Ok, so this post is going to need a bit of a disclaimer. I am aware before I even start writing it that it is going to sound a bit depressing. A bit...down on pregnancy, if you will. And I'm not going to lie, the first three months of this pregnancy have not been a happy, glowing, walk in the park. Pregnancy books try to prepare you for this with statements like, "Hey Momma, you may not be feeling your best lately, but that's ok, just think about your precious little baby growing inside!" Blah. Whatever. I know that the first trimester is a different experience for every woman, but I want to share mine with you with no-holds-barred. That being said, I don't want you to get the wrong impression. On ultrasound days and especially at our NT scan, this is all 100% totally worth it. It's just hard to form a coherent thought sometimes to think about it in any profoundly intellectual manner.
That being said, this post is a follow-up post to my previous review of my symptoms in the first trimester. In this post, I want to talk more about the actual emotional and psychological impact of going through such "amazing physical changes." Not to mention, the impact on your relationships with those around you.
While you read, keep in mind some comforting words from my oh-so-wise husband, "You are building a human out of nothing. That is a lot of work. It's bound to take a lot out of you."
Apathy. I've already spoken about the relentless nausea and exhaustion that physically attacked my body. Emotionally that left me in a state of constant apathy. I went from a person who cares too much about everything and everyone, to something who, frankly, didn't give a shit. I wrote a post about this early on, but then became too apathetic to write anymore. But basically, I found that I didn't care as much about engaging in conversations, caring for the people in my life, household chores, or trivial things such as paying bills. I didn't get excited about anything. At all. It wasn't that I was depressed. I just, didn't really care. What was I going to wear today? Who cares. My poor husband is being neglected. Oh well. What did that person just say to me. "....." Yeah, so basically I was checked out of life. This was hard. Hard on people around me. Hard on me to see my personality changing so drastically. And just plain sad. I missed having color, texture, and excitement in life. I mean, I'm sure I did some fun and enjoyable things in the past weeks. I must have. But mostly I remember coming home from work, crawling in bed, and staring off into space. Ugh, this is depressing even to write.
Mood Swings. I don't think I've really had mood swings yet (again, check with my husband for actual statistics here). That is not to say I have been a perfect angel to be around but it's just that I've been too apathetic to get very angry or tearful or have strong emotions in any way. On the flip side, I also haven't cared enough to use courtesy in day-to-day interactions. I would hear myself saying things to my husband that sounded a bit rude or callous, but just couldn't bring myself to word it different. Things like, "I'm sorry I'm just to tired to listen to you right now." Hmmm, looking back, not sure if I even added the "I'm sorry" part. So yeah, while I wasn't an emotional roller coaster, I also wasn't Ms. Manners.
Working I am working full time. I work 40 hours in four days. On my weekday off, Thursdays, I take my dog to get chemotherapy (every Thursday) and try to catch up on paperwork (aka try not to throw up all day). On the weekends...well, I don't know what I did on the weekends. Hibernate, probably. But somehow, I've managed to make it through the first trimester without a single sick day. Looking back, I should have taken one or two, but it's kind of pointless when you know you will be just as sick the following day. Also, the way my job works, if you take off one day, you are automatically behind the next day. Which brings me to my next problem with working. I am completely behind on my paperwork. It was all I could do to see my clients. In between clients, I was completely useless and would play games on my iPhone to distract from sickness or just fall asleep on my desk. And lastly, my clients? I'm pretty sure I used up every little bit of caring and empathy I could muster to continue to be a decent therapist. It's not their fault I decided to grow a human while treating their psychological trauma. So, I'm pretty sure I managed to still help people. Unfortunately, that left me with limited to NO reserve of empathy for the rest of the world. "Oh, you had a hard day? Too bad, my 8-year-old client was molested and I am PREGNANT!" Yep. Wow.
Anxiety I used to go through life with a pretty bad case of Sunday-Night-Anxiety. Induced by worry about the week ahead and fear of the unknown. But, I've mostly gotten that under control. Or so I thought. My lay-around-and-do-nothing attitude promptly invited a return of the Sunday-Night-Anxiety, because I knew that not only had I gotten nothing done around the house over the weekend, but was also facing a desk overflowing with undone paperwork at the office. Yuck.
