When I used to think about pregnancy I always imagined myself to be one of these health-conscious, earthy, all-natural women that developed a neat little bump and pranced around in my heels and got my nails done every week until the day I popped out my perfect child from my perfect vagina without a single rip and stitch.
We’re living in a world where we hide the truth and just share the highlights so is it any wonder that women automatically assume that pregnancy is going to be a breeze? I mean, you see pregnant women in films throwing up maybe once or twice, their waters breaking in the middle of a road, them whizzing to the hospital in a car and delivering their baby a few minutes later without any drugs, any real screams, and then cuddling their newborn looking like they’ve just sauntered out of a salon after spending all day getting themselves preened by professionals.
And then you have social media; people posting pictures of their blossoming bumps, talking about how amazing it is to feel their baby wriggle around inside them, watch them as they transfer the old box room into a beautiful nursery while still holding down a full-time job.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some women who do have an easy pregnancy and, for them, the whole nine months is a joyous experience. But for others the first trimester is horrendous. And, quite often, you won’t see these women – myself included – until they’re well into the second trimester because that’s when they finally feel like they’re getting back to themselves.
I feel like a lot of women are too scared to open up about the struggles of the first trimester because they don’t want to come across as ungrateful or dramatic. But I’m going to be completely honest; I hated the first 15/16 weeks of my pregnancy. I hated it so much I thought about termination.
My first trimester was plagued by hyperemesis gravidarum – severe morning sickness – so I spent many days/weeks in hospital being rehydrated with a drip and having needles shoved in my bum. I also contracted the flu while I was in hospital so I was pumped with even more medication – including Tamiflu – and forced to spend five days in an isolation room. Such fun!
Everyone kept telling me that it’ll all be worth it when you see your baby. And, as much as I knew I wanted my baby more than anything, I couldn’t help but feel angry and disconnected from it because of how sick it was making me. It’s hard to enjoy something that is causing you so much pain. My body was changing beyond my control and my whole life had come to a standstill – I felt like I’d already lost my identity and the baby was only a tiny ball of cells at this point.
The first trimester was honestly, for me, the worst three months. As well as feeling and being sick all the time, I couldn’t stand the taste of my own spit, my heart felt like it was beating 1000 miles per hour, I needed cocktail sticks to hoist my eyelids up, my skin broke out like crazy and my spider-vein boobs felt like I’d ran chest-first into an oncoming train – or two, or three…
So while you’re battling with these not-so pleasant symptoms, you’re also willing for the next 12 weeks to speed up so you no longer hear the phrases: “It’s still early days.” “Miscarriage is common in the first trimester.” “One in four women lose their babies in the first trimester.”
I’m sorry but as someone who has had more panic attacks than I count throughout my life, telling me my baby MAY not make it past the first trimester, puts my anxiety on the edge every single minute of every single day. And then you have apps like Baby Centre where women are uploading pictures of their bloody sanitary towels. I totally empathise with anyone who has lost their baby or had a scare but reading your symptoms just convinces me I’m losing my precious angel, too.
** TIP – DON’T JOIN THESE FORUMS UNTIL YOU’RE IN YOUR SECOND TRI IF YOU’RE ANXIOUS**
The midwives tell you to watch out for any cramps or bleeding but, honey, I have a growing baby inside my belly and my swollen uterus is ramming my organs so far up my throat I’m practically chomping on them for dinner, so I’m obviously going to feel some kind of cramping.
But what’s right and what’s wrong? What should you worry about and what is normal? If you’re anything like me, any kind of pain from my boobs down freaked me out and you can bet I was on Google quicker than you could say, well …. Google.
“Don’t worry it’s probably just stretching pain.” But when you’re a first-time mum, how the hell can you distinguish between stretching and cramping? Every body is different and every pregnancy is different. There’s nothing I can say to make you feel better about the first trimester but you just have to ride it out and hope you’ve got a little fighter inside you.
Babies are pretty robust. They can handle a fall, an illness and some sickness. They get everything they need from you and leave you feeling depleted but if they don’t manage to make it into this world, just know that they’re still your baby. Some doctors and medical assistants don’t see them as babies because they’re not viable for life and it’s “still early days” but, regardless of when you lose your little one – whether it’s 3 weeks, 10 weeks or 20 weeks – it still hurts.
As well as the emotional and psychological stress of the first trimester, you also start to get your bump. While a lot of people pop out almost immediately, some people don’t. I still haven’t got a bump now and I’m almost half way through my pregnancy! I’m still waiting for my little angel to set up camp at the front of my belly but I am at that stage where I look like I’ve gained a few pounds. I mean, I have been making up for all the weight I lost with hyperemesis by demolishing the ice cream container every night… because the baby needs some sugar, right? haha! But yeah, that little flabby bulge you develop before it turns into a bump can really get you down. Your jeans don’t do up anymore but you don’t feel big enough to slip into maternity and you feel so bloated it’s as if you’ve eaten 10 meals and not had a shit for days. Pleasant, huh?
I didn’t enjoy my first trimester and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have blips throughout the rest of my pregnancy but our bodies were made to create and house these little love bugs, try and relax (ironic coming from me) and have a countdown to your appointments/scans. I promise you, the second trimester does get easier. You won’t feel like death every day for the whole nine months!
You got this angels! And, remember, it’s OK not to enjoy your pregnancy!! It doesn’t mean you don’t want your baby, it just means you haven’t liked the process. Some people want hot bodies but that doesn’t necessarily mean they enjoy running on a treadmill for 50 minutes a day…