What No One Tells You About The First Days Of Pregnancy
On Monday the 18th of April, I woke up and peed on a stick. I had no reason to suspect I was pregnant, other than sheer hope. And, you know, the fact that I’d been doing the exact opposite of preventing pregnancy.
After spending the requisite five minutes pacing the house, I went back and looked at the test. It was…
What was it?
Was that a line?
No. That wasn’t possible. Pregnancy was a miracle that had managed to elude me for three months prior. I’d given up all hope of it ever working for me. Childless for life–I hadn’t exactly come to terms with it, but I figured I would get on board eventually*.
Except, now there was maybe the faintest etching of a line. And with that line, everything changed.
I’ll spare you the narrative of my entire story, but suffice it to say, over the course of the next week, the lines kept getting darker and darker. And the possibility that the baby was a real thing that was really happening started feeling more and more, well, real.
Here’s the thing no one tells you about being pregnant. It’s utterly and fantastically terrifying, at least at first. If you’ve been very deliberate about trying, you probably know the statistics. You might not believe it’s real. And you’ll probably have no idea of what you need to start doing.
Here’s my little list of things I wished I’d known about those first days. And this is just a blanket TMI alert. I’m probably going to be talking about all sorts of fun things, like discharge, spotting, and the like. Read at your own risk.
You Might Be Terrified, And That’s Okay.
Like I said, if you’ve done any sort of intentional trying for a baby, you probably know the statistics. Something like 20-25% of pregnancies are miscarried, “often before the woman knows she’s pregnant.” Except that, when you’re taking tests at nine and ten days past ovulation, you know you’re pregnant a lot earlier than most women.
And so you find yourself checking your discharge religiously, and being relieved every time you go to the bathroom and there’s not blood on the toilet paper. You find yourself avoiding intercourse, because even though they say it’s okay and definitely doesn’t cause miscarriage, what if? And you find yourself wondering if you should be exercising, or whether you’ll jiggle the baby loose. Common sense and science say no, but your overactive brain says yes.
The terror is real. And totally understandable. What can you do? Not too much, other than figure out a way to reassure yourself that you’re not going crazy, and take it one day at a time. Whatever happens will happen. One thing I really found to be handy was checking my daily probability of miscarriage at SpaceFem (which also has tons of other cool pregnancy resources!). I know it’s not perfect — being fairly young and healthy and never having lost a pregnancy before certainly meant a natural decrease on my end — but watching those numbers go down every morning gave my brain some sort of peace.
You Might Also Be Terrified In A Different Way
As in, “What the heck have I just gotten myself into? Why did I try so hard to get pregnant? Am I really ready to be a parent?”
Babies are freaking terrifying. (For lack of a better word, ha!) Me, I’m obsessive about my sleep. I have to get a solid seven to eight hours each night, and a nap in each afternoon. Never once did I pull an all-nighter in college. I know that when this baby comes, I’m going to be a sleep-deprived zombie. And I am really, really scared.
But it’s not just that. I’m scared of being in charge of a tiny human. Of me! Being a mom! What am I supposed to do with a child? How am I supposed to all of a sudden be a good parent? What if I ruin my child for life because I teach them bad sleep habits or let them feed on demand?
From what I’ve read, thoughts like these are also natural. Thirteen weeks into this, and the fear isn’t exactly alleviating. (If anything, it’s getting worse the more I realize that, yeah, this baby is sticking and I’m going to have a freaking child come January.) But you know what? Everything I’ve read also says that, once that baby comes out, something kicks in and the mom side of you just takes over.
Will it be a learning process? Sure. A huge adjustment? You betcha. But it’s one I signed myself up for. And hey, there’s got to be a reason everyone says it’s the most rewarding job in the world.
Your Partner Might Not Believe You
I don’t talk about my other half on here a lot, on purpose, but I will give you this one small anecdote:
The day I found out I was pregnant, I went out and bought a onesie, a book, and a card to give him as an announcement. He was supposed to be working late that night, but something changed, and he came home early. I was still trying to find the perfect card at a Target a half hour away when he called and asked me where I was. I had been planning on wrapping everything really cute-like, but of course, all that went out the window. The best I could do was sign the card in the car.
When I got home, he seemed glum. If anything, I thought he would have been happy — I’d left all my positive pee sticks out, under the assumption that he was coming home much later. Had he not seen them? Had his day just been that bad?
So I handed him the bag with the card.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Look inside. It’s for you!”
He took out the onesie. “What is this?”
What had actually happened was that he had seen the pee sticks. And, not knowing that even the faintest line is a positive, he assumed they were negative, and we’d missed the mark yet again. Hence his glum demeanor.
It took him several more days to actually believe the news. He wanted to see color on the pee sticks, not just faint lines. Eventually, the color did arrive. And eventually, he started to realize that we really were pregnant.
You Might Not Know What The Heck To Do
More on this on Wednesday, but the summary of this point is, when you’ve been trying so hard to achieve pregnancy, you might have neglected learning up on the first steps of what to do once you actually get that second line. I’m sure you’re already taking prenatal vitamins. It’s not that. It’s more like, when do I call my doctor? And, what should I not be eating? And, how should I be preparing myself for labor and the baby?
Me, I didn’t read too much about that stuff. Sort of for the same reason I didn’t buy wedding magazines before I got engaged, even though I knew it was coming. I just didn’t want to jinx myself, or jump the gun too much. Now, as with my wedding, I sort of regret not doing more research. But I’ll leave that for Wednesday. If I can think of anything new to write on that topic! 😉
You Might Not Be Feeling What Everyone Tells You You Should Be Feeling
The bane (banes?) of my existence for the past two and a half months have been all those freaking articles and podcasts reassuring me that my morning sickness was totally okay, my morning sickness was a good sign, my morning sickness should be going away soon. My fatigue, my frequent urination, my cravings, my aversions, my weight loss, my mood swings…
Guess. Freaking. What. I didn’t have a lick of a problem. Okay, I felt a little woozy occasionally. I’m not sure about the fatigue, because I work from home, and see above about my daily nap routine. I had no aversions, no cravings, no sensitivity to weird smells. I gained twelve pounds in the first trimester. I wasn’t any crabbier or weepier than normal.
This is not a brag. This is me saying all that crap I was supposed to be experiencing and wasn’t was a huge, huge cause of anxiety for me. I was sure the baby wasn’t doing well, because, after all, everyone says morning sickness is related to successful pregnancies! The sicker you are, the better the baby is doing!
If you’re a non-morning sickness sufferer like me, let me assure you: your baby is probably fine. As long as you’re not experiencing any sort of spotting or cramping, you — and baby — should be golden. Don’t turn to Dr. Google, because it will only freak you out. Just keep doing what you need to do for baby: eat healthy, take those prenatals, drink plenty of water, and exercise. Every pregnancy is different. Don’t let the haters get you down. And I would say enjoy it, but I know that it’s tough when everything is so up in the air. You’ll consider yourself lucky soon enough, though.
That’s all I have for now, but if I think of anything else, I’ll update. Keep an eye out for Wednesday’s post if you’re still clueless about what you need to be doing.
*Okay, yes. In retrospect, I was being a bit dramatic about the whole thing.