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The first trimester

This post should definitely begin with the big news, we’re expecting! The due date is at the end of January.

As if moving into a big house outside the city and buying that 3-row SUV wasn’t a big enough indicator, we had been trying. We were thrilled when that plus sign showed up on the home pregnancy test. The first ultrasound at 8 weeks confirmed it and made everything real, so we were able to break the news to family over the 4th of July. I’ve had two more ultrasounds since then, and during both them little one was awake and bouncing around. It’s an incredibly surreal experience, there’s something living in there! Since I’m over 35 (I’ll be 37 when I give birth) we’ve opted for some additional screening tests, but so far everything is going well.

The first thing I did upon learning was call around to find an OBGYN who was closer to home and accepting new patients to schedule that first confirmation exam at 8 weeks. It felt a little weird waiting several weeks for a doctor to confirm what the home pregnancy test indicated, but since they’re incredibly accurate on the positive side, we were quite sure I was pregnant and acted accordingly. The second thing I did was start reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong–and What You Really Need to Know and the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, all of which had been recommended by an OBGYN we met with in San Francisco a couple years ago.

The books were incredibly helpful, especially “Expecting Better” which not only had a lot of fascinating facts around pregnancy “rules” and statistics, but also implored the reader to continue to think critically about information they are given when they’re pregnant. There’s a lot of paranoia, old wives’ tales, and outright misinformation around pregnancy, but as a first time mother you also want to make sure you’re not doing something that will endanger the fetus. Balancing this is stressful. I feel like this book gave me permission to be my skeptical self and do my own research before bowing to fear and tradition. There’s also a lot of probability involved in many decisions during pregnancy, so you are well within your rights to make the best decisions for your life and family, even if they’re not the right decisions for everyone. These books also allowed me to speak intelligently with my doctor about what I wanted, ask all the right questions, and push back when I felt advice was unclear or contradictory.

Reading about the first trimester symptoms was helpful too. I’d heard stories about morning sickness, but I had no idea about the flood of emotions due to major hormone changes or the level of exhaustion I’d have to endure. Thankfully my “morning sickness” usually hits me in the late afternoon or evening, so I’m able to front-load my work day so I can be productive all day before I get too sick or tired. It means household tasks slip as my evenings are taken from me, but making it through my work day has to be the priority now. I also suddenly want ice cream all the time, which is unusual, and frozen custard is off the menu as it now tastes like it’s gone bad (sour cream and cream cheese are in a similar, though it’s less severe).

Dealing with emotions have been trickier (and led me to pick up a 4th book, Understanding Your Moods When You’re Expecting). I’m usually a pretty chill person and being tired has traditionally been the only thing that triggered bad moods for me. Now I’m seeing that feelings related to loneliness (compounded by limited energy to socialize), worry, sadness, and insecurity are hitting me hard. In one instance this resulted in crying over a dead baby deer on the side of the road, which is so uncharacteristic of me that it was a little scary. Another was a weepy call to my aunt where I proclaimed “I’m not used to having feelings!” She laughed. I did too, eventually.

What the books did not prepare me for was how isolating this all would be. I’ve always struggled with maintaining close relationships with people, some of this is just being a loner by nature, but I think it’s mostly because I’ve constantly invested my time in my work (both paid and volunteer). I believed it was a better and more fulfilling investment of my time, and has certainly led to professional success. But professional success is hard to cling to during a very personal life change, especially when I realized that day to day I’ve surrounded myself with other child-free adults. Thankfully I did have one friend who I told early because I knew she’d be supportive and full of non-judgmental help. I didn’t reach out to her very often, but she was indeed very helpful when I did, and just knowing I had someone I could talk to was a relief.

Announcing the pregnancy this week this has already helped with the isolation. I can’t express how grateful I’ve been to friends who are parents and have reached out to me. I wasn’t there to support them during their parenthood journey, but they have come out of the woodwork to support me. They’ve helped with practical concerns, as well as the “Am I a terrible person for…” questions (tip: the answer is always “no” along with a healthy dose of sympathy and kindness).

As the first trimester winds down I’m having fewer nauseous days, so I’m hoping that goes down to zero soon. My energy hasn’t picked up yet, but hopefully that will come around soon too. I told my employer recently and informed conferences I’m (still!) giving keynotes at this fall, and everyone has been kind and supportive. The concerns over changes to our life and apprehension around being responsible for a new person are still there, but I’m sure we’ll be fine thanks to some great friends and family.