Let’s chat pregnancy!! I know many of you would love updates and I made a promise to do my best to share whenever possible. SO, here goes! Each trimester of pregnancy brings its own unique set of joys, challenges, important decisions, and learning-curves. My first trimester was marked by a few distinct things and I can’t wait to share all the juicy details with you. To help me organize my thoughts, I’ve decided to post trimester recaps that will answer the following same questions. This way is MUCH easier on my brain (as in, how-to organize my thoughts) *and* my hope is that it helps make it a little more entertaining to follow.
I hope you enjoy!
My 1st Trimester Recap
Marked by week 1 to week 14 of my pregnancy.
The Important Dates
- Week 3.5 – May 4th: saw a positive (!!) test result on a home pregnancy stick! I used First Response, for anyone curious. I had *not* missed a cycle yet, but took the test because I was leaving for a Beautycounter conference that day (where champagne + sushi were waiting for me, so I wanted to rule pregnancy out first). I was expecting my cycle the next day and was so surprised to see a positive result; the test I’d taken 2 days prior was negative! As I know now, “negative” then really just meant that I didn’t have enough hCG in my urine for the test to pick up. SO FUN! You can read more about my day-of findings over on my blog baby announcement HERE.
- Week 7 – June 1st: confirmed the start of a healthy pregnancy with our doctor via a sonogram. This was SUCH a neat pinch-me experience, hearing our baby’s heartbeat for the first time. The printout we got from this sonogram is where baby got the nickname “Cricket” …she looked like a little cricket on our sonogram printout. I cried (tears of joy) on the way home from the doctors office when we called my Mom and Dad to tell them that she’s healthy and “really in there.”
- Week 11.5 – June 26th: 12-week sonogram and baby is starting to look more like a little human! This is a diagnostic sonogram and it was (again) so reassuring to see and hear the baby’s heartbeat. We did get one abnormal reading (the ultimate results of which have been resolved), but goodness it was an unexpected adventure. I talked about this in my baby announcement post, but the “nuchal fold” (or thickness at the back of the neck) was in an abnormally large range. This could be a sign of SO MANY things, but the ones they’re most concerned with are Trisomy 13 (Patau Syndrome), Trisomy 18 (Edward’s Syndrome), and Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome). I want to be crystal clear here: we were NOT scared by these results. Austin and I know that we’re going to be blessed with the EXACT baby we’re meant to parent! We were eager to get definitive results so that we could best care for our little nugget in the womb and get the best education for after birth. Before we got the sonogram results, we had ALREADY decided that we wanted to go in for the Cell Free DNA Test. This test is just a mother’s blood draw (from my arm) and will test for a variety of fetal genetic markers. We were initially only wanting the test because we were eager to know the baby’s sex, but after our abnormal sonogram, we were also looking for definitive insight on potential future health complications. Aside from the genetic information, this test is the soonest (and most conclusive) way to learn the sex of the baby. If you’re having a boy, the Y chromosome will be present in the mother’s blood and if it’s a girl, there will be no Y chromosome (because girls are XX).
- Week 13 – July 11th: like a true modern couple, we “opened” the results of our Cell Free DNA test sitting in my husband’s office via the online patient portal of my doctor’s office. We scrolled down to see that baby was negative for ALL tested genetic markets and that there was …”no Y chromosome detected.” IT’S A GIRL!!! We cried (well, I cried …Austin looked a little shell-shocked knowing VERY LITTLE about little girls), we called our parents (actually, dropped in to visit with mine), and decided not to plan a big baby gender reveal. We loved our intimate way of announcing to friends and family and decided that we’ll do a fun gender reveal for older siblings if we’re blessed with additional little ones in the future.
How My Body is Changing
The photo above was taken when I was in my 13th week of pregnancy. I really didn’t take may photos during this phase! I only snapped this one because my sister-in-law asked for a pic. I’m glad I have it to show you!
Though my belly is just slightly bigger than before, my main body changes were that I started retaining water and slightly more body fat around my hips and thighs. It really took me back to before I found real-food nutrition in 2010 and before I healed my body. It almost felt like I was filling the parts of my body that used to be inflamed back out. Even though I know a good bit about body chemistry and the changes to expect during pregnancy, it was still a jarring experience …and I know I’m not alone here. Especially for us 1st time Moms, we may not show an actual baby bump at all during the 1st trimester, but we ARE gaining in weight and size. It can mess with your head (or it did mine) as I wondered if I was doing something wrong, inflamed for any reason that should be of concern, or gaining weight too quickly. Now that I’m through this phase and have collected more data points via my own research, I want us all to remember that if you’re doing your best to live actively (regular walks are a good way to do this), eating mostly REAL FOOD (not all processed junk), doing your best to get good rest, and staying hydrated, your body’s changes are healthy, wonderful, and preparing YOU to sustain that sweet, precious life both now and after birth. Take a deep breath, buy some bigger stretchy pants, and know that ALL IS WELL.
