As some of you know, I am PREGNANT and we could not be more excited! So I thought I'd share the experience here, the ups and downs of my experience in the first trimester.
DISCLAIMER: If stories of miscarriage are triggering for you, please skip this read.
I returned to the bathroom 15 minutes later as per the test instructions and not a moment sooner. I squinted to see it, but I could definitely see the faintest second line appear, or was it that I was just seeing things? Could it be the so called 'line eyes'? A common phrase you'll come across on trying to conceive (TTC) internet forums. Not wanting to be let down, I internally repeated to myself '...there's always next month' ....as a way to remain realistic. I also knew I was testing 3 days early due to my impatient nature and was causing myself even more mental torture! I tested the next day and the line was fainter, but still there, so I tested again that evening, and low and behold, to my surprise, the line was becoming darker. I repeated the testing process again the following day, once in the morning and in the evening (I was becoming obsessive but I'd bought mega pack of pregnancy tests for this very reason). The next day a blood test confirmed that I was 4 weeks pregnant. We were thrilled! Having had two miscarriages in February and June last year we went forwards with guarded hearts as we knew that a positive pregnancy test does not mean you end up with a healthy baby after 9 months. It's a shitty lesson to learn BUT we were determined to maintain our positivity with our mantra from a Lemon Jelly track 'Nervous Tension'.
"I maintain, at all times
A calm, confident, cheerful state of mind"
The darkening lines
There were a few occasions where I felt really sick and vomited a few times but for the most part I got off lightly. Otherwise it was a bit like being seasick for portions of the day, being hungry seemed to trigger it. To get through, I armed myself with crackers and cereal bars. Because no one wants to see their Osteopath dry retching during treatment!
One of the first symptoms I experienced was waking up with ravenous hunger between 3 and 4am so I'd munch on a snack and fall back to sleep contented. Week 9 and 10 my sense of smell heightened 10 fold; which in Hong Kong where smells are pretty strong (poor sewage systems and rubbish collection), public restrooms and coffee in particular would make me gag. There's a street on my way to teach Yoga which is lined with dried fish goods; I had to hold my breath for fear of vomiting into my mask. The nausea wasn't constant thankfully, but I always found it reassuring and I feel compelled to tell you that lot of nausea in pregnancy does not equate to a 'strong pregnancy' as you might have heard or indeed experienced. Some women can have a higher tolerance or adapt quicker to the hormonal changes and aren't as, if at all affected. So this saying that awful nausea = good and no nausea = bad can add a lot to anxiety.
I had to be very mindful that symptoms fluctuate and everyone is different. If you asked 10 people to describe back pain you'd get different responses with varying pain levels, some are more catastrophic in their description whereas others will downplay the severity and impact. Ironically, during consultations in my experience, mothers will often tell me "..well it's more a 2/10 if I compare it to child birth!" .
If you're pregnant and reading this, please know that pregnancy symptoms are experienced differently and if you know someone who is pregnant don't assume that they're feeling rotten, don't assume anything. Instead just ask them how they're feeling.
Sleep. I couldn't get enough of it. I felt exhausted, a day in clinic and teaching yoga had me wiped. Damian would come home and find me curled up on the couch asleep at 8pm. My usual motivation to work out or do Yoga had wained dramatically, but my energy was going into making a baby and as soon as I came up to 12 weeks, my energy, as if by magic came back, hallelujah!
I didn't have any weird cravings where I sent my husband out at midnight to get me some strange request for french fries with ice cream. I once had an intense craving for Rice Krispies and Ice cold full fat milk, which lasted a day and I haven't eaten it since (it turned out to be really disappointing). I went off meat, eggs and anything greasy and favoured toasties, pizza, toast, bagels...basically carbs and lots of 'em. And sweet things so I'd try and soothe my sweet tooth with banana smoothies instead of carrot cake and croissants! In my first trimester I'd gained 3kg and its no wonder...
12 weeks, the bump starting to emerge, or too many cheese and ham toasties?!
Changing Body and Raging Hormones
Well, for the first time in my life I have BOOBS! They were sore and achy but I was very fond of my enlarged breasts and this partially made up for feeling horrendous and emotional most of the time. On that note, the emotions are INTENSE. I'd cry over the smallest things, the weirdest occasion was watching rugby, well, Damian was watching rugby and they announced the winners (maybe it was New Zealand? I can't remember) and I just balled my eyes out watching them accept their trophy. I don't think I could get through any TV without crying, even comedies and I was super clumsy, if I dropped or broke anything I'd cry. Then Damian would hug me but my boobs were sore achy and I'd cry a little more. So lots of tears, tears of joy at hearing the heartbeat when I was convinced of a bad outcome and all the tears of not knowing what was happening with my fluctuating hormones.
It's A Girl!
Due to my, ahem, 'advanced maternal age' (I'm 36 this June) it was recommended I undergo Non Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT) at 10 weeks to screen for any genetic disorders. We ticked the box to find out the gender. However, at my pre-scan of the NIPT the specialist told me its 70% likely to be a girl (something about a flap being flat or upright and our baby's was flat). Well, the specialist was right, it's a girl and most importantly our baby is healthy with no abnormalities detected.
So there it is! My first trimester, it seemed to take forever and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't anxious for most of it. I'm truly grateful to be at the point where we are now in this incredible journey. One of the best experiences of my life is telling our families and friends that a baby girl is arriving 6th June 2022. So we may share a birthday as well as the same Chinese Horoscope Year of the Tiger!
To anyone experiencing fertility issues and/or loss my heart goes out to you, I see you and send you all the love in the world xox