Surprise!! We’re pregnant! As a way to share in the excitement of my pregnancy, and to those who are newly pregnant, hoping to be pregnant, or know of someone currently going through their first trimester, I thought it would be fun to journal my experience week by week. Have fun by starting from the beginning, or jumping to the week that you (or someone you know) may be on. Of course, every pregnancy is different, but here’s my story:
Trying To Conceive
My husband and I were away on vacation and we decided to start trying to build a family. It just so happened that I was ovulating, so we gave it a shot!
Despite trying once, I wanted to be careful during our vacation time, so I avoided alcohol as much as possible (well, maybe a sip or two of wine here and there- after all, we were in New Zealand!)
One night, we did an activity where we soaked in hot tubs with a scenic view. Again, I wasn’t sure if I was really pregnant or not, so we kept the water warm (not hot), and I kept track of the time. Every ten minutes I’d exit the tub and cool off for 5 minutes before returning into the water. I never felt hot enough where I started to sweat (just to be safe).
We’re Pregnant… I Think?!
When I got home from vacation, I began waking up in the middle of the night with low back pain. Usually, before my period, I’d only get mild back pain, but this was different. It was so severe that the only way to resolve it was to stand up and walk around.
I tried changing positions, using heating pads, lying on my side…everything. Nothing worked. Since this symptom was unusual for me, I decided to take my first pregnancy test.
One of my girlfriends sent me this link that listed some information about taking pregnancy tests and the statistics on being pregnant but having a negative pregnancy test.
I decided to take another pregnancy test about 3 days before my expected period.
But the weird thing was- my low back pain continued!
In my head, I let it go and decided to prepare for trying again next month. I went ahead and bought some ovulation tests off Amazon to help with timing.
I also started using the Flo app to track my menstrual periods and noticed one morning that I was 1 day late for my period.
I took another pregnancy test just to be sure.
Right off the bat, I saw the control line. To be honest, I was getting ready for work, and had already made up my mind that I wasn’t going to be pregnant, so I threw the test strip away!
I fiddled around downstairs and came back up 5 minutes later. Something in my mind told me to look back in the trash at the test.
I couldn’t believe it- a faint line had shown up!
The next 30 minutes were probably some of the longest 30 minutes of my life! I couldn’t wait for my husband to come from his night shift to share the news.
Just to be sure, I verified the pregnancy test with a more expensive First Response Test.
We were officially pregnant!
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When you find out you’re pregnant, you are actually 4 weeks pregnant (not 2). This is because the first day of your last period counts as Day #1.
I know, it stumped me too, but that’s how they calculate your expected delivery date.
Overall, I only noticed some mild uterine cramping (maybe a 2/10 on a pain scale). Nothing bad at all. It almost felt like I was having pre-PMS symptoms.
Thankfully- no nausea nor vomiting!
My symptoms were pretty much the same. I continued my normal exercise routine, but did start to notice a bit more shortness of breath on some of the higher impact moves.
I was able to complete 80% of my workouts like I normally would, so everything felt pretty normal.
I was still having some intermittent cramping, but the more I read online, the more this sounded like it was related to the uterus stretching.
Thankfully, I wasn’t having any associated bleeding nor spotting.
Holy constipation, bloating, and gas pain!
Luckily- still no bleeding nor spotting.
After going on three days without a bowel movement, I was feeling extremely bloated and distended. I decided to take Docusate (Colace) to help with regularity.
This medication typically takes about 24 hours to kick in, but I actually stopped taking it after a few doses because I found out it was listed as a Pregnancy C class medication.
Pregnancy Classes are essentially safety ratings given to medications for women who are pregnant.
Here are the different Pregnancy Category Definitions based on the medical resource Medscape:
- A: Generally acceptable. Controlled studies in pregnant women show no evidence of fetal risk.
- B: May be acceptable. Either animal studies show no risk but human studies not available or animal studies showed minor risks and human studies done and showed no risk.
- C: Use with caution if benefits outweigh risks. Animal studies show risk and human studies not available or neither animal nor human studies done.
- D: Use in LIFE-THREATENING emergencies when no safer drug available. Positive evidence of human fetal risk.
