When I got pregnant, I thought I knew what to expect.
I’d feel sick for a few days, my belly would grow, I’d waddle a bit, and then—voila—I’d have an adorable baby to bring home!
Well, it probably goes without saying that this season and my journey to motherhood hasn’t always been what I’d imagined. In short, it has not been easy!
This will be a longer post and I’m sharing a lot of personal information, but if the details of my experiences (which still feels not-so-typical) are helpful to any other aspiring mamas, mamas-to-be, partners, and friends / family members, then it’s well worth it!
If you haven’t already, be sure to read out pregnancy announcement here.
Let’s start from the very beginning…
I did a LOT of research and discovery when D and I decided we were ready to become parents. We’d always discussed a loose timeline around having children, but had no idea what our own path to parenthood would look like. We attended sessions with adoption agencies and foster care organizations and decided that, at least for the time being, trying to conceive would be the best option for us.
When it came to my fertility—and D’s, for that matter—I had no idea what to expect. I decided to stop my birth control and start paying close attention to my cycles—I used the Clue app—so I could get a sense of my ovulation window. If we weren’t pregnant after a year, my doctor would start the conversation around infertility and next steps.
So, we started trying.
And after the first month (and a negative pregnancy test), I decided to start more intentionally “planning.” I learned that the timing of conception is really precise, so I grabbed an at home ovulation testing kit off Amazon so I’d have a better understanding of my “when.”
That proved to be a great decision for us, as I ended up ovulating almost a full week before my tracking app predicted I would. And a few short weeks later, I tested positive!
Within days of my positive pregnancy test, I started experiencing a few symptoms that let me know that something real was going on! Namely, my breasts became incredibly tender and I started having intense smell aversions to our dog, Hula (this was one of the hardest symptoms to deal with).
Not long after, I started experiencing deep fatigue and shortness of breath, which was really hard to come to terms with. I’d run seven miles the week I found we were expecting. Three weeks later, I was out of breath from walking a few blocks with Hula.
And around the 9 week mark, I vomited for the first time.
I’ll spare you all the details, but once it started, the vomiting continued for months (I’m still taking daily medicine as I approach my third trimester). I lost my appetite and started cycling through a combination of B-12, Unisom, and prescription drugs. And, honestly, it all took a huge mental toll. I was either feeling nauseous or nervous that the nausea was about to set in. As if the first trimester anxiety about sustaining the pregnancy wasn’t enough, I felt like my body was at war with itself.
Almost overnight, I stopped feeling well enough to run, do yoga, go to the gym (I had recently started going to F45), or even walk the dog as far as I usually would.
How could I make it through—survive—this pregnancy feeling like this? What would my wellness look like at the end of this experience?
My Medical Care
I was really excited to find a Black, female OB/GYN in Dallas to support me throughout my pregnancy. With so much news about the maternal mortality rates and complications Black women across the US experience, it was important for me to feel seen by my provider. While I found out D got into his grad school program in DC before I had my first appointment with her (and,while I didn’t always believe she was a great match for me), these early appointments meant a lot to me.
The doctor wouldn’t see me until 8 weeks after the start of my last period to “confirm” my pregnancy and check me out for the first time. Waiting for that first appointment was really hard, but super rewarding. We got to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time, which was an incredible feeling! There was a life—a child—growing inside me. INSANE!
The appointment was mostly positive and the baby’s size dated me at 9 weeks pregnant! We did, however, learn that the ultrasound showed a number of cysts on my ovaries and a cyst on the baby’s umbilical cord. My doctor told us that umbilical cysts could be an early sign of Down Syndrome in a fetus, especially if it shows up on later scans, and talked to us about genetic testing and screening.
After much discussion and prayer, we decided against genetic testing. If our screening results pointed to anything, we’d likely have to complete amniotic testing to confirm a diagnosis, which I knew I wouldn’t want to do. We also knew that, if there was an issue with the baby, especially Down Syndrome, we would not decide to terminate the pregnancy. So we prayed (and continue to pray) for the baby’s health and for us to be ready to handle whatever challenges our baby might present.
*I’ll also note that, even prior to meeting my doctor in Dallas for the first time, I was pretty confident that I’d be seeking care from a midwife once we got to the DC area. During these early weeks of pregnancy, I started researching different options and scheduling calls / attending information sessions so I could hit the ground running once we moved.
Other Random Stuff
Around week 10, we announced the pregnancy to our parents. I’d told my sister the day I found out, but I sent her a cute wine label to “officially” announce it to her, too. In the weeks that followed, we started sharing the news with our close friends and family as well.
Around week 12, we traveled to NYC to see my family and then to DC to search for apartments in preparation for our move. Traveling while pregnant, in the midst of the pandemic, felt really risky—especially because I wasn’t yet vaccinated—but I was very strict about following all the safety protocols in place. Unfortunately, I was incredibly sick for the majority of the trip and spent most of my time laying down and napping. All in all, we found an apartment and signed a lease, so the trip was a major success.
When we got back to Dallas, I made my first purchases of faith, and bought the baby a onesie from Target and a baby book! Although it still felt pretty weird, since I couldn’t feel it moving and I didn’t think it could hear me yet, I started reading to the baby. This small, simple activity was the first real connection I felt to the baby. Instead of worrying about whether or not the baby would make it through the first trimester, I found myself speaking life and adventure into my child.
I’m not the kind of person that believes in regrets, but there are a few things I wish I’d done a little differently…
I wish I’d pushed myself to keep journaling throughout the first trimester. I started a journal to chronicle my pregnancy experiences soon after I became pregnant. I loved the idea of looking back and even being able to share details of this time with our baby one day. But the sickness and discomfort felt incredibly heavy and unending, and I stopped trying at a point. Now that I’m feeling a lot better, I wish I gave myself an extra push to keep up with it!
2. Prenatal Vitamins
I also stopped taking my prenatals at some point during the first trimester. After a few days of vomiting up my vitamins, I recognized that it simply wasn’t working anymore. And while I’m proud of myself for listening to my body (as opposed to forcing myself to dry heave every day), I wish I’d been more diligent about finding a replacement vitamin in the meantime. It would be quite some time (months!) before I could stomach them again. And by that point I was so out of practice, I struggled to be consistent
This is another one I’ll blame on feeling like complete crap, but I really wish I’d taken more pictures of myself throughout. Now that my bump is here, I feel like my old body is a distant memory. And while I’m absolutely okay with stepping into this new phase of life and living in a new body once baby was born, I wish I’d snapped a few more “girl, I was FOINE!” pics when I had the chance. The one imagine I KNOW I would’ve wanted to have? One of my pre-baby boobs (weird? Maybe! But I don’t care). ! I swear, my breasts already look so incredibly different than they did a few short months ago. And I don’t even have a good pic of my girls to look back on and weep!
Are you a mom? What do you remember about your first trimester? Were you sick as a dog, or did you barely even register that you were pregnant?