Happy March! I’m writing this from my cozy home office on a gloomy rainy Thursday but the days are noticeably getting longer, the birds are starting to chirp, my energy is slowly starting to come back, and I’m feeling little tiny pops inside my belly. If you’re reading this you probably follow me on social media and know that yes, I’m pregnant and due in August!
It’s been quite the journey to get to this moment… the word “journey” always sounds cliche but it’s really the best word.
I’m sharing my daily pregnancy related updates over on my wellness Instagram account @annainspiresjoy, so follow me there if you want more, but also wanted to write an official first trimester recap. As of today I’m 19 weeks, almost half way ! and every single day is a new learning curve. I know this is just the beginning.
So let’s take it back to the start…
Ben and I decided to officially start trying to grow our family back in October 2017.
We went through all the phases of trying to conceive (TTC):
The initial excited “let’s stop NOT trying” and ditch birth control for a few months.
Realizing that even though I track my period and phases of my cycle, I should probably start tuning into my fertility aka if and when I am ovulating. By now I’ve learned that women are only fertile a few days every month (despite everything we learn in high school health class and the fear of pregnancy we constantly live with throughout our 20’s).
Chart my basal body temperature (I used the Kindara app), pay a bit of attention to my cervical fluid (egg white discharge = sperm highway), start to use ovulation predictor strips, basically turn my body into a science experiment!
Start wondering how we had so much energy for sex back in our 20’s. Ahhh youth is wasted on the young.
April 2018, find out I am pregnant!!
Summer of 2018: all the grief, all the healing, all the margaritas (do you know tequila is the only alcohol that is not a depressant??)
August 2018: repeat from step 3.
Learn the hard way that even when you are healthy and “fertile", there is only a 30% chance of conception at any perfectly timed time. Insert ALL THE VARIABLES. (Again, why do we spend so much emotional energy freaking out about avoiding pregnancy in our 20’s?? This shit is hard.)
December 2018: feel all the signs, pee on a stick, here we go again!
How I found out:
A day or two before I was due to start my period, I went to my friend Juliana’s apartment downtown for a girls night. I was drinking straight kombucha and water instead of wine, so the girls were technically the first to know. My energy felt a little woozy and dreamy, just like it usually does right before my period, but I also felt different. I had a suspicion I was pregnant because it was the same type of jet lag//sore breasts feeling I had when I confirmed my first pregnancy, but I didn’t want to feel too paranoid just in case I was wrong, since I’d been hyperfocused on my body for the past 3 months and every time I got my period again it felt more and more emotionally draining. When you’re actively trying to get pregnant, it’s almost impossible not to obsess during the two week wait aka the time between ovulation and when you get your period.
I waited a few more days to see what would happen (still no period) so on December 5 I woke up early and went straight to the bathroom, and sure enough, line!
Ben was still sleeping but I ran back to bed and told him the news, and we were both a mixture of excitment, disbelief, and “here we go again.”
Sharing the news
That next weekend I took the train down to central Illinois to visit my family and see my little sister perform in her high school Madrigals, and immediately told my mom the news because i knew no matter what happened, I wanted her support. I somehow made it through the rest of the weekend without telling the rest of my family, but ended up spilling the news to my dad over Christmas after I refused his offer of wine for the 3rd time (very unlike me, lol).
I wasn’t able to schedule my first doctor’s appointment until after New Year’s when I would be about 9 weeks pregnant, which stressed me out a bit because that was around the time I had my miscarriage, and I was anxious to know that everything was developing ok. The first few weeks of pregnancy (they actually start counting “week 1” as the first day of your last period, so by the time you get a positive test you’re at least 4 weeks along) are so fragile and early miscarriage is way more common than we really know. Sometimes the embryo doesn’t start growing, sometimes it doesn’t have the right chromosome combination, sometimes something random goes wrong. There’s nothing we can really do about it, and early pregnancy loss is NOT. YOUR. FAULT. Your body is simply doing its job.
