These are actual photos I sent my sisters during my first trimester in Kenya. It was usually accompanied by a text saying, “Well, this is it. It’s been a good run,” or, “Is this how I die?” or “I would cut off my left arm for a sandwich.” If you zoom in on that first photo, it’s definitely a pregnancy test I peed on and it’s definitely a brand called Ms. Tell Me. Oh, Kenya.
Maybe you noticed that somewhere around October I stopped posting as much on this blog and on social media. Or that when I did, my hair was up and my face had a beautiful greenish glow. Or that most of my words revolved around food or napping.
And maybe you’re doing some math and realizing that I’m just now, at almost 20 weeks, posting about the first trimester, which technically ended two months ago. You’re right about all of it.
Unfortunately, my first trimester (as far as the fun symptoms) lasted until about 16ish weeks. And then it was Christmas. And then we moved. And now it’s the second week of January and I’ve been MIA for months. Oops.
This post is going to be about pregnancy and maybe even impending motherhood. But let’s not get things twisted, this is not turning into a blog about those things. We will be back to regularly scheduled programming of other people’s super cute kids by next week. But I occasionally write on here about my own feelings/life happenings, and this seems like something worth mentioning.
So, my thoughts on the first trimester:
It’s genuinely terrible.
I FaceTimed my mother several times from Kenya just to say, “You’re an absolute lunatic. There is no other explanation for how and why you would do this FIVE TIMES.” It made me full of awe and wonder at all other mothers while simultaneously giving the side-eye to everyone who has ever said, “Oh my goodness, I LOVED pregnancy.” What in the fresh hell.
Some bullet points:
– The nausea. Nausea is a word people use to describe feeling sick. It does not adequately describe pregnancy sickness. With regular nausea, you can take some meds, drink some water, and go easy on the food for the day. With pregnancy, you want so badly to stop feeling so sick after two hours of it and you know that the only thing that will make you feel better is eating so you choke down some crackers. And then if you’re lucky, you feel better in a few minutes and think, “Maybe I should finish last night’s spaghetti?” That is not normal. And then you finish the spaghetti and start the whole sick process again in an hour or two.
– The puking. Or lack thereof. I thought for sure I would be a puker during pregnancy. Alas, when I started getting the pukey pangs at about 6 weeks along, I would get up, walk to the bathroom, and wait. That first week of sickness, I just kept thinking, “Well surely I will throw up. I have never felt this ill and not thrown up.” And then I realized. Oh, no. This is just my life now. This is how I will feel always and forever. So I never puked. Just almost. All day, every day.
– The pooping. For me, it was either three days of constipation or explosive diarrhea. There was no in-between. There was no respite from the poopy problems. I just approached every day like a choose your own adventure, constantly noting how far I was from toilets and while simultaneously wondering if I should take a laxative. Fun, right?
– The excitement. Before I get angry/hurt messages about how I need to be grateful for being pregnant and stop complaining, let me explain something. When you get pregnant, everyone is instantly so excited for you. It’s kind-of amazing. Some people will cry. Others will tell you they can’t wait for your baby and their baby to be best friends or spouses. Some people will buy you things right away. And then there are some who ask you 17 million questions because they want to know all the information. Again, it really is amazing to feel that amount of love and support. It’s also really hard to get on that level when you feel like you’re dying. I felt so bad every time I told anyone because I could barely muster up a smile most days. My husband lovingly said, “It’s OK honey. It’s just like the light has gone out of your eyes for a little while.” And that’s exactly how I felt. Everything that made me “Rachel” was just put on pause while my body did this amazingly impressive and incredibly difficult thing.
– The questions. It’s truly remarkable what people are willing to say and ask when you get pregnant. Were you trying? Was this a surprise? Even, Are you happy about this? I mean, I’m pretty much an open book so I understand that people feel permission to ask. But geez people. Some answers to those questions that are vague enough to keep me comfortable: any adult who is having sex should know that a child is a possibility. I knew it was a possibility. Was it still shocking that biology worked for us? Yes. Is it terrifying and exciting and does it feel like we are entering the ultimate unknown with zero tools? Also yes.
I could go on and on. Pregnancy is so weird and mind-blowing and incredible and miraculous and frustrating and SCARY and allllllll the other things too. My thoughts are never ending and they change every single day. But I will keep it to this for now:
I’m shocked at how hard this is. Physically, but also mentally. My body is changing so dramatically so fast. My energy and productivity is lower than it has ever been. And it feels like I have quite literal ticking time bomb sitting in my stomach. It’s impending arrival changes every single thing I’ve ever known to be true about life, priorities, and my place in the world. Don’t tell me I’m dramatic. This is my truth. I’m truly am so grateful to be chosen as the home, caregiver, and mother to this little alien. But that gratitude is held in the same hands as so.many.questions. My main question is, “When will I be excited about this?” It’s all been so overwhelming and felt very fast (even when the sick days feel 77 hours long). I’m not ready to buy baby things or make a maternity leave plan or even think about what life looks like 6 months from now. I’m trying to be patient and trust that it will all come. But for now, I feel like that emoji that is just shrugging her shoulders all day. 🤷♀️
So many of you will have funny and kind things to say in response to this. And some of you will not be able to help yourselves and give some advice. That’s fine. But please don’t tell me what stroller to buy or breastfeeding tips. I’m not there yet. Maybe just tell me about the best sandwich you ate while you were pregnant because I’m real interested in that.