first appointment with my Obstetrician (boy did that month drag). By then I was 9 weeks, when I originally thought I'd announce to you guys, but at that appointment I found out that bub was measuring closer to 10 weeks...and I was due for the standard first trimester screening tests very shortly, so we decided to wait a couple more weeks before sharing the news. After 12 weeks your risk of miscarriage greatly reduces, so a lot of people wait for that milestone. My thinking was, the first weeks of my pregnancy felt like they went on forever, so what was two more weeks? Our families knew right away, and we told close friends very early also. But truth be told, I didn't let myself fully believe it was happening until after my first Obstetrician appointment...or the 12 week ultrasound, really. I know how common miscarriage is and I guess I was trying to protect my heart. Not that you ever can. This pregnancy business...boy are there a whole lot of emotions!! You can really drive yourself nuts. But each morning, when I'd wake feeling like as though I'd had 27 vodka soda limes the night before, I found sincere comfort in my baby hormones hangover. Gagging when opening the fridge or when thinking about vegetables made me smile. The sickness made me happy, and helped me to believe that maybe this wasn't in my head, maybe this was happening.
People have been sweetly asking if I've been feeling well. The answer is, yes and no. Some days are a struggle, as this nausea gets a bit much. At the start I was sicker in the morning, these days it hits about 2pm and lasts until I go to bed. But sometimes it comes on strong in the morning and lasts all day. It's highly fluctuating, though definitely relates to blood sugar levels. Heck, I'm a dietitian and I still struggle to manage. The nausea is a bit unpredictable. Only a handful of times have I started the day dry retching over the sink. Occasionally I'll have to stop and dry retch on a walk (there's this particularly bushy area near my home that smells like capsicum...it's offensive) or when out and about, but on the scale of "manageable" to "how on Earth can I function?", I am definitely on the manageable end. Some ladies have it SO rough, it's unbelievable. I am definitely not one of those troopers (though I certainly do not feel fantastic...yet). Below, in what is possibly my longest rambling post (oh, yes, I haven't even begun to fully ramble), I go into week to week detail of the first trimester. I kept this baby a secret for so long, I'm now word vomiting the truth of these past couple of months all over your screen. Sorry about that.
Oh, and regarding Instagram, sometimes I would post a picture of yesterday's lunch as that day's breakfast. I did what I had to do to let you know I was still alive and eating, without letting you know how much things had flipped. Here is everything I have wanted to share since the start of the year but didn't. Until now. It feels good to be back on real time.
Ben and I had dinner at mum and dad's on the night of Sunday 11th January, after doing a home pregnancy test that morning (see my announcement post for more details). How did I tell them? I just casually slipped it into conversation - that's my style. I've encouraged Ben to do most of the announcing to other family and friends because I like hearing and seeing his excitement. It's dear and infectious and his speeches are always wonderfully awkward. He will look at me with wide eyes then loudly interrupt a group conversation, before allowing an extended, highly awkward pause, followed by a cliche sentiment along the lines of "we have some news!"...then there's another round of long, wide-eyed pausing, and at last "we're having a baby!". It's both fun and brilliantly agonising to watch. I adore him. My style is, dare I say, faster and smoother, just slipping it into conversation. For mum and dad, I encouraged us to sit outside at the table because it was a softly sunny evening and quite pleasant. We caught up on the weekend happenings before mum started to explain what she was making for dinner, describing her chosen pasta dish. At this point I nonchalantly mentioned that this was good, because "since I found out I'm pregnant all I've been wanting is pasta". I've never seen her eyes or mouth open that wide before. She screamed, then danced and screamed some more. Dad checked more than once that we were being serious with a giant, giant grin on his face. Mum made Ottolenghi's pasta, everything was perfect and I remember feeling taken aback by the happiness I felt at the prospect of giving my parents grandchildren. And here I was thinking it was all about Ben and I.
This week I had a blood test at the doctor, which confirmed I was pregnant (woohoo!). Though if I had any doubt I could take note of the change in my breasts, which had gone up a cup size and became super sore and heavy. This is a very common pregnancy happening and is at once both cool and annoying.
Feeling a little funky, all I could manage some mornings was plain porridge (well, plain for me, without my usual tahini, toasted seeds and crazy toppings) and only about half a serve. Fruit toast became my best friend. I usually eat a lot of nuts, however they became quite offensive for some reason, so to make up for the loss of awesome nutty nutrients, I looked to chia seeds, which I could easily slip into porridge, smoothies or scatter over yoghurt for an extra hit of goodness. On the Friday we had dinner with Ben's parents and told them they'd be grandparents again. We're so lucky to have two sets of supportive parents who want nothing more than to share in the love of our family.