But still, even knowing all that, it’s impossible not to get emotionally attached to this little lentil. The hormone surge is pretty intense right off the bat as well.
Keeping the secret was honestly easier than I expected. After my miscarriage I assumed I’d want to share right away if I got pregnant again, but once it finally happened I wanted to keep the news close to my heart. The hardest part was keeping the secret from my health and wellness accountability groups and coaching team, and also having to stop sharing my cycle updates on Instagram haha. I’m normally such an open book on social media and hate not being able to be honest.
Also, while sharing the news with friends and family is exciting, it also is a lot of work and takes a bit of time to get hold of everyone! Once we had told our immediate family and closest friends, Ben finally with many eye rolls let me post our “baby Benanna” reveal on social media :) I was overwhelmed by all the support we received and it put me on a high for several days!
Frequently Asked Questions
-did you do anything differently the month you conceived?
Not really! It took us 4 months to conceive this pregnancy, and this is when I had a clockwork regular ovulation and “timed” sex just right (the days before and during ovulation). I read that there is only a 30% chance of conception at any given time even if the timing is perfect, it just depends on the sperm and egg, lol. And if I think about my friends who have gotten pregnant, probably 30% of them made it on the first or second try.
-did you feel “pressured” to get pregnant again, since I was sharing my journey so publicly?
Not at all! I love sharing menstrual cycle awareness and teaching women how to tune into the energetic and creative shifts we experience throughout the month, and I am very open about sharing what’s up with my own body. I didn’t feel external pressure to get pregnant right away because I didn’t share the specifics or details of when we were trying again. Honestly the hardest part was NOT sharing details about my cycle or period during the first trimester, before we spilled the news, and pretending everything was normal. I’m sure a few people who watch all my IG stories guessed what was up :)
-what pregnancy tests did you use?
When we first started trying to conceive 18 months ago, my best friend recommended this Costco sized giant box of ovulation predictor and pregnancy tests. You get 50 OPK and 20 pregnancy tests for $16.50 on Amazon Prime, they lasted me the entire time and I still have some left! They’re super basic, but seem to be pretty sensitive and accurate. If you want the fancy test that says “pregnant” go for it, but I would rather spend my money on cute baby stuff or pregnancy books.
-what are your favorite pregnancy books?
I have always been a bookworm and obsessed with learning and collecting knowledge about things I’m going through, so it has been a fine balance between learning and not wanting to overwhelm myself with other people’s opinions. I want to make sure I’m tuning into MY body and intuition at all times.
However, here are a few of my fave books I’d recommend for holistically minded mamas!
-are you still working out?
I’m so grateful I’ve been able to stay active all throughout my pregnancy. I was working out 6-7 days/week before I got pregnant so my doctor said it was fine to continue what I was doing.
I’ve had to scale back intensity and make some modifications simply because my body won’t let me push myself as hard as I used to. As long as nothing is wrong, I don’t think we need to worry about pushing too hard or doing something to harm the baby during exercise because our bodies have their natural limits… just make sure you listen to what feels good.
I also created a Prenatal playlist of free workouts on YouTube that I can stream through my Roku.
I’m a huge fan of home workouts because the mere thought of going to a gym or studio right now makes me feel exhausted. I can only handle 20-30 minutes at a time, and being able to roll out of bed, eat breakfast (because I am ravenous and blood sugar crashes more easily), then get my workout in at home has been so convenient.
I was so exhausted and fatigued that I tried to get out for a walk a few times a week, but since it’s been so cold and icy outside I’ve mainly been hanging out at home, and feel like my 20-30 minute workout is plenty.
-what food aversions and cravings have you had?
I know that cravings are a huge stereotype of being pregnant, but I’ve had more aversions than actual cravings. Everyone knows what it’s like to have a craving even if you’ve never been pregnant before, but I don’t even know how to describe the weirdness that is a food aversion. Even now I’m out of the first trimester, my body physically rejects meat and veggies. If I force myself to eat something that I don’t want, it tastes gross and I feel nauseous.
