Now that I’m safely past my first trimester – safely meaning I survived it and didn’t physically hurt anyone – I want to reflect on what I learned in my first trimester. This is my 3rd first trimester and I have to say, it was drastically different from the first two. I’m back to feeling “normal” again but I was worried none of us (my husband and two babies included) would come through it unscathed.
(1) Life does not have to go on normally. The first 12 weeks (and I do mean the entire 12 weeks, as in, two days after conception it began) I felt extremely fatigued and lethargic. I’d always experienced fatigue in the first trimester, but extreme lethargy really threw me for a loop. One sink of dishes was enough to make me run to the bedroom, lay on the bed and cry. I felt that everything was a huge mountain I was having to cross it alone without a guide. I kept trying to do all the things I had done previously and my husband would say “Rachel, it’s okay… you’re pregnant…rest” but I’d try to carry on. Eventually I gave up trying to carry on and just rested and laid in bed wondering if I’d always be lethargic and lazy for the rest of my life. Once I let myself just “be” pregnant without having to have every single thing in order as before I was able to enjoy the time out a little more.
(2) This a good chance to let your husband and others chip in and lend a hand. If you are the type who doesn’t like to ask for help – YES I AM – then this is a good opportunity to swallow your pride and admit your need. I’m a doer and like to help others but find it hard to admit my need for help. Or, even after I’ve admitted it to myself, I don’t want to bother anyone else. I had to face up to the fact that I couldn’t do it all for this short – VERY SHORT – period of time and it felt good to get some help. Meals cooked, babies bathed and some time out to rest helped me pass through it without having Child Services called to the house.
(3) Don’t let go the things that are a “must” for sanity. Though it’s true we need to relax and rest for the first trimester (and, more so than normal throughout the pregnancy) we need to be careful not to let go of those core things that help us keep going. I’m sure it’s a deep-seated emotional problem, but if the house is in a mess and untidy then I feel extremely unpeaceful and can’t relax. My husband was helping as much as he could, but I didn’t ask him to clean and tidy as I had. So the house was a mess (by comparison) and I found it extremely hard to cope with. Taking a break is sort of like taking a week off of work. Sure, you’re duty free that week but when you come back, you have the week you missed and all current work to catch up on. If you are a forward thinker like me then this is enough to rob you of some peace in the meantime. Next time I’ll evaluate what matters to me, what is necessary for me to relax and what isn’t and then I can plan accordingly so I get the most rest and have the fewest distractions.
(4) Hormones magnify, but they don’t lie. The first trimester brought an extreme increase in hormones and high anxiety for a month or two. I felt so anxious, could barely think about a grocery list and was simply useless in comparison to my former self. When the anxiety levels “levelled off” I realized that I probably always feel slightly anxious. Pregnancy didn’t create anxiety where there had been none, but it highlighted it. Since then I’ve put many strategies in place to alleviate some of the anxiety and give myself room to breathe. Whether it’s depression, anxiety or something else, remember that your hormones are magnifying what is already there, they aren’t creating something for you out of nothing.
(5) Men will never understand pregnancy tiredness. “I’m tired” does not do justice to the tiredness of pregnancy. My husband would say he was tired and I would look at him with this I-can’t-believe-you-can-even-compare-your-tiredness-to-mine look and then explain. This is the kind of tiredness that sees the bed and thinks “if any thing or anyone stands in between me and the bed I will resort to extreme violence to remove them.” It is the kind of tired that goes from the brain to the heart to the entire body and consumes you until you somehow can get a little rest. It does not lift. It does not pass. Oh, but then…. after about 12 weeks or so… it does pass. Praise God. It passes. And you’re still alive.
I’ve never had morning sickness or complications while pregnant but I have to say, that 3 pregnancies in 3 years does take a toll. Fortunately the rewards far outweigh the “sacrifice”, if it can be called that when it is such a privilege to begin with!
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