That weekend I freaked out because our Christmas tree was still up (it was mid January) and I felt a strong, maternal need to make space for the baby. The baby who, at that point, was the size of a blueberry. I took down the decorations, tore into our storage closet and threw out bags of old dvds, clothes and random crap. Our living room was a complete mess for two days but the crazy was worth it. Our Christmas tree went to Dad, who said he'd smoke it for his bees (I still don't know what that means) and because they're amazing, my parents gifted me a case of Mock Red Hill's sparkling apple juice. I hugged the box for a good five minutes.
I could really feel my body change this week, with little pains and twinges that feel kind of sharp but good and right. I still feel these daily and I love it. I mean, this baby has to fit in somewhere! My uterus is growing and hormones are causing a lot of awesome changes. It's really fascinating to experience.
In food related news, I am now fully aware that I need to eat as soon as I get up - something small, and then, after a morning walk, I'll chase it with something more substantial. I'm eating much less than usual at meals, but eating more regularly. I'm happily relying on avocado for my hit of green. And while during this time my usual favourite Greek yoghurt made me feel sick, I was fully in favour of Jalna's vanilla yoghurt (this lasted about 2 weeks before I fancied Greek again). I'd eat this yoghurt with muesli to help keep my calories up and try to enjoy breakfast while reading book that was NOT about food (I do own some) for fear of being sick. Reading Little Women was a nice escape during these weeks.
Another discovery was a way to successfully eat salad. I'd simply cover it with tomato sauce! Lettuce totally became tolerable this way. If you have a sturdy piece of lettuce you can make a tomato sauce taco, like so:
So, about exercise. Usually, pre-pregnancy, I'd go for a brisk morning walk or do a ballet or yoga video on youtube. If I exercise for about 30 minutes in the mornings on most days of the week, I feel good. I like to move. These days things are not too different, I still exercise for about 30 minutes most days, but I listen to my body and do what feels right. Even before I found out I was pregnant my body told me to scale things back, and I slowed my walking speed right down. It's more of a stroll these days, which is cool. It's still movement, it still makes me feel good and I still get out in nature. I don't feel comfortable doing my old yoga videos so will sometimes just stretch in the simplest of ways. It feels good and right. And I moved from my higher intensity dance videos to daggy "walking style" videos. Jessica Smith is my girl and I love her. But most days it's a walk outside. My friend is a yoga instructor and I always remember her telling me that with yoga, and especially during pregnancy, it's all about listening to your body. And so I have.
Staying hydrated has been tricky. Usually I'm a great drinker but now I'm off the booze it's hard to reach 2 litres a day. Kidding! Honestly it's hard to reach 2 litres because water is just not that appealing, particularly early in the day. Too much makes me dry retch and after an unfortunate incident where I guzzled a sparkling apple juice on an empty stomach (leaving me feeling super sick), I've gone off my beloved Mock Red Hill sparkling apple juice (for now).
To help manage this drinking dilemma, I tried juicing half a lemon and adding soda water to make a healthy, homemade lemonade! I'd sometimes switch it up with a grapefruit and make pink lemonade. It was awesome but short lived, as I soon discovered the joys of heartburn. It took me longer than it should have (as a Dietitian) to realise what was happening, but I'd never experienced heartburn before so WHOA that was new (plus heartburn usually doesn't happen until later on in pregnancy, so I wasn't expecting it). I have trouble with citrus, chocolate and chilli. And don't even let me lie down after eating, that's the worst. Soon after my painful, educational citrus binge I switched to pure blueberry or pomegranate juice, heavily diluted with soda water. That was, and remains, awesome. As does very week ginger tea. I'm still off all caffeine (besides the few weak chia teas over the past weeks), which is fascinating. No coffee for this long and no caffeine withdrawals. It's amazing. The body knows what it wants.
In other food news, baked potatoes are the best thing in the world (with sour cream, cheese and lots of black pepper). Cheese is the third best thing in the world, and a perfect vehicle to choke down vegetables. If you're wondering what the second best thing in the world is, it's pasta.
This week I found out a close friend of mine is pregnant and one week further along than me. It's so cool to be going through this together. All I want to do is talk about pregnancy and babies and it feels great to know I can talk to her about it and not bore her...much.
