The Joys of the First Trimester – Guest Blogger Hayley Rolf

As some of you may know, Shellie is going to have another niece or nephew and she is super excited about it. Another brand new human for her to take pictures of! She is so happy for her brother Andy and his lovely fiancé Hayley to welcome their new arrival. Hayley will be blogging the details of her pregnancy journey and will be featuring as our guest blogger with a series of blogs designed to give you an insight into the highs (and lows) of her journey, warts and all (or should I say vomit?) Here is the first:

The Joys of the First Trimester – Guest Blogger Hayley Rolf.

A down to earth record of the first three months of pregnancy for a first time mum-to-be.

So you’ve just found out your pregnant. You want to tell everyone but you know its not a wise idea, just in case the worst happens. Now you face the unknown, virtually alone, at least until the 12 week dating scan. Well here’s how it was for me.

“Morning sickness” stage by stage

Before I start, morning sickness sounded like such an easy thing to manage. As if you just wake up some days, vomit a little, then carry on your day as normal… HA!

Week 5-8 – I only found out I was pregnant at 6 weeks gone.  After having a whole week of extreme tiredness and loss of appetite mixed with a sicky feeling until 1pm every day. This rapidly accelerated into 24 hour nausea, to the stage I’d be lent over a bucket praying to be sick with no luck. This was when I started to realise pregnancy may not be as glamorous as I first thought. The only positive to this was that I quickly hit my 8 stone weight goal that so many diet attempts had failed to achieve!

Week 8-14 – It was around week 8 I was blessed with the real deal, sickness! I had learnt by this stage to force myself to eat through the nausea, however it was never long until breakfast made its way up. Nothing would stop me throwing up in the mornings, I only found things that made it come on faster. Any strong smell, or even just the motion of the toothbrush in my mouth was enough to instantly eject my food! I soon became an expert on discrete public puking. Every evening from about 4pm, I’d also get horrific nausea, and if I was really lucky I’d be blessed with sickness session two. Most evenings I would doubt I had the strength to continue, and feared that I would be one of those unfortunate people who suffers the entire way through their journey.

week 14+ – It was only at around week 14 that thankfully the nausea and sickness started to ease off and become a lot less frequent. It was the first time I could try to ‘enjoy’ food on any level. However, this was quickly replaced by chronic indigestion. Any food would queue immediate sicky burps!

WARNING DON’T BE FOOLED – I had a 3 day streak at around week 12 without any sickness. I was ecstatic, thinking I was over the worst of it. But…no. The sickness came back with vengeance. So you’ve been warned, don’t crack out the party poppers too early.

Other struggles

Alongside the sickness and the nausea, there were a catalogue of other symptoms that made this first trimester a tricky time.

Low blood pressure

I noticed the exhaustion kept getting increasingly worse. After a little online research, low blood pressure seemed to cause similar effects on other mums to be. Luckily I had a home blood pressure monitor which revealed my blood pressure to average 82/48 most days! I had to be careful not to faint or stand up to long to avoid any falls or accidents. This also meant I spent most of my days off in bed, with very little energy!

Lack of sleep

Rest they say. You wont get much sleep when the baby’s here they say… Believe me, all I wanted to do was sleep, but could I? Nope. I developed this bizarre problem whereby I could only lay comfortably on my back. The second I would roll onto either side, a intense wave of nausea would sweep over me. I often woke up with a bad back due to being stuck in the same position. Not to mention the ever growing night time toilet trips.

Crying

Normally it’s a rare sight to see me cry. But with the cocktail of first trimester goodies I was dealing with day to day, I often found myself crying in the bath tub at the end of a days work doubting my ability to be a mum! I know, melodramatic hormones right?

Baby bloat

It took me by surprise how quickly my skinny jeans became too tight. I’d find myself unbuttoning myself and even the zip on a bad day. I soon realized this premature baby bump was actually in fact just a huge bloated belly!

