I’m pregnant! The past few months have been beyond exciting for Justin and me. We are overjoyed to welcome Baby Costa this March! I already feel like I have learned SO MUCH about pregnancy and I’m excited to share everything about the first trimester with you here.
I want to take a pause to acknowledge that pregnancy is a sensitive topic. If you’re someone struggling with fertility or anything pregnancy-related, my heart goes out to you. I can only imagine the difficult, heartbreaking time you’re having and I want to acknowledge you. In sharing my experience, I don’t want to minimize yours in any way and I hope that if anything my post brings you hope in a hard time.
Let’s start with the basics. Were we trying to get pregnant? Everyone is always wondering, lots of people ask, but sometimes there’s some hesitation. Well… no hesitation here. We were not trying. To me, ‘trying’ means you’re taking your temperature, tracking ovulation, etc. Justin and I decided we were ready for a baby if it were to happen, but we weren’t exactly being intentional about any of it. I had experienced so many hormonal issues impacting my menstrual cycle in the past (more about that here!) and had just gotten on somewhat of a ‘regular’ cycle over the past two years. When I say ‘regular’ I mean anywhere from 40 to 55-day cycles, but still a whirlwind better than the 5 years I went without one. Nonetheless, we thought getting pregnant would take us a year or so and didn’t feel any rush to stress about it… it just happened!
When did we find out? We thought I was ‘late’, but again, this is really relative for me, but somehow we had a gut feeling. I took two pregnancy tests that were both negative at the end of July. We still had a gut feeling, but they were my last tests. I read that if you took a test too early, there wasn’t enough of the pregnancy hormone in your body for the test to tell. So instead of going out to the store to buy more, I intentionally ordered them online where I had to wait a week for shipping. A week later I anxiously opened the package and took a test that was positive!
Did I tell Justin in a cute way? No. I have no self-control. I was actually on the phone with my Mom when I took the positive test (who had no clue), I hurried her off the phone (without telling her) and ran up to Justin’s office to interrupt his work conference call (which thankfully was on mute). With a bit more research I learned that pregnancy is counted in weeks (40 total) which start at the first day of your last period. I made an appointment with my OBGYN for the following week. For me, that meant my appointment was already at 8 weeks! Woah! There I learned that in fact, baby was only 6 weeks along (by measuring baby’s length). This meant that instead of typical ovulation 2 weeks after your period starts, I ovulated 4 weeks after. Interesting, right? The ultrasound basically looked like a pea with a heartbeat. That night we told our immediate family, who were totally ecstatic!
What were my first trimester symptoms like? Magically, the following day of my appointment, I immediately started feeling symptoms. I was so sleepy. I took at least an hour nap every day- growing a baby is hard work! I also suddenly hated every food ever. Which, for a food blogger, makes life a little frustrating. I had aversions to vegetables, eggs, seafood, coffee, and anything sweet (this was week 6, the food aversions slowly started to weaken around week 10). Opening the refrigerator made me want to vomit. Everything just smelled so strongly! I did not actually vomit frequently, thank goodness. Justin immediately looked up all of these supplements I should take for the baby and they made me very sick. After tossing my cookies (aka the supplements) twice, I decided to just stick to my prenatal until I was feeling better. (I do take all of these now in the second trimester, per my midwives, so props to Justin!). My diet pretty much consisted of chicken fingers, pizza, pasta, and bread for about a month or two. Yes, it’s important to eat nutritiously, but honestly, there’s no way to describe pregnancy food aversions, and when you do experience them, you’ll know that eating anything at all is you doing the best you can. We’ll just put all of our trust in that magical prenatal supplement. I did have some serious constipation, which I thought was a pregnancy symptom, but looking back can recognize that it was really related to my diet. I snacked on leads and kiwis to help my digestive system! Exercise? I wasn’t having it. Between the exhaustion and lack of motivation (I’m so extroverted, COVID has made it really hard for me to enjoy exercise by myself at home), I didn’t take a single exercise class the first trimester. I did walk a lot, as we always do with our pup- for about 20 minutes, twice a day. Lastly, I wanted to throw in here that although I’m not sure it was a symptom, it is super important to hydrate while pregnant. Your body needs even more water than usual to form amniotic fluid, produce extra blood volume, help digestion, etc. I aim for 80-90 oz per day.
Did we find out baby’s gender? Nope! We did opt in to genetic testing with the first trimester bloodwork, (this can be done as early as 10 weeks) which gave us the opportunity to find out baby’s gender, but we did not. I actually wanted gender to be a surprise, but Justin didn’t, so we compromised to wait until our 20 week anatomy scan to find out. It’s just so fun to guess!
