By now the exciting secret is out! I am indeed pregnant with my second child, due June 2020. I am thrilled to be pregnant again, and luckily it happened much more easily this time, in comparison to my first which required a highly timed cocktail of medications.
You would think that the ease (and shock!) of getting pregnant this time would have jump started a positive first trimester, however the first 14 weeks were physically and mentally unlike the first trimester of my first.
Again, I was lucky to not get too sick (only several instances of dry heaving, no excessive toilet-hugging), but my energy level was negative. I would wake up every morning with a pounding headache, and no matter how much water or food I ate the headache would continue almost all day. I also have extremely low blood pressure which is great in theory but while pregnant it means dizziness and blackouts every time I stand up. If I had energy at all it would be in the first few hours of the day, which meant caring for my #1 child and keeping her busy until nap time. By 1pm, I was physically spent. I had stomachaches after every meal which made it un-appetizing to eat most things, and I had Dysgeusia almost all day, which is a nasty metallic or sour taste in your mouth. By the end of the day I had so much gas that often lying horizontal was the only way to relieve some of the pressure, so as soon as I would put Marina to bed I was in bed for the night.
Never mind the fact that I had a crazy toddler to care for. It’s well documented that second pregnancies can be more tiring because you are running after the first, but I think we need some more research on the toddler KNOWING you’re pregnant and screwing with you. It’s like the only things she wanted to do for 3 months were jump on my stomach, throw food on the floor and be held. Do they know? Can they smell it? I couldn’t even get her to sit down for the length of Itsy Bitsy Spider, never mind play by herself. I would try to get her as tired out as possible every morning taking her to story time, music class, the playground, the dog run (yes, also good for dog obsessed children) in order to get the best possible nap I could each day. But in some reverse-engineered world I ended up being the one down for the count, while she took a brisk 90 minute nap and was raging once again.
All of this is normal. I am not alone in feeling the craziness of parenting while wading through your first trimester. Frankly, if it was just the tiredness, headaches and dizziness, I think I would have been able to handle it.
What surprised me though, was the mental toll the physical weakness took on me.
The First Trimester Blues
As an always blogging, always sewing, always working out, always dressed up person, the lack of mental fortitude and clarity took a toll on me. What started slowly as, “ok I need to take it slow today and rest” quickly turned into weeks upon weeks of cloudy thinking; where motivation, creativity and ambition eluded me.
I am a person of thoughtful, strong opinions (hence the blog), and suddenly I had nothing to say, nothing to write. Instead of wanting to get dressed up or even read a fashion magazine, fashion exhausted me to the point that I had to unfollow some of my muse’s instagram accounts because they just seemed too stressful, too unattainable for me. Sewing, a hobby that requires LOTS of moving things around, crawling around on the floor, and making a mess was overwhelming. Basically, I crawled into a hole almost 3 months and couldn’t think clearly enough to dig myself out.
Many people suspected I was pregnant because of my lack of presence on social media. For me, social media was the worst aspect of the depression. While I love to share my projects and daily activities for the world, when I have nothing to share it backfires on me and I wonder “What is my worth? What am I doing with my life? If I am not accomplishing/creating/experiencing, what is my value to society?” It wasn’t social media jealousy or FOMO that we have become used to hearing about, it was my own, public, lack of contribution that was so difficult.
I am sure that for women who have to go to an office-like setting during their first trimester, they are fraught with their own set of challenges. Sickness, hiding your growing tummy, worrying about future promotions. For those of us who work for ourselves, it exacerbates an issue that is already there: self-motivation. We have to find the motivation every single day in order to build, grow and connect our business with the outside world, and often we have no clue what we are doing. Add to that lack of mental clarity, exhaustion and a feisty 20 month old, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for giving up.
Giving up. Is that an option?
Well no, it’s not. I had to remind myself for weeks that this too, shall pass and that soon I will be back to my old self and the creativity will kick in with the weight gain. I wrote the bulk of this post 13 weeks pregnant and still very much ‘in it’ so to speak, but as I amend it before posting at 18 weeks, I can say that while I have pulled out of the depression, I am not the same person I was. The value I have put on social media has changed, as it the type of content I want to put out. My priorities and daily goals have right-sized to 3, maybe 4 meaningful tasks a day, and everything from there is just a bonus. Of course, that’s temporary because the future holds the 3rd and 4th trimesters and uh… another life form on my hands, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
There is no moral of this story. I hope that after reading this people realize that the first trimester can often be harder mentally than it is physically, and I hope women realize that as with everything in life, there is a season. Maybe I could have used more help, maybe I was depressed anyway, who knows. Did my business suffer a little? Absolutely, but I also think struggling to write and executing poorly could have hurt my business as well. In the end, it’s only 3 months, and I am 3 months closer to the next hurdle that life is throwing my way. So bring it.