Now before you read further I want you to know that I truly am ecstatic to FINALLY be pregnant, especially after our struggle to get to this point. http://nicoledarabi.com/infertility/
And because you’re reading this blog, it means that I actually found a little bit of time where I don’t feel like I’m rocking in a boat that’s drifted out to sea. Isn’t that what morning sickness (let’s be real “all day sickness”) feels like? Or maybe it’s more comparable to the worst hangover you’ve ever had x1000, minus enjoying the wild party the night before, plus seasickness? Yeah, that’s more like it!
Realistically speaking I had no expectations going into this whole pregnancy thing. I’ve never been pregnant before so what the heck do I know? All I have to go off is my friends’ experiences and stories that have scared me half to death simultaneously making me laugh so hard that I cried (and maybe peed a little.) A few weeks in and I can already tell the stories are piling up!
Week 1-4. I found out that I was pregnant at 4 weeks and that makes for a long haul! I was jumping up and down for joy. I had so much energy, no food aversions, my workouts were still great, I was eating fresh limes and steak like they were going outta style, and then wham! Week 5 hit and holy hell I was in for it!
Week 5. I actually surprised myself by making it to the gym almost every morning during that week. (Full disclosure; I wasn’t my usual 6am perky self but hey I was there.) My workouts slowed waaaaay down. This new little creature growing inside me was sucking the life out of me, and I was nervous to impede the embryo from really sticking in there. (FYI it’s totally okay to workout while pregnant, I’m just being overdramatic and cautious given our long journey to finally becoming pregnant.) During my last workout at the gym that particular week, I felt slight nausea coming on. My eyes opened wide, my heart started palpating even faster than it already was, and I was certain I was going to loose my breakfast in front of my morning workout crew. Of course, OF COURSE my gym is two stories and the only bathroom is downstairs, so very far away from where I was. I flew down the stairs faster than Usain Bolt praying to all that is holy that I could make it to the bathroom without completely embarrassing myself in front of a packed gym. Luckily I made it – only to dry heave for what seamed like an eternity. What’s THAT about? After that lovely experience, I decided maybe I should just chill at home for a few days until I get this first trimester thing under control before heading back to the gym. Riiiiight. The next morning I awoke to what ended up being the worst migraine I’ve ever had which lasted 4 days and 4 nights. The proactive, type-A persona sitting on my right shoulder reminded me that I was such a looser and a complete couch potato. Didly squat was getting accomplished. I argued with her: “It’s okay Nicole. You’re making a human. That’s a tough job and you’ll be feeling better soon enough.” I rationally explained to myself that I had to let go of the idea that I was going to workout and eat my “normal perfectly balanced meals” during the first trimester. For someone who is so dialed in with fitness and nutrition, it’s a hard pill to swallow but again, I had no expectations so I just rolled with the punches exactly as I would tell my clients. Gulp.
Hello Week 6! Migraine was gone. Hallelujah! I was basically living off of my Mother-in-laws Persian rice, cantaloupe, popcorn, rice, crackers, and ginger ale. Isn’t that the picture of health? Not. It was the best I could muster. On Valentines Day we had our first ultrasound appointment scheduled, which is one of the perks of being a “geriatric pregnancy.” Could they come up with a nicer name? That is SERIOUSLY what they call it. For REALS. My husband came home from a meeting to pick me up at the house. The entire way to OHSU I adopted a new mantra: “Don’t throw up in his new car, you can make it. Don’t throw up in his new car, you can make it. Don’t throw up in his new car, you can make it.” I tried a preggie pop” (which btw work incredibly well) maybe not so well this time but in general, they’re great! We pulled into the parking garage and had to take the elevator up to the main floor upon which time we spot yet another set of elevators to take us up to the 10th floor. Noooooooo. “Just get to the 10th floor, you can make it. Just get to the 10th floor, you can make it.” Before I even stepped foot into the elevator I turned right back around looking frantically for bathrooms, garbage cans, ANYTHING! I spotted a bathroom and used my wonder woman speed only to check every locked stall door. ALL FULL with one guy WAITING. Seriously. I begged him to let me go in before him or ELSE. He was kind enough to let me cut in line and there I was, dry heaving again moments before we were to see our little nugget for the first time. Lame. I gathered myself enough to get into the elevator having at my new mantra because only one thing was on my mind: Are we going to see anything? Am I in fact pregnant? Will we hear a heartbeat? “Don’t throw up in the elevator, you can make it. “Don’t throw up in the elevator, you can make it.” I mean, if I was feeling this crappy something had to be brewing in there right? Lying there on the table my mind toggled from “Don’t throw up in the ultrasound room, you can make it,” to “oh my God there it is, and there’s a heartbeat!” I couldn’t even cry I was so overcome with relief and joy. What a rush! After the ultrasound was finished the doctor and nurse left the room to share a celebratory moment together. Nima and I embraced and both shared a “thank God” moment. When I opened my eyes I spotted some hospital barf bags and asked if he would stash some in my handbag for me before we left. How romantic right?
