The first week after finding out I was pregnant, I didn’t feel that different. I did notice I needed to pee more often, my boobs were growing and I was feeling more tired, so I downloaded some apps to track the changes happening to me and my baby, and found everything I was experiencing was pretty normal.
A week after that, however, I began feeling super tired and experienced little bouts of nausea, along with frustration over figuring out what I felt like eating and then being bloated half the time from eating too much. That lasted about a month, so really, I’ve been super blessed and can’t complain about my first trimester feels.
I always imagined (like most of us probably) that I’d be the picture of perfection and health during my pregnancy. But that hasn’t really been the reality, especially when it comes to food. I’d thought I would eat a mostly vegan diet, avoid all sugary and processed foods and dairy, while still eating good quality eggs. However, I found for a while that my go-to breakfast was gluten-free Weetbix with yoghurt, massively out of character from my usual unprocessed, made-from-scratch green smoothie, chia pudding, buckwheat porridge or vegetable omelette. However, my Weetbix-and-yoghurt habit lasted for only a few weeks before I was back to buckwheat or quinoa-and-oat porridge.
There was also one afternoon when I was driving home from work and caught the whiff of fish-and-chips. That was enough to see me pull into the next fish-and-chip shop for dinner! And one day, I ducked into a shop and on the way out, the lovely cashier offered me a free Chupa Chup. I haven’t had one since my high school days, but I didn’t even give it a second thought. Strawberry-and-cream, thank you very much!
Since being pregnant, I’ve definitely made some choices I normally wouldn’t, but instead of beating myself up about it, I have just accepted it, chosen to be kind to myself, apologised to my baby and moved on, concentrating on keeping my lifestyle clean and healthy. I’m a huge believer in the effects of nutrition on a baby during pregnancy, so I didn’t want to use “eating for two” to excuse my being lazy. But I also accepted that none of us are perfect, and every choice can be learnt from and better choices made thereafter. I also came across an excellent little mantra for eating during pregnancy that is more apt: I need nutrients for two. I’m sticking with that one!
As previously mentioned, from about week nine or so, my symptoms began to subside and my energy levels started picking up. That was when I started to wonder if I’d just imagined the whole thing! But the moment the screen came on during our 12-week ultrasound, my husband and I saw, right there in the centre, our little baby! I’m tearing up just thinking about it, because in the instant I saw bubs, I realised this whole thing was for real. Somehow, a miracle had taken place and this tiny human, so developed in only 12 weeks (no wonder I was so tired!), was kicking and squirming and having a good old time right there somewhere under my belly button. I instantly fell in love. My husband grabbed my hand and it became real for us.
Dealing with fears
In the first few weeks, I was aware miscarriage is very common and tried to hold my excitement about the pregnancy in check. I still told all our family and friends however, as I’m the kind of person who would want the support and care of my family and community if I did experience that trauma and loss.
I remember doing hip extensions (glute raises) at the gym one day, with the bar across my abdomen, then freaking out that I might have squashed my baby! Around the same time, I ate some soft cheese, then remembered I wasn’t supposed to, and also drank kombucha, and then read that I should be careful with fermented foods and drinks.
One morning, I was demonstrating some exercises to my class, but felt really wrong about the jumping. I felt a little wetness in my undies and freaked out, thinking I’d ripped my baby from its safe, secure spot! It turned out all was good—I had just wet my pants (something to get used to I hear!).
When I messaged a close friend who's a mum of two, sharing my concerns, she replied, “Welcome to motherhood!” It’s true, the worrying has begun, but she also shared some wise words of wisdom with me: stressing isn't a good thing either and I just need to rest easy and remember I'm healthy and fit, and the baby will be fine (thanks Dee).
Another fear I’ve had is balancing bringing up our child while running and growing a business. Both require a lot of my time and energy, and I can foresee that overbalancing on one will be to the other’s detriment. The day I found out I was pregnant though, I decided I would still aim for the goals I have for my business. But if I find I can only do 10 per cent of what I wanted to achieve, that will be OK too because, more than anything, I want to be a present and intentional parent, helping to bring up my child to become a beautiful, God-loving, human-loving person.
Probably the biggest fear, and one I’ve had even before falling pregnant, is whether I will be a good enough mum. I have very high ideals and expectations for myself, because I truly believe that parenting is the highest calling and largest responsibility we can have in this life—which has been part of the reason we held off having kids for years. My husband and I both come from broken homes and have seen its devastating effects in our own lives and many others, and we didn’t want to repeat our parents’ mistakes or mess up our kids. So, knowing we’re imperfect and won’t make the best choices every time, we plan to do our best, with guidance from our Heavenly Father every step of the way. This child, we believe, is a gift from Him, so we need all the help we can get from the Creator.
My plan to keep my mindset positive and empowered is to surround myself with people who share the same values as me, only read books that empower me and educate myself on what my body is capable of, choose not to take on others’ experiences (especially the negative ones), and continue to walk and talk daily with my Creator, the One who is knitting together this precious new life in my womb right at this moment.
Alisha, At The Table’s resident PT is due in August.