So excited to share that we are expecting our first baby this October! If you follow me on the ‘gram, you probably know that by now! That said, I am still in shock around all of this even though it has been my whole life for the past few months. This first trimester has been a real challenge for me, as I know it is for many women, and I wanted to share our story here.
Before going any further, I wanted to include a content warning to those who may be struggling with fertility and conception at this time. My heart goes out to you and I only wish that good things will come to you one day. I know my journey does not take away from anyone else’s, but it is important for me to acknowledge this. Please remember, you are not alone.
I also want to remind everyone that I am not a medical professional and all these opinions are my own. Please do not use this blog post as medical guidance.
I have always known I wanted to be a mother one day, but I was never one to have strong maternal instincts, feelings or thoughts. I honestly didn’t love kids and babies until I became an aunt (x5). When little humans who were part of my family came into the world I started to feel entirely different. I wasn’t ready to be a mother myself, but I really changed my whole attitude towards kids and really felt like wow, I want this and I can do this one day.
Once we moved back to Michigan and settled into our house we started thinking about starting a family. We got married in June 2016 (on the younger side) and have really loved growing into our late 20s together and experiencing so much just the two of us. To be honest, I was not really ready to start family planning until we made it back to Michigan. The fact that I was “30” did put a little pressure on, but I tried to subdue that and remember that this is a big deal and I need to be ready. Society timelines don’t need to be mine!
We started discussing in the fall and decided that it would be something we would consider more and more as the months went on. In December, when we were on our road trip in the south, I had some interesting symptoms and thought that I was for sure pregnant. When I got my period part way through that trip, we both felt a sense of disappointment. We had gotten so excited that I could maybe be pregnant! When I turned out not to be, we really realized that this is something we wanted in the near future. It was a good sign for us.
I have been lucky over the past few years to have a regular cycle. So when I started tracking more in depth with ovulation sticks, I was able to really learn when my body would be most fertile. The truth is, it does mainly come down to timing! And even if all things go well, we knew that it could take a few months. As I began to track with the ovulation sticks (you pee on them from day 10 to 21 of your cycle to see when the hormones are at their height for fertility), I realized that my ovulation cycle is actually on the later side. The days that women with a 28 day cycle are “supposed” to ovulate are not when I did. I was a few days later. At first I was worried about it and did all this research and got all worked up that if I ovulated too late then there wouldn’t be enough time for implantation. I was wrong and an OB told me that there was no evidence to support this and to keep relaxed and let nature run its course.
Around my birthday (2/2), I thought that I got my period because I started bleeding very close to the date of my expected period. I had taken an early pregnancy test around that time too and it was negative. With the bleeding and all, I thought “ok, it didn’t work again this month, we will try again next month”. The bleeding was lightish and I didnt get all the symptoms of my normal period, but my pregnancy tests were negative so I was sure I wasn’t pregnant.
I went on with my life until 2/14, the day we found out!
Super early that morning I felt some cramping. I looked at the calendar and realized that, wow, maybe I am ovulating! It seemed way early, but I took an ovulation test anyways. It was positive. I was very confused because since learning I was a late ovulator, this just didn’t make sense. I then decided to take a pregnancy test because maybe just maybe it could be positive. And it was! I then took 5 more. All positive. It turns out that the hormones pregnancy picks up on can show a positive ovulation result too. I literally screamed to Jacob at 7am and was in complete shock. Like shaking shock. We were very surprised since I thought I got my period a 10 days before. Turns out that was something called “implantation bleeding”, which is very common.
I went to CVS to get more tests and all positive. Based on my calendar, I was 5 weeks pregnant at that point (it calculates from the first day of your last period). We immediately called our parents and siblings. We wanted to tell them right away! They were overjoyed of course, but we all knew that it was still very early and anything could happen.
The next day I went to my primary care doctor to get blood work to measure the levels of HCG levels (pregnancy hormone) in my blood. At this point the levels increase exponentially as the days go on. This is what a pregnancy test can pick up on. When I was taking the tests right around my expected period, it was not high enough to pick up on just yet. The following day I got a confirmation that my HCG levels were normal. Yay! I had already been taking prenatals for months so I felt confident there (side note: my ritual code is SARI10).
I then did some work on researching where I wanted to seek care and booked my first ultrasound for after our trip to Florida (when I would be 9.5 weeks). I also had a virtual appointment with the practice for a full health history and reviewing all the things to expect and do and not do at around 6.5 weeks.