Relationships. This may be the hardest section to write, because it's the most complex. First of all, friendships. I let a lot of these slide. Especially with people that I'm not as close to...you know, those people that require constant effort to keep the friendship going because the relationship hasn't moved into the old and dependable stage? Not to mention, these are the people you don't tell you are pregnant and you really have nothing else to talk about except being pregnant and also how else are you going to explain being so sick and not drinking any wine?? And then there was the fight with one of my oldest friends (who knew I was pregnant). She was trying to understand how I was feeling, but one day when she called to invite me shopping and I told her I wasn't feeling well, she responded with, "I feel like you don't care about me anymore and never want to see my anymore and you know that I am moving away in 4 months but you really don't seem to care." To which I responded in a flatly un-emotional voice, "I'm sorry you feel that way." Because I was, sorry she felt that way, but I wasn't going to go shopping with her for all the money in the world and couldn't be bothered to explain further. *Sigh* (For future reference, I did drag myself to her house later that day to explain why I'd acted that way.
Which brings me to my husband. There are literally chapters in books and maybe even entire books dedicated to this topic. So I don't know how to summarize it easily for you. I think there is a lot of pressure to have magical moments where you stare into each others' eyes and dream about your baby. Or, he rubs cocoa butter on your still-flat stomach and tells you what a wonderful mother you will be. And sure, we had those moments. At times. But mostly, I didn't see my husband a lot in the past two months, despite living in the same house with him. Poor man waited on me a lot, bringing me food and glasses of water, to which I would respond, "Oh no, I didn't want ICE in this water." I felt bad about neglecting him and I could see how much he depends on me for things like, motivating him to engage in life and get excited about things. We are an US, and when I removed myself from the equation, he retreated to a world of video games and isolation. Poor baby. Toward the end, it got a bit rocky. He began to struggle with my lack of sugary sweet statements and my constant needs. I began to despair that he would get sick of me and toddle off to find someone better (couldn't be too hard at this point, right?). When I tried to express my fears in what I thought was a logical manner, he ended up hurt and angry since his entire life had been dedicated to keeping me happy for the course of these last 6.5 weeks (that's how long HE says it was bad for). I cried myself to sleep that night and wondered passively how to fix it, but wasn't sure I cared enough to do much about it. And then? The next morning, a miracle happened. I woke up feeling better!! We had wonderful, sweet morning sex (that I could actually feel), we held each other and talked about what we had been through. We laughed about our fight and talked it out and he validated what I'd been going through (oh what a saint). And then we proceeded to spend the weekend together running errands and catching up on life and just, "having fun." All weekend he kept saying "Ohhhh I missed you so much" and "I am SO happy to have my wife back." So yeah, I guess there is no way of saying what a pregnancy will do to your marriage. My guess it that it is a complicated regression equation which is affected by the severity of your pregnancy symptoms, your own personality, your significant other's personality, the problems you had PRIOR to pregnancy, and the strength of your overall relationship. All I can say is, I hope it gets better from here. In fact, I'm pretty positive it will get better from here.
By the way, when you google First Trimester on Google Images, you get images like this:
But you really should get more images like this:
So that's that. After writing all of this, I really feel like I should circle back to my original disclaimer. There have been great moments too (I've tried to capture most of them on this blog) and this is only my own specific experience. I don't know if I'm just a total wimp or if more women just don't talk openly about what it was like for them. I do think there were some factors that contributed to making this harder for me. Namely, the results of my bloodwork consistently showing a very strong level of hormones in my body. And also, my job sapping whatever emotional empathy and strength that I had left. But I think, in the long run, you know why you are going through this, and you have that unconsciously at the back of your mind and that just carries you through. Basically, you are willing to shut systems down in order to allow your body to just do its job of making a baby. At least, that's what I did.
I'd love to hear from other women. What was it like for YOU? Am I just a complete baby or did you have similar moments? And, if you haven't gone through this yet, I just hope that reading this will prepare you for the reality of what could be.
p.s. I went to a Baby Shower today. It was filled with other pregnant women and new mothers. All of them gave me similar comments...."Oh no, I NEVER felt sick at all!"..."Oh yeah, I think I threw up one time."...."Wait, you actually vomited?"....and...."Are you really pregnant? How far along? Like one month? You don't look pregnant at all!" Thanks ladies.