I had lots of lofty intentions about doing weekly pregnancy updates and videos and all sorts of things here on the blog! That didn’t happen (though I did shoot a first trimester update video weeks ago…the audio was so terrible that I couldn’t even use it!) but I really want to share about my experience with this first pregnancy and how everything has gone. So buckle up, I’m going to get personal and share ALL about the first 20 weeks of growing this tiny human!
I think I should start at the beginning of this story! Jason and I have been married for about 7 years and have been together for over 10 so some of you who are long-time readers might have wondered if/when we were planning to have children! We’ve always known we wanted kids, but I wasn’t really “ready” until about 5 years ago, and Jason joined me on Team Baby Fever about 2 years ago. We made the “official” decision to start trying during the 2015 holidays, and after New Year’s of 2016 I bought Taking Charge of Your Fertility (a book that I would highly recommend to every woman, whether you’re trying to get pregnant or not) and started to track my cycles to help us get pregnant as soon as possible. It did not happen right away, and that was a bit of a tough time for me! If anyone is interested in our TTC journey, let me know and I will share more about it in another post. Long story short, after 10 unsuccessful cycles, a visit to my doctor, and lots of prayers, we finally got the news we had been dreaming of!
When we got the positive we were actually out of town at Château Élan celebrating our 10 year anniversary as a couple! I cried happy tears and spent a long time just staring at the test in disbelief. Needless to say, it was a pretty awesome way to start the trip and we were in a blissful haze for the whole weekend.
I was right at 4 weeks pregnant when we found out (that’s around the earliest time you can get a positive test) so we knew we’d have to sit on the news for a while until getting it confirmed by my doctor and making sure everything was good. Those first couple months of being pregnant I felt great! I was bloated and definitely sensitive to smells, but I was able to still eat really well and workout and drink my Shakeology every day like usual.
At about 7 weeks pregnant Jason and I nervously went to our first prenatal appointment. If something has gone wrong, that first appointment is oftentimes when you find out because the majority of miscarriages happen in the early weeks. That’s always a real concern for any couple so we were SO grateful to see a heartbeat and get a picture of our tiny inchworm baby to take home!
That appointment did come with some unfortunate news, as my OB diagnosed me with uterine fibroids. If you’re like I was before all this and have no idea what fibroids are, they’re essentially non-cancerous growths that appear in or around the uterus. They’re not very common in women my age, but they are more common in African-American women than in other ethnicities. Apparently I had them before pregnancy but I just never new it! My doctor told me that they could definitely cause complications but more often than not you can have a normal healthy pregnancy even with several fibroids. She did warn me that there might be some pain involved, and boy was that accurate! But I’ll get to that in a minute…
Around that same time my pregnancy symptoms really started to kick in! I started getting nauseous all day and very picky about food. I ate a LOT of bagels and got cravings for random things I ate when I was a kid like broccoli cheddar soup (see above), cream of mushroom soup, Kix, and easy mac. I also had an insatiable desire for orange juice! As soon as I opened my eyes in the morning, I simultaneously felt starving, nauseous, and in the mood for O.J.
As my food aversions and nausea got more intense during weeks 7 and 8, I could tell that I wasn’t getting enough nutrients. I also (MUCH to my chagrin) started craving meat!! I’ve been a proud (and happy!) vegetarian for 5 years so this was shocking to me. But I had kind of reached a breaking point in terms of food and had started to lose weight, so the thought of having some meat began to tempt me more and more.
The Thanksgiving plate you see above was vegetarian. But after dinner…I ate a piece of duck! Yes. Yes I did. It was only one bite but gosh…that bite tasted GOOD. I’m just being honest with you guys, which is hard for me to do about this subject! I had (still have) a lot of reasons why I’m passionate about eating a plant-based diet. I’m not proud that pregnancy created this weak moment for me and that I’ve reintroduced meat into my diet. At the end of the day, I decided that eating and getting calories to my baby needed to be a priority. I’ve come to peace with that choice because eating meat (and snacking throughout the day) helped me get through that rough patch where I could barely keep anything down. This little tiny baby (who had then reached gummy worm size status) wreaked havoc on my dietary habits, and that’s a-okay with me.
By the time Christmas rolled around and I was approaching 12 weeks (the start of the second trimester), the nausea and food aversions had calmed down quite a bit. I was still drinking orange juice like a crazy person and had to pick out some maternity clothes to keep comfy during the day. We decided to share the happy news as our Christmas card! 😀 We had been dying to shout it from the rooftops, so it was awesome to finally announce!
