Surviving the First Trimester

early pregnancy struggles

I wasn’t going to write this post. Why not? Because I know all I’m going to do is whine and complain. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. So how can I put a positive spin on this? Make it a tale of survival? That might work…let’s see.

Pregnancy is not easy on me. And it’s one of the major reasons I dragged my feet before being game for a second round of it. Regardless, I entered into this pregnancy with a positive outlook, visualizing a more comfortable experience, convincing myself that if I believed it would be different, it might be. Unfortunately, I wasn’t so lucky. Some people are, and I try not to hold it against them :), but some of us have a harder time. We’ll probably never really know why pregnancy is so different for all of us.

The first trimester of pregnancy is such an interesting time – there’s so much going on all at once. The excitement of creating a new life. The secret that you can’t wait to tell your friends and family. The anticipation of how much your life will change in 9 months time. There’s so much fun – the positive pregnancy test, the first ultrasound and seeing your baby’s heartbeat, sharing the news with loved ones. It’s undeniably an exciting time.

But if you’re one of the (un)lucky ones, it’s also a time of discomfort and frustration. Here you are supposed to be so happy and positive about this miracle taking place, and instead all you can think about is making it through the day. The weeks go by like months. The nausea…the exhaustion…the indigestion…the lack of motivation to do ANYTHING. Anything but eat, really. The carb loading, the couch potato-ing…somehow it doesn’t sound so bad when I write it – but it is.

It’s such a tease – it’s supposed to be the happiest time of your life but you’re miserable AND on top of that, you’re not supposed to tell anyone. You’re not showing, so you don’t get special attention –  and this is the time you really need it!

The physical discomforts quickly turn to emotional ones. I wrote this journal entry a couple weeks ago when I was having a particularly rough day:

This is exactly why I was hesitant to do this again. I knew it would take me away from my daughter if I felt like this again…it’s not her fault that her mommy is sick and has no energy and isn’t always fun to be around. I feel like I’m failing her (tears streaming as I write). I have trouble playing with her for long periods of time; I started crying while she was playing doctor to my patient tonight and she was confused. Here she is trying to “make mama feel better” and all I could think about was how uncomfortable it was for me to be sitting on the floor with her. I had to add her to daycare tomorrow because a day alone with her is too much for me to handle right now.

Some days I can power through, I tell myself this isn’t forever, that it will pass especially if I stay positive. But then I find myself mentally and emotionally drained from the push.


Blame exhaustion, hormones, mom guilt, whatever, but it gets really hard to balance your own comfort and your family’s needs. It also can be very confusing to be both excited to be pregnant and feel miserable being pregnant at the same time. I obviously wouldn’t trade being pregnant for anything and yet there are times I want to throw up my hands and surrender…or run away from my own body.

In between being sick and complaining about being sick, I took a few notes. Here is some of what I felt – let me know if I’m not alone. Misery loves company, right?!

Starting at 6-7 weeks: 

  • Insane increase in appetite (“I had fried rice for breakfast”)
  • Extreme Exhaustion, lack of motivation, lack of any kind of energy
  • Dizziness when I get up too quickly
  • Carb Loading (frozen burritos, breads, rice, mac & cheese, anything bready…later I cut out gluten and feel so much better ironically)
  • So hungry but everything I look at in my fridge makes me want to puke
  • My body aches from inactivity but I have no drive or energy to do anything active
  • I eat 3 meals before 12pm
  • So thirsty
  • Moderate nausea constantly there throughout the day with waves of more intense nausea
  • My nipples are sore and Ellie must know because she is constantly elbowing me there

8-9 weeks:

  • Weird (and sometimes bad) dreams are beginning
  • Noticing a bump already!
  • Not pooping as much…
  • Sweet tooth is almost non-existent (which may be the weirdest symptom for me)
  • Still SO hungry.  I don’t know what I want to eat until I see it and then I can’t eat it fast enough.
  • Get breathless very quickly.
  • I found a plus! My boobs are getting a little bigger 🙂
  • Heart rate rises so much faster when I exercise
  • Feeling super bloated and full at night (gluten??)
  • Indigestion is starting, feeling a fullness in my chest at all times

