WE'RE HAVING A BABY!
Holy moly, am I ecstatic to reveal the gigantic yet teeny tiny secret that we've been keeping for 16 weeks now. Most of you now know from Instagram that Jeff and I have a little one coming February 1st! #babyganoush
Pregnancy is such a gift, one that unfortunately doesn't come easily for everyone. I've watched friends near and far struggle with fertility. My heart goes out to all the mamas and mamas-to-be out there on their own journey to conceiving!
We started trying about a month after we got married in our living room. We'd rescheduled our wedding from the original March 28, 2020 date to September of 2021 and we knew we didn't want to wait a year and a half to start trying to get pregnant.
I grew up babysitting every weekend and working each summer as a camp counselor, always dreaming of one day becoming a mom. I still can't believe that in six months, I'll be one!
In today's post, I'm getting into the nitty gritty details of the first trimester, from my physical and mental symptoms to cravings, aversions, prenatal vitamins, exercise, books, and product favorites. I hope this content is helpful for all the mamas-to-be out there!
How We Found Out
I could tell I was pregnant pretty much right away, long before we knew for sure. My body started feeling really different (hello, sore boobs) and my hormones were through the roof. I told my mom multiple times on the phone that I was sure I was pregnant!
I took a pregnancy test on a Friday, a few days before my missed period. It was negative, but I knew my body and still had a huge hunch that I was indeed pregnant. I waited until Monday when I was due for my period and took another test. It was positive, and I screamed! Jeff ran upstairs and we jumped up and down. It was the sweetest moment ever seeing that huge smile on his face!
We of course had no idea how long it would take to get pregnant and were expecting to have to try for months. After the heartache of canceling our wedding two weeks before the date and dealing with temporarily closing the restaurants, I can't tell you how grateful we were for this wonderful news.
The first trimester was the most unproductive, lethargic, emotional, and mentally taxing few months of my life. I had no desire to cook, work, or really do anything except lay on the couch and eat bagels.
I felt an aversion to social media and wanted nothing to do with this blog. (You may recall me not posting many recipes a couple months ago!) I had to keep reminding myself what a gift pregnancy is and that these feelings weren't forever.
It's so wild going from being a normal woman to a pregnant one and watching your mind and body change exponentially by the day. I knew I'd be tired and nauseous, but it's really tough to imagine the extent of it until you experience it for yourself.
I have friends who loved pregnancy and had zero symptoms and friends who were very sick their entire pregnancy. Everyone is so different. I'd say I'm somewhere in the middle---while I had a pretty rough first trimester, the easy second trimester has been a joy so far!
At about four weeks pregnant, just a couple weeks after we found out, I was hit with a spell of depression. At a time when I wanted nothing more than to be excited about our sweet pea, I was overwhelmed with sadness. I'd wake up each day crying and feeling crazy anxious, wanting each day to end before it began. I wrote down thinking, "How can I feel this low after finding out something so amazing only a week ago?”
I could barely get out of bed, let alone work. I felt worthless and hopeless. Thankfully these feelings only lasted a couple weeks. Hormones, I tell ya! By about week 10, I was feeling far better mentally, albeit still pretty gross physically.
If I could describe the first trimester in one word, it would be "icky." I only threw up a handful of times---it wasn't nausea that plagued me each day. Rather, it was this overall feeling of malaise, like I was sick all the time. I just felt gross. Also my boobs were so achey and sore in the beginning that I couldn't even walk down the stairs without a bra holding them in place!
Tired doesn't begin to describe the exhaustion, another textbook pregnancy system that I underestimated. I vividly remember one weekend when I barely left my bed the entire time. I just had zero energy.
I did almost all of my work in bed. Luckily my partner at Alchemy has two little ones so he was super understanding of my limitations. It was also a bonus that everyone was working from home anyway!
Feeling so lousy and unlike myself physically didn't help me mentally, either. I was overwhelmed by all the new feelings and desperate to feel like myself again.
The worst symptom I experienced physically aside from the malaise was GI distress including bloating, burping and indigestion. It started around week 8 but came on hot and heavy in weeks 10-12. This was not something I saw coming.
It was discomfort unlike anything I'd ever experienced before, with constant "gurgling" and stomach unease. It hit the worst later in the day and was especially bad if I ate a larger meal. Kind of like a migraine, I had to go to sleep to relieve the pain.
