Reflections on my first & second trimester
This is a deeply personal blog post. I hesitated opening up such a personal period of our lives but there is so much value in being open about our challenges. Life isn’t instagram grids, it’s messy and sometimes it's hard.
We found out we were pregnant very early on. After an abnormally late period and a few suspicious body symptoms, I took a few tests and was surprised/terrified/excited/grateful to see we were on our way to making a little human.
Both Matt and I had been doing preconception work for about 6 months prior, in preparation, and we had cleaned up our diets (albeit some sneaky alcohol over the holiday period) to prepare. Being a naturopath, I (stupidly) and naively thought I would sail through the first trimester. It would be all name daydreaming, cravings and maybe the occasional bout of nausea. I thought if issues arose, I’d have the tools and knowledge to sort it out.
At 6 weeks, I got my first taste of what lay ahead. I woke up craving fruit salad so got up and made an excessively large bowl of it and then watched as it all landed in the toilet 30 minutes later. From then on the morning sickness came with a vengeance. It felt like someone had taken over my body and replaced it with a fatigued, weak, vomiting mess. What I expected would just be a quick vomit or two in the morning was typically all day vomiting, with absolutely nothing staying down, including fluids. I had a very severe form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum. Yes, that’s what Kate Middleton had. Even the royal family have dealt with it. Its hectic, it’s life altering (as it runs it’s course) and it’s not known why some women experience it. That whole period is a haze to recall - the days rolled into one as the bucket emptying seemed like it would never end. Water often aggravated the sickness, which meant I was constantly fighting dehydration. And yes, we tried the ice blocks, ginger, B6, flat lemonade, sea bands, homeopathic remedies, creams, the whole shebang.
I was so grateful to be pregnant but for much of those long 5 months – I found myself resenting the process. That could then lead to feelings of guilt. I knew how beautiful and miraculous it is to make a baby but the whole process was so much harder than I had anticipated and I didn’t feel mentally prepared. The mental challenge that constant vomiting and endless fatigue brings up is extraordinary. I love being around people and I was shocked how little I felt like myself – I didn’t want to see anyone but my sister and my husband. I wanted to crawl up in a ball and go to sleep for the next few months and wake up when it was over. During the peak of it, my husband left for 2 weeks to travel for work, which was super hard. I was an emotional, hormonal mess and desperately wanted him nearby but he was offered an amazing opportunity and I felt like a selfish toddler wanting him to stay at home. I was lucky enough to have a sister who lives locally and my mum flew down to spend a few days bucket emptying - both were an invaluable support. I am so blessed with my job that I was able to take some weeks out to rest and vomit undisturbed! I know some women deal with this level of morning sickness whilst juggling a family and full-time work. I have no idea how, but I salute you.
What I learnt:
- The importance of preconception care.
I was so grateful that Matt and I did preconception care before trying to conceive. Going in to the pregnancy I knew that my nutrient reserves were topped up to handle whatever lay ahead. Despite being unable to stomach any supplements during the first trimester, I was still able to fall back on all that groundwork we had done pre-conception and avoid severe nutrient deficiency.
- The value of rest:
Life brings many seasons and some seasons force us to rest. At the beginning, I put a lot of pressure on myself to try and keep up with my clients but found myself so drained after consultations as my cup was empty and I had nothing to give. My self care was at an all time low and it was liberating when I finally surrendered to the process, put some work boundaries in place and gave myself space to rest and recover.
- A problem shared is a problem halved
One of the biggest challenges of the whole experience was the feeling of loneliness. I knew I wasn't alone but it was a very lonely and isolating time. It was a constant tension of wanting to be left alone, and wanting people to understand. I sought solace in God but also found speaking with other women who had walked through similar experiences hugely helpful. A gentle reminder to keep going from someone that had also shared a kindred experience was invaluable. So speak up lovely ladies. This is often an issue that doesn't get much attention but there is strength to be found in community.
So here I am now, happy to report that the sickness did fade and I am doing much much better. My sickness didn't abate till 22 weeks but once my energy returned and the vomiting faded, I began to remember what it felt like to enjoy living again. My taste for food from the earth finally returned and out went all the junk food that baby and I had survived on for the first few months. I've never been so excited to taste broccoli again!
We found out we are having a little girl and for all accounts so far, she is healthy, happy and very active in the womb! I am in utter amazement at the human body as she is knitted together each day and am now relishing this precious time and all her little kicks!
I wanted to share a few of my favourite things that have aided me through the pregnancy.
READING | Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley MD
I couldn't recommend this book enough. Written by an Australian obstetrician, Sarah discusses the natural process of birth whilst explaining the medical evidence and wisdom behind natural birth and gentle parenting.
TAKING | Personalised Herbal Blend
Once I could stomach strong flavours again, I got straight back on my liquid herbs. My blend includes herbs to nourish and strengthen the nervous system and support my immune system. With my inflammatory bowel disease history, I have had to be careful to look after my gut and immune system as sometimes pregnancy can trigger autoimmune flares. There are many herbs that are contraindicated in pregnancy so always speak with a qualified naturopath before taking anything.
USING | Wellington Apothecary Mothers Nourishing Belly Oil
I use this everyday on my tummy and legs. The best blend of plant oil extracts to promote skin elasticity.
USING | Bump Journal
At the beginning of my second trimester, I started journaling about the pregnancy which really helped me process what had been and look forward to what was coming. Write to Me's cute linen bump journal takes you through the pregnancy week by week.
My little girl is happily kicking away as I type this. I'll be sure to include an update and picture of our little bean once she's earthside x.