It has taken me so long to write this post in part because a part of me doesn’t want to relive my first trimester. But finally sitting down to do it made me feel so much better about where I’m at today.
When we left off in my fertility journey post, I was four weeks pregnant and had just found out. Anel and I were scared to talk about it or even think about it too much, because we didn’t want to get attached to another baby, only to lose it again. Luckily, as each day went on, things got a little easier. I’m going to divide this post up by weeks, so you can get a fuller picture of what I experienced.
After I talked to Anel, I immediately called my doctor to tell her I was pregnant. She asked me to come in the next day for the first of many blood tests to make sure my HCG and progesterone levels were properly rising. They basically wanted to see that the HCG (the hormone your body produces only when pregnant) was doubling every two days. Most women won’t have to do this, but if you have a history of miscarriage, your doctor might suggest it. I highly recommend asking for the insurance-covered blood tests because they gave me a peace of mind that I don’t think I could have achieved without them. Every time we heard that the number doubled, we felt just that much better.
After three or four tests, I finally believed that this baby might actually stick around. By then it was week five, and I was feeling great. Besides crazy sore breasts and mild cramping, I didn’t really have any symptoms, so I figured it would all be a breeze physically. Emotionally I was still a wreck. I was afraid to go to the bathroom because I didn’t want to see blood. Even though I knew this was a strong pregnancy, I had understandable fears on an daily, sometimes hourly, basis.
It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and we were scheduled to drive up to Rhode Island the next morning. All of a sudden my worst fear came true and I started bleeding. My first miscarriage was at six weeks, so I was already over-sensitive about it during this time. The second I saw a spot of blood, I thought it was all over. I called my doctor, but because it was after hours, another OB who was on-call that night called me back instead. He told me to sit tight and only call the next day if the bleeding got worse overnight. He ended the call, even with knowing my history, saying, “Just remember, 30% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.” I was shocked and devastated. I couldn’t believe he had just said that! At that point, I was a hot mess and considered not even going home for the holiday.
The next morning I woke up and everything was fine. No more blood, and I felt myself. We packed up and hit the road. Shortly after we got there, a wave of nausea hit me like a ton of bricks. It was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I realize that sounds dramatic, but if you’ve had morning sickness, you can back me up here. My family had a big lunch planned, and I had to stay in bed while they all went out, blaming work for my absence. At this point, no one besides Anel and my sister knew I was pregnant, so hiding it was definitely hard.
Thanksgiving dinner came and went (I skipped the turkey and ate only mashed potatoes), but the nausea was relentless. Just imagine a permanent hangover that refuses to budge. I think the worst part of morning sickness is that there is no relief. No matter how much ginger tea you drink, or how many hours you sleep, there’s no cure. We ended up driving home a day early because I just needed to be at home in my own bed. Week six wasn’t great, but it was about to get even worse…
The next two weeks were the pinnacle of my morning sickness. I didn’t realize that my experience at Thanksgiving was just a taste of what was to come. I’ve blocked a lot of this time, but I remember mostly just moving from my bed to the couch, ordering in when I could actually eat, but mostly snacking on saltines and toast. I cancelled all of my plans, all of my meetings, and was basically a hermit.
We kept a some dinner plans, and I regretted it every time. I would sit at restaurants and sip on seltzer, trying to stay awake. After a few of those, I gave in to staying home at all times. Seeing people out and about on social media gave me serious FOMO, but there was no other option.
I remember Anel and I had to shoot a sponsored post during that time and I broke down in tears in the middle of it. Everything felt so dramatic. I can’t believe he was so patient with me!
Every day, I’d make a big pot of homemade ginger lemon tea (sliced lemons and chopped ginger in hot water), and sipped on that when things got really bad. While it provided some comfort, it didn’t do all that much. The only thing that really made me feel better was a hot shower. I found myself taking 2-3/day which is so bad for your skin, but I would have done anything to feel human again. Building a brain, it turns out, is no easy task.
One strong memory I have from these weeks was a trip to Fairway. I went to buy groceries for the week, a seemingly menial activity, but got so dizzy in the middle of the snack aisle, that I had to sit on the floor, grab a bag of popcorn, and eat it right then and there. I started crying because hormones, of course. A sweet guy who worked there came over and asked me if I was ok slash definitely thought I was a crazy person. To this day, I still can’t go back to Fairway.
What’s interesting is that I never threw up. Not once!
As the morning sickness subsided slightly, I was getting excited about having a life again. I remember running errands one day and still being able to grocery shop and cook that night. It was like I had climbed Mount Everest I was so proud. Just as I started to feel hopeful, something terrifying happened. I bled again, but this time it was different. It was a lot of blood and it was bright red. My doctor’s office was closed when I called, so she sent me to the emergency room to get checked out. I called Anel, and he left work in the city immediately, but it took him over an hour to get to me, so I headed to the ER alone, crying, and shaking.
Luckily we live near Stamford Hospital, which is like a five-star hotel compared to our ER experiences in the city. I was taken in within five minutes, vitals were tested and blood was drawn. I was given a private room with a bathroom (what?) within 30. Shortly after I got into the room, Anel showed up and didn’t let go of my hand once. We had to wait for a few hours to get an ultrasound, but at least we were together and felt safer that way. When the technician came in for the ultrasound, she told us that she wasn’t allowed to say anything until the doctor spoke to us, but turned up the volume so we could hear the heart beat. I have never in my life felt a relief so strong.
The doctor came in a while later to tell us the same news (we had to pretend to be surprised!) and to let me know that my potassium and sodium levels were very low. She said to hydrate and drink Gatorade for a few days (I opted for coconut water), and everything would be just fine.
A few days later when I saw my doctor for a check up, she found the source of the bleeding, which had nothing to do with the baby, thank God.
Christmas came and I was finally able to get up and out of bed. My mom and sister were coming to stay for a week, and I had my in-laws, an uncle and some cousins scheduled for a visit too. I was a little nervous but I knew that Anel and my sister would handle the bulk of the work considering. Despite all of the help, it was hard. All of the social interactions and excitement, exhausted me. We cooked and cleaned every day, and the whole holiday whirlwind felt like it was going to break me. It didn’t, and I came out of it ok, but at the time it felt like another end of the world experience. Mixing extreme nausea with the emotions from hormones apparently turns me into quite the drama queen.
The best part of the holidays was that we decided to finally tell our families. That part was so joyous that it almost made up for the rest of it. Almost.
For New Years, we had friends visiting from out of town, and after a quick trip up to New Hampshire for second Christmas (you kids of divorced parents know what I mean), I really didn’t think I could handle it. Although we still weren’t really telling people besides our immediate families at this point, we had to tell my friends who came because there was no way not to. Thank goodness they were super understanding and helpful. On NYE, I went to bed at 9:30. Rager!
This was the week where we had genetic testing done and found out the gender of our baby. My nausea was now gone for the most part, and I could leave my house like a normal person again. Things were looking up! Then we found out we were having a girl and everything changed. I finally, for the first time, felt connected to my baby and excited about this pregnancy. The fear of miscarriage started to dissipate, and my first trimester was almost behind me.