Pregnancy Update: The First Trimester
Happy New Year! 2021 was a tough year that turned out to bless us beyond measure.
I am 12.5 weeks pregnant, and therefore, rounding out the first trimester. I am finally feeling more like myself, despite a little cold that decided to pop up, uninvited, over the past couple of days. The past six weeks have been interesting, to say the least, and there have definitely been times where I felt like someone else was inhabiting my body…I guess they are. Anyways, here’s a little run down of life during the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Like I wrote in my last post, I found out nine days after my transfer date that we were PREGNANT! Although it was the most exciting day EVER, I was also terrified. I was so scared that something would go wrong, that somewhere along the road we would get bad news, that it wasn’t really real…all of the things. That was what I was used to at that point! Bad news call after bad news call. For weeks, and honestly still today, I keep waiting for something to go wrong. I know it’s an awful mindset to have, but I truly feel traumatized from everything we’ve been through so far. Luckily, things have gone extremely smoothly so far.
After we confirmed my at-home test by a beta pregnancy test at the fertility clinic, I had a second test in the office a couple of days later, which re-confirmed that I was truly pregnant. Then, we had to wait eight days for our first ultrasound. Those first couple weeks are a complete mind-fuck, because you are literally waiting on the edge of your seat for something to go wrong. Hats off to any IVF patient that can get through those first couple of weeks with a completely positive mindset and worry-free. You are a superhuman. I remember going in to coach classes and taking a million bathroom breaks, thinking for sure there would be blood. Plus, one of the symptoms of pregnancy early on is light to moderate cramping that can feel like period cramps, which CAN also be a sign of miscarriage, so every cramp sent me into a panic. Our little bean continued to hang on, though.
We made it to the first ultrasound on November 13th. The ultrasounds at the fertility center are all transvaginal, since it’s still super early. In fact, it’s so early (I was 5 weeks + 3 days), that all they are looking for at that point is a yolk sac and gestational sac. The embryo at this point is still not much more than a tiny white dot inside the yolk sac. However, the presence of both, which we were able to see on the ultrasound screen that day, is a really good sign, and meant that things were headed in the right direction. Everything was measuring on track, and we were able to schedule our second ultrasound for 10 days later.
At the six week mark, literally the morning I woke up, I had instant nausea. The past couple weeks I felt zero nausea, aversions, cravings, etc. Then, a switch was flipped and it’s like my life was FLOODED with all the symptoms at once. I still, to this day, haven’t thrown up once, but I felt AWFUL. Shawn even told me that maybe I should just throw up, but I was also nervous that if I threw up once, I wouldn’t be able to stop, and I despise getting sick. So I dealt with it, but I’m telling you, everything sounded disgusting. Forget my healthy diet and all the things I was planning to eat to have the most perfect, nutrient packed pregnancy. I had eaten spinach almost every single morning with breakfast for years, and starting that day, I couldn’t even look at the stuff.
My biggest aversions were pretty much all vegetables. It made me so sad, because I love vegetables, and I eat salads all the time. I felt like I would insta-vomit if I looked at a salad for weeks. I also was incredibly sensitive to smells. Shawn would order these super spicy chicken fingers from a local restaurant, and every time he opened the box to eat, my stomach did like five somersaults. They smelled AWFUL. Even his cologne sent my stomach into a spin. We went out shopping one morning, and this guy decides to cover himself in cologne. He had to change shirts before we left because I couldn’t handle it. I think this is why I couldn’t cook much the first few weeks, because even the thought of the smells in the kitchen would make me sick.
To get some vegetables in, I was able to eat a lot of soup. Although I love homemade soup, the first couple of weeks I couldn’t bring myself to cook anything, so I picked up chicken soup from Whole Foods often. I could also order some veggies from local restaurants, since I didn’t have to smell them cooking. Basically, pregnancy is weird. I felt like my body was totally rejecting me at that point. The one thing I never really slipped up on was protein. I was never aversive to meat or eggs, and for SOME odd reason, I had a craving for cows milk. I really don’t drink milk much at all, but if I use it, it will almost always be almond milk or cashew milk, definitely not full dairy cows milk. I ended up buying grass-fed organic to feel better about myself, but I couldn’t get enough milk for a few weeks. On another note, the milk craving came as a result of a cereal craving, which I satisfied by purchasing a 4 box sampler of Magic Spoon cereal, and y’all, I am telling you, this cereal is a gift from God. It is SO good. My favorites are the fruity one (tastes like legit fruit loops) and peanut butter, but truthfully, all of them are fantastic. The cereal also contains no added sugar, packs 13 grams of protein per serving, and is free of grains, dyes, and all the artificial stuff. That means you don’t have to feel the sugar crash you would from normal cereals, and it leaves you feeling satisfied rather than hungry five minutes later. Here’s the website.
