(Not) A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy (not) Far, Far Away…
Not much more than a year ago, my husband and I were enjoying married life. We went to work and came home to each other, made dinner, talked about our days, and then unwound by playing video games, laughing at memes, binge-watching animes, etc. Things were pretty peaceful in the Ruiz apartmenthold. 🏡💞💏
So when I saw that little faint pink line on that First Response stick, I was shook. Literally. I could not stop shaking–though admittedly, it was the result I had been expecting.
It was a few months prior to this that my husband had approached me and had brought up the prospect of starting a family. We had been married for a couple of years, and we weren’t getting any younger.
I had gone back and forth on the subject, having gone into our marriage entertaining the idea right away at the tender age of 24, but after hosting a couple of parties, I’d decided that I wasn’t ready to relinquish my youthful antics, and forwent the family path in favor of “living my life.” But as it would turn out, “living my life” wound up just being a lot of day drinking on weekends while playing a lot of Gamecube (not a bad life, all things considered).🍻🥡🕹
This conversation took place shortly before my sister-in-law’s wedding (who by the way, also has a blog on this site, and is due with my first niece in February *squee!!1!*💖🎀), which would take place in late October. We were already both entering shaky territory in our respective career lives, he had just started an electrical business with our brother-in-law, and I had been only about 90 days into a new job with promise of advancement into local journalism (not the right path for me anyhow, as it turns out), so I was a bit hesitant to add a baby into that mix. But the more we talked, the more it just made sense to take a leap of faith. We were at an age where we had had the opportunity to have fun with life, we had enjoyed being husband and wife for a good couple of years, but we were still full of youthful vigor, enough to keep up with the boundless energy of a small child, and young enough still that we could enjoy a good few years of retirement by the time our last child was out on his or her own (he wanted to have 5 children, I wanted 3…so far we’ve settled for 4…). And so, we decided to leave things in God’s hands see what happens.
And happen it did. Which brings us to the morning of Saturday, December 17, 2016–one year ago today.
I held the stick out to my husband with a trembling hand. “Look,” I said, eyes wide with wonder and fear. He studied the device for a moment, then looked at me with eyes filled with awe and love. We smiled at each other for a moment, a wave of mixed emotions washed over the two of us. It was beautiful and terrifying. 🤩😨
my still (relatively) taught belly, as if I would get a response from the microscopic life forming inside of me. My husband told me not to squish our tiny seed, and then he ran his hand over my midsection in circular motions, saying, “I just want to rub you like a genie all day.” But alas, duty called, and he had to leave us, his wife and brand-sparkling-new microbaby, to go to work. 😥👩👦💡
Looking back, I wish we hadn’t taken the test on a day he had to be gone for 8 hours tending to his then budding business (it’s blossomed since), as it would have been really nice to soak in the moment with him. I don’t really remember the rest of the day from there, until we went to see Rogue One with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law later that night. Then I remember flying off the handle at the fact that we had to move our cars out of our apartment parking lot and onto the street in preparation for the impending snow, not to mention clear one of them off, as it had already been snowing. I screamed every obscenity known to man, my white hot rage almost enough to melt all of the wretched, white cold stuff for me. It was just a preview for what was to come for the rest of my pregnancy.
ards the end o
vember 2016, our own little Thanksgiving miracle 🦃💫. I was feeling pretty good into Christmas, wondering if I would get away with a full first trimester without nausea (ha. hahaha. ahahahaha…). I enjoyed copious amounts of guacamole and veggie chips, as that pretty much all I wanted to eat 🥑😋. Not out of sickness or aversion (although the week before, I had found my stomach turning at my once favorite roast chicken ramen), but out of my insatiable desire to consume it. My tiny little chia seed baby must have needed something in that savory avocado mash and delectable potatoey veggie crispiness, as I put away easily 10 packs and 5 bags of the stuff a week. Christmas came and went, my husband and I keeping our precious secret, a gift too special to share so soon. Despite my general apprehension, I was feeling alright.
That is, until the nausea hit. 🤢🤢🤢
Right around New Year’s Eve, I had started to feel twinges of upset in my stomach. I hadn’t thrown up yet, but I was starting to almost want to. I remember my husband and I had gone to Boston to celebrate New Year’s Eve, our way of getting out of having to be around our friends and get “found out” too soon. We went to PF Chang’s and I ordered crab rangoon (after first researching if it was okay for me to consume it–2-3 servings of seafood a week is permittable, aside from shark, king mackerel, swordfish, and tilefish, which was great because I still enjoyed tuna–after the first trimester, of course–and I found a pregnancy safe canned tuna!), and a small order of orange chicken. After a couple of bites, I began feeling ill. I ordered a ginger beer, and slowly sipped it in between bites, and was able to save my delicious dinner. Later that night, we would welcome 2017, me, my husband, and our precious, clandestine tiny one.
