Things I didn’t expect from the first trimester

Surprises about the first trimester

I’m learning things as I get older, and one of the biggest things I’ve realised is that there’s always more to learn. And the most surprising thing is that the amount of stuff you have to learn is constantly increasing as you realise how little you know.

Does this sound weird and confusing? What I’m trying to say is that I’ve learnt a lot over the past few months, and I know I’ve got a whole lot more to learn over the coming months and years.

And there have been a few things that have surprised me that I didn’t know about the first trimester. What with all the information out there on the internet, you think surely you’ll have come across every little detail about pregnancy before, but if you’ve read my 20 things I Googled during my first trimester post, you’ll know that wasn’t exactly true. So here are a few things I’ve learnt through my experience of the first trimester as a first time mum (and even so, these are bound to be different for everyone!):

No bump yet

I knew that I wouldn’t just go from zero to bump overnight, but, you know, I thought it might appear pretty shortly after finding out. My mum warned me that I probably wouldn’t need maternity shorts while in Florida (I didn’t need them, but wore them anyway!), but I thought that I would give them all a huge shock when we got home with the massive change that would happen between weeks 14 and 17.

Um, no. I did experience a bit of bumping during weeks 9-12, but now at 19 weeks, that bump is entirely different, so I’m pretty sure it was all bloat! That’s not to say it’s not a totally valid pregnancy symptom, but it was definitely a lot more bloat than baby. It was only about a week ago that suddenly my lower stomach started feeling physically different – it’s now generally a lot harder with a very obvious difference between where the uterus ends and my actual stomach begins.

Super strong nails

I’ve always had very brittle nails that do grow, but that also flex, peel and snap off at a certain length. But a weird thing happened when I got pregnant – it was like their strength quadrupled! I don’t normally carry nail clippers with me when I go on holiday as they just snap off so it’s not needed, but it was totally needed on our honeymoon – they grew like claws! And I fully enjoyed freaking out my sister with them over Skype!

Feeling totally wiped out

This was something I knew about, obviously, but it’s something else entirely to experience it. I’m no stranger to tiredness thanks to terrible sleeping patterns, but this was, again, something totally different. I’m usually a very motivated person, but I had a total lack of motivation in every aspect of my life – I even had to admit to my boss that I was struggling at times to stay motivated in my job, and blogging completely fell to the wayside. I neglected my various inboxes because I didn’t have the energy to look at them, and I fell asleep several times after getting home from work – something I never ever do!

On top of that, it was mentally exhausting. Having a complete and utter phobia of sickness and nausea but feeling sick nearly 24/7 for a few weeks took a huge toll on me. Fortunately it was an excellent way for me to deal with the phobia – exposure at its finest – but that was absolutely no easy job.

And I can now say through experience that the first trimester exhaustion was worse than jet lag! I’ve travelled the route from the US to the UK many times and I always hate that return day because you feel so…yuck. Trying to force your eyes to stay open and not wanting to anything except stare blankly at a TV.

This time, I’d reached my second trimester while we were away and had been feeling SO MUCH BETTER. After an international flight home from our honeymoon, I felt absolutely fine to unpack the cases, do a load of washing, cook tea and read. The next day, I cooked a huge batch of soup that took 2 hours (and a lot of chopping!), cleaned the kitchen (like properly cleaned it), picked up my parents’ dog from the kennels, and saw my family in the evening. And felt totally fine!

I had a direct comparison to the exhaustion I’d had just weeks earlier with that jet lag, so yep.

No baby for the first couple of weeks!

Did you know that for weeks 1 and 2 of your pregnancy, there’s actually no baby?! Nope, I didn’t have a clue either – why aren’t they teaching us this stuff?! Most people find out they’re expecting at around 4-5 weeks, but the baby’s age at this point is only 2-3 weeks. Why?! Apparently because you start counting pregnancy from the very beginning of your cycle, ie. day 1 of your period, and you don’t ovulate until about 14 days in (of course, this is different for everyone). So if you think you’re getting pregnancy symptoms at 2 weeks – you’re not, there’s no baby! Even at 4 weeks, they say you don’t really have any symptoms either. Really weird.

Crazy vivid dreams

This was something else no one told me about so I wasn’t really expecting it when I starting waking up every single night because my dreams were so vivid and lifelike. I’ve had nightmares; I’ve had dream-appearances from people I haven’t seen in real life for years; I’ve had convoluted storylines that don’t make any sense, and ones that do make a ridiculous amount of sense until I’ve woken up. That’s quite possible why I was so exhausted during my first trimeter – I was living adventures every single night!

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