First, I just want to start this post by saying thank you from the bottom of my heart. Mike and I were so elated when we found out and it has been a challenge to keep it a secret from everyone! Sharing the news was so exciting.
I also want to send a virtual hug to anyone struggling right now or trying to conceive. I recognize that not everyone is a place where they can or want to read about someone else’s pregnancy experience. 🤍
There are also a lot of things I’m still figuring out as a mom-to-be in general and as someone who lives a somewhat public life. What will it look like exactly? I’m not sure. Right now I’m playing things by ear and doing what feels right to me. This blog has always been a place where I share my experiences (the good and the bad) and I imagine pregnancy, and ultimately motherhood, will be no different. As a reminder, I’m going to put out my favorite disclaimer which I’ve said hundreds of times over the years about various topics:
I’m not an expert. This is my first pregnancy and I’m sure I will make mistakes, but I’m surrounding myself with a great support system of veteran moms in my life and (most importantly) the medical staff at my OBGYN. What works for me, may not work for you and vice-versa. The best (and most) I can do is share my own experience.
FIRST TRIMESTER RECAP
Here’s how the first trimester went:
How did I find out I was pregnant?
I was tracking ovulation (used cheap strips from Amazon) and was basically doing the two week wait where you’re wondering if any symptom is the symptom. Scientifically speaking, you’re not pregnant until implantation occurs, and they say you’re not supposed to feel anything before implantation. Still, I just…. knew. One night I woke up in the middle of the night starving and went downstairs to make eggs, which was definitely weird for me, and the next morning I fainted. It was still too early for a pregnancy test (even though I was absolutely taking one every morning 😅), but once I fainted there really was no question in my mind something was happening.
How did I tell Mike?
Wish I had done something super cute to tell him… but he watched me faint that morning. He asked me if I was okay and I just point-blank responded that I thought I was pregnant. (It wasn’t cute.) And a few days later, a super faint line popped up on my daily morning test, which I immediately told him about as I stood in our bedroom shaking like a leaf. Even though I intuitively knew, seeing the second line made it feel real!!! It was such an exciting moment. Looking back, I don’t think I could have waited to tell him even if I had planned to. I was SO EXCITED, I would have blurted it out to him immediately no matter what.
How did we tell our families?
We told everyone pretty early, mostly out of excitement but also because of “covid protocols” we had in place with Mike’s family in order to celebrate Christmas together. I had two doctor’s appointments that broke the protocol we all agreed to and I just wanted to get ahead of it so no one would think we were withholding information. So we told my parents on Facetime and my sister on Facetime after that. We had planned to have Mike’s parents over for dinner and we told them in person and then all of Mike’s siblings on Christmas Eve!
How has it been being pregnant during a pandemic?
Last year when we realized the pandemic was going to be longer than a couple of months, Mike and I decided we didn’t want to put life on hold. There’s really no guarantee for anything in life. We knew we wanted to get married, so we got married. We knew we wanted to start a family, so we started family planning. (Part of our reasoning is that we had no idea how long it would take to get pregnant or if natural pregnancy would be an option. You never know.)
Realistically, when we found out we were pregnant, it didn’t matter to me whether there was a pandemic or not. I have nothing to compare it to anyway!! It was sad not to have Mike in the first few appointments, but he was able to come with me to the 12 week scan which was way more exciting than the 6 week ultrasound. I wish I could have flown down to my parents’ house, but it is what it is. I was already taking the pandemic pretty seriously, and now I’m just double masking and doing what I’ve been doing. And I am planning on getting the vaccine and am eligible now because I’m pregnant– just have to wait for appointments to become available. (My doctor was 100% pro-vaccine, but obviously you’ll want to talk to yours before making any decision.)
What pregnancy symptoms have you had?
So I will just start this off by saying I’m extremely grateful to have had an easy pregnancy in terms of a healthy baby and zero complications. Everything has been pretty straightforward so far with the typical pregnancy symptoms.
The first most noticeable symptom for me was extreme thirst.
I normally have to force myself to stay on top of hydration, but pretty much the minute I got a positive pregnancy test I have NOT been able to get enough water in me. And it has to be ice water. I chug water all day, every day.
After that, tender breasts.
I assumed it would feel the same as when I was on my period, but this was next level. (They have also doubled in size it seems.) For the first month or so, they were so tender that I literally couldn’t face the shower head in the shower because the water was too painful and I could not walk around without a bra. I lived in this bra– including sleep just to make sure they didn’t move. (Still wearing that style every day, frankly!)
Okay the next one is TMI, but honestly I wish someone had warned me.
I experienced intense constipation. I’ve never been constipated in my life and I have never experienced discomfort like that before. At one point, I was curled up on the couch, I could not move from discomfort, and just started sobbing. Along with the constipation came bloating. I looked a lot more pregnant than I was!! Both thankfully resolved over time. This was the first symptom where I thought, “my body is now serving a greater purpose beyond my own comfort.”
I don’t know if this is an actual symptom, but I felt/feel constantly “disgusting.”
Like that first day of your period where you don’t want anyone to touch you and you want to unzip from your body? I just feel all over gross.
Exhaustion was pretty consistent throughout the first trimester too.
It was a different kind of tired than I’ve ever experienced. Some afternoons, I could not keep my eyes open and doing menial tasks felt impossible. It almost felt like constant jet lag.
The one that hit me the hardest was “morning sickness.”
I read a lot of mom blogs and have watched a lot of Youtube videos about pregnancy. I knew what morning sickness was obviously and I knew it wasn’t just in the morning. But I don’t think you can know it until you’re in it. It was 1,000x different than I was expecting it to be. I assume it’s different for every pregnancy too. For me it felt like I was constantly in the back seat of a bad Uber in NYC stop-and-go traffic while reading on my phone. A mix of sea sickness and motion sickness, but it never lets up. All day, every day. I threw up a couple of times in December/early January and then I was throwing up every single day up. And the throwing up felt different to me too– I can’t even describe it but it didn’t feel like normal vomiting.
