With only weeks to go before I enter the 3rd trimester (!!!), this post is admittedly a little late. I had no idea how much pregnancy causes time to speed up! I can’t even fathom the thought that FIVE months have elapsed since we found out we were pregnant, and don’t even get me started on how I feel about having only about three months left before baby makes her appearance. It gives whole new meaning to the phrase, ‘so much to do and so little time.’ Never in my life has my motivation to accomplish anything been so fickle; one minute I’m in a tizzy, ready to move dressers out of our bedroom in preparation for a wood-floor project, and the next I’m sitting on the couch having lost all interest in the endeavor.
But, despite my current 26-week status, neither the blog nor the pregnancy would be complete without at least a little bit here for posterity!My Expectations Going into Pregnancy vs. Reality
My expectations: a little fatigue, some nausea, some change in my diet. Reality: more mental than physical fatigue, manageable nausea, a complete diet change, waking up in the middle of the night to pee immediately, extreme lethargy (that was, thankfully, temporary.) I expected to feel the tiredness and nausea; what I didn’t expect was to not feel MYSELF. It was as if overnight I’d been possessed by another person (and in some ways I suppose that is exactly what pregnancy is), and the real Holly took a backseat. I found myself sitting on the couch way more often, usually using my Marco Polo app to talk to a friend, and not minding skipped workouts or undone to-do lists. In all honesty, this extreme slow down was a welcome break from my usual need to accomplish. But, like I said, I didn’t feel MYSELF. I didn’t anticipate worrying about a miscarriage the same day I found out I was pregnant. I didn’t anticipate the lack of motivation to do things that were so normal to me, like working out.
Thankfully, I have good friends who spoke truth into me and encouraged me to both embrace my ‘new normal’ and get back to doing the things I enjoy at the same time. I headed back to the gym and set my mind to getting things done, which snapped me right back into a more ‘normal’ groove. I definitely wasn’t operating on all cylinders in terms of ‘pre-pregnancy Holly,’ but I had bursts of energy and took advantage of them.
Food Aversions and Cravings
While I didn’t have a ton of aversions or cravings, my ENTIRE DIET changed virtually overnight. I went from a (for the most part) uber-healthy diet full of kale and hummus and chicken salad to nachos and burgers and pizza. Basically, if it was grain-based or fast food, I wanted it. This is another example of how my expectations didn’t line up with reality. As a dietitian and someone who genuinely likes to eat healthy food, I thought I’d be ‘strong enough’ to maintain at least some of my healthy-eating practices despite food cravings and aversions. No sir, not a chance. Even when I thought about the importance of healthy food for the baby, I wasn’t able to overcome the urge to eat what my body wanted, when I wanted it. And, it’s possible that because I’d been so rigid in my food decisions for so long that my body (and mind) simply wanted a break! In some ways, it was very freeing to give in to such different impulses.
The biggest driver of my meal choices seemed to be the power of suggestion; if someone mentioned they’d had Chinese takeout for dinner the other night, you better believe that’s what we’d be having for dinner! I can recall at least one mid-day stop at McDonald’s with Andrew while running errands, and a time I had THREE burgers in the span of about a week. (Clearly, I needed iron.) Nachos and pizza were on repeat, and I fell in love with blueberry English muffins with plain cream cheese for breakfast. There wasn’t an egg or fish or dark leafy green in sight!
I did (and sort-of still do) have an aversion to sweet potatoes. In fact, I made my usual sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving and couldn’t even get one bite down before I pushed it away. I did notice that anything that was super sweet but not meant to be so (like sweet potato or corn casseroles at the holidays) turned me off. Instead, I craved anything savory, like nachos and pizza and Chinese.
I did not have an aversion to meat, although I’d say it only made appearances in the form of pepperoni on pizza, beef burgers and Chinese food. Not my proudest moments as a dietitian, I can tell you that! I also didn’t really have an aversion to coffee, something most pregnant women can’t stand, but found I was drinking less and less. By week six, I stopped making it each morning and didn’t start drinking it again until the second trimester.
