Pregnancy, Part 1. Shock. Relief. Onions.

Anyone who has ever been pregnant will never, ever forget the moment they first found out. I can say that with a great deal of confidence. For me, it was about 11 months ago but I remember it clear as day. I am a military spouse, so my husband and I move to a new state, territory, or town every few years. In July of 2018, we had just relocated to Rhode Island from North Florida. When I say “just” I mean, we had arrived in Rhode Island a mere 10 days prior, our recently purchased home was bare as can be and our household goods (military move term for furniture and all other worldly possessions) had not arrived yet. We were splitting our time between a mediocre airport hotel and our barren house, when I began to notice my emotions were really, really out of whack. Moving is a stressful time, but I was a hot mess express. My period was also late, but that wasn’t really uncommon for me. I decided to take a pregnancy test. It was negative, so I chalked it up to PMS and legit just being a basket case who doesn’t handle stress well. 

A week later, I was still super emotional, so tired and still no period. It was a Friday afternoon, I had left the hotel to visit with our geriatric cat in our unfurnished home when I decided maybe I should take the second test that had come in the box. Totally expecting it to be negative again, I took the test. To my complete and utter shock, a second, although very faint line appeared.

HOLY. S*%T. I said over and over and over again, while pacing the empty house (empty aside from a half-deflated air mattress and empty Starbucks cups) we had just purchased sight unseen. HOLY. EXPLETIVE. I was elated, I was scared, but mostly I just couldn’t believe it. I had taken my fair share of tests and that second line has NEVER appeared. And here I was. Completely alone (aside from my Hubby & elder feline friend) in a new state, in an unfurnished home, and now, NOW the second line appeared. I was so nervous to tell my husband, but once I finally did he couldn’t quite believe it either! We were going to be parents. Times were changing…

Those first weeks between the time time you see the second line and the time you’re seen by a doctor are completely nerve racking.

*Note to future self; EVERYTHING is going to be nerve racking from this point forward. Get used to it.*

Generally, your OBGYN (oh yeah, just moved so had to find one of those too) will not see you until you’re estimating to be about 8 weeks along. So, from the time I took the test to the time I was seen was about 3 weeks of agony. Pregnancy is really just a 9 month waiting game. You just want to know what’s going on in there. Is this really real? Will there be a heartbeat? Was this a false positive, even though I took 4 tests? Eventually, we were seen and I remember the moment well. I was squeezing my husband’s hand, ultrasound probe lodged well up my lady bits, when the ultrasound tech pointed to the screen and showed the little blurb and the tiny fluttering of a heartbeat, and said “Congratulations, you’re pregnant”. I let out the longest exhale and realized I didn’t even know I was holding my breath. I just felt so relieved and so grateful. Everyone asked me if I cried; I didn’t. I saved the tears for completely ridiculous moments that shouldn’t warrant tears, but the feeling of relief in that moment was like I had just lost 15 pounds off my chest.

The tech assigned me a due date of March 30, 2019, which in late July of 2018 seemed like a million years away. I went into that appointment thinking I was 8 weeks along, but they told me baby was measuring 6 weeks 6 days, meaning I likely ovulated later than a woman with a regular cycle, so the conception was later than we had thought. So, I got to start week 7 over again. And let me tell you, starting a week over again when you have pretty terrible morning sickness is not fun news. Everyone says by 13 weeks you should start feeling better, so every day you cross of your calendar gets you one step closer to the light at the end of the 13-week tunnel of hell. Luckily, I never vomited, but I was nauseous 24/7 with MAJOR food aversions.  I mean, MAJOR. I would gag and sob uncontrollably at even a cartoon illustration of an onion, and pre-pregnancy me loved onions.

To this day I’m mortified about an incident that happened involving onions being served to me after begging the waitress to please hold the onions. One of the hardest things about the first trimester is you don’t look pregnant just yet, so it’s hard to blame being a picky eater or an emotional basket case on your pregnancy, at least to strangers. I looked down at my plate and saw some red onions casually laying on my plate and totally lost it. I had to shove my husband out of the booth so I could frantically run to the ladies room like bat out of first trimester hell. Let me paint you a visual… I slid out of booth as dramatically as possible, tears streaming, one hand covering my mouth in case of vomit, one handle flailing in hopes of building more momentum/speed to the bathroom. Like a pregnant road runner. When I returned to the table about 20 minutes later, my plate had been replaced with an onion-free version, but the damage was done. My ego and my nausea needed to go home. My father-in-law was there, I’m sure completely mortified to be in the presence of such a lunatic. From that point forward, all I could eat was plain cheese pizza. Like, garbage pizza, the kind that doesn’t show a spec of a real basil leaf or tomato or I’d cry some more. Saltines were found in every purse and on every surface of my home, crumbs always in my bra, and ginger ale was my only saving grace.