10-13 weeks: 

  • Indigestion worsening: GERD, acid reflux (this was the WORST of all ailments during my last pregnancy!)
  • Not as exhausted but still tired and wanting a nap every day
  • My belly is stretching and itching like crazy
  • In that frumpy, I-look-like-I-ate-too-much stage where you just want to scream to the world: “I’m actually pregnant!!”
  • Waking up sporadically through the night, hard to fall back asleep
  • Having paranoid thoughts about something going wrong with the pregnancy (I didn’t have these last time around!)

13-16 weeks: 

  • Everyone says now that the first trimester is over I should be feeling much better. I’m not yet.
  • I’m having to sleep propped up on 4 pillows which makes for an interesting night’s sleep
  • Busted out the belly band – some pants still button, some don’t come close!
  • I lost a filling while I was chewing gum for the first time in over a year. Has anyone ever had that happen – a tooth fall out basically? Freaky stuff!!
  • 2 week long sinus infection which feels like the end of my life.

Oh shoot…I haven’t gotten to the survival part of the story! Okay, so here I am. 17+ weeks along, finally kicking my sinus infection and feeling less run down and more optimistic. See – it IS possible. I know from my last pregnancy that there probably won’t be too much smooth sailing but anything is better than that first trimester crap. UGH! You don’t know how many times I said to Chris, my family and friends: “Mark my words, I will NEVER do this again!!!” I still stand by that but I promise I am excited to do it this time. I have a little (very healthy) life growing inside me and it’s just plain incredible what our bodies are capable of. Mine just likes to remind me of it every other second with aches and pains and various yucky feelings. But I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Well ask me 3 weeks ago and maybe I wouldn’t have been ready to say that yet…but, anyways, you get it.

Bring on the second trimester!

10 thoughts on “Surviving the First Trimester

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this article, I feel as bad as you and have all the same symptomes, but I feel so much better now, knowing that I’m not the only one. Thank you thank you

    1. You are not alone and there is an end! I’m sorry you’ve felt so terrible. Hope relief is coming your way soon. My pregnancies were far from comfortable but I felt so much better (physically) when the babies were OUT! Hang in there and TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. It’s a great time to practice that. OXOX

  2. Welp, there goes a brother or sister for Evie!!! Nah I’m joking, but, YOU POOR THING!!!! You’re so right – we will never truly know why we all have such a different time with pregnancy (and even the same person different pregnancy). You are a TROOPER. I’d be asking daycare if they had extended hours! You do so much already and on top of all that you are experiencing so much inside your body, crazy hormones, and overall fatigue! I remember saying during my first trimester I didn’t know how people who already had kids did it again. I knew the TV schedule by heart. I didn’t leave the couch for at least 6 whole weeks. I loved that you shared your story about your fears having a second in the first place, and you are truly doing the best you can and keep such a great perspective even with all the hard stuff. You’re an inspiration and thank you for sharing!!!!

    1. You just reminded me of my first pregnancy, being in bed, so sick and thinking “how will I be able to do this a second time when I already have a kid to take care of?” I thought that a lot! And here I am…and its hard. Now that my energy is back, I can cope so much better with the other crap. I don’t think I realized how much the exhaustion played a role in everything feeling like the end of the world! Thanks for reading through my complaints – and always being so supportive. Can’t wait to return the favor! XOXOXOX

  3. You are so amazing Jess! I hope the next two trimesters somehow ease up on you and you find some comfort. I can only imagine how hard it is to feel like that all the time yet still be excited for what’s at the end! Hang in there mama, you’re getting closer to the finish line everyday:-)

  4. I absolutely hate hearing that you feel like this, especially when you take such good care of yourself! 🙁 I can’t imagine how it must feel, but you can’t be the only one out there who experiences these awful symptomes. Sending so many positive thoughts your way for a more comfortable second and third trimester!

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