I made it through those first few weeks by napping a TON, trying to stay active every day- working out seemed to tone the nausea back to some degree, and ordering a ton of my meals. The nausea started out mainly in the mornings, progressed to on and off throughout the entire day, and then towards the end of it, it became an evening thing, where I’d lay in bed praying I wouldn’t have to get up to puke my brains out. I, personally, chose not to use any drugs or remedies other than napping when I felt bad, attempting to eat smaller meals so that larger ones didn’t upset my stomach, and exercising daily even if it was only a short walk. Again, I never threw up, so I also didn’t consider my nausea too terribly bad, even though it sucked, a lot.
We went in for our second ultrasound on November 23rd, six weeks + six days pregnant. During this ultrasound, the doctor was looking for a heartbeat. Baby truly just looks like a bean at this point. When the ultrasound started, baby bean popped up on the screen and my doctor pointed out a little flickering that showed the tiny heart beating. Then he turned up the sound and we got to hear it pumping! The first heart rate was 132 beats per minute (average is anywhere from 100 to 170). We were ecstatic! Another good sign! Baby bean measured in at a whole centimeter long and was measuring right on track again. We got to let out another sigh of relief, and scheduled our final ultrasound with the fertility clinic for nine days later. After the third ultrasound, we would officially “graduate” from fertility treatment and move on to regular OB care.
That next few days was probably the worst period of nausea that I had. I guess it’s appropriate, because your body is literally trying to mold a human from scratch, and baby is growing and developing leaps and bounds during those first few weeks. I continued to go into work to coach classes, which, honestly, made me feel better to move around and chat with members. I continued to exercise almost daily, with maybe one full rest day per week, and tried to sneak in nutrients where I could. Smoothies also became a lifesaver at this point, since you can hide all kinds of stuff inside them. Occasionally, they would make me nauseous as well, but many days I found myself trying to push through for the good of the baby.
On December 2nd, we made it to the third ultrasound (8 weeks + 1 day). The coolest thing was getting to see baby bean pop up on the screen and literally shock us by how much they had grown. It was amazing. It seemed like each time, the bean was starting to look more and more like a baby than a bean. The heartbeat this time was SUPER fast at 170, to which my doctor responded that bean was in there doing a CrossFit workout. Yet again, even though sometimes I had my doubts, I had to admit, there was no denying that there was actually a baby growing in there.
We had made the decision at this point that we would be moving back to Georgia around Christmastime. Shawn had received a promotion at work that would allow him to work from home a lot of the time with occasional travel back and forth from job sites for short periods of time. Since we still owned a home back in Georgia, my family lives close by, and both of us have friends and connections in the area, it just made the most sense to go back for now. Dreams of moving to Colorado will just have to be postponed for the time being.
I booked an appointment with an OB in Georgia that was recommended by my Mom, who is a NICU nurse and obviously knows a little about pregnancy, childbirth, and babies. Since we were set to get back into town right around Christmas, we couldn’t get an appointment until December 27th. After letting my doctor in California know about our move, he offered to do one more scan with us, if we wanted, to lessen the time between appointments (since otherwise it would be almost four weeks before we could check in on the bean). For my own peace of mind (and knowing how much anxiety I would allow to build up over four weeks), I ended up taking him up on the offer, and we got to go back to the fertility clinic one last time on December 14th.
At nine weeks and six days, baby bean clearly looked like a baby (that’s the ultrasound we used in our announcement). Growth was looking perfect, measuring right at ten weeks. Heartbeat was strong at 171 (typical CrossFit baby). Plus, we got to see the arms and legs for the first time. Even though, each time between appointments, doubts would fill my head about whether or not I was actually pregnant, it was incredibly reassuring to see the growth and hear that strong heartbeat during each ultrasound. It was pretty amazing.