I felt totally like myself with the exception of 2 things. My appetize was doubled. I was still craving, enjoying all the normal foods I eat, but I needed MORE. I was hungry every 2 hours and just eating lots and lots. Listening and surrendering to my body was my mantra from the start. I also experienced rapid breast growth and sensitivity. I couldn’t believe it!!! Other than that, I didn’t feel anything else. I was energized enough to work out, plugged away at work and kept going on like normal.
Like clockwork, the day I turned 7 weeks the nausea started. This was unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life. I truly cannot explain how hard this was and I am still going through it today (it is getting better). It literally feels like the worst hangover you have ever had… but doesn’t stop. Day and night! I began to consume saltine crackers all day long, became glued to the couch, stopped working out and did the bare minimum with work. I was just exhausted and sick and every day was a challenge. When I was in Florida, I would try really hard to get outside for fresh air, and I did! It for sure helped, but the overall feeling of dizziness and nauseousness was relentless.
Even though I had a ton of support around me, I still felt lonely and isolated. It is a feeling that is hard to describe. Your body is changing so rapidly and so intensely, but all you feel is sick. It’s easy to get frustrated with yourself and feel totally alone. I felt depressed too during the worst of it too. It was a very hard few months and something I don’t think people talk about enough. So many women experience this and I want to let you know that if you are going through this now or have in the past – you are never alone!
Here is what I did to help me:
- Surrendered to the feeling and let my body do what it needed to do. Bagels and plain noodles for all meals were fine by me. That is what I wanted.
- Saltines – you want the classic ones with baking soda to help with nausea
- Ginger Chews
- Preggo pops
- Nausea Wrist Bands
- Anything salty – butter popcorn / chips / crackers
- Ice water with lemon
- The combination of B6 and Unisom (over the counter) throughout the day. This was the biggest game changer for me and allowed me to have a little relief to actually do a few things during the day. This is actually widely researched for pregnancy and you can learn more by talking to your doctor.
- Mental health support – I have been journaling and meditation throughout. I use the app “Expectful”. I started seeing a new therapist who had expertise in pregnancy. I talked to a select few people who have been through it who were so supportive. My sister and sister in laws were so helpful! They had recently gone through it and really made me feel heard and less alone. I also confided in a few other friends who were also expecting. Having someone to talk to was everything to me. It can be very isolating.
- Patience – I always reminded myself that it was temporary and that it would pass. My body was working so freaking hard to build a human and I needed to give it grace and let things run its course. Jacob encouraged me to have this mindset throughout and it helped me alot. Of course, he has been so supportive and wonderful throughout this.
Carb overload and embracing it.
Once the nausea hit, all I wanted or could stomach was carbs. I’m talking about bagels, bread, crackers, chips and pasta all day long. That’s all I wanted. I was so nauseous and tired that the only thing that sounded appealing was plain carbs. Literally as someone who eats pasta a lot anyways, I have taken it to a whole new level. I craved zero greens and zero veggies. I did eat it here and there if it was prepared for me, but cooking and putting meals together was not happening. All food sounded gross unless it was made for me. For example, the thought of a meal made me dizzy, but once I took a bite I remembered that I liked it and enjoyed it. My hunger kicked in every 1.5 to 2 hours. I tried not to let myself get too hungry because that made me feel sicker so I continued to eat. As someone who normally eats very balanced, it was mentally hard to eat all that all day. Again, I reminded myself that surrendering to what my body is telling me is the most important. This is ok. This is normal and you gotta do what works for you at this moment.
Some things that got me through that I love:
- One mighty mill bagels
- Trader Joes brown rice and quinoa fusilli with butter
- Skinny pop microwave butter popcorn
- Late July saltine crackers
- Jimmy Johns veggie sandwich on wheat bread
- One mighty mill pretzels
- Fage full fat yogurt as a snack with a drizzle of honey
- Chomps sticks were my main source of protein
The body changes.
This one caught me off guard. My body changed quickly. As it should, my body was putting on weight, my breasts were growing and my face grew rounder. These changes were a lot quicker than I expected. I literally packed for Florida thinking I could wear my summer clothes one last time and a few days in nothing fit me. I had to order new bras to Florida! I have worked so hard over the years to love my body the way it is, eat intuitively and accept it. This helped me so much! Even though I had negative body thoughts, I tried so hard to stop myself right away. I reminded myself that yes, I didn’t look like myself and that was uncomfortable, but I am creating a human and that is the most important. I talked about this a lot with my dear friend, Cameron, who is also pregnant. Pregnancy really tests you with body image and is hard on every woman – no matter how confident you are! I have had my moments the last few months and know those moments will still come.. The other day, I desperately had to go buy new jeans because not a single pair fit me in my closet. I went and bought my fave jeans, two sizes up! I kept saying to myself growing is a beautiful thing right now and that is all that matters.