Resources. My #1 resource is a friend who just gave birth last week (I hope you read this and know how much I appreciate you, Steph!). My best recommendation for the first trimester is the Mama Natural book, which I also saw they carry at the Dallas library by the way! It’s a week-by-week guide to pregnancy. I was originally reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting, this book made pregnancy seem scary and overwhelming and when I finally opened Mama Natural I felt like I had found the book for me. It’s super informative about natural and medicated childbirth, midwives, how to use essential oils safely during pregnancy, positive affirmations, all that woo woo stuff I love. I also recommend cocoa butter or a belly oil for your belly! I started using it every morning and night at week 6, which was probably overkill, but I still wanted to mention it!
Tell me about Midwifery. I technically didn’t transfer to our birthing center, Origins, a midwifery practice, until my second trimester, but I don’t want you to wait on it if you’re interested, so I’ll share about it here! We had talked about natural birth, but I wasn’t really sold on it. My friend and resource, Steph, told us more when we shared our good news and I dug in deeper reading Mama Natural. I really hadn’t even realized that birthing with a midwife was even an in-network option before these conversations. Although I was still on the fence about natural birth, I knew that I wasn’t getting the care I wanted and needed at my OBGYN. I never felt that I had, but didn’t think I had much of a choice. From the past few years trying to balance my hormones with holistic remedies to talking about supplements and how they impact baby’s health with my doctor, I just didn’t feel like she was giving my pregnancy enough attention. Originally I was just browsing the internet for good reviews of birth centers in the area. I called one up for a price estimate (it’s the finance brain- don’t tempt me with it if I can’t afford it) and learned they weren’t in-network. So Justin and I decided we should be more direct- we used our insurance’s website to look up midwife care providers in the area. That’s how we found Origins! I called for a rough estimate with our insurance and scheduled a tour. If your insurance provider doesn’t list any in-network midwives within a reasonable distance, you can also apply for an exception. With enough justification, the insurance company may allow you to utilize the care provider at in-network cost.
Now let me remind you that I was still not sold on the whole idea when we went for our tour. But Justin and I were both blown away by the birth center. It was cozy and homey. Justin was welcomed to every appointment (he wasn’t at the OBGYN due to COVID). They have an in-house nutritionist and chiropractor available. There are 2-3 midwives that may deliver your baby (compared to the 7 OBGYNs at my other office!). Every midwife is also a lactation specialist whom you also see for baby’s first three check-ups. The birth rooms have huge tubs and big comfy beds for birthing options. Because it’s a small practice, they’ve never had a laboring mama have to wait for a birthing room, there’s always availability. Each appointment is about 45 minutes long, discussing mama’s health and well-being as well as baby’s. They focus on creating a relationship with you built on trust and encouragement. It’s basically a boutique birthing experience.
But what if something goes wrong? In case of emergency, the hospital is three blocks away and the birth center has a great relationship with them- they will call while you’re transporting to let them know you’re coming, they will bring all your paperwork for you (no pre-registration necessary), and typically a midwife would stay with you at the hospital, but I’m not sure if that’s allowed in the COVID environment. They also have a mobile NICU that can come to the birth center if necessary. So my major question- what can you not handle? And the answer I really got was c-sections and preemies. I’m sure there’s more to it than that, but essentially as long as baby is 37 weeks and able to be born vaginally, the birth center can handle it. Please remember this is all hear-say from our experience, so do your research with your own birth center! We felt very confident in the staff’s ability and were immediately sold on giving birth with the Origins team.
So what now? Essentially, a midwife replaces your OBGYN, so all of my medical records were transferred and I started seeing a midwife on a monthly basis. The birth center can only handle low-risk pregnancies, so if anything becomes complicated, they’ll try to help handle it or refer you to a specialist, hoping that once it’s under control you can come back! Once you dedicate yourself to the birth center, you are pretty much opting out of medicated birth. There’s no opportunity for an epidural. None. So it’s super important that you and your partner both decisively agree on natural birth.
Another great resource our birth center offers, and I’m sure others do too, is a pre-conception visit. If you’re struggling with conception and are looking for a more holistic option, it might be a good route for you to look into!
Phew. That was A LOT of information. Thanks for reading and I hope this sheds some light on new topics for you! As I mentioned, I’ve learned a ton these past few months and I hope that sharing my experience makes you feel better prepared for your own. Let me know if there are any topics you’re interested in for the second trimester.
PS no bump pictures here because I didn’t really have one yet! More to come in second trimester, promise.