We enjoyed a great Christmas up in New Jersey with Jason’s family! At the tail end of that trip I started to experience some back pain and cramping. It was pretty mild at that point so I didn’t think much of it (both back pain and cramping are normal pregnancy symptoms), but by the time we got back to Atlanta things started to intensify.
Come New Year’s Eve, I was in so much pain that I was on the verge of tears and could barely move around. I finally decided that I should call the nurse line, and after talking to the on-call nurse about my symptoms she suggested that I head into the hospital as soon as possibe. An urgent care facility would have been good enough, but because it was so late at night (on New Year’s Eve no less!) the ER was the only thing that was open.
They took some blood and put me on IV fluids before checking with a doppler to make sure there was a heartbeat. That whole night was pretty terrifying because for the first hour or so it really felt like they were bracing us for the news of a miscarriage. Lots of poker faces and “How far along are you? Okay, still early…” It also took the nurses a long time to find a heartbeat, which was scary. But they finally did find it, and told me that it appeared a bladder infection was causing the pains! I thought this was strange because I’ve had one of those before and I wasn’t experiencing any of the same symptoms. But we were happy to have an answer and as soon as I was released we got my antibiotics and went about our merry way.
I started to feel better and a few days later we got another ultrasound that showed baby looking healthy and on track.
During week 14 I essentially felt like I wasn’t pregnant at all! The second trimester energy boost was definitely a real thing for me and I was loving it! I finally felt well enough to start the bump picture project that I had been planning.
But a few days later the back pain and cramps came back! I was so frustrated and confused about what was happening, but started guessing that it might be the fibroids causing this pain and not an infection. And after going back to the hospital that following weekend to give a urine sample, the lab confirmed that I had no infection.
At that point I decided to just deal with the pain (with the help of a hot water bottle–what a glorious invention!), and thankfully it did subside over the course of a few days. When I went in for my next midwife appointment, she said that this was part of what I should expect with the fibroids and that I could use an over-the-counter pain reliever to help if it happened again. Some women with fibroids have to deal with constant pain, so I feel really grateful that it was just those two rough patches and I’ve been relatively pain-free since then. By week 16 I was feeling right as rain, and was starting to crave fruits!
I don’t know what it is about raspberries, but since around week 16 I have NOT been able to get enough. I could honestly eat a couple containers a day, they are soooo good! Along with the return of my appetite came the beginning of my weight gain, which I welcomed gladly! It’s never been easy for me to maintain or gain weight so when I see the scale go up I am one happy mamma. I can probably thank my mom for a lot of that because she’s been so nice about making me lots of treats since I’ve been pregnant. Like this incredible Italian Cream Cake she made for my birthday last month!
Weeks 17-19 were awesome! I still had lots of energy and was very relieved not to be in any pain!
We had a small scare during this time because I got a call that one of the genetic tests we took showed a high risk for a neural tube defect. As you can imagine, that caused us to freak out a bit. They gave us an appointment with a perinatologist, and the whole thing turned out to be a blessing in disguise (a very bad disguise!). The perinatologist checked everything out and said that the baby had no signs of a defect, and that my fibroids had likely effected my hormone levels and caused the positive blood test result. At that appointment we learned SO much more about the fibroids and found out that this doctor would be seeing us in conjunction with my OB’s office just to monitor and make sure things are good. He’s an amazing doctor and it’s really reassuring to have him taking care of us! Plus he does long ultrasounds so we got to spend a long time looking at the baby. 😀
During my 19th week I got to feel the baby kick for the first time!! It’s such a strange feeling and really hard to identify if you’ve never been pregnant before. It wasn’t until I could feel it from the outside that I realized for sure what it was! Jason got to feel his first kick a few days later which was so special! And on the day that I turned 20 weeks, we had our gender reveal party and learned the exciting news that we’re having a girl!
I think it’s safe to say that the first half of my pregnancy was fairly eventful! But my Baby Bear has survived and thrived through it all, and that is the most important thing to me and Jason. As I write this I’m 25 weeks pregnant, and so far the second half of pregnancy is fantastic! Every night I lie in bed, rest my hands on my belly, and thank God for this beautiful blessing.
I have several more pregnancy topics I’ll be discussing in these last few months before I have the baby, but I will also be sharing recipes in between so stay tuned!