Anxiety during pregnancy.
If you have been following me for a while, you know that I am very open with my struggle with anxiety. I have been working so hard over the last few years to cope, grow and accept myself in this way. I am so proud of myself for that. A combination of medication, lifestyle practices and mindfulness are how I feel like my best self mentally. I am a big believer in both eastern and western modalities for this. I should note that the medication / dose I am on right now is known to be safe for pregnancy and is cleared by my doctors. If you are considering this, please talk to your doctors. I will not be able to advise on this topic.
Before getting pregnant, or even trying, I was convinced that I was going to struggle and that brought me a lot of anxiety. I had no real reason to think that, but it did take up a large space in my mind. Even when I did get pregnant, I would think everyday that something bad was going to happen or something was wrong. Especially when I didn’t feel any symptoms yet and I was so early, I took a test almost daily because I was so convinced something bad was going to happen. Meditation and therapy really helped with this. That worrying did nothing, it was out of my control and reminding myself of that really helped. The farther I got in the pregnancy, the calmer I became. Especially after that first ultrasound and then after the genetic testing. Even today, I feel calmer. The truth is, there are so many unexplained things that can happen and I have to be prepared for that. I have to trust that it will be okay, and even if it’s “not ok”, it will work out in the end. I am not alone!
The pandemic and pregnancy.
This one is a big one. I am grateful and proud to share that I am fully vaccinated. This was a decision I did not make lightly. For me personally, it was the right thing to do. I am a very pro science / pro vaccine person and in this global pandemic that has taken so many lives, doing my part to get vaccinated was a no brainer. The science is there, they are safe and effective. However, for pregnant women, there is not a ton of definitive data. That said, here is why I decided to get it.
- I weighed the risks and benefits. The risk of getting covid as a pregnant woman is very dangerous. There have been a lot of issues and complications with women who contract the virus pregnant. I did not want to be one of those women. My husband (a doctor) who worked in the COVID ICU for many months saw this first hand.
- I am an exposed person. No matter how cautious I am, I live with a doctor who works in an out of 6 hospitals and sees hundreds of patients daily. This puts me in a position to be exposed a lot. Even with Jacob being double vaccinated, this is still a risk for me that made me uneasy.
- I trust science and I listen to the experts. The OBs/ Midwives / Doctors I spoke to all encouraged me (strongly) to get the vaccine. There is nothing in the makeup of the vaccine that should pose an issue for pregnancy. There were many women in the trials who became pregnant and no issues have been documented. The basis of an MRNA vaccine (I got moderna) does not stay in your body for long periods as it creates antibodies and leaves. The purpose is to give me antibodies to fight the virus and that is what I wanted to protect me and my baby. Now the science is even saying the babies are getting antibodies too. Plus, the rumours of infertility and such around the vaccine are plainly not factual. I do not subscribe to any non scientific news and fear based claims that are not supported by science. Here is a great podcast episode that reviews pregnancy, fertility and the actual scientific truth behind it. It debunks many myths and fear- based rumours.
- I want to live my life. Being pregnant and high risk would make me afraid to do anything fun this summer. I honestly want to spend time with friends, family, go out to eat, go on a babymoon and enjoy life (safely of course) as it begins to open up. I would be too anxious to do that pregnant if I was not vaccinated. My mental health matters too. Anxiety and loneliness have been prevalent the past year and I did not want to take over my pregnancy even more. It is important for me to be social and live life outside of isolation. The vaccine allows me to feel safe doing that.
- I want to be able to go home to Canada to see my family. As you may know, my family (parents, siblings, grandparents, many friends) all live in Toronto where I am from. I want to be able to safely visit them this summer without the worry about obtaining the virus and being seriously ill in another country.
- I want to do my part. Herd immunity is key in combating the global pandemic and the more people get the shots; the better it is for all. I want to be part of that and stop the spread to protect myself, others and get our society back to normal.
Again, I did not take this lightly. But as I mapped out the risks / benefits thoughtfully, the benefits seriously outweighed the risks for me. I am glad I made the personal choice to do it and I am proud to be vaccinated! I am in now way telling anyone else what to do with their body. As I have said many times, everyone can decide what works best for them and I respect that.
Coming up on trimester 2.
As I enter my second trimester, I am slowly starting to feel less sick and more energized. I am excited to be open about my journey, pregnancy and share along the way.
We also found out that our little one is a BOY! We are so excited!!! Take a peek at our baby sex reveal video here. I also posted a compilation video of sharing the exciting news with family and friends. Warms my heart every time! Check it out here.
Stay tuned for more after the next trimester!