Traveling

I found anything from walking too fast to car journeys would bring on a lovely bout of sickness! My stomach has always been motion sensitive, but throwing up out of the van window on the way to work took this to a whole new level!

Smells & strange tastes

I can remember hugging my partner and thinking, ‘you smell funny,’ but it was as if his natural man smell I once used to love, just changed… It wasn’t long before the smell of any food brought on gagging, to the point I couldn’t even open the fridge or cook. The funniest thing I discovered was that I couldn’t even go to the toilet without the smell making me literally sick! It became an inevitable side effect to any toilet trip! Flavours and food would often linger for longer in my mouth, often mutating into something completely unpalatable. An emergency teeth cleaning kit was always to hand as a result!

Spontaneous gagging

Despite the sensitive senses, I found myself gagging for no reason, sometimes I’d just be walking, lost in my own thought and I’d start randomly gagging. There really was no explanation, so I wont even try to analyse it further!

Toilet habits

Every pregnancy forum I read warned me of the dreaded constipation. However, through the first trimester I seemed to have quite the opposite. In fact on days that I had sickness and the runs, I often felt like I had permanent food poisoning rather than just being pregnant!

Exercise and nutrition

Prior to becoming pregnant I spent a lot of time researching how to maintain a healthy body that is optimum for the baby’s development. I had conjured this magical image of the best body, glowing skin, with the most fabulous exercise routine. I even had recipes written up for juices and smoothies I was planning to consume to pack in the maximum amount of nutrients. However, the harsh reality for me through the first trimester was not as vitamin fueled as I hoped. I lived off mainly crackers and dried cereals… hardly nutritious. As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes on a good day I could stomach some plain instant noodles, or pasta. Similarly, as far as exercise goes, I was lucky if I could survive the short commute to work, let alone any shape or form of recognized exercise. The worst bit about this was the feeling of guilt. I felt so drained, physically and mentally, during these first 3 months, that I felt incapable of making any effort towards these goals I had set out. I thought my baby was being deprived and it was my fault. Especially, in the light of all of these perfect mum-to-be articles on how important exercise and nutrition was. The only thing that got me through was encouragement that I was trying the best I could. And that my pregnancy supplements was at least supplying some nutrition to baby.

The first scan

Whenever my partner Andy asked if I was excited for the scan, my answer was always no. I just couldn’t get my head round how a living thing could be thriving and healthy inside me when I felt so poop! However, when the day came I couldn’t believe what was on the screen. Our baby was kicking around so active and so baby-like. It surprised me how developed it looked. And more how it was moving so much and I couldn’t feel it! We discovered the baby was a fan of headstands, making the sonographer’s job more challenging. During this scan the sonographer checks measurements and overall size of the baby, even checking both hemispheres of the brain are developing properly! This will supply the parents with a due date, ours being July the 4th 2018, putting us at 13 weeks on the day of the scan.

We also faced another decision; whether to participate in the screening tests. This screens for Down’s, Edwards’ and Patau’s syndromes, and supplies the parents with a percentage chance of your child having each of these syndromes. For me this would be just another thing to worry about, especially as this screening doesn’t give you a definite yes or no answer. If the parents go ahead with this screening, and the results come back as past a certain threshold, you are then offered a further test to determine that definite yes or no. However, this comes with a further percentage risk of miscarriage. For us, this just wasn’t worth loosing a potentially syndrome free baby.

Overall the scan experience was a huge relief. It made all the sickness and struggles worth it, and I could now share the news with friends and family. It also gave me that reassurance and encouragement to get through the last week or so of ‘morning’ sickness. Up until this point, you can’t see or feel the baby, and your the only one that knows about this secret, so it can be hard to swallow the idea that your pregnant. But you walk away with your first piece of tangible reassurances you are in fact pregnant!