Also, that desire to talk about all things pregnancy and babies non stop? That surprised me. I was never someone to spend a lot of time dreaming about babies, but if I indulged my current desires I would listen to pregnancy podcasts, watch movies about babies and read pregnancy books and blogs all day long. I am completely and sincerely interested in every aspect of this process. I am so excited for the birth (ha ha, I say that NOW), and am tearing through Ina May Gaskin's books. I don't even know myself.
This week I couldn't stop thinking about McChicken burgers. You know how you always feel worse after eating McDonalds? Well I was so very certain that I would feel better after eating a McChicken...with fries, sweet'n'sour dipping sauce and a coke. I resolved to get around to that while still in my first trimester, before my usual feelings of repulsion towards Maccas resurfaces (spoiler alert, at the end of week 12 I got my wish).
The sickness continues, though instead of being worse in the morning and better at night, things switched. Going to bed feeling nauseated is so weird.
This week I made a shitty batch of pesto (I was hungry and couldn't be bothered to make it good) but it was still tasty because it was a pasta dish and pasta dishes, as I mentioned above, are the second best thing in the world.
Yes, that's a bag of Killer Pythons in the background. Though I have only had one (that's self control, folks), I regularly inhale the contents from the bag. Especially when I'm in the kitchen. Especially when we have fresh basil around. Side note: why aren't there Killer Pythons that are only blue and red coloured? They're clearly the best flavours. My smell sense is out of control these days and a lot of things make me gag (especially the fridge and our dishwashing detergent). But Killer Pythons, they fix everything. Also, I am sneezing ALL THE TIME. Weird.
Finally, our first Obstetrician appointment! Ben and I are super happy with our choice of Obstetrician and were psyched to see him as an officially "expecting" couple (as I mentioned previously, I needed help ovulating so this was my third visit with him). I awoke this morning (February 9th) feeling not particularly pregnant, so I was a little worried that it would turn out the whole thing was in my head. But, sure enough, after putting the jelly on my stomach and looking at the monitor he assured me that "there's definitely a baby in there". And it had a strong heartbeat, too. I was teary and relieved and buzzing with excitement. Ben and I felt incredibly relieved, though it was all still so surreal. I think our word for the day (for the week!) was "wow".
It was quite a warm week, so I ate a lot of these kinds of meals for dinner: Sicilian potato salad, peas, corn, cucumber and tuna. I was thrilled with the amount of veg being eaten here.
Swimming at the beach really helps my nausea, so I did that quite a bit this week too. I spent some time thinking on which screening tests to do (the standard, less accurate one or the new, highly accurate, expensive one). Again, the beach helped and gave me clarity (as did talking with other recent mums and mums to be), and we decided to go with the standard testing. We are low risk and after a bit of back and forth, it felt like the right thing to do.
I awoke one morning at the start of week 11 with what felt like a legitimate baby bump. Early on it was bloating, ohhh was it bloating!! But this week it felt and looked different. My uterus had become the size of a grapefruit at week 11, and bubs the size of a lime. Now might be the time to tell you that we call our baby "Parsley". Ben and I always joked that we'd name our daughter Parsley (joked because we're not that mean), and when I asked Ben what we should call our little growing baby he didn't hesitate with the name. Another thing to mention is that we won't be finding out the gender of our baby. Ben and I didn't have to discuss whether to find out or not, we just knew that we wanted to wait. I'm quite in tune with my body and can hear what my gut is saying most of the time, but at the moment it's not saying strongly boy or girl. At the beginning I was sure it was a girl, Ben too, but now we're not so sure. Please tell me what you think we're having! You'd think it would get old but no, I love thinking on what gender our bub will be.
This week I had a blood test, part one of the first trimester screening process. I'm cool with blood tests and really like the ladies in the clinic where I go to get bloods done, so was actually kind of a nice thing to do on a Tuesday afternoon between clients. Speaking of work, the beginning of the first trimester was tricky. I was just getting back to work after the Christmas break and, at the time, was struggling with nausea in the mornings. My way around this was to schedule clients for the afternoon/evenings when I could talk about food and not want to be sick. The days at home were the frustrating ones. I try to schedule clients on 2-3 days of the week, and the remainder of the time I'm at home working on things for clients or random freelance tasks - writing, recipe development, etc. Those days working from home during the first trimester were really rather useless. It was painful! Being distracted at work was a far nicer way to pass the time than sitting on the couch thinking about how unproductive I'd been. I would calculate the money I was saving on not buying coffee, not drinking wine and not purchasing ingredients to cook (because all I wanted was pasta and that's cheap), and feel somewhat better about my lack of productivity, but yeah...those days were not fun. At least my house was clean (it was the only way I could feel productive). Working for yourself is great when you're highly self-motivated (which I usually am), but when you feel like crap and your work revolves around the thing that makes you feel most sick (food)...well, that sucks. Eventaully I learnt to have grace and be kind to myself, to cherish those days of slow and be grateful that I could stay home and not have to force myself to go into an office every day and pretend to be normal. Seriously, I don't know how pregnant women who work full time for other people and are suffering morning sickness (especially vomiting!!) do it. I just don't. When you don't have a choice I guess you just suck it up and do it. Respect.
