I am going to write these trimester update posts almost like long form diary posts to myself, but I also want to share my experience with you in case you are pregnant, TTC (trying to conceive), or are just generally curious. This post might get a little TMI (that’s the thing about pregnancy… you have to quickly get comfortable with all kinds of body functions), but I promise I won’t get too graphic in sharing my details. 😜 I also titled this post as a “bumpdate” even though I’m not even showing at this stage so there’s no visual bump to speak of yet! haha
We had decided early into 2020 that this year was the year that we were ready to grow our family! At first we were just guesstimating when my peak ovulation days were by going by the average ovulation cycle, but after a few months without success we decided to try to track my peak fertile days with ovulation sticks (shoutout to my friend Alyse for this suggestion!). Using them seemed to do the trick because we had much better insight on the days we would have a higher probability of success. Thankfully, this was made even easier with quarantine (I am predicting a COVID Baby Boom — you heard it here first! 😂). Sure enough, two months after implementing our ovulation stick method things were looking promising.
A few days beyond my missed period in October I casually tried a pregnancy test. I didn’t completely trust the results so I tried two more tests. 🤣 All three of them yielded the same results: we were pregnant! I shed so many happy tears — the experience that I have been dreaming about my whole life was finally happening!! We were absolutely thrilled by the news!
As soon as we got the results from our home tests I made an appointment with my Primary Care Physician to officially confirm the pregnancy, to ask general questions (such as: can I continue to sleep on my stomach until it gets uncomfortable? can I still have a small cup of coffee every morning? etc.) and to receive a pregnancy-safe flu shot. My PCP kindly offered me a list of local OB / GYN recommendations which I was so grateful for because I had no idea where to even begin (it’s a blessing and a curse to be in Seattle because we have SO MANY physicians to choose from!). After an extensive review of all of our options, we made a decision and scheduled an initial obstetrician appointment!
After seeing my Primary Care Physician I immediately ordered pregnancy books, downloaded pregnancy apps, ordered more prenatal vitamins (will be sharing everything I found helpful soon!), began adjusting to my new lifestyle (cut back on caffeine — 8 oz only!, omitted alcohol, halted my CBD intake, modified my exercise routine, switched to clean personal care products, etc.), and we started planning how we wanted to surprise our family with the exciting news.
During Week 6 (everything in measured in weeks during pregnancy, FYI) I definitely started experiencing pregnancy symptoms: nausea, sensitivity to odors, fatigue, extremely sensitive / tender breasts, and finding that I now have to get up to pee at least once in the middle of the night. 🤪 I will say that my particular experience has not been like how the movies depict… I never suddenly felt the urge to throw up (thinking specifically of Katherine Heigl’s character in “Knocked Up” 😂). For me, it was more like a constant stomachache that would fluctuate in its intensity throughout the day. I know that other women struggle mightily with morning sickness and can even end up in the hospital trying to stay hydrated so I feel incredibly lucky to have only experienced extreme nausea.
My healthy eating habits completely went out the window during this trimester because the idea of eating most foods was so revolting — even the dishes that I normally LOVE to eat! I sustained myself mostly on carbs whenever I have any kind of appetite at all… but at that point I was just trying to make sure that both of us were getting any kind of calories and resolved to focus on eating healthier meals in the second trimester when my appetite would return.
At the end of Week 7 we did a mini session of announcement photos with our wedding photographer (now our family photographer! 🥰). We ordered prints of our favorite photo, put them in frames and mailed them to family members to surprise them for Christmas (which was great as not to raise suspicion since the holiday timing happened to coincide with the end of our first trimester!). Since we went with a coffee-themed photo I used some related verbiage in everyone’s cards: “We’ve been keeping a secret, but it’s finally time to spill the beans… we have a baby brewing!”