Telling friends and family

Again I pictured some amazing happy funny announcement with all the family together, after the first scan. Did that happen? of course not! I was so rubbish at coping with sickness and lack of energy, colleagues soon started to guess, and my mum soon demanded it out of me at just 10 weeks. The huge slip up for me was when my family threw me a little engagement party meal, at a lovely lodge with a hot tub. After I refused the Prossecco, avoided the hot tub, gagged at the garlicy meal, quickly ran off to bed, and was just generally being super miserable… my mum soon guessed. So by the time I had the scan, it was hardly the happy surprise I planned!

Things that help

It’s not all bad! You do find ways of coping that works specifically for you, I promise. I only cracked it in the last 2 weeks, but its different for everyone.

Avoid smells

Obviously this isn’t always possible but where you can, just don’t go near dodgy smells! Luckily my partner was amazingly helpful. I couldn’t even open the fridge without gagging, so luckily I was exempted from cooking duties for a while. Similarly, washing up and the sink hole would pose the same problem of gross foody smells, so I also escaped cleaning! For all of those smells you just cant avoid, be sure to have a perfume hanky to hand. I used ‘Sun’ perfume from Lush, which is full of Brazilian orange oils. I would bury my nose in this perfume drenched hanky whenever a bad smell was detected.

Sickness remedies

Every article, YouTuber, and TV programme will tell you ginger is great for nausea. Not for me it wasn’t. If I was going to be sick, I was going to be sick, nothing would stop that. I tried everything from eating just dried food, to Sea Bands, all of which was just a wasted effort. In fact for me dried foods for breakfast made it worse, and I only realized this towards the end of my first trimester. between 8-14 weeks it was inevitable I would throw up every morning. I found by eating dry toast, dry cereal, or crackers, the sick would be a hard painful lump that made the ‘morning sickness’ experience even harder to handle than it had to be. I converted to homemade breakfast smoothies. I figured that because it was liquid the nutrients would be absorbed quicker by my body. Then when I did throw it up, it was easy and didn’t taste that bad. Another thing that slightly helped was peppermint tea. It never prevented sickness, and it wasn’t amazing at helping nausea, but it would reduce bloating, indigestion, and cleanse those lingering bad tastes.

Crackers

I noticed that hunger would often make the nausea worse, but it wasn’t easily identified as hunger like I used to know it. Salty crackers throughout the day were great at just ensuring hunger never built up. It never got rid of the nausea for me, but it stopped it reaching the horrific levels while I was at work. The salt in the crackers would also help with my low blood pressure, and feeling faint.

Moan to a fellow mum-to-be or has recently been

In early pregnancy I was living in our campervan on my brother in-law’s drive way. By a bizarre twist of fate, my midwife letter fell out of the campervan and ended up in his hands. Being a dad of four he knew what this meant, and thankfully opened the door for me to talk to Laura, his wife, about all the difficulties of pregnancy. It was just nice to know someone else who had it bad and survived!

Seeing the baby

Like I mentioned earlier the best thing that helped me through was seeing our baby for the first time. That gave me all the resilience I needed!

In a nutshell

It can be tough! Some people have no symptoms, others have all of them relentlessly. Nevertheless they normally subside between 12-16 weeks for most women. I guess the best thing you can do is be aware and prepared for getting the short straw. And if you are one of the unlucky ones, know there are plenty of other women who are going through it, or have gone through it, that are fine and dandy now. Likewise, never compare how you cope to other people. Just get through it with whatever methods you can, and don’t feel guilty if you have to live off carbs for 3 months and are a miserable troll! Getting through the first trimester was the most physically and mentally challenging thing I have ever done (labour will probably replace that statement!) And I have so much more awareness and respect for what pregnant women have to go through. But now I’m on the other side of the dreaded first trimester, I can confidently say, it gets better!

Help is out there

If you’re pregnant and just want like minded women to talk to, there are plenty of Facebook groups and forums designed to discuss the ups and downs of pregnancy. Similarly, if there is anything in my blog that you want to discuss further feel free to comment.

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