Being Pregnant

If You’re Literally Just Trying to Survive the First Trimester, You’re Not Alone

surviving first trimester"
surviving first trimester
Source: Canva
Source: Canva

If I had to rank the times I have felt the most awful in my life, surviving the first trimester of my current pregnancy would be at the very top. And as someone who has gone through pregnancy and childbirth before, including an emergency C-section where I felt way too much pain during the entire surgery, that’s saying a lot. To sum up my first trimester of pregnancy in one sentence: I feel so grateful and blessed and happy to be pregnant, but this is also the absolute worst.

I’m currently 17 weeks pregnant and finally out of the horrible woods of my first trimester, but a solid three months of my life looked like this: I had debilitating nausea that only stopped when I slept. I didn’t want to eat anything, but being hungry made the nausea worse, so I’d force myself to eat large amounts of food every day. Nothing sounded good until I would randomly think of one thing I hadn’t eaten in years that I suddenly craved. I would get it, eat it, and immediately regret it. I felt like I was at the starting line of a marathon that would never end. To keep that finish line somewhere in sight—however distant it may seem—here are my best pieces of advice for surviving the first trimester and to give you hope that it does get better.

Try and stay off the pregnancy side of social media

I know so many other women know exactly how I feel, but if social media were anything to go by, you’d think I was the only woman in the world fighting this particular battle. I admit that I spend too much time on TikTok, and since the algorithm seems to always know what I’m thinking, I kept getting served videos of women in the “trenches” of the first trimester. But while my trenches looked like one of those old paintings of a Victorian woman dying of the plague, everyone else’s seemed to look like a Katy Perry music video—makeup is done, hair looks cute, colors are bright, the outfit is put together, and they laugh and smile while talking about feeling sick or having food aversions. Cue the GIF of Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids saying, “Are you f*cking kidding me?”

While it was easy to hate on these videos (and I did in whispers to myself), it was honestly only out of jealousy. Women go through so much, and since everyone’s pregnancy journey is different, I love that many women can handle the ups and downs of the first trimester with such grace. I, however, am not that woman.

First-trimester remedies aren’t one size fits all

When it became almost impossible for me to function regularly, I talked to my doctor about what could help ease my discomfort (all the tips about ginger chews and salted crackers meant nothing to me—the thought of ginger made me want to crawl into a hole and crackers were not sitting well). She recommended taking B6 vitamins and Unisom, a pregnancy-safe sleeping aid, to help curb the nausea. I tried that for a week and felt zero improvement. She then prescribed me Zofran, a common prescription used to treat more severe nausea in pregnancy, and I was so hopeful that I was finally about to feel a little better. But then I took that for a week and also felt zero improvement.

I spent the next few days reading online pregnancy forums just hoping to find someone else like me who didn’t have any luck with these common remedies. Part of me wanted to feel less alone while sitting on my couch trying not to move an inch in case switching positions made the nausea worse. I didn’t find anything. I knew there was really nothing else I could do except wait… wait for my second trimester, which felt like it would never come.

Source: Elevae Visuals

Sometimes you have to take it one second at a time

Despite how awful I felt, I knew it wasn’t as bad as some women had it. I wasn’t throwing up regularly, and I didn’t have the dreaded hyperemesis gravidarum, an extremely severe type of morning sickness and vomiting that often requires hospitalization due to dehydration.

I also work from home, so I didn’t have to commute to and from a job every day (women who have to do that while pregnant, especially if you’re on their feet all day, how did you do it?), and was able to easily hide my pregnancy before I felt ready to announce it. Trying to remain composed in meetings and keep my brain sharp enough to get things done wasn’t easy at all—but I tried to remind myself that things could be worse every morning when, as soon as I opened my eyes, I would think, “Here we go again. Another day of feeling like hell.” 

People would tell me to “just take it one day at a time,” but that would make me feel even worse because an entire day often felt like two years. So, I decided to just take things second by second. If I got through a morning meeting without crying, that was a win. If I could eat lunch without feeling like I was on a tiny ship in the middle of a hurricane, that was a win. When you feel like you’re standing still with the longest road you’ve ever seen stretched out ahead of you, all you can do is take one step at a time… at your own pace.

Lean on as many people as you can to help

Whether you have to care for toddlers, your pets, or just yourself while pregnant, it’s crucial to lean on those around you for help—and you should not feel guilty about it. I had a 1-year-old daughter to tend to during my first trimester, and whenever I could, I would tag my husband in to take over. Even just feeding her lunch felt like an impossible task some days, so he and my family stepped in as much as they could. I wouldn’t have gotten through the worst days without them, so whoever it is that makes up your parenting village, call them. Often.

Don’t feel bad or guilty for looking like a hobbit 

This is probably my favorite piece of advice, mostly because I didn’t really hear it from anyone else, and I wish I would have. In addition to the TikToks of pregnant women wearing regular clothes and looking fabulous, I would also see pregnant neighbors out for runs or newly pregnant moms playing games with their older kids in the park. I would watch these things as I wore the same outfit (leggings, an old T-shirt, and a large sweatshirt) for the fourth day in a row, sans makeup, with a look on my face equivalent to that of a dog after their favorite treat was just taken away. I looked rough, and I had not one ounce of energy in me to change that. And you know what? That’s OK!

As impossible as it may sound, the second trimester will be here before you know it

Please don’t get mad at me for saying this (I would get very annoyed when I heard this and think, “They just don’t get it.”), but I promise you that the second trimester will really be here before you know it. Do whatever you need to do to survive those first few months, whether it’s finally watching that list of movies you always wanted to see or just hiding under the covers from as many responsibilities as you can, and the time will tick on. Some days will be slower than others, and some weeks will fly by in an instant. But no matter the pace, time is always moving forward. Every day is one step closer to hopefully feeling better.

For me, the second trimester finally brought relief, and I’m sending you all of those good vibes, too. While I still look like a hobbit most days, I have some energy back, food sounds good again and doesn’t make me queasy, and I wake up in the morning and think, “It’s going to be a good day!” I never thought I would feel that way again, but I did, and you will, too. Hang in there!

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