Whether or not your pregnancy is planned, it is a long hard road to motherhood. Pictures of cherubs smiling adoringly at their thin, well-groomed mothers fill the baby care magazines I devoured at the doctor’s office and books I kept closer than the Holy Bible in my bed-stand. It’s a beautiful way to envision oneself in nine months… it’s also completely and oh, so sadly unrealistic. Especially for me in the first trimester.
Memoirs of my Sixth Pregnancy: First Trimester
Natural Family Planning charting indicated I was pregnant, but my husband and I always go to the doctor for an official blood test and prescription for prenatal vitamins. The first thing I did after getting confirmation, was whip out my copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting a.k.a. The Book. My second stop was the pharmacy to pick up prenatal vitamins that will upset my stomach and contribute to the 24-hour nausea program I apparently signed up for since pregnancy number two.
Later, I excitedly thumbed to the “First Month” section and read the short list of what may soon plague my newly pregnant body (just to tabulate, The Book catalogs 7 physical symptoms and 2 emotional in the first month alone, but to be fair, not all symptoms are undesirable in every month… just the vast majority of them).
My first trimester consisted of feeling overwhelming fatigue and constant nausea- brought on by even the slightest odor or flavor. Not to mention the constant spitting, which is always a pregnancy announcement to my family. The mint in my toothpaste that I used to brush my teeth after vomiting made me vomit again. I had random pains and felt like a frumpy mess; I wished adamantly that my pregnancy would start showing so that I would have an excuse to look the way I feel… until I started showing and looked five months pregnant instead of two. The Book suggested putting my feet up and letting others “baby” me by cooking, massaging my feet, doing household chores, grocery shopping, etc. I showed my husband this section and he laughed merrily with me before running out the door, claiming he had urgent business to take care of in the garage.
By the second month, I was feeling isolated by my perpetual morning sickness. I felt like a burden and guilty for not being able to function at a high level and not being motivated to, either. My husband began wondering out loud (discreetly, of course) when I would finally get around to the laundry [Pregnancy Laundry: where I wash, dry, and separate the kids’ clothes into piles without folding them. Fold them yourself, or stuff them in your drawer; I care not]. He had already delegated the task of taking out the trash to our four-year-old, and filled the dishwasher himself at least twice… what more could I possibly expect him to do? Even my mom and sisters were gently encouraging me to “suck it up”. Only The Book (which now describes 10 unpleasant physical symptoms along with the 2 emotional ones) understood me.
My search for relief of my symptoms uncovered a plethora of contractions: don’t sit too long, don’t stand too long; don’t work too hard, get plenty of exercise; don’t wear tight clothing, wear supportive clothing; eat fish, don’t eat fish, etc. Some of the suggestions to relieve the symptoms were contrary to what I felt I should be doing (avoid carrying my toddler?).
Close to the fourth month, my morning sickness started easing up, but there were still 12 physical symptoms and 3 emotional ones to worry about. Until this time, I hadn’t thought much on my diet (since only the crackers and vitamins stayed down), but since I had still managed to gain a substantial amount of weight (It’s a Christmas miracle!), I needed to plan according to the food pyramid for a healthy pregnancy body.
This time… this time, I would be one of those “cute” pregnant women… the skinny kind that only had that little bump up front. This ideal was quickly frustrated by my husband’s refusal to give up fried and fatty foods or caffeine. Our kids ate the fruit before it could more than settle on the counter, and the veggies lived out long lives and died peacefully in their lettuce beds as they waited in vain hope to be prepared. So my diet consisted of individual cartons of ice cream (sometimes with fruit flavors); carton and spoon thoughtfully delivered up to my bed lest I smell the faint odor of garbage disposal in the kitchen; pregnant women have an extraordinary sense of smell, and need calcium.
We Survived the First Trimester
My husband bravely held down the fort in those months, though I gave him a hard time because he didn’t do things my way. Regardless, the kids survived (and even upped their game around the house), which is the most important thing at the end of the day. The end of the day… when my husband and I would shovel the kids off our bed (where they’d go to be with me as I waited out the first trimester)… where we would then hold on to each other for dear life as we contemplated our future.