Thankfully, by the time we started our move on December 16th (10 weeks + 1 day), my nausea had basically subsided completely. I still had occasional feelings of queasiness, still couldn’t drink coffee, and would feel grossed out by certain foods; but overall, I was feeling much better. That made it significantly easier to get through the long drives. That first day we drove from Concord, California to visit Shawn’s parents in Arizona (a 10 hour drive), and it wasn’t bad at all. We stopped frequently (I have to pee ALL the time), I drank tons of fluids, and we switched drivers every 2-3 hours. Before we knew it, we were at his parent’s house celebrating Christmas.
We had planned to tell all of the parents the sex of the baby at Christmastime. We had picked a name already. Remember, we’ve had 2.5 years to think about it. I had these ornaments made from an Etsy shop with the color (blue or pink) and the name printed across it. The first night in Arizona, we went to dinner with Shawn’s parents and presented them with their gift.
It was a super cool moment, because they were the first people that we got to tell that we were having a BOY. I kept this secret on LOCK, you guys. I didn’t tell anyone. It was so rewarding to finally let the cat out of the bag. Plus, the name Patrick, is after Shawn’s dad, so it was incredibly special to show him that and to see his reaction, which was priceless. He was so excited that he couldn’t even eat his dinner, and it was the sweetest thing. Patrick is also special to my family, because I was named after my Mamaw (my Mom’s mom), Patricia. Had I been a boy instead of a girl, my Mom was going to name me Patrick in her honor, so I feel like it’s also pays homage to my Mamaw as well. James was just a name I liked that I thought fit well next to Patrick. All-in-all, we really love his name.
Once we made it back to Georgia a few days later, we were able to give both of my parents an ornament as well. I think everyone is pretty excited to meet our sweet Patrick James, but I also think they are just excited that we are having a baby regardless of the sex. It was a long road to get here!
I finally made my pregnancy announcement on Christmas Eve, and I was overwhelmed with all the love and support that people sent out to me. It was incredible to hear from people who followed our story, who were rooting for us, and from those who I hadn’t heard from in ages. It was really, really special. Patrick is going to be one LOVED little guy. Check out bump week 7 vs bump week 12. The bloat is real! And goodbye abs :(. All worth it to meet our little one in July.
We rounded out the first trimester with my first OB appointment with Dr. Watkins in Lawrenceville (she works at my Mom’s hospital). We got to do an ultrasound (on the belly this time!) and when he popped up on the screen my mouth literally dropped! He looked so different already! I could see his little nose coming in, and he was moving around like crazy! He would kick off the walls of the uterus and float back down, and do it over and over while we were watching. It’s like he decided to put on a little show for us. It was so incredibly awesome to see his little arms and legs, and all the growth that had occurred in just two weeks. Heart rate was strong around 168, which she said was totally expected since he was so active in there at the time. I think we’re going to have an athlete on our hands.
I also met with our OB for the first time, and I actually really liked her! She answered all of our questions very thoroughly and I liked everything she had to say. She wasn’t negative about my exercising/lifting at all, and made me feel good about continuing to stay so fit. We talked about a few things that I would need to look out for as the pregnancy progressed that could do long term damage to my pelvic floor, that I agreed with, and will be monitoring and staying conscious of over the course of the pregnancy. Otherwise, she seemed very on board with me continuing to exercise in the same ways with modifications as they become necessary. We will continue to see her every 4 weeks through week 28, then we will switch to every 2 weeks. Since we are IVF patients, instead of waiting until week 36 to begin weekly visits, we start them at 32 weeks, just to be safe.
So now we wait! My next appointment is on January 24 (my birthday!) to check on Patrick’s heartbeat (no ultrasound this time, unfortunately). I’ve been so spoiled with all the ultrasounds to this point, that it’s going to feel like torture to wait eight whole weeks to see him again, but I guess that’s life. In the meantime, now that I feel more like myself again, I’ll be getting back to cooking, eating all the nutritious meals again, and continuing to work out to keep that baby as healthy as I possibly can!
2022 is going to be our best year yet!