10 In Motherhood/ Updates

Our First Trimester Recap: Symptoms, Favorite Products, and Sharing the News!

At Oma and Opa’s in Pinehurst at Christmas with sweet Addison

Now that the first trimester is a distant memory, I feel like I can look back on it with fondness. It was such an exciting time of not being able to get over the fact that we were actually pregnant and surprising friends and family with our news. At the time, however, all I wanted was to move on to the second trimester and leave the nausea and exhaustion behind. But I took a lot of solace in reading similar first trimester recaps by other bloggers I love when I was going through it. Camaraderie is key, and now it’s my turn! For better or for worse, this is the story of our first trimester.  (This could really be three blog posts, so it’s a little long!)

How We Found Out

Remember this post? Those photos were taken the very morning we found out we were expecting. I should say it was the morning we found out we might be expecting, because we were very new to all this and didn’t know how accurate a positive pregnancy test really was.

I mentioned here that we were in Houston for our friends Scott and Lindsey’s wedding. I was really tired really early that night and just couldn’t rally to stay until the send-off, much less to go out with Haley and Adam afterward (who were at another wedding). The next morning, I thought I may as well take a pregnancy test, and you know how that turned out. Well, Will was leaving for the airport pretty much right away, and I was staying to spend more time with my cousin James, his girlfriend Taylor, and Haley. So we had our moment of shock and awe, Will left, and I went to brunch! I remember getting decaf coffee because I didn’t know if I could have it!

When I got home and called my OB, they wanted me to come in right away for a blood test Monday morning that confirmed our news. That was when I was only 3 weeks pregnant.

Telling Family and Friends

Our Parents

That was mid-November, and my parents were coming to DC for Thanksgiving. Even though it was still so early, we decided to go ahead and tell my parents when they got to DC. I never really drank much, but I was already feeling really tired, so we were pretty sure Mom would have figured it out anyway. The first night they arrived, we went to dinner at our favorite neighborhood Mexican place. When we got back, we told them we had gotten them Christmas ornaments in Hawaii (so they wouldn’t wonder why we were giving them random gifts) and that they should open them so they could put them on their tree when they got home. What I had really gotten them were these fun personalized ornaments from Etsy:

They have both since changed their grandparent names. I think they are Granny and Daddy John now.

Will took a sneaky video on his phone of them opening their ornaments, and it was so cute. My mom started screaming “WHAT?!?” and my dad was trying to get his glasses on so he could read it. You can hear me on the video saying, “Mom, let dad read it!” haha.

I just think these pictures of them are so adorable I had to include both.

Remember how I said telling Will’s parents was a funny story? It was my fault. We had planned to give them similar gift surprises when we went to North Carolina for Christmas. After the initial excitement died down, we watched the video of my parents’ reaction and it was so cute, I knew they’d want to have it! Well, I sent it to “Mom” and “Dad” from Will’s phone! Within about 5 minutes we got a call from Will’s mom, and I realized my mistake. So unfortunately, Will’s parents found out by watching a video of my parents finding out. We tried to tell his dad not to watch it, but it was too late! Thankfully all three of them were just happy and excited, and I was the only one really upset that the way they found out wasn’t as special as I wanted to make it.

Our Friends

As you might have noticed, we spend a ton of time with two other couples in particular in DC, the Mostellers and the Porters. We do a little book/Bible study/supper club with them and decided to do a secret Santa gift exchange before we all left for Christmas. It was really hard keeping the news from people we spend so much time with, but I just thought the gift exchange was the perfect time to surprise them. I had drawn Jeff’s name, and the first gift I gave him was a onesie that said “Guess what?” on it. (Why oh why didn’t I get a picture of him holding it up?) Well, it turned out the surprise was on us, because Hayley immediately handed me a gift from them, which was a 0-3 Month baby Georgetown hoodie! It was perfect. They know us really well, so of course they already knew! Hayley said it was weird for me to come to supper club in yoga pants, and Leslie saw my Sea-Bands peek out from beneath my sleeves one time. 🙂

At that point we showed them our new favorite Christmas ornament, made from our baby’s eight-week ultrasound! This is when she looked like a peanut-shaped blob, as I mentioned here.

Our Grandparents and Extended Families

I have so many sweet photos from Christmas in North Carolina I never shared, due to first trimester exhaustion!

As you may remember from this post, the Christmas plan was to go see my family early due to a St. Louis wedding and then spend the real holidays with Will’s family in North Carolina. Due to delays, we missed the St. Louis wedding and baby shower, but we still got to see my family, so I call it a win. We told my extended family and Will’s by giving the grandfathers a card that said “Only the best grandparents get promoted to great-grandparents” with a picture of the ultrasound. Of course, I forgot to take any photos in Missouri, but here are a few from NC! (I tend to be better about taking photos with the family that has cute little kids.)

With Oma right after we told her!

The Raleigh crew!

Out on the golf course because the kids got a Star Wars drone they wanted to fly

Cooper, the boykin spaniel!

First Trimester Symptoms, Highlights, and Lowlights

Y’all, I really thought I had a bump here! Ha!

Total Exhaustion!: I’ve never been so tired in my life. This is why you probably didn’t hear from me much (and there weren’t a lot of blog posts) from November through January. All I could do was try to get through the work day without falling asleep and make it home safely. At around 6:30 or 7pm each night it was over. I felt like a switch would flip and it would be an emergency that I lay down immediately. One of my more memorable moments was calling Will in to turn out my bedside lamp, because I was too tired to reach up and turn it out myself. That man is a saint.

