This is a continuation of my post on the lead up to getting pregnant which you can read here. It’s sort of a prequel to my 37 weeks pregnant – everything hurts and I’m dying post.
The first twelve weeks of pregnancy are weird. Your body is changing and you’re feeling strange and you’re not supposed to tell anybody. If you read my last post you know that I told my husband, my mother and my aunt right away. I also rang my only sibling – my little sister – who was out shopping at the time and was screeching in the aisles. I let my two cousins (my aunty’s kids) know straight away too seeing as I grew up with them and one of them was pregnant herself. My husband let his parents know almost immediately. I know it’s a dangerous time to tell anybody when you’re so early on because so many things can go wrong but I think that I would want my immediate family to know that and help me through it, if that were the case! Thankfully it wasn’t.
It felt very odd to get that positive test, tell everybody and a few days later be back in work like nothing had changed. I didn’t have symptoms right away so I felt completely normal apart from the neon sign glowing in my head reminding me that I was pregnant again and again. I was working in the airport at the time and some of my shifts started at 4am meaning my daily diet usually consisted of about three coffees and a Red Bull – before noon. My first concern when finding out I was pregnant was how the hell I was supposed to live without my caffeine.
Now, as with everything, there are conflicting reports on how dangerous caffeine is during pregnancy. Some claim a cup or two of coffee is fine, others swear you should avoid it at all costs, just to be safe, particularly in the first trimester (This is a trend with almost everything!). Obviously Red Bull and other intensely caffeinated drinks are a no-go at any stage. With it being my first pregnancy and feeling completely clueless about everything, every time I read that something might possibly, even with a 1% chance, be dangerous, I immediately cut it out of diet. So coffee was gone and I wondered how I would stay away for my hour-long trip to the airport and then home again with very little sleep. I immediately bought a jar of decaf in the hopes of tricking myself. It tastes like muck and this caffeine-addict was not fooled. I didn’t get that familiar wake-up kick from it.
Luckily for me, within a week or two of finding out I was pregnant, I got my first real symptom. Not a craving, but an aversion. I could not stand the smell of coffee. It turned my stomach and immediately made me feel nauseous, even merely walking past a cafe. If a customer came to the counter with a coffee in hand, I would be holding my breath until they left. Funnily enough, at thirty nine weeks now, I still feel the exact same! I cannot stand the smell and have even tried drinking a mug of coffee but can’t. It tastes awful to me! Others assure me that the second your baby is born, your aversions and cravings disappear but it’s been so long now, it’s hard to imagine enjoying a big, strong mug of Nescafe ever again.
My other early symptom was extreme fatigue. I was tired all of the time from my crazy airport hours anyway but this was another level altogether. Then came the nausea and loss of appetite. I was so lucky that I wasn’t physically throwing up but I had near-constant nausea. I had absolutely no desire to eat whatsoever. I was never hungry. The idea of food turned my stomach. Yet at the same time, I knew I was growing a baby inside me and I needed to nourish it. The best I could do was eat the blandest food I could find; crackers, mashed potato, chips, veggie chicken nuggets… Not exactly my five a day but honestly, when you experience nausea like that it is next to impossible to eat!
I suffer from migraines on occasion. I am lucky that it is not too regular, maybe one every few months but during my first trimester, I did experience one. My sister had some friends over, they were drinking and they kept my awake until crazy o’clock in the morning. A migraine came on and I lay in bed with a cold facecloth over my face trying to relieve the pain. Of course, during the first twelve weeks they don’t recommend you take any painkillers at all! I am not one for tablets anyway but I always take some Paracetamol when I get a migraine. As I wasn’t allowed, I tossed and turned in agony for a few hours, drifting in and out of sleep before eventually getting up and throwing up. I have never vomited with a migraine before so I don’t know if I can attribute it to that but it was the only time I physically got sick during the first trimester!