Those first 13 weeks were brutal. I felt terrible every waking moment, and I was a nervous wreck. On the few days I didn’t feel bedridden, I worried something was wrong. The sickness was almost something tangible to tell me things were okay in there. The first trimester is known to carry the highest risk of miscarriage, happening to about about 1 in 4 women. And although miscarriage is fairly common, it doesn’t make it easier, or less scary. Many women, myself included, did not publicly share our pregnancy news until we had emerged into the second trimester, as to not have to share the news if we had lost the pregnancy. At the time, it seemed like the right thing to do for our family, it’s what society told us to do. Struggle through your nausea and fears alone. Even though we were blessed with a healthy, full-term baby in the end, and I did not suffer a miscarriage, it makes me think how isolating it would have been if I had. Many women and families out there suffer in silence and it breaks my heart to think about.

Shock, Nausea and the fear of onions did subside as we emerged into the second trimester. By week 15 I was feeling much better, slightly more confident that this was real, and overjoyed that I was finally able to share the news.

I want to hear what your first trimester of pregnancy was like! Were you sick? Were you surprised? Were you scared? Share your story in the comments below!

The First Post, Why Aren’t Moms Honest?

The first post of many, the question that sparked this whole blog, a question I asked myself every day for the first 8 weeks of my baby’s life; why aren’t moms honest? I mean, brutally—hold the sugar—honest?

I remember the first few weeks as new mom, feeling incredibly lied to every day. The advice I remember receiving was “sleep when the baby sleeps” and “it will get better.” But why did no one tell me how truly brutal life with a newborn was? The truth about the time between the sleeping when the baby sleeps and when it gets better. Did they not want to scare me? Did they tell me and I blocked it all out? Was I a bad mom?

So there I was, thinking back to how miserable and uncomfortable I was those last few days of pregnancy, how eager I was to meet my little boy, I couldn’t wait! But now I had done it. I had given birth to my very own new human! I had my brand new minature soulmate wrapped up like a perfect little burrito in my arms. I was a superhero. And… I was postpartum. I emerged from the dreaded third trimester into the trimester I didn’t even know existed—the fourth. A time I had no idea would be so incredibly difficult to navigate. I looked in the mirror at my swollen yet hallow face, eyes so sunken in they looked like they needed a lifeguard to rescue them from drowning in my skull, boobs so engorged they felt like they might actually explode off my chest, nipples cracked and bleeding through my milk-stained robe (hello new mom uniform!). I threw back a cocktail of ibuprofen and stool softeners that I washed down with my oversized hospital cup, while rocking an adult diaper with an icepack stuffed inside. I was panicked that I wouldn’t have time to shower (for the 3rd day in a row) before the baby woke again, before I needed to attempt to breastfeed or pump again, before the cycle of keeping a tiny human alive started all over again, and said to myself…

What. The. Actual. Fuck.

To me, it was insanity. The things no one shares. The exhaustion, the love, the tears. Dear Lord the tears. They just streamed down my face like a broken fire hydrant. I was prepared for love. I was prepared to be tired. But not this. This. Was. Survival. I know parents don’t walk around bragging about how rested they are with a newborn, but the level of exhaustion is unparalleled to anything I’ve ever experienced. I had a hard time not thinking that there was something wrong with me—that I must have been weaker than most. That I was a bad mom because as much as I was grateful for this gift, that even though I loved my baby, I was struggling. But of course I was struggling. I was figuring out my new role as a mom right after my body had worked harder than it ever had in its 31 years of life. My body was screaming at me to rest, but nope, not today. Not tomorrow either. Or next week, or the week after that. An hour or two here, 20-minute naps there, but each time I woke up from said naps I would panic. How long was I out? Where is the baby? Baby was either with Dad or sleeping beside us in Rock ‘n Play (the only thing he would sleep in those early days) of course, but that new mom panic is a jolt like no other. 

The point of this blog is not to complain about the messy-beautiful journey that is motherhood, or to scare moms-to-be for that matter, it’s to start a conversation. An honest one. I can’t say I would have listened if someone told me about the rough reality of postpartum and new motherhood before I got thrown into the mom pool. And really, nothing can fully prepare you for what it’s going to be like until you’re in it. But I noticed when I was honest (I mean, really honest) about how things were going with other moms, during pregnancy and beyond, more and more started sharing stories of their own about how tough it all is. No one likes to feel alone when they’re going through some incredibly challenging life points, and I’ve never understood the phrase “it takes a village” more. 

I’m new here in mom town, as I write this, my “newborn” is now 3 months new. I’m a different version of the mom I was 8 weeks ago. I’m finally able to sit down (comfortably) and put pen to paper (or finger tip to macbook). I’ve gotten some of that sleep I missed so much. I’ve cooked a meal, although not many or anything beyond the skill level of tacos. If you haven’t gathered, it hasn’t been easy, but it’s getting better every day. That is one piece of advice many parents told me in the beginning— it gets better. And guess what? They were right.

If I thought the first few weeks were hard, I can only imagine the challenges I will face for weeks, months and years to come. And those challenges are what I want to share, because something tells me I’m not alone in the challenges of motherhood. To all the moms out there, seasoned and new, I just want to hug ya because damn we’re good. But guess what? We’re better together.