I couldn’t stand the thought of meal planning, cooking, or eating leftovers. My strategy was to wander the aisles of Aldi and see what looked tolerable, because the aversions and tolerances shift on a daily and weekly basis.
Overall I’ve felt like my palate has reverted back to my 8 year old self, which Ben thinks is hilarious. All I really want are sugary processed kid comfort foods, basically the 180 of my usual non-preggo health nut.
Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza and breadsticks
tortilla chips and bean dip
smoothies! SO HAPPY I’ve been able to keep drinking my vegan superfood smoothie, which has probiotics, fiber, and lots of plant based nutrients.
citrus fruit and pineapple
yogurt and granola
veggie or cooked sushi
chicken or pork
pretty much any vegetable, especially cooked veggies
most regular “dinner foods”
curry or tomato based foods
-how have you been feeling? Any symptoms?
I am so incredibly grateful I never threw up! However, I experienced the most annoying nausea ever. Imagine feeling a combination of extreme jet lag, plus bad motion sickness. Eating food only made the nausea worse. That was my 24/7 reality for the majority of my first trimester, and it gave me so much empathy for people with chronic health conditions.
Weird changes in the first trimester:
digestive muscles slow down, so feel full super quickly (overeating triggers more nausea)
constipation, alternated with Poos of Epic Proportions (keep a plunger handy!)
boobs! Went from 34B to 36C. nipples are doing weird things.
feeling like I needed tons of personal space and didn’t want my husband to touch me (sorry Ben)
I was prepared to handle all the weird physical changes, but didn’t really consider the mental and emotional challenges of being newly pregnant.
First of all, physically feeling like crap is a downer and I’ve always been a wimp about feeling sick. Add to the fact you’re probably keeping a secret and need to suck it up and pretend everything is normal! I usually deal with a bit of seasonal depression in the winter, but combined with all the changes happening in my body, December through February were extremely challenging months.
I’m going through a crash course in learning how to slow down, being ok with having a limited capacity for productivity (humbling my ego!), prioritizing self care over achievement, working slower but smarter in business, honing in on what is actually important, saying no and setting boundaries, letting go of control, and not to mention the mental component to embracing the physical change!
Emotionally I’ve definitely gone through some major mood swings, and cry a lot. But crying is how I’ve always expressed strong emotions. I feel like my heart has cracked wide open, I am so vulnerable because I have so much to lose, and I can’t even imagine what it will feel like once this baby is actually born.
Random things that have made me cry: singing We Three Kings at church (??), a lonely little Smart car parked outside our window, watching Cat Walk on Netflix, THE F&!*ING NEW DISNEY DUMBO MOVIE TRAILER JUST NO.
Energetically, the first trimester felt like my left brain decided to walk out. Lots of brain fog, memory lapses, can’t hold a train of thought, inability to focus or “get shit done” mode, kind of like how you feel the day before your period x10.
-are you finding out the baby’s sex?
Yup! We actually did the NIPT genetic testing that gives you sex via chromosomes of the mother’s blood so we already know what we’re having, which is surreal! Are we going to have a “gender reveal” party? HARD NO. Haven’t decided how or when to publicly spill the news. If you know me in real life and are dying to know, send me a text and I’ll tell ya :)
-are you using a doula/midwife/birthing center/epidural/etc etc etc?
We’re figuring things out as we go. I will share what feels comfortable along the way but I also want to keep some personal decisions private. Basically, I am keeping an open mind about everything and on a Crunchy Mama Scale of 1-10, would say I am probably a 7. I love traditional holistic wisdom, but also love science, and am grateful to live in a big city where I can find pretty much anything to have the birth experience I want and need.
Body Image Stuff
Even though first pregnancy bumps don’t start to officially show until you’re into the second trimester, during the first trimester your metabolism goes into an anabolic state…. Which means your body basically becomes a fat storing machine to stock up the energy you will need later on as you literally grow a human from scratch, an entire organ (the placenta) from scratch, and then give birth and potentially support new life with breastmilk.