Week 7. At our ultrasound a week prior I had my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) tested, it’s something I do every 4 weeks to make sure my thyroid levels are under control especially while pregnant. Low and behold, my levels had jumped way up. So here I am dealing with normal first trimester symptoms PLUS symptoms from Hashimotos, lucky me! More headaches, vertigo, nausea, and yes constipation. I’m really selling this pregnancy thing right? My doctor immediately upped my thyroid medications because miscarriage with this disorder is extremely common. After a few days I started feeling a TINY bit of relief. I still couldn’t bring myself to to the gym because I never knew how I would feel hour by hour. (I was going stir crazy!) I hopped on Amazon Prime and order myself a set of free weights for home and figured if I can get moving a few days a week that might get me closer to feeling like a normal person again. It definitely helped!
One evening while I was lying on the couch, (shocker –I’m sure there’s a permanent indent of my body on that damn couch!) Nima called on his way home from work and I completely lost my mind. The tears were flowing like Niagara falls. I couldn’t stop them. I was over it, I was over myself, I was over the nausea, the dry heaving, the vertigo, I was done! My husband is seriously a God-send and reminded me AGAIN that I’m making a human and this will only be temporary. I cried by myself in our dark living room for a solid 30 minutes and then….I felt so much better. Let it gooooooo!
It can be very hard for us ladies to ask for help. GUILTY! Not only does my husband have a demanding, relentless executive level career, but he supported me with no questions when I was going through this challenging time. He would get up in the middle of the night if I needed to eat. He would make meals, go to the store, stroked my head when a headache came on, and he sat with me while I cried. This is what marriage is about and I love him more now than I did weeks ago when we found out I was pregnant. I can’t imagine the flood of love I’ll feel when our baby finally arrives. (I’m going to go cry now!) My Mom was also lifesaver during these zombie weeks. Having a Mom who is a nurse definitely has it’s benefits. She was there for me on her days off with head massages, forcing me to get outside and go on walks, and reassuring me that this phase will all pass soon enough. Mom’s are the best and I’m lucky to have a great one!
Week 8. The Event. Around the end of week 8 I had to pull myself together to attend a very important event with my husband and a few of his partners. He has worked so incredibly hard as a member of the Executive Leadership team for our local chapter of the American Heart Association, that I was determined not to miss this important Gala. In all honestly though, the last thing I wanted to do was take a shower and put on a formal dress. At this point my boobs barely fit into it. I also had to pretend I didn’t want to gag every minute of the evening as I was walking around at the speed of a sloth. BUT, I was there.
And now, I present to you: dinner hour … with food aversions. (Four words of wisdom: Become. A. Mouth. Breather.) Servers galavanted their way around to each table kindly presenting me with a huge plate of jumbo prawns, roasted chicken, vegetables, and potatoes. These smells + my food aversions = not good. OH-MY-GOD! I could tell my blood sugar was slowly dropping and I needed to eat ASAP so I ate the potatoes …and my husbands potatoes, and an RX bar I hid in my bag. What a mess I was. The evening was coming to a close but I was absolutely starving despite the giant plate of food before me earlier that I couldn’t eat. It was late. I turned to my husband and said, “before I change my mind, can you take me to Wendy’s on our way home?” (Yes, you read that right.) Let me tell you first how shocked he was, yet it was the best damn decision ever! I ate a whole hamburger, gluten laced bun, fries and all. You gotta do what you gotta do! I survived the evening without having an anxiety attack or using one of the barf bags stashed in my evening clutch. I will call it a success; Wendy’s burger and all!
Week 9. More of the same. Seriously? WHEN. DOES. IT. END. ??Excruciating headaches, more dry heaving, and no appetite…ALL DAMN DAY! Why do days pass by like weeks? I found a few random food items I could actually stand the smell of. When I sent this grocery list to my husband he was like, “woah, who are you and what have you done with my wife?”
My Survival Food:
- Newman’s Microwave popcorn
- Ginger ale
- Siggi’s single serve yogurt
- Strawberry jam (PB&J sandwiches)
- Peanut butter specifically Jiff, which I would never EVER buy!
- Fresh fruit
- Cantaloupe – I think I ate about 10lbs in one week!
- Anything with protein that I could stomach which was not much
- Avocado toast w/tomato
- The occasional protein pancake if I didn’t gag from the smell
All nutritional sense had gone out the window; I was merely eating what sounded comforting and somewhat bland. Just remember it’s only temporary and you’ll be feeling better in no time, I promise.
