Finding out you’re pregnant can lead to one of two reactions. You’re either going to be super excited, or you’re going to have a major OH SHIT moment. Or both! Both is possible. My pregnancies weren’t exactly planned (we weren’t trying but we weren’t NOT trying, you know what I mean), so I had both reactions immediately. And then went back and forth between the two emotions for weeks. You barely have time to process that you’re pregnant before you have to, you know, BE pregnant. The first trimester is a roller coaster of emotions and physical changes, and I wish I had known then what I know now about what to expect.
With both of my pregnancies, I found out VERY early. I was probably just about 3-4 weeks when something seemed … off. So my first trimester both times felt really long.
1. The first thing I wish I’d known was that it’s a lot like hitting a wall at full speed in terms of the immediate changes you need to make to your lifestyle.
One day, I was minding my own business, having cocktails and the occasional cigarette, staying up until 4 a.m. reading books. And then BAM! Suddenly, cocktail hour turned into nap time, and I couldn’t stay awake long enough to read at bedtime to save my life. The changes are abrupt and can be hard to accept. Your life very suddenly doesn’t feel like your life.
2. I wish I’d known that I wouldn’t necessarily feel pregnant, just that I would feel not great.
It’s a very strange period of time! Your brain knows you’re pregnant, but your body is still like, what the actual hell is happening? I was lucky enough to miss all the really gnarly pregnancy symptoms, but I still didn’t feel quite right. It’s weird to not be able to stay awake during dinner or feel like you’ve got gas that won’t go away.
3. Another thing I’d wish I’d known: the first trimester is a lot of “hurry up and wait”.
As soon as I had an inkling that I could be pregnant, I called my doctor in a panic. DO THE TESTS SCAN MY BELLY ANSWER ALL MY QUESTIONS! And my doc was like, LOL calm down lady. There’s … not much to do in the first trimester? Sure, you confirm your pregnancy and get a scan to see the yolk and sac and heartbeat, but then it’s pretty quiet the rest of the time. Just, you know, be pregnant I guess.
4. It’s really hard to keep a secret for 12 weeks.
Sure, you might tell your close friends and family, but most women don’t tell everyone else until they’re out of the first trimester. But I found myself wanting to blurt it out to random strangers everywhere I went. Either to excuse my weird behavior, or to just get it off my chest.
5. Along those lines, I wish I’d known how stressful the first trimester would be.
You always hear about the miscarriage risk in the first trimester. So literally every minute of every day, I stressed about it. Any weird stomach pain sent me into a panic. And you can’t even tell that you’re still pregnant most of the time! There’s no fetal movement or anything, so you just gotta hope all is well. On top of that, there’s the stress of trying to do everything right, and the stress of coming to terms with the fact that you’re going to have a fucking BABY. It was not great for my anxiety.
6. Something else I wish I’d known: your body will change in subtle, and sometimes unpleasant ways. But you won’t look pregnant! Just … dumpy.
It’s like PMS bloating, but all the time. Plus my boobs grew three sizes almost immediately. So I had that really awesome bloated belly, then the boobs, my skin went fucking nuts, and I was exhausted all the time. So add to that bags under my eyes. I didn’t look pregnant, but I did look like I had just come off a 3-night bender for 12 goddamn weeks.
7. The last thing I wish I’d known about the first trimester is how quickly it goes.
I barely had time to process the whole having a baby thing before shit got real in the second trimester. It’s hard to adjust to something that doesn’t feel quite real, you know? But once that second tri hits, it’s real and it’s happening and you’re at the doctor all the time and your belly starts to grow and pretty soon, there’s an actual baby in there and not a hypothetical baby. It’s a wild ride, and I was not ready for the speed at which I would be barreling down the tracks.
That first trimester is such a weird time, but it goes so fast. There are a lot of changes, and a lot of worry and stress and excitement (and yes, dread). Take it a day at a time, and don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s simply the first leg of what will be an insane journey.