The first week of February felt like the peak of it– the morning sickness intensified and I felt so worn down from it. I felt like a shell of myself honestly. Last week wasn’t great, but I feel like I hit a turning point on Thursday. And now I feel less motion sick and have only thrown up every other day. Even just this break has made a world of difference in how I feel.
How has pregnancy affected your mental health?
I restarted therapy, in part because of the pregnancy. I had so many people send DMs saying they thought I was depressed. And I just wanted to respond that I wasn’t depressed, I was pregnant and throwing up every day. January and February is usually a slow part of my business year. But it’s been intense right now, even if I wasn’t pregnant. Coming off of an insane November/December, I was burnt out and instead of being able to recover from that, I am writing a book with very tight deadlines (not an official announcement but I signed the book deal three weeks before I found out I was pregnant). This is obviously on top of my regular work, where I’m also taking and editing photos myself now.
And I don’t think I realized how much I’d miss my mom throughout this (like, sure, I’m 31 and about to become a mom, but will I ever not want my mom? No). And then you’ve got the pandemic mixed in for good measure.
I felt in. over. my. head.
I also realized that while I had always pictured myself becoming a mom and having children, I never thought about the pregnancy portion of it. Like at all. With that said, as a highly anxious and sensitive person in general, I expected myself to feel a LOT more anxious about the pregnancy than I have been. I think I’ve been good about just taking things one day at a time and not worrying too much about what may or may not be coming down the road. But it was impossible for me to not feel physically worn down from throwing up every day and have that wear me down mentally too. I really felt like a shell of myself.
I was not very kind to myself while all this was happening. And I felt so disgusting (from the hormones), I wasn’t able to do as much work as I’m used to, and I couldn’t work out (a healthy coping strategy for me) in the same way that I did before either. I felt like an absolute slug and I hated it. Instead of giving myself grace and saying, “Carly, you’re not lazy, you’re pregnant,” I had this story about myself being a lazy, slug on repeat in my head.
Every day I didn’t get what I wanted (or needed) to get done, I felt like I had failed. (I also had extreme guilt throughout this because the baby was fine and I was so lucky, why couldn’t I just feel good about it and be grateful for a healthy pregnancy.) Thankfully, between getting some energy back, the vomiting subsiding a bit, and therapy, I definitely feel more like myself now and can see the past couple of months with a lot more clarity.
Are you still working out?
YES!!! Not as intensely or frequently as I was before, but yes. At my first doppler-heartbeat appointment, my own heartbeat was in the low 50s and the doctor asked if I was a runner. (I was very flattered, haha!) I told him I rode the Peloton and he was super encouraging. And told me to keep working out for as much as I could because it would help with pregnancy, birth, and recovery. Consider me sold. I didn’t realize how a symptom of the pregnancy hormones is shortness of breath and you have increased blood volume. So I am absolutely not able to ride with the same vigor as before. But on days where I think I can, I get on the Peloton and feel so much better, mentally and physically.
Some days I was so nauseous that I really couldn’t get on the bike much less look at the screen. But when I can, I feel the best nausea wise for an hour or two after. (Those endorphins!) I also am trying to keep up with my arm workouts and incorporating a barre or yoga class into the mix as well.
Any special support?
Wasn’t sure how to phrase this question, but I wanted to talk about a few things that have been so helpful. I’m honestly going to avoid reading books. And I know I have a tendency to over-Google as a coping mechanism (re: anything, not just pregnancy), so I’m trying to keep my information to a minimum. 1) Having an OB practice that I really like has been so helpful. I have had a lot of appointments. It seems like more than the average person, but it’s been nice because I can go “straight to the source” and get feedback on all my questions without the fear factor of Dr. Google.
I also joined a Reddit group for people due in August. Wow, I can’t tell you how incredible it’s been. I have never posted, I just lurk and read everything. But it’s been amazing to read everyone’s tips, complaints, victories, etc. So. Freaking. Helpful. Sounds so lame, but just knowing other people were at the same point in pregnancy and experiencing similar symptoms made me feel a lot less alone! Highly recommend this (you can find yours by searching “bumpers [month and year you’re due]”).
Leaning on friends who have had kids or are expecting themselves has also been a gift, too. I don’t know why I was compelled to tell my friend Riley over text that I was expecting as I think I was only five weeks pregnant when I told her. (We hadn’t even told our parents!) And she texted back saying SHE was expecting. We’re less than a week apart and it has been so nice to have a friend for every step of the way through the ups and downs.
Best moment so far?
The 12-week ultrasound was hands down the best moment so far. First of all, it was the first appointment Mike could come to because it was in a different office than my normal OB. During my first ultrasound, I was only six weeks along. So the baby looked like a shrimp shaped blob with a teeny flickering heartbeat. At 12-weeks, the baby looked like a baby!!!! Obviously, I’m already biased, but it was the cutest thing I had ever seen. At first, the baby was all curled up just snoozing…. and then the baby YAWNED and did this biiiiiiig cat-like stretch and started rolling over to get into a comfier spot. I couldn’t believe that was happening inside of me. That was the moment where being pregnant went from being conceptual to feeling very, very real.
I am not taking a healthy pregnancy for granted. And I’ve never been more thankful to have a flexible job schedule as I’ve had it easy knowing I can always work from bed or rearrange my work schedule with ease on particularly bad days. (If you’re going into work and wearing real pants every day while pregnant– let me just say… I consider you an actual superhero 🙏🏻.) Even though there were hard days and I haven’t felt great, I already know it’s worth it 100%.