Week 10. I always said I’d be real about pregnancy and it’s getting REAL. This week was BRUTAL. Not only was I sick of being sick, I was sick of myself. I was so nauseous and so constipated. Every ounce of my body hurt with no relief in sight. Prunes, glycerine suppositories, and Mirilax were my besties. I was instantly 80 years old! Don’t be ashamed ladies. It happens to all of us. Amazingly I had more tears to cry. The feeling of trepidation and wondering why the hell I did this to myself overcame me. I pointed my finger at Nima quite a bit this week saying “you did this to me!” all in good fun. 😉
At last I was released from my fertility specialist to my regular OB and was desperate for her to tell me I was nearing the end of what felt like an eternity of feeling like absolute shit. She explained that my HCG levels were at their peak and I’d probably be feeling normal again soon. Whatever! I was so over hearing “soon!” These past 6 weeks had me questioning everything. I did not feel like I was being a point of inspiration for my clients, my blog was on the back burner, and the worst part of all: I hated food. How can a nutritionist hate food? Putting those beautiful food prep photos together was my driving force before I was pregnant. What if I’d lost my love of food forever? Okay I’m dramatic. I’m a Leo. I can’t help it! Because I felt like crapola for so long I had a hard time being excited about being pregnant. It didn’t feel real to me until my 10 week genetic counseling appointment.
Week 11. Everyone told me if I could make it through the first trimester the second trimester would be everything I’d hoped pregnancy would be. A few days this week I woke up with very minor nausea. It was the first time in 6 weeks that I’d felt hopeful and felt some energy returning, not much but some was better than none. I was back in the gym two days a week with my dear friend and trainer Omar who basically wouldn’t let me workout by myself because I was so unstable on my feet from the vertigo and fluctuating blood pressure. I attempted eating normal for me foods. Food aversions still tortured me but at least I was giving it a go. The best part was my brain was starting to come back slowly but surely and I felt inspired to work on my blog again.
Week 12. Hello week 12, I love you! Before having MORE blood-work I had an ultrasound to get procedural measurements to ensure the baby was on track with growth, The ultrasound tech found the baby and OMG it actually looked like a baby and not a giant blob! The baby’s arms were straight above it’s head and would wiggle every time she applied pressure on my abdomen. Holy cow. It’s real! I truly felt like I met my baby for the first time. What an amazing moment that I will never forget.
Week 13. Dare I say that I somewhat feel like myself again? Physch! Just when I thought things were getting better I woke up one morning feeling a little chipper and excited about my day. As I went about my normal morning routine and sat down on the ivory thrown to go potty for the millionth time, I turned my head to stretch out my neck from a long nights sleeps and WHAM! The worst vertigo spell I’ve ever had! I mean, I could not tell which way was up or down, left or right and had to hold onto the walls for dear life. I felt like I was spinning and falling out of control with no end in sight. After freaking myself out I called good old Nurse Mom to get her advice. I was able to crawl to my phone in the living room and just when I felt like things were under control, WHAM! This time I had to hang up so fast and crawl to the sink because talk about feeling seasick with vertigo to the umpteenth degree, I was feeling it. The last thing a mother wants to hear is her pregnant daughter crying over the phone at 7am right? Mom zoomed over and gave me a child strength Benadryl as soon as she arrived to calm the vertigo and to stay with me until she knew I was okay to be alone. After a doctors visit I was assured that I am one of the lucky ones who is prone to vertigo and probably will be forever. Oh joy!
Week 14. Alright 2nd trimester c’mon throw me a bone and show me how wonderful everyone claims you are! I actually started to feel good again after the vertigo decided to not stick around and torture me any longer. Other than my pelvis feeling like it was being pulled in opposite directions I felt pretty damn good and in my opinion I’d rather deal with that then dry heaving all day. Win! I was smiling more and felt like I was on an upswing, especially knowing we were going to reveal the gender to our friends and family this week. Back at week 12 I had some genetic testing done, again “geriatric pregnancy” haha! These tests also determined the sex through my blood-work. I cannot believe I had that envelope in my hot little hands for 2 weeks without even feeling tempted to peak.
Here I am 7 weeks later feeling more and more connected to my baby girl by the day but don’t think for one minute she won’t hear about how horrendous she made me feel for so many weeks, haha! Like every other mother on the planet I’ll say this, “it’s ALL worth it!”
Tips to get you through your first trimester:
Rolling with punches is my best piece of advice for all you newly preggies out there.
- DO NOT worry about hitting your macros or eating balanced meals in the beginning.
- Eat whatever you can stomach, whatever doesn’t make you gag, and whatever you can keep down.
- Even though you won’t want to, it’s a must to eat very small portions every two hours or at the slightest hint of hunger. Trust me! Things like avocado toast, soups, rice, crackers and fruit. Anything bland is good.
- Continue drinking lots and lots of water. The last thing you want is to be dehydrated. You’ll end up more constipated than your already are….yes everyone goes through it. You are not alone.
- If you’re in the gym regularly before pregnancy, don’t get frustrated when you’re energy levels plummet, (and I mean PLUMMET.) Don’t be hard on yourself and search for alternative ways to get a little exercise in. I bought myself some free weights and bands to do light workouts at home. Going on walks is a great option too and can help with nausea.
- For nausea: ginger candies, ginger capsules, preggie pops, B6, peppermint.
Lastly, don’t be hard on yourself. There were many times I had to silence my inner voice and just BE. If you feel bad, don’t force yourself to do things that are unnecessary to your everyday life. I mean, if you have to go to work, of course you have to be responsible but when you come home, REST. Things will get done eventually; it’s okay to let it slide for a bit. No one will die. Just love yourself.