- X: Do not use in pregnancy. Risks involved outweigh potential benefits. Safer alternatives exist.
- NA: Information not available.
[Always talk to you Medical Provider about starting / stopping medications if you are pregnant!!]
Instead of Colace, I switched over to Milk Of Magnesia (Category A)- which is a mild laxative.
This unfortunately destroyed me- ouch!
My bloating became worse and my bowel movements became liquid. I stopped immediately.
I then switched over to eating pitted prunes. I only took 2 servings but didn’t notice much of a change in my symptoms.
One night, the cramping got so bad that I went in to the Emergency Department. I received a liter of IV fluids once I got there which immediately subsided my cramping. I had bloodwork and a transvaginal ultrasound done. Thankfully, nothing was wrong with our little growing baby.
The ultrasound was even able to pick up our little baby’s heartbeat!
[I should add- I was in contact with my OB/GYN office the entire time I was having all of these abdominal cramping symptoms. Some of the main things to be cautious of in your 1st trimester are miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. Again- always talk with your OB/GYN provider about concerning symptoms you have! I do not have a background in obstetrics / gynecology].
Desperate to overcome the cramping symptoms, I began hunting for a natural solution. I began keeping a food diary once I left the hospital.
Here were the specific things I picked up on:
- I had a suspicion that the calcium gummies and prenatal vitamins (containing iron) were worsening my constipation
- I switched my intake of carbonated water to flat water with lemon juice and noticed a HUGE improvement in my gas pains
- I intentionally drank 3 hydro flasks of water throughout the day to help with my stools (>96 oz)
- I avoided eating 3 large meals and instead ate more frequently (but smaller quantities) throughout the day
- I avoided lentils, beans, legumes, and dairy products
- I avoided super fibrous vegetables like cauliflower rice and instead stuck with green leafy vegetables and tomatoes
- I cut out coffee and espresso altogether (the saddest!!)
- I started using a warmed rice sock as a heating pad over my abdomen. I would use it on / off for 10 minutes at a time, and was extremely careful keeping it lightly warmed (and not hot).
I spoke with my OB nurse and learned that Metamucil (class B) was a safer option to help with bowel regularity. Metamucil typically comes in flavors or sugar-free options. I knew that the aspartame and artificial ingredients in the Metamucil flavors would make my stomach cramping worse, so I instead shopped for the main ingredient of Metamucil at my local natural grocery store: Psyllium.
I started using Psyllium daily as instructed by dissolving a few tablespoons into 12 oz of water and drinking quickly.
It has an oat-like taste and texture and quickly congeals.
Not the most pleasant to drink…
These changes had immediate (positive!) effects on my symptoms. I felt relieved knowing that dietary modifications were the most helpful (and natural) treatment options that seemed to work.
Once my bowels became more regular, I slowly weaned off the Psyllium. To be honest, the smell of it was also starting to make me nauseous first thing in the morning…
The cramping- it’s finally gone!
But now I’m exhausted…
I began welcoming two hour naps in the middle of the day (at least on non-working days).
With my symptoms under better control, I was almost feeling a little guilty for not having any nausea or vomiting and was fortunately still able to continue exercising at my usual rate.
When I started exercising, I began noticing that my sports bras were beginning to feel tight. This is one great benefit to pregnancy for those who are small chested (like me!).
My bra size had increased by a cup in a matter of weeks.
But get ready for sore breasts- they’re tender!
As the week went on, I began getting very excited for my first OB appointment. I couldn’t wait to see how the baby was doing on ultrasound!
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Unfortunately, with all of the COVID social distancing, I had to attend my first OB appointment solo. However, thankfully FaceTime allowed my husband to participate in the appointment!
At my first OB appointment, my OB was able to do an abdominal ultrasound in the clinic room while I video chatted with my husband.
The baby was located right where it was supposed to be in the uterus. It even had a strong heart beat (168 bpm)! Thankfully, the rest of my anatomy (tubes and ovaries) were looking good without concerns.