I seriously looked 20 weeks pregnant in my second month of pregnancy, which is why a lot of you thought you saw a bump so early on! I'm so glad that the GI stuff mostly faded a couple weeks into the second trimester.
I did experience some insomnia in the early weeks as well, but that didn't last long. Also endless gagging every time I brushed my teeth!
Symptoms by Week
- Weeks 4-6: exhaustion, bloating, sore boobs, peeing a lot, insomnia, nausea, anxiety, depression, zero motivation
- Weeks 6-8: vomiting began week 7 but didn't last, must eat Cheerios upon waking or else I feel terrible, extremely tired, teary, very bloated
- Weeks 8-10: feeling really crappy at night, trouble sleeping, very little energy
- Weeks 10-12: feeling exponentially better overall but still scarily unmotivated to work, headaches starting, horrible indigestion and bloat plus gurgling in stomach
Cravings, Eating Meat, and Listening to Your Body
Dairy and carbs defined my first twelve weeks. I ate things I hadn't eaten in years, like cottage cheese. I wanted nothing to do with cooking so we ate a ton of takeout early on. I've never been more grateful for my intuitive eating journey because pregnancy is the ultimate test of listening to your body.
Growing a human is no easy feat. It requires endless amounts of energy, so it makes perfect sense to me that in the beginning when the most major development is happening, you crave tons of carbs. Even though what I wanted felt foreign, I knew all I had to do was listen to my body.
In the early weeks, my diet was pretty much cereal (I should have stock in Cheerios), bagels, plain oatmeal with blueberries, cottage cheese with crackers, and pizza. I kept Cheerios by my bed because I'd feel sick if I didn't eat them immediately upon waking.
As the weeks went on, I craved tons of fruit, yogurt, sushi, grilled cheese and anything with cheese really, tomato soup, and matzo ball soup.
The dairy cravings stopped around week 9 and my diet started to normalize a bit. By week 12 my strongest craving was grape leaves dipped in hummus. So random! Anything acidic was amazing.
The most surprising craving I've had and still have is for meat, but this didn't start until a couple months in. We're talking specifically chicken soup, corned beef, pepperoni pizza, Trader Joe's deli turkey, and bacon.
Let me begin by saying I don't believe that cravings are a sign of a deficiency. I eat plenty of protein and iron. I take a prenatal. What I do believe is that now more than ever, I'm listening to what my body wants more than my mind and eating without fear of breaking a label or identity. My desire to satiate my body is stronger than my guilt over "betraying" vegetarianism.
I love and believe in the power of plants, and eating meat sometimes doesn't change that. I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel uneasy at first, like I was being inauthentic. The reality is that not listening to my body would be inauthentic. And while it's not the first time I've wanted to try meat again, prior to being pregnant, I felt guilty. Like I was making some drastic change.
It's crazy to build a brand around something and then feel like you're betraying your foundation. My mantra has always been that we know our bodies best. I started my blog in 2011 when I was vegan. I developed an unhealthy obsession with health that took years to repair. Time passed and I incorporated foods back into my diet, including fish, eggs, and dairy, but never meat. I boxed myself into this space that felt safe.
I grew up as a very "normal" eater. We ate a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veggies but we were never without a yummy homemade dessert at night or bagels on the weekend. We celebrated food and it was never a point of stress for me until college. Thanks, Mom and Dad!
I view my food journey as a cyclical one. Now I'm back to being the carefree eater I was growing up, not overanalyzing what I don't eat but rather celebrating the joy of life that is good food. To eat one way solely because you've done it for so long is not a valid reason. We as humans were made to evolve. And here I am, a woman evolving.
Meat hasn't dominated my diet by any means and I don't plan on it being a large part of my diet post pregnancy; but that's for my body to decide when the time comes. It feels freeing being honest with you all about this transition and not "hiding" the fact that ate corned beef. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not violating any rules here. The most important thing to me is to be true to myself and hope that in sharing my journey, I can inspire you to do the same.
Let me tell you...it was so tough writing Lovely Meals Lately in those early weeks when my diet looked like that of a five year old. I had to go through old photos just to have enough content! Too funny.
I wanted nothing to do with many foods I normally love, like coffee, eggs, peanut butter, and vegetables. And there's no forcing it! I had to surrender to what my body was saying and quiet any guilt I felt for not wanting nourishing foods.