What does this mean?
BLOAT CITY, BABY!
I didn’t gain more than a couple pounds during my first trimester, partly due to my appetite being really off, but I felt like a puffy blob thanks to all the bloat and a slower digestive system. I also started gaining curves and cellulite around my hips, waistline, my rib cage expanded, and I went up 1-2 cup sizes almost right away.
My best body image tip is to accept the changes, appreciate your body for what it’s doing, and most of all put away any clothes that start to feel a little tight! Investing in some larger stretchy yoga pants that actually fit your new expanded waistline so you can feel comfy in your skin and clothes is a huge confidence boost.
My fave leggings when you are in the “are you pregnant or have you just gained weight??” pre-maternity phase:
Cashel Foldover PowerForm Legging from Fabletics - I am still wearing my normal size M of these! The waist is very stretchy and forgiving. If you don’t have a Fabletics account, here’s my member link that will give you 2 leggings for $24.
Aerie Play Real Me High Waisted ⅞ - I ordered a size up in Long so they are normal length
Note: I ordered a pair of Motherhood Maternity leggings with the front bump panel when they were on sale, but they are thin, feel itchy, and are not my personal fave.
-What is it like to be pregnant again after miscarriage?
I have SO many thoughts and feelings about trying to conceive and being pregnant after pregnancy loss. Everyone is different, but it’s so important to share our stories and the REAL reel, not just the highlight reel, so we can feel less alone and empower each other and ourselves through the ups and downs of being a woman, and this is why I’ve been so open about my experiences.
I honestly feel like my body needed the miscarriage to reset and heal my hormones. After coming off the pill in 2016 my cycles were longish and not super regular. After the m/c, they were CLOCKWORK. Ovulated on day 19, bled the first of every month. It was awesome!
Pregnancy loss doesn’t mean your body is failing you. It means it’s doing its job.
Emotionally, it was pretty rough. We waited 3 cycles to try again, and then it took us 4 more cycles to conceive despite clockwork cycles and my faith in a quick redemption story. This was hard yet cathartic since every bleed I would process/release more grief and deepen my intention to have a baby.
It was extra stressful that I couldn’t get to the doctor until 9 weeks, over a month after I had a positive test and also the same week I lost baby uno. And couldn’t drink my tequila happy juice to chill out, haha. Seeing a healthy 9w4d bean on the ultrasound was literally an otherworldly experience!
I will say that knowing what it’s like to have a miscarriage is a double edged sword. On one hand, I was LESS afraid because I knew what to expect and that I’d be able to get through it, but on the other hand it was literally the worst experience of my life, so I wish I DIDN’T know what it was like.
Tips for first time moms navigating early pregnancy
My biggest sanity tip is to find community with other women who are in a similar place as you. I’m lucky that several of my friends and family are either currently pregnant, going through miscarriage/TTC, or have just had a baby too so I’m leaning on them for camaraderie and wisdom! New mom friends are the best when you’re pregnant because they are so happy for you and will be super excited to hear all about the nitty gritty details of everything you’re going through, and will let you snuggle or babysit their baby for practice :) If you don’t have anyone in your inner circle, this is where social media can be incredible. Use hashtags, search for local Facebook groups, and also leverage your local network! I’m planning to start going to a prenatal yoga class and join some local meet-up groups for new moms. Your hospital might have a new moms group too!
Overall I’ve been focusing on self care and SOUL care, healing my inner crap and preparing myself energetically and spiritually to bring a new human into the world while at the same time letting go of control and surrendering my own timeline, trusting my body, my baby, and most of all God’s bigger vision.
Sometimes it seems like everyone either struggles with “infertility” or gets pregnant on the first try and has a textbook experience... I don’t think it’s easy for anyone but wanted to share my story of being somewhere in between.
No matter where you are on your own journey, you are never alone 💗
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