When you go for your first OB appointment, here’s what you can expect to happen (based on what I experienced during mine):
- Blood pressure and vital sign collection
- Abdominal ultrasound
- Pelvic exam with screening cultures for chlamydia and gonorrhea
- Including a manual exam
- Breast exam
- Blood lab work (basic lab work and hCG)
I also met with my OB’s main nurse who would be my main line of contact throughout my pregnancy.
She gave me a bag full of resources and information on pregnancy. The information was broken down into each trimester and discussed normal symptoms, upcoming appointments, what to eat, what not to eat, how to exercise, and other useful tips and tricks!
One of my main questions I asked my OB was about exercise.
His response was that it was okay for me to continue what I had been doing pre-pregnancy but to keep my heart rate below 170bmp and to make sure I could still carry a conversation during my workout routine by not being too short of breath.
Phew! Exercise was still a GO!
The first half of this week was smooth sailing. I was almost becoming worried that I was feeling too normal.
But of course, as soon as I said that, my symptoms turned the corner.
This week, I began noticing a bit more queasiness in the morning and evenings. If I had too large of a breakfast (> 400 calories), mild nausea would settle in.
In the evenings, I would develop a bit of nausea as well- typically between 3-5pm. Sometimes it would kick in later in the evening around 8-9 o’clock when I would cave and just go to bed early to shake it off.
Thankfully, I never experienced any vomiting!
Aside from the nausea, I began experiencing ravenous cravings!
Here were some of the cravings I started to get:
- Oreo McFlurry’s
- Orange juice (but not just any kind of orange juice- it had to be freshly squeezed and organic, ha!)
- Peanut butter (lots and lots of peanut butter…)
Carbohydrate cravings were VERY real for me this week. I’m someone who likes to keep my carbohydrates on the lower end (typically < 120g / day), but that went OUT the window this week.
I gave myself grace and knew that my body was giving me these hormonal signals for a reason. The baby was growing and my body needed quick energy.
Now, I did try my best to munch mindfully through these cravings. When I was craving bread, for example, I would purchase Ezekiel Bread at the grocery store knowing that this was more of a sprouted grain bread, minimally processed, and high in fiber.
We were also gifted a few loaves of homemade banana bread from one of my husband’s colleagues at work. She makes a banana bread to die for (seriously- the most moist, gooey banana bread I’ve ever had in my life!). When my husband brought them home from work, I immediately sliced them up and stuck all of them into the freezer with the exception of a few pieces for the fridge.
When I was craving something sweet, I’d break off a small piece of banana bread and slowly savor it. Sometimes I’d have it with a small glass of my freshly squeezed orange juice. The combination was sweet and crushed my craving without going overboard on serving size.
Thankfully, my Oreo McFlurry cravings were infrequent. It took a bit of effort to drag myself out of the apartment and through a McDonald’s drive-thru, so I only gave in to this craving 1-2 times. When I’d order the McFlurry, I’d order the snack size so I’d keep my serving sizes tightly controlled.
Cravings aside, I began digging around for information related to stretch mark prevention. According to the app Flo, one of their blog post articles mentioned a few studies looking at the efficacy of creams to prevent or treat stretch marks.
Three ingredients that showed some promise were:
- Centella asiatica
- Bitter almond oil (to help massage in the lotions)
This week, I became more nauseous in the mornings and evenings. I was never nauseous to the point of vomiting (thankfully), but nothing I did to troubleshoot the queasy feeling seemed to help.
I did my best to investigate everything I could think of. I tried:
- Drinking more water first thing in the morning
- Reducing my serving sizes and eating more frequently throughout the day
- Only having a few sips of espresso in the morning and then not having caffeine for the rest of the day
- Sucking on mints
- Trying to nap
But none of them seemed to work, unfortunately.
Thankfully the nausea would only last for an hour or two before I would forget that I was even nauseousto begin with.
The other things that came up this week for me was my preference for all things DAIRY. Maybe my body was telling me it needed more calcium and Vitamin D?
I was craving:
- Cereal with 1% reduced fat milk (not the unsweetened nut milks I’d usually drink)
- Ice cream
- Cream cheese
I was having yogurt almost every day for breakfast (and was thankfully less interested in carbohydrates like oatmeal and bread) and would never make a salad without first putting blue cheese on top or having a few slices of cheddar cheese while preparing it.