The next week I went to my very first OB GYN visit the very first thing in the morning. I went through the motions, allowing the Nurse Practioner to examine me, the reality of the situation still sinking in. I was in good health, I was told, and was given the estimated due date of August 15, 2017. I looked at the calendar on the wall–August seemed a lifetime away, and yet far too soon. Every emotion hit me at once–disbelief, excitement, anticipation, apprehension, love, fear…a lot of fear…I said a silent prayer and left the office that snowy January morning to go into work.
I kept my pregnancy a secret from the office until a good few weeks into my second trimester. Things were really rocky there, and they depended on me for a lot (although I hardly felt helpful, despite all of their praise). I knew that I was going to leave at some point to take care of myself and prepare for my baby, aside from the fact that I wasn’t exactly happy in my work. But every time I thought about revealing my secret (after the 11 week window) and put in my notice, something would come up, and I’d put it off that much longer…which did not do well for my emotional wellbeing. I put in time each day, trying my best to battle fatigue, sickness of stomach, anxiousness and moroseness and perform my duties.
The rest of my first three months were more or less a sickly blur, until 11 weeks, when we first heard our baby’s heartbeat. The Dr found him just about as soon as the Doppler touched my stomach. We listened to his tiny heart flitting away, and I heard it almost harmonize with my own slower, but pounding, heartbeat. My husband commented that it almost sounded like mine was guiding our little one’s along. 💕
As I lay there with my hand in my husband’s, his phone over my belly to record the sound for our friends and family, I felt in a state of nervous rapture. I didn’t cry, but just kind of stared down at my belly, still in disbelief that there was life–part me, part the love of my life–developing in there. 💓💗
We slowly revealed the news to our closest family and friends. I didn’t put anything up on Facebook until we were nearly 15 weeks in, as that was when I finally revealed to work.
My first trimester was more or less typical, full of nausea, dry heaving, headaches, anger, irritability, aching boobs, and tiredness. I only actually vomited twice during the whole pregnancy (I know, please don’t hurt me!) but the rest of the time, I sincerely felt like I was perpetually on the precipice of puking my guts out. And a little bit after New Year’s (7-8 weeks), I found myself retching at the thought of my once beloved chips and guacamole, and for what felt like the longest time, all I could seem to tolerate was applesauce, toast with peanut butter, and slices of deli cheese, and it h a d to be Hannaford brand American cheese, otherwise I’d be fighting back vomit the rest of the night. 🧀
It was around week 10-11 I felt I could pretend to eat real food. I’d make myself eat, and then want to immediately reject the entire contents of my stomach, but would manage to keep it down, though only through 10% luck, 20% skill, 15% concentrated power of will (lol “Remember the Name”-Fort Minor)…and the remaining percent pain. Definitely pain… 😬
I didn’t take many pictures of my first trimester, sadly. I wanted to, but at the same time I felt too self-conscious. I wasn’t as in shape as I would like to have been when we went into this, so I guess that was my way of punishing myself. 😪
First Trimester Hax So now you’ve come to the tips and tricks part of the post. How I made it through, basically. I felt sort of like a Saiyan, made stronger after being beaten down to near death (although in truth I really had it made compared to a lot of ladies…I’m so sorry for all of you out there who are going through, or have really been through the ringer. It doesn’t last forever, and you’ll be stronger for it. You the real Super Saiyans!)
- 🤮For nausea, it was ginger Beer and Gin Gins!! I can’t stress enough how much Gin Gins have been the real MVP for me while at work and out in public! They have literally saved me from puking all over insertion orders at my desk, (being adjacent from the open kitchen downwind from the microwave and not losing it on a daily basis was a feat) and I’ve been able to just pop them in my mouth if feeling like I might do the technicolor yawn all over the supermarket floor. Seriously, if you’re in the battle right now, get your hands on some Gin Gins! #notspon
- 🏋🏻♀️🧘🏻♀️Although it pained me to do so, at least every other morning I’d do a First Trimester Workout circuit from YouTube. The video I followed suggested repeating it two times after it ended, but I could only will myself to complete one. During pregnancy, you get winded a lot quicker, even in the beginning, as your bodey is getting accustomed to its new hormone levels. That being said, I do feel like this gave me a little stamina boost, at least enough to get me going in the morning and carry me until lunch, when I’d start falling asleep on the phone. But, mornings are always hard for me, so doing some light exercise helped. I highly recommend you get some form of exercise during pregnancy, even if it’s just yoga or walking (always check with your OB GYN to confirm what you can/can’t do, as everyone’s journey is different). It will seriously boost your stamina for the rest of your pregnancy, and reduce your risk for gestational diabeetus, preeclampsia, and can also come in handy when it comes time for labor and delivery (more on that later).