Because I had no idea that I was pregnant before taking the test, I also had no idea when it was that I got pregnant or how far along I really was. The test had said two to three weeks but they say you should add two weeks on to that as pregnancy is generally dated from the time of your last menstrual period (LMP) and you usually get pregnant about two weeks after that, when you are ovulating. My pregnant cousin told me about the early scans you can get at Ultrasound Dimensions in Blackrock. These are private and you have to pay for them but I was so anxious to find out more information about my baby that I didn’t hesitate for a second. Anything to make it feel more real.
I booked in for a scan about a week after finding out that I was pregnant. The clinic and staff there were so lovely. I cannot recommend them enough! We ended up going back to find out the sex at 18 weeks, and again for a 3D/4D scan at 28 weeks. At the first scan, they told me that based on the size, the baby was about seven weeks and five days old. There wasn’t much to see because at that stage the baby is about the size of a blueberry but we could see the flicker of a heartbeat and we were told all looked good. They even gave us a picture to take home, which to this day is hard to make out but at the time was the most glorious thing we ever saw.
Even though it was still very early days, that scan cemented everything as a little more real so I told a friend or two about my pregnancy. My husband and I started to plan how we would announce it.
When I was eight weeks pregnant, I transferred to a job closer to my house. This was purely coincidental. I had been working in the airport for almost a year and the hours were really killing me. In mid July, one of my aunties got married and at the wedding reception, I received a phone call offering me the new job. This was in and around the same time that I had my last period. Although the new location was absolutely ideal for me especially considering I was pregnant and it was ten minutes from my house and didn’t involve those hours, it was completely unplanned. By the time things were official and because my new manager insisted I give a month’s notice at my last position as it is hard to get airport staff, I was eight weeks pregnant starting. I was exhausted and now I was stressed about starting a new job and telling them I was pregnant straight away.
At ten and a half weeks, my mam was retiring from her job and having a big retirement party in town to celebrate. Obviously there were a lot of her colleagues attending but a lot of my dad’s family were coming along too including my last living grandparent, my gran. I don’t see her too regularly so although we were a week and a half shy of twelve weeks, I knew it was my opportunity to tell her face-to-face.
The day before that, I let my manager know at work because I was afraid that announcing it at a party might see it getting leaked on social media and I didn’t want my job finding out that way.
My gran was delighted. Out of twenty two (I think) grandkids, I am the first to give her a great-grandchild! A lot of my dad’s brothers and sisters were there too so they all found out that night as well.
At twelve weeks and one day, I had my first hospital visit. I chose to attend the National Maternity Hospital on Holles Street because that is where my pregnant cousin was going and where she had her first child too. I joined the queue of pregnant women ranging in size, trying to stick my belly out as much as possible to fit in. Of course, at the time I felt huge but looking back now, it’s laughable. They gave me a chart, a massive pack of information and took bloods, urine, blood pressure and gave me a mini scan that I wasn’t expecting. My cousin – who was only about six or seven weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy – told me that at the 12 week visit, they only listen to the heartbeat with a Doppler but we got a (very quick) scan and at this stage, we could actually see the shape of a baby. My husband and I were both a little overwhelmed by this, particularly because we weren’t expecting it. We left absolutely elated.
Although you can technically tell people at twelve weeks, I wanted to wait that one extra day to get the all clear from the hospital before announcing it. We stopped for a nice lunch and then went home for a little photoshoot. The picture at the top of this post is the photo we used to announce our pregnancy to friends and family on social media. Afterwards, my husband told me that he Photoshopped my bump to look bigger and more pregnant (and looking at it, I think it’s quite obvious) but I didn’t know until after it was shared everywhere!
Apart from the extreme tiredness and awful nausea, the only other real symptom I had during the first trimester was bad skin. My usual normal skin became very oily and I had some very bad breakouts, particularly on my chin and jaw line, which are usually hormone-related!
Week 13 I woke up feeling like a new person. No nausea. A burst of energy. They say the second trimester doesn’t technically start until week 15 but I started feeling better immediately after the twelfth week. If you’re in your first trimester yourself, don’t fret, it gets better!
If you are or have been pregnant, let me know about your experience about the early days and how you let people know! I’m nosy and love a good story!
Nothing to declare. I am not affiliated with Ultrasound Dimensions in any way. They do not know that I mentioned them in this post. No affiliate links were used.