1st TRIMESTER "MOURNING" SICKNESS
I was on week 10 of my pregnancy and I kept having the same nagging thought throughout the day. “I want my life back.” The day after I graduated from college, my husband, Jared, and I moved to a small town in northern California for his new job. Up to that point, I thought I was coping with my early pregnancy symptoms fairly well. I felt completely exhausted all the time, but handling classes, finals, and packing up what was left in our apartment. Jared needed to start his new job earlier than I could leave school, so the 6 week separation was hard but we managed through it together. When we moved to California, the first week in our new house passed, but then the second week started and I felt like I had the worst case of the stomach flu I had ever experienced. It was no longer morning sickness, but all day sickness. I tried preparing myself physically and mentally for the “1st trimester woes,” but I don’t think anything could have fully prepared me to how I felt physically, mentally, or emotionally. I felt nauseous, weak, fatigued, and depressed. I had hopes of finding a job I could use my degree in, but felt too sick to even leave the house. I felt like a terrible wife because I felt like I couldn’t physically clean our home, do our laundry, unpack/decorate it, make meals for myself or my husband — I felt like I couldn’t even take care of myself. I wanted to meet new people, but the thought of gaining enough energy to get ready, leave the house, and try to be positive and happy, felt draining. With that and the thought of throwing up in unexpected places made me hesitant and anxious. I felt like I was being ungrateful for not loving this new experience of motherhood. I kept thinking that many couples try to have a baby for years without success and yet, I was given this opportunity to become a mother and felt guilty I was not appreciating it as much as I had anticipated. I was surprised how I started gaining weight so quickly. A lot of fatty, saturated food that I had never or rarely bought or eaten before was what temporarily took the edge off the nausea. Yet, I felt like I could never satisfy my constant hunger. For weeks, I felt like I couldn’t exercise more than just getting through a ten minute yoga sequence of mostly deep breathing exercises. I compared myself to other pregnant woman who appeared to make it look so easy. I started feeling jealous that other pregnant moms seemed like they still had their lives put together, could still work full-time, or still lead what seemed like normal, functional lives. While, I felt like my body was struggling just being in survival mode not knowing when I would start feeling like myself again. I kept thinking “I want my life back.” Alright, so why am I writing all of this? Because if you are pregnant and also experiencing similar thoughts, worries, or feelings, I want you to know that you are not alone. Again, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Tip #1: You ARE Capable of Becoming a Wonderful Mother. I learned that everyone experiences pregnancy different. So if you have friends that make pregnancy look easy, but you struggle getting out of bed…that does not make them better suited to be mothers or mean that they are stronger than you. Also, don’t try to compare your symptoms to what others have experienced. It is not fair to think, “Well, I only throw up this many times in a week and so-and-so throws up 3 times a day, so she has it worse than me.” Or, “well, so-and-so has to get IV’s during her pregnancy so she has it worse than I do, so I shouldn’t be complaining.” Some people throw up more than others…while others are more nauseous than others…while others are more physically sick than others. Acknowledge that no matter where you are on the “morning sickness,” or “mourning sickness” spectrum, it is okay to admit that you are tired of feeling sick and that it is hard. But, never give up your mindset that you can get through it and that you are a wonderful mother. It is hard to be sick for months or weeks on end without knowing when/if it will end after the first trimester or at the end of the pregnancy. The best piece of advice I can give is to remember, “This too shall pass.” Know that no matter how poor or sick you feel, it will not last forever. With that, instead of seeing it as 9 long months until your baby is finally here, break it up into trimesters. Then, break it up into months, then weeks, then days. It is overwhelming to think, “I can do this for 9 months,” especially on those hard days. Instead, think, “I can do anything today…or this afternoon…or for this hour.” Break it up into smaller steps and then pretty soon the weeks and months will begin to pass until your baby will finally make its arrival. For me, I didn’t start to feel a relief from the nausea until halfway through my second trimester. Everyone is different and it has returned occasionally, but know that usually it gets better. If needed, don’t be afraid to talk with your doctor about medication or alternative help. You are not weak- you are strong!!!
Tip #2: Don’t Isolate Yourself and Get Out of the House I think one of the worst fuels for sickness or depression is isolating yourself away from others. I found that even a phone call from my family really helped. Better yet, schedule times when you will call someone/have them call/visit with you in advance. So even if you don’t feel like talking or seeing people, you have already made a commitment that will help you follow through with it. ALSO, try to get out of the house at least once a day. During that first trimester, sometimes I would just sit outside on my porch in the mornings. When I started feeling better, I would go on walks, visit the library, and explore our new town. It doesn’t have to be a long outing, but just getting out for 30 minutes to an hour really helped!!!! Tip #3: Find a New Hobby and Distract Yourself with Things you Love Try to stay busy! If it helps, make a schedule for yourself with one major thing you want to accomplish that day. Schedule in when you want to eat so you don’t wait too long that you start feeling nauseous and even times you want to rest or take a nap. For me, attempting to follow a schedule gave me consistency and stability in my routine each day. When you are sick in bed for most of the day, find something to look forward to! It can be as simple as going on a walk with your husband when he gets home from work or watching your favorite Netflix show before going to bed. Never feel ashamed if you do spend a few days in bed watching Netflix or sleeping. You are not lazy! You are growing a baby!!!! But, that eventually gets old after a while, so look for something to keep your mind busy. Distractions are a BIG tool in helping cope with being sick. Distract your mind with how crappy you feel and engage in a new hobby.
As I write this, I am now nearing my third trimester. I know that it is easier to give this advice after that 1st trimester is over, but it will get better. I’ve had times in my pregnancy when I felt like I couldn’t do another day….but then another day would pass and things somehow became better with time. There have been ups and downs this pregnancy, but I honestly would not trade it. Back to my original thoughts, “I want my life back.” It made sense in the moment why I would think that, but I am starting to embrace this new life of becoming a mother. One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Paine. “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.” Motherhood, including pregnancy, is not easy, nor was it meant to be easy….because it is one of the most important things in this life. What tips and recommendations would you give a new mother going through her first trimester? Feel free to share and comment below. xoxo