- 👩🏻💻I found it helpful to watch Vlogs of other pregnant women more or less my age. I didn’t have any close friends who had gone through this before me, so this was sort of my way to vicariously commiserate and get helpful advice, and just feel like I had someone to relate to (sort of what I hope this might blog might be doing for some of you!). My favorite Moms on YouTube were Samantha Maria and Anna Saccone, but there are tons of momvloggers out there, so find one you like! I also liked to peek ahead at upcoming trimester blogs to see what I was in for in the weeks ahead. But mostly, these vlogs just kind of kept me calm during the dark part of pregnancy.
- 🤕 For headaches I tried not to take medicine too much, and found it helpful to wrap a Frozen Water Bottle in a pillowcase and roll it over my forehead and temples. For headaches at work, ginger also kind of helped to take the edge off, as well as pulling on my forehead hair and rubbing my temples. Talk to your OB GYN to see what dosage of what painkiller you can take if need be, as pregnancy headaches are the devil.
- 😭🤬If I felt emotional at work from anxiety, I would do a variation of the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise. I’d take a breath in through my nose for 7 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, and then exhale slowly through my mouth for 7 seconds, each time visualizing breathing in good, holding in positivity and love and surrounding my baby with it, and then breathing out bad. This saved me from full on bawling at work once, although I did have a couple of mini-meltdowns when I had people yell at me on the phone and when I messed up labels (sometimes it can’t be helped)
- On a side note, it’s not healthy to bottle up your emotions. I’ve done this all my life, and it just leads to stomachaches, irritability and it just plain exacerbates everything. When you feel the urge to cry or flip out (yes, w h e n), honestly just go for it! If you need to take a break at the office and go into the bathroom and let a few tears out or scream into your sweater, do it! Getting that negative energy out will be good for you, and the baby. 💞👍🏼
What I would have done differently📸Take week by week pictures! I’m kind of sad that I don’t have any photos to commemorate those first few months of my pregnancy adventures, particularly when I was still “thin” and “pretty,” but there’s no going back now (unless I come across a glowing Delorean somewhere).
- 💬Open up at work sooner. It can be terrifying to tell your boss that you’re pregnant (it was for me, at least), especially if they rely on you for a lot. But if you plan on taking maternity leave or for leaving work for good to pursue parenthood, the sooner you let them know, the better. Most places just need a two week notice, but in my case, it was more difficult for them to find a replacement for me. I had ended up giving a three month notice halfway through my second trimester and spent the whole time training a replacement for myself. I had wanted to leave by 5 months in so I could focus on myself, prepare for my baby, and plan my shower, but I didn’t end up leaving until 33 weeks in, and by that point a lot of what I wanted to do went by the wayside, due to fatigue, commitments, and still freelancing for work. However, I recognize that I’m blessed to have been able to take my leave even that soon, as a lot of women have to work even up to 40 weeks, and then go back after 2-6 weeks after their baby is born. Some women may thrive on that, and more power to them, but for many, this is a reality they would rather not face…maternity leave continues to be an uphill battle for a lot of families, and my heart seriously goes out to them. I’ll have a post more about that later on.
- 💪🏼Stuck with my workout regimen. I was pretty good about this for a couple of weeks, but after a while, I let the fatigue and sickliness do me in. But I found when I did work out, I managed to get by, if only just a little bit better. I also feel like if I could have gotten myself into the habit then, it would have been easier to keep working out, and I’d have that much more stamina into the later months when I was rounder, although it was still pretty easy for me to get around, even until the day before I went into labor. But I just kind of wish I kept it up.
- 🤮🤮🤮Let myself throw up. There were times when I was right on the edge of throwing up in the comfort of my own home and fought it, and honestly I wish I just did it. My sister-in-law at Becoming Rivera mentioned this in her First Trimester Survival Post that it’s best to just let it happen. It’s true, when I fought the vomit I just felt so much worse. Of course, if you’re in public and would rather not, that’s one thing, but at home, and you gotta hurl, just hurl. Brush your teeth, sip some water, and have some gin-gins. #stillnotspon
So yeah, that was my first trimester! How many of you are fighting the good fight? What got you through those rough first months? Share your stories! You never know who you could help! And I might use some of those tips for next time!
Thanks for reading! Tune in next time for my second trimester story!
If you or someone you know is engaged or engaged to be engaged, check out Becoming Rivera for inspiring, pure, millennial fairytale stories of house-hunting, wedding prep, and love, plus tips on how to plan a wedding, DIY’s, and a different take on pregnancy and motherhood👰🏼🤵🏽💍🏡🤰🏻💖