Nausea: I definitely didn’t have this as bad as I’ve heard some women do, but from about weeks 9-12, it was pretty rough. It’s a bad time when you have to keep Solo cups in the car in case you get sick in traffic on your commute in to work. I was generally queasy, so I couldn’t eat much. It was a good night if I could attempt to eat some chicken, but I couldn’t think about eating a vegetable. There was a lot of plain pasta with maybe a little butter in my life. I do also remember my tastes changing daily, so something that sounded good one day would be out of the question the next!

Crankiness: I was pretty pre-occupied with trying to act normal at work while keeping my nausea under control and not falling asleep, so in general, I also felt pretty grouchy. I think this is very linked to the exhaustion. People say I wasn’t as crabby as I think I was, but I sure felt impatient on the inside! I include this not to complain, but as a note of encouragement in case you don’t feel like your best self when you go through your first trimester. You are not alone!

Wondering if the Baby was Ok: In a way, I was really thankful for the classic pregnancy symptoms that reminded me everything was going as planned. After the symptoms subsided around 12 weeks, I spent a lot of time hoping the baby was doing ok and wishing I had my own baby heart rate monitor! I worried about miscarriage and had no way to know that there was still a healthy baby in there! It was a true exercise in faith. That’s why I’m so thankful for my bump and being able to feel her kick now.

Hearing the Heartbeat!: I saved the best for last! The most magical moment of the first trimester by far was our eight-week ultrasound, which was also the first time we heard the baby’s heartbeat. There are really no words for that feeling. Her heartbeat was way faster than mine would be, but I still couldn’t believe there was a heartbeat coming from my body that wasn’t mine!

Favorite Products for the First Trimester

And finally, if you are still with me, here are some things that helped get me through the first trimester! (Left to right, top to bottom.)

Ginger tea: Most mornings during my nausea phase, I would slice some ginger root thin, pour boiling water over it, and add lemon and honey. It was a little laborious, but it really helped!

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula for Stretch Marks: I started dutifully rubbing this on my belly almost as soon as I found out I was pregnant! There’s no real way to know if it prevents stretch marks, because I think that’s based more on genetics than anything, but so far, so good! I also hear massaging your belly is a good way to connect with the baby, so I put it on twice a day (after my morning shower and before bed).

Almonds: These were good healthy nausea-fighting munchies to keep in my desk.

Prenatal Vitamins: I did a little prenatal vitamin research and went with these! I liked that they are all natural (made from real foods), so the folate in particular was real folate and not folic acid. You do have to swallow four horse pills, which isn’t great when nauseous, but they are gentler than some CVS brand prenatal vitamins I tried.

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: Like most of my mama friends, once I knew what I could and couldn’t eat, I didn’t want to spend a ton of time reading about pregnancy. I would rather invest that time in books about parenting, labor, breastfeeding, etc. But this is a great reference. It has short month-by-month chapters and a good reference section for particular ailments and questions in the back.

Sea-Bands: The culprits who gave me away! I don’t know if these worked, but it felt to me like they did. So the placebo effect or real results were worth it either way.

Saltines: A first trimester must-have! The name of the game is keeping food in your stomach, and these are a classic. I even tried the trick where you keep them beside your bed and eat some before you get out of bed to pre-empt the sickness.

Bringing Up Bebe: This is kind of the gateway pregnancy book. By that I mean when you are really overwhelmed and not ready for more serious parenting books in early pregnancy, this seems to be the first book most ladies read. It’s more of a memoir than a pregnancy manual or parenting how-to, but you also pick up some great insights along the way. And now it has a summary of the parenting principles in the back, which was a quick and effective way for Will to get the gist!

OJ:  I never drank this before I was pregnant and then had to have it every morning. Pregnancy is weird. I did eat cuties and halos before, but they were also a favorite snack.

Lots of Water: It’s important to drink a lot of water when you’re pregnant, so I’ve had one of these 24-oz Tervis tumblers with me at all times since the beginning! The goal is to drink 4-6 of them a day.

The Bump App: This has been my favorite of the many pregnancy apps on the market. It tells you how big the baby is, includes interactive graphics of what is going on with the baby’s development, and has timely and very short articles about pertinent topics as your pregnancy progresses.

DHA Supplements: Apparently DHA is very important for baby brain development, so in addition to eating lots of eggs with DHA and salmon, I take two of these a day with my prenatal vitamin.

Whew! I’m glad that’s recorded for posterity, and if you made it to the very end, congratulations on your pregnancy! 🙂

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  • Brianna Palos

    I can’t wait to follow along! I’m not a mama yet, but I find pregnancy posts so fascinating! I’m sure I’m going to glean great info from you. ? Congrats on your sweet baby girl! ?

    • You know, I did too, but I didn’t know if I was the only one! Thanks so much, Brianna!

  • Sarah Shaneyfelt

    This was so informative!!! Loved this and saving for later!


    • I’m so glad, Sarah! I felt like people didn’t talk a lot about first trimester symptoms, so I was little blindsided and am happy to help others know what to expect!

  • Taylor Cannon

    I love hearing about your experience so far, Catherine! I am so glad things are going well 🙂
    Taylor | http://www.livingtaylored.com

  • Congratulations on getting through the first tri! The exhaustion is no joke. I drank a lot of OJ with my first pregnancy too . 🙂

  • Gah this just makes me so happy for you guys!! And what a great first trimester post!!! Can’t wait for baby girl M!

    Erin, Attention to Darling