A favourite post-work lunch has been avocado toast with cheddar cheese. And look! Here there was even more green on my plate. Also featured, books mum picked up from the op shop. I'd like to start doing some pilates in my second trimester, so I'd better get around to that. Hypnobirthing classes too...
I started week 12 with a morning swim at the beach and then one of my most sick days yet. Thankfully I only had one client scheduled that evening and could spend the day dry retching in the comfort of my home and investigating super fun things like Health Insurance rebates.
Tuesday was the day of our ultrasound, part two of our first trimester screening. We saw our baby, its' teeny tiny thigh bones and all its' cuteness. We heard its' heartbeat and got pictures and a dvd of the ultrasound to take home. From this moment on, we let ourselves fully be present and embrace this pregnancy. We can now picture ourselves as parents in 6 months time. I'm researching prams and planning our baby room. It's on. I'm so proud of my growing bump and I am loving my growing appetite. It feels amazing, all of it. Even the sickness.
Wednesday was our Wedding anniversary, and though I had a giant headache the entire day I managed to defrost pie dough and make a salty honey pie plus steak for dinner. I've probably only had about five days of bad hormonal headaches during the first trimester, which is not too bad.
I finished week 12 by finally indulging my craving for a McChicken, along with those fries I was hanging out for, plus some sweet'n'sour sauce and a coke. Ben got a Big Mac meal and we took our Maccas to go, parking by the seaside and listening to my Grandpa's favourite tunes, the talented Glen Miller. Was it as good as I'd hoped? It was better. I don't know what it was about this fantasy, but it seriously got me through some nauseating times. I would occasionally google images of McChicken burgers and send them to my family while eating my porridge at breakfast....for real. When I was a kid, we'd get McDonalds as an occasional treat, say after ballet concerts or on family camping road trips. It was always a source of enjoyment and never a big deal, but for some reason it was a very comforting thought to me during this first trimester. That date by the seaside, with salty fingers and syrupy coke, was perfect. Gosh, I'm getting sentimental about McDonalds. These pregnancy hormones...
Here we are, the last week of my first trimester. This week I had a light workload, so I got my hair done (for the first time in a loooooong while) and read about my placenta and the stages of labour. On the food front, I'm now eating a broader range of produce (though zucchini and beetroot are still the worst). My porridge bowls is getting more fancy too, with toasted pepitas, yoghurt and fruit (though the thought of tahini and lots of nuts still makes me feel ill). I am slightly closer to deciding which prams I want to trial, about which I am possibly inappropriately excited. Though I am most excited to reach the second trimester on Monday! Bring on the "pregnancy honeymoon period", as friends have called it, with more energy, less nausea, and a super cute bump.
We have three weddings in the next 10 days, so March is fabulously full of love. I tried on a skirt mum bought me before I found out I was pregnant and am thrilled that it still fits! I'll wear that to my friend's wedding on Sunday. April looks to be swell too! It's Easter and then one of my very best friends is due to have her baby! And although she lives in America, I am so psyched for her and cannot wait to share in her joy from afar.
Below are some pictures of me at week 12, on the cusp of week 13. I plan on doing weekly belly shots from here on out. I think they'll be a really sweet thing to have in the future. I have a little baby bump, one that perhaps only Ben and I can see, but it's there. And we love it.
My first trimester pregnancy world has been a blessed one. Yes I perpetually feel like I've got a hangover and I have a love-hate relationship with food, but not a day goes by that I don't realise how lucky I am to be experiencing this phenomenal process. I am in awe of my body. I'm constantly stroking my belly and find myself talking to our baby without realising it (instead of talking to myself, I now have bub). Ben comes home these days and says, "I've missed you two so much". Everything has changed. And we couldn't be happier.