In the early weeks, I was averse to sweets and anything savory for breakfast. I normally have dessert every night but I wanted nothing to do with it. (I'm back to loving sweets now, don't worry!)
By week 10, I wanted nothing to do with water. I only wanted orange juice. I couldn't drink water unless it had tons of ice and lemon in it.
I take Garden of Life Raw Prenatal (I get the 180 count that lasts two months) and Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA since the prenatal doesn't contain DHA. I only take one of the DHA pills a day (each pill has 240mg) since that meets the 200mg daily DHA requirement. Nordic Naturals also has a Vegan Prenatal DHA if that's of interest!
I started taking the prenatal about a month before we started trying. The only thing I hate is that the prenatal is three big pills, which is common. I really struggled with them in the first trimester, but they're not as icky to me now.
Exercise During Pregnancy
I'll be honest...I didn't move very much in the beginning. Jeff and I would go for short walks which would usually end in me whining that I can barely move and complaining that I'm a bump on a log and him offering to carry me. LOL.
When I had energy, I would do a Butcher Shop reformer pilates class. The studio has been a godsend before and after finding out I was pregnant. I've been taking classes there for almost two years now and I just adore how challenging and functional the workout is.
It makes me feel so much stronger, the instructors are also amazing, and it's easily adaptable. As I get further along, I'll stop doing abs and replace those moves with arm and leg exercises. I've been going to Butcher Shop three times a week for my formal "workouts" and then walking on the other days.
I also adore Unmeasured, my best friend Simi's virtual barre classes. They're like a hug for my body and I love to do a couple classes each week! I especially appreciate that I can do them anytime from home. Simi's voice is so soothing too, so it's like a mental release.
I honestly can't imagine going to the gym these days and creating my own workouts. I just don't have the mental energy. Before I got pregnant when gyms were closed, I was running outside a lot and I loved that. These days, I have zero desire to run so I haven't in months.
I do my best to go on at least one long-ish walk each day to keep my bod moving.
I've had a fair amount of experience with babies and kids, so I knew going into pregnancy that I wouldn't be reading a bunch of parenting books. I've learned that pregnancy is like an open invitation for the world to tell you what to do and not do. I've been firm from the get-go that I want to be a chill pregnant person, which means doing my best to drown out the noise.
I did read Bringing Up Bebe, which is more of a story with research and advice on french parenting versus a dry "this is how to raise a baby" book. It was super entertaining and I really enjoyed it! It's aligned with how I want to parent and my goal to raise a patient, explorative child that doesn't think he/she is the center of the universe.
The only part I didn't like was the diet talk, but that was easy to tune out.
More Pregnancy Favorites
- Comfiest Bras: These are seriously the only bras I wear now. I actually bought them months before I got pregnant simply because I wanted something comfy to wear each day, and I have not put on a normal bra since. Bonus points that they'll function for nursing later on!
- Align leggings: I've been living in these for years and can't wear any other leggings now because these are so insanely comfortable. Now that my belly is growing, they're basically the only bottoms I wear. I found sizing up one size works perfectly and I know I'll still wear them tons post pregnancy!
- Maternity jeans: I've been so bloated that my bottoms stopped fitting really early on. I love how these $29.99 Target black distressed side panel skinny jeans fit, and they're really comfy. They're definitely low-rise, but I find them more comfortable than the kind that goes over the belly. I also have them in a light jean wash. Go with your pre-pregnancy size. If you want an investment pair and are okay with over the belly, these Madewell ones are super cute (I sized down and got one size down from my pre-pregnancy size per the reviews as they run big). I found this pair in black on sale!
- Mother's Special Blend Toning Oil: No idea if this works, but I put it on my belly after I shower each night and it feels and smells great!
- RenewLife Heartburn Stop: A great natural alternative to Tum's when heartburn comes on strong.
- Ovia Apps: I used Ovia Fertility to track ovulation we were trying to get pregnant and then switched to Ovia Pregnancy once I knew I was pregnant. I've loved them both!
The second trimester has been an absolute walk in the park compared to the first. I finally can drink hot coffee, eat the foods I love, and feel generally more like myself. More on that in the next post!
My best advice for all the pregnant women out there is to listen to your body, make your own decisions, and tune out the noise that is everything else. There's a lot of unsolicited advice that comes along with being pregnant. Remember that you were made to do this!
Questions? Comments? Want more personal content? Please let me know in the comments section!