When you’re pregnant, it’s really important to only eat pasteurized dairy products. Read your food and beverage labels- especially the ingredient lists. It will specifically say “pasteurized” on it.
I came to learn that pretty much everything that is dairy at the store is already pasteurized in order to be sold (but obviously double check).
When ordering out at a restaurant, it doesn’t hurt to double check that the cheese on the charcuterie boards or the dairy products on sandwiches, burgers, or salads are all pasteurized.
What a week this was! My husband and I opted to get genetic testing on our baby via non-invasive prenatal screening blood testing. The test we ordered was called the Panorama Test (by the company Natera).
The Panorama Test analyzes the baby’s DNA through a simple blood draw and screens for genetic disorders. This blood test can be completed as early as 9 weeks. The results were presented in a personalized risk score (ie: low risk or high risk).
The other great thing about this test? It can tell you the gender of the baby!
We’re having a GIRL!! And our baby tested low risk across the board for all of the major genetic disorders!
We were so excited to hear that our baby girl was healthy. I shared the news at work and celebrated with a super unhealthy (but oh so tasty!!) breakfast, hehe.
This week, my body has been really craving dairy- especially Carr’s crackers with sharp cheese and plain greek yogurt (with some nut butter and cacao nibs).
I had still been able to keep up my exercising which I think had helped my nausea overall. However, I did find myself getting pretty sick to my stomach if I didn’t drink or eat something after a challenging workout. My best guess was that the lactic acid from my muscles was accumulating and was unsettling my stomach.
This week was full of emotions. With everything that had been going on with COVID, I was really starting to feel down and with the blues.
The weather was gloomy, I felt cooped up in the house, and things around town were only mildly starting to open.
Despite attempting to stick to my healthy routine of exercising every day, I found myself exhausted, napping, and going to bed early. Which…. confused me! I thought I was past the exhausted phase?
I also began noticing more changes with my belly. It was definitely changing (sigh…so long hard-earned abs…) and was surprisingly taking a toll on my mindset and self-esteem.
I began feeling insecure and critical of my new curves and was horrified when I’d step on the scale and watch my weight steadily creep up.
However, I decided to treat myself like a friend and to love my body (baby bump, expanding chest and all) for the nourishment and strength it was giving to our growing baby girl.
I continued to journal every morning as a way to set my mindset and intentions right for the day.
I really didn’t want my negative mood, emotions, or stress transferring to the baby. Although it was challenging, I trudged through the week and just accepted that this was going to be an emotionally draining week compared to the others, but that I’d get through it and things would be brighter on the other side.
With my pregnancy getting closer to my 2nd trimester, I began opening up more about our baby girl to those I worked with in the hospital. The excitement from others helped my previous down-in-the-dump mood and helped me reconnect with our growing baby.
This week, I felt more back-to-base with my exercising and nutrition. I wasn’t having any strong cravings nor food aversions. The thought of salad actually sounded appealing and I began eating some lighter vegetarian foods for a bit to keep up my clean eating.
The output in my exercise was still a little sluggish. Normally, I could handle a 5 mile run without a problem. However, when I tried to hit the pavement and cover some distance, I was gassed out by 3.34 miles (at one of my slowest paces I’d ever run before). I had to walk the rest of the way home.
Instead of being disappointed in myself, I gave myself forgiveness and turned on a fun podcast to distract the negative thoughts from creeping back into my mind.
If I couldn’t control my growing belly, I was going to do everything I could to keep my legs and butt as healthy, strong, and toned as I could!
And for my growing belly? Well- it was time to just accept it for how it was changing and to embrace it! I jumped on Amazon and filled my shopping cart full of fun maternity clothes and bathing suits for the summer.
Overall, from all of the horror stories I’ve heard of from other women, the first trimester of my pregnancy wasn’t too terrible for me, personally. I am definitely appreciative of that!
If you are planning to become pregnant, are currently in your 1st trimester, or have a friend or family member currently in this phase, be sure to send them the Ultimate Guide To Your 1st Trimester of Pregnancy!
Looking For Support During Your Pregnancy?
Or, Know Someone Who Is Newly Pregnant?