The first trimester is always so long but also a blur. Today I’m sharing my first trimester recap with a little bit about my physical and mental changes over the last 13 weeks.
Before I share anything, I want to take a moment to acknowledge my friends and followers that are on a fertility journey of their own. High school health class doesn’t prepare anyone for the realities of trying to conceive, as well as the scary stuff that can happen once you’re pregnant.
Out of my respect to my family, I don’t share every bit of our lives with the world. We’ve experienced difficult times – and our road to this conception wasn’t as easy as it’s been in the past. The doctors aren’t exactly sure why it took us awhile to get pregnant, but it did (read more here). It’s an emotional rollercoaster trying to get pregnant and once you see the positive lines you aren’t exactly allowed off the ride.
I’m still on the rollercoaster, but it’s to be expected. Pregnancy is tough – especially in the first trimester. In case you missed my pregnancy announcement, read it here!
Weeks 3-5 of my First Trimester
Week 3: During my third week of pregnancy I thought I was having my regular ‘irregular’ period. I felt crampy on my right side and had lower back pains. From Thursday to Monday, I spotted only when going to the bathroom. I felt very fatigued around the middle of the day and was in bed and asleep early at night. This is NOT normal for me – I have been a night owl the last 6 months. On Saturday my gums bled while brushing my teeth and I randomly craved a cheeseburger. These two symptoms should have rang a bell considering how I felt my last pregnancies. On Tuesday morning I woke up to no spotting and had a weird feeling to take a pregnancy test. Within 2 minutes I saw the positive lines.
Since I was already a patient at Yale Fertility Center with a Reproductive Endocrinologist they wanted to monitor my HCG levels. I visited the lovely Yale campus in Orange every other day for two weeks. I had a lot of bloodwork done during this time, not just for HCG levels, but also a full panel for evaluation.
Every visit to the Yale Fertility Center was emotional – I wanted to be optimistic, but told myself to not expect anything so I wouldn’t be upset if my levels were to not rise. The staff at the center are incredible friendly and gentle, as was my doctor. After my levels tripled consistently I was brought in for a Sac Check. We should have been able to see a fetal pole, along with a gestational sac and yolk sac based on my last menstrual period. But we only saw the sacs – no heartbeat. I wasn’t nervous because this happened with both Annabelle and Ailey. My doctor scheduled me for another trans-vaginal ultrasound the following week. We found the fetal pole while I was 5 weeks pregnant.
BIG side note: Annabelle and Ailey’s due dates could not be calculated based off of my last menstrual cycle. It’s believe I do not ovulate at a normal time, so I get pregnant very close to the end of my cycles.
Weeks 4-5: I began feeling tired around the same time every day. I couldn’t exactly fall asleep, but my mind and body didn’t want to function. For a few days I had some mild cramping, lower back aches, mood swings, and light brown spotting when I went to the bathroom. These symptoms subsided and breast pain began. They felt swollen and sometimes were so tender I didn’t want to wear a bra. I saw my doctor at 5 weeks for another Sac Check and we saw a teeny tiny heartbeat.
Weeks 6-7: Pregnancy brain is NOT fun. I literally could not multi-task anymore once I hit 6 weeks. My boobs went up a cup size overnight and I started falling asleep twice, sometimes three times a day for 30 minutes at a time. I should actually say I was passing out mid-sentence and not necessarily falling asleep. The fatigue was unbearable at times and I always woke up grouchy. My mood swings were pretty out of control as well – angry, sad, anxious, sometimes happy. My cat sensed my anxiety and spent a lot of time with me in bed. I went away with a girlfriend overnight and overindulged at dinner. My bloat could be mistaken for the smallest bump, but by the morning it was gone.
At 8 weeks 5 days pregnant we finally saw our little gummy bear baby on an ultrasound. This was a very emotional moment – finally seeing a baby- but I still felt like I wasn’t really pregnant. This doctor’s appointment was the first day my anxiety about something being wrong with the baby really kicked in. We discussed options for bloodwork: cell free DNA, recessive gene, and micro-deletion testing. Due to my medical history, we opted for everything to be collected. The tests were done at 10 weeks pregnant and the results would take 12-14 days, during which time my anxiety was out of control. Aside from my mental health, here’s how I felt physically from weeks 8-13.
Weeks 8-13 of my First Trimester
Let me start by saying, I know I don’t have a baby bump. I usually don’t start showing until week 15/16 (if this pregnancy is anything like my others). I always take photos of my pregnancy journey, whether there is a belly or not, so I have something to compare my bumps to down the road.
Pregnancy Brain: I am literally the worst with this – just ask me about the time I left my keys in the ignition of my car for an hour while I went grocery shopping. I have trouble remembering things, staying focused in a conversation, and I’m no longer able to multi-task (talk and do something at the same time). It’s crazy.
Morning Sickness: This is the first pregnancy where I did not experience frequent morning sickness or evening dry heaving. I did, and still do, feel nauseous from time to time, but it’s easily fixed with a small snack (usually carb related).
Fatigue: I’ve never been more tired in my life – except for that one time when I had Covid. For awhile I worried I was anemic, but my midwife says being a 35 year old Mom of two is tiresome enough. Add in growing a placenta, then growing a baby, and raging hormones – one can fall asleep instantly just a few hours after getting up for the day.
Vulvar Varicosities: My doctors in Georgia always said if I was going to get pregnant again my vulvar varicosities would be worse. If you’re not familiar with my lovely little friends, read this post first.
I never experienced any pain during the first trimester before. But in my third pregnancy, it’s already begun. A bruise started to appear on my pubic area around week 9. The bruising was followed by a dull pain in the same spot a week later. Fast forward to week 12 and the right side of my pubic area swells up quickly when I’ve been on my feet for too long. There is also vein that bulges on my left inner thigh and often itches or burns at the same time. It’s unpleasant and often upsetting. But I knew it would happen…
What helps: Compression shorts, ice packs, lower body stretches/exercises every morning and night, elevating my feet and pelvis when possible.
What doesn’t help: sitting or standing for too long, dehydration, extreme heat, a lack of pelvic support
Cravings: My cravings are so spontaneous and I’m no where near as hungry as I was with my other pregnancies. One day I’m tearing apart the cabinet for cookies and the next day I want a loaded salad. I’m always into dessert after a meal when I’m pregnant and that hasn’t changed – it’s just the type of dessert that’s different. I’ll pretty much each anything sweet – fluffernutter, blueberries, strawberry shortcake, etc.
I don’t really have many food aversions either, some days things sound gross and the next day they sound delicious. I think part of this has to do with my smell/taste still being a bit off from Covid.
Dizziness: I have been struggling with dizziness, floaters, and feeling out of breath for the last two months. My pulmonologist says its partially due to my asthma and allergies, but also because of pregnancy. She has ordered a heart ultrasound to make sure there isn’t something else going on – but I’m sure its just a combination of all the things. I try to stay extremely hydrated and cool throughout the day, drinking Go Hydrate Electrolyte powder on the days I feel the worst.
Exercise and Weight Gain: I started my pregnancy going to Ballet Barre two to three times a week, but once the fatigue set in I was no longer able to function. As I said before, I’ve never felt so tired in my life – not even during the postpartum newborn phase. I hated not being able to exercise but my midwife reminded me that growing a human is exhausting and to give myself some grace. So I did. And I slept when possible. As far as weight gain goes, I may have gained a pound… in my boobs, during the first trimester. When I hit 14 weeks I definitely saw a new number on the scale though. I try not to weigh myself during pregnancy and just focus on a balanced diet/staying active.