In the brilliant words of my friend Brianna Battles, “pregnancy is temporary, but postpartum is forever.” Remember that this phase is temporary, so embrace it, cherish it, and buy comfy stretchy pants ASAP.
I am counting my lucky stars that I have had no nausea, no extreme exhaustion (though I did feel some), no food aversions, and only a slightly increased craving for sugar (which I try to satisfy with fruit). While all that is lovely and I’m SO grateful for a relatively boring list of pregnancy-related symptoms, one new symptom has knocked me flat on my tush …migraines.
I hadn’t ever had a migraine before this pregnancy and I do not wish them on a single soul.
Get ready for a TMI overshare…
Before this pregnancy, I’ve had a regular cycle for the last 7ish years (or for as long as I’ve been off BCP). It’s a highly predictable 27-day cycle that is *always* (okay, almost always) marked by an intense headache in the middle of my PMS phase. The shift in hormones at that stage in my cycle triggered a pretty bad headache, which I (in the spirit of full disclosure) usually nipped in the bud with ibuprofen (Advil).
The first migraine of this pregnancy came on at about week 8. When this headache started, I decided to endure it unmedicated. While ibuprofen is a relatively well known no-no to take during pregnancy, I wasn’t too thrilled with the case studies I’d read on other pain medications. SO, I buckled down to see what nature had in store for me. Note: I actively ruled out dehydration, tension headaches (a trigger of mine), deficiencies in minerals (such as magnesium), and food intolerances. These headaches were AWFUL. They usually came on mild, intensified for 3 days, and then started to back off slowly. During those really bad days, I couldn’t do anything beside answer the occasional email and beg my husband for “another shoulder rub?”
Some things I tried that DID help with my pregnancy migraines (albeit, only a little):
- I saw the chiropractor. I don’t normally see one (not for any real reason), but was desperate for some help. This helped a little!
- I started adding 4-5 drops of liquid chlorophyll to water 1-2 times a day, per the recommendation of my chiropractor.
- I tried to get out ahead of my tension headaches by getting localized massages and avoiding “shrug” style workouts (think: cleans).
- I tried to keep my blood glucose a little high when pain was at its worse with the help of pomegranate or tart cherry juice mixed with unflavored sparkling water.
- I avoided gluten more strictly than ever (it’s a big trigger for me).
- I used peppermint on my neck and hairline. Note: peppermint essential oils are not recommended for later in pregnancy.
Per my doctor’s support, I did try taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) ONCE …but I decided that the relief was way too minor for any potential negative impact. So, I opted out.
Everything I’d read said that the headaches were likely attributed to the dramatic shift in my body’s hormones and that this shift would start to normalize around week 15, when I’d enter the 2nd trimester. I think I experienced a grand total of about 7 major migraines during this phase and, as grace would have it, they really did disappear around week 15. HALLELUJAH!
State of Emotions
- In awe – by the miracle at work.
- Grateful – for the chance to conceive and protect this sweet life.
- Frustrated – by the non-belly changes of my body (just being honest).
- Over-the-moon thrilled – by the thought of seeing my hubby as a Dad …especially to a little girl.
- Desperate – for a solution to my headaches.
- Disappointed – that I hadn’t prepared more content (for you, the blog, and social) that I could easily post while knocked out by a headache …a lesson I’m putting to good use as I prepare for my maternity leave.
- Humbled – by what the woman’s body is capable of doing and by our incredible design.
Baby Decisions (so far)
Aside from taking the Cell-Free DNA test, the only real decision we’d made (as a couple) was that we wanted to give birth in a hospital (at least, for our first). Though I’ll share more on our actual birth plan later, we made this decision because we like the reassurance of our first birth taking place where the full extent of medical professionals are immediately available to quickly handle ANY possible (Heaven forbid) scary complication. I *know* there are fabulous, well-equipped home and birth center possibilities, so please don’t take this as a blanketed assertion on my behalf. It’s just the decision that makes my husband and I feel most comfortable at this point in time. The physician and hospital we chose are very much set up to let the parents deliver as they like and our specific doctor sees eye-to-eye with our perspective on interventions.