Funny story: the weekend before I found out I was pregnant, Andrew was out of town and I made a Friday evening Target run. As I walked by the grocery department on my way to the register, I spied the can (CAN!) of Frito-brand nacho cheese and felt perhaps the most overwhelming FEELING OF MY LIFE to purchase and consume it. Folks, I have never once been tempted to buy that particular product. Not once. By the time I got home and nuked up a few spoonfuls of cheese dip, it was 10 p.m. and my eyes were drooping. But I ate it and loved it. I think I polished off the can that weekend. At the time, I did realize my behavior was a bit strange and that it *could* be related to pregnancy, but I wasn’t going to let myself go there yet.
Another funny (OK, maybe more like gross) story: I had sardine salad in the fridge when I found out I was pregnant. It’s not something I eat on a regular basis, but I’ve been known to make this salad a time or two in the past couple years. That week, I ate it once for lunch with sardine crackers once and it was fine. Within a day or so, I’d taken a turn and just the thought of it had me wanting to retch. In the trash it went. Unfortunately, I think the sardines ALSO ruined saltines for me; I might be the only pregnant woman alive who can’t eat saltine crackers! (I have eaten sardines one other time this pregnancy–mixed with tuna for tuna melt sandwiches a week ago–and while they weren’t terrible, I have no plans to purchase sardines ever again.)
The one thing I DID truly crave was lime popsicles. Not the neon green ones filled with sugar and food dye in the skinny packages; I craved the Outshine Frozen Lime Bars. Something about the sour/slightly sweet taste was so refreshing despite the season (reminder: dead of winter here) and tart. I’m pretty sure I sent Andrew out to get some from Tops at like 11 p.m. at least once.
Thankfully, my nausea was very manageable. I didn’t tend to have traditional ‘morning sickness,’ and I didn’t ever throw up (except that time I had the stomach bug around week seven). I had what I started calling a ‘sandwich effect,’ in which I’d get a bit sick-feeling before I ate, I’d feel fine while eating, and then I’d feel nauseous again. Being able to sit on the couch when I wasn’t feeling good was so helpful. Also, the NP at the fertility clinic recommended taking a combination of Unisom (a sleep aid) at night and Vitamin B6 with meals to help with nausea, so I tried that and feel it was at least mildly effective. Most foods and smells were fine; after my stomach bug experience I had to empty out the fridge (containers and all!) and bag everything up to give to a friend to either enjoy or throw away. I experienced some nausea while riding in the passenger seat, although driving myself anywhere was fine. By the end of the first trimester, any food-related nausea had pretty much gone away.
Sleep and Fatigue
I might be one of the only pregnant women who feels MORE tired during her second trimester than her first! Because I was taking the Unisom (half of the 25mg tablet, doxylamine succinate version), I slept like a baby during the first trimester. In fact, some mornings I slept until 10 a.m.! On the one hand, it was glorious. On the other, I hated sleeping the morning away and not feeling quite so awake when I got out of bed. I probably needed the rest, and the Unisom helped me get back to sleep during the night if I woke up to pee.
Like I said earlier, I was also feeing mentally fatigued. Because I wasn’t working full-time, I was able to rest, sit down, or take breaks when I needed to. I think that prevented me from feeling so tired in the early evenings. Instead, I dealt with mental exhaustion and lack of energy and motivation.
I napped a handful of times during that first trimester, but found them to be only mildly enjoyable or beneficial. Sure, if I can fall asleep mid-afternoon on the couch I’m clearly tired, but more often than not, napping prevented me from sleeping that night. In general, I’m not a napper, even when pregnant.
Like most women, I didn’t show much during the first trimester. My chest did get bigger within a month or so, and I had to buy larger sports bras for exercise. I didn’t need maternity clothes until well into the second trimester.
My desire to exercise waned drastically during the first trimester, likely from mental fatigue rather than physical tiredness. I simply didn’t feel like working out! It was truly a foreign feeling to me, and I worried I’d feel like that for the entire pregnancy. Again, my girlfriends encouraged me to get back to a routine, and I ended up working out at least once or twice a week. My running wasn’t as fast, as frequent, or as far, but I did keep up with it. I continued to teach my weekly cycle class at the YMCA. I started doing the elliptical and lifting free weights with more regularity and enjoyed that. I always felt good during my workouts and afterward, although I noticed I was out of breath more quickly.
Look for a 2nd Trimester post soon!