The same real food-based foods! It’s exactly what you see me eat over on Instagram (@fedandfit). That being said, about 1 year before we conceived, I did make it a point to prepare my body for possible future pregnancy by eating more fruit (of all shapes and sizes) and more veggie-based carbs (one serving at every meal). My protein, leafy greens, and healthy fat intakes were already topped off at good habits.
- Alcohol (I really don’t miss it)
- Excessive caffeine (I still have 1 cup of coffee a day)
- Potentially questionable proteins (like sushi or too-pink burgers at restaurants)
- High-mercury foods (think shark, swordfish, or an excessive amount of tuna)
- Gluten-containing foods
I also do my best to make sure that the fats I’m taking in are good, healthy fats …so baby can build some healthy lipid bi-layers of her own! Vegetable and canola oils are especially out (as they have been for years), save for the exceptions when I’m dining out and don’t have control over the kitchen.
In a nutshell, my 1st trimester fitness gameplan is: keep up with what I can keep up with! My doctor has recommended that I maintain my pre-pregnancy fitness routine (a mix of CrossFit, lots of walking, and some yoga) as much as possible. I did NOT go to the gym on full-blown migraine days, which cut down my workouts a considerable amount. On days when my head was clear, I’d go in and try to work through the movements, but not set any records. In other words, I happily “loafed-it.” I was more interested in staying active than achieving great times and scores. The only thing I really avoided at this stage of the pregnancy, as mentioned above, were “shrug”-focused movements, such as cleaning a barbell. This was only to help avoid tension headaches. I’d happily do front or back squats instead.
Hearing our daughter’s heart beat for that first time when she was almost 8 weeks gestation. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment, when it seemed my own heart quieted so that I could hear her’s better. My husband gripped my hand a little tighter and we both said, “there’s really a baby in there!”
…another neat moment was when I Googled a due date calculator the morning I took a positive pregnancy test. I found that she’s due on my paternal grandfather’s birthday, January 13th. My Papa was such a special, special man who has inspired my outlook on life like no other. I felt his presence and it warmed my soul.
Favorite Pregnancy Hack
Pomegranate (or tart cherry juice) + sparkling water for a cocktail alternative! Though I don’t miss alcohol (or it’s effects) AT ALL, I do miss the social glass of wine at my parents’ house for Sunday dinner. My sweet, sweet Dad started making me this concoction in a big wine goblet as soon as we told them our baby news. Having something pink in a wine glass, that’s bubbly and not too sweet, makes me feel like I’m not missing out on anything.
Favorite Part of the Trimester
HONESTLY, it was having such a big secret! We kept the news close to home for a while, mostly because we wanted to cherish it intimately before we announced. Those first few days of “knowing,” the excitement in my husband’s eyes or squeeze he’d give my hand when friends would ask if we ever thought we’d start a family …those were so special because it was just us.
Least-Favorite Part of the Trimester
Migraines. Migraines can bite me and my heart goes out to anyone and everyone who has ever had to endure one of those beasts. They are NO FUN.
Though not a product perse, I REALLY loved the “BabyCenter” app! There are a BUNCH of apps out there that will help you track the gestational progress of your little nugget week-by-week, but this one is my favorite. They offer a lot of great articles that are timed to your progress (the content in some I occasionally disagree with), but for the most party, they do a good job of presenting all perspectives.
Best Advice Received
“You will figure it out.” This is my favorite because it delivers an EMPOWERING (vs. disempowering) message. Just because you haven’t done this before doesn’t mean you aren’t equipped to figure it out. Ask lots of questions (of people you trust) and then, at the end of the day, trust that you WILL figure it out.
Most Unhelpful Advice (let’s go there)
“You MUST _____.” You can fill in the blank with a hundred things: find out the gender, not find out the gender, get XYZ test, don’t get XYZ test, breastfeed, have a home birth, have a birth center birth, have a hospital birth, not have a home birth, have a water birth, never have a water birth, have a gender reveal, get THIS gadget, stop eating XYZ, start eating XYZ. While all of those “you MUST” pieces of advice probably come from a good place, they’re hardly ever actually helpful. Here’s why: they’re set up in a conversation that doesn’t empower the (in this case, expecting) parent. This is, unless, that expecting parent has asked you for your opinion on: birth centers, breastfeeding, gadgets, nutrition, etc. If they have asked you for your opinion on the matter, you’re obviously someone they trust and they WANT your insight. Otherwise, the blanketed “You MUST ____” pieces of advice probably confuse and frustrate more than they help.
I hope you enjoyed this post! You can expect another one for my 2nd and then again for my 3rd trimesters.