My first OB / GYN appt (during Week 8) was essentially just the medical office getting a baseline of my medical history and getting to know me as a patient… I filled out questionnaires, they took measurements (height, weight, etc.), and confirmed the pregnancy via urine test (again 😜). This exam was conducted by a Nurse Practitioner and I did not meet my doctor at this appointment. However, I did get to see the baby (which looked like a minuscule shrimp — seen above 😅) and I saw their tiny heartbeat blinking on the screen which was so cute and cool!
I did have a slight “scare” after my initial OB appointment. Since I have not had my annual physical yet this year (intentionally avoiding medical offices unless necessary in order to minimize potential COVID exposure), the nurse practitioner wanted to be sure that I had my annual pap smear. Unfortunately, taking that sample made my cervix quite unhappy and caused a bit of spotting that lasted longer than the nurse told me that it would, so of course I started to become concerned (FYI: spotting after this type of exam is perfectly normal as your body is especially sensitive during pregnancy… it was just the length of time that my body was spotting that made me anxious). My appointment had been on a Tuesday morning and I messaged my OB clinic on Thursday evening to make sure that I had shared this development just in case it was something we needed to keep an eye on. I then had a brief exchange with the nurse on Friday morning to determine if we should be worried. She advised me to wait a few more days and if the spotting had still not stopped I should reach back out to schedule an exam. The spotting did continue for a few additional days, but it eventually cleared up (by the end of the weekend) which was a major relief.
During Week 12 I elected to do a nuchal translucency scan to look for any glaring chromosomal abnormalities (in conjunction with a two-part blood analysis) and had my second OB / GYN appointment where I got to meet my doctor for the first time. Thankfully, I absolutely adore my doctor — she is very experienced / knowledgeable and has an excellent bedside manner. I just hope that she will be the one that is available to deliver our baby when the time comes! (She is part of a larger OB / GYN group and the physician partners are on a rotation at the hospital so who knows which of them will be there for our baby’s actual debut 🤷🏼♀️).
This nuchal translucency screening is a non-mandatory scan (meaning it will likely not be covered by insurance 😓), but I am SO GLAD that we did it, if for no other reason than the fact my husband was able to witness the scan with me. Due to COVID restrictions, my OB’s office is very strict about not allowing any “support persons” in with patients (which I fully appreciate and respect), but I’d be lying if I said that it hasn’t been tough to abide by during our first pregnancy because my husband is just as excited as I am about our baby and he would love to be present for all appointments. Thankfully, the imaging center that did my nuchal translucency scan permits one support person to join the patient and we were so glad because the scan experience was AMAZING. The baby no longer looked like a tiny shrimp (🤣), but like a real baby!
I don’t know if you can make sense of the above sonogram image, but it’s a side view of the baby with their legs to the left and their head to the right facing upward. He / she was moving around so much! I mean, the baby would stay still for a short periods of time so we were definitely able to get good photos of what the sonographer needed, but he / she also was twirling all around in my uterus, showing off so many different angles (which was great for this scan, actually). I couldn’t help but let a few tears fall in between happy giggles — it was seriously magical to see our little plum-sized baby living their best life! To get a good visual during this scan the imaging center requests that you drink 32 oz of water before your appointment so that you have a full bladder that helps create a gentle pressure in your abdomen to showcase the baby. I went the extra mile and ended up drinking ~44 oz of water and I was READY. TO. POP, but it was worth it for the appointment (the sonographer actually commented on how full my bladder was and how easy it made capturing an image of the baby 🙌🏼) so I highly recommend following the 32 oz guideline or even going a bit beyond that for great images of the baby!
The imaging center sent the results to my OB in time for my monthly checkup (which had been intentionally scheduled for just a few hours later on the same day) and after reviewing the results my OB assured me that the baby is looking healthy and “perfectly normal” — cue the tears again! I’ve been SO worried about the baby’s progress so hearing that phrase from the doctor was such a major relief… not that I really have any specific reason to be concerned; I just tend to fear the worst [as a coping mechanism] to brace myself for any potential bad news. Thankfully, everything is going well at this stage and I am feeling very, very grateful. My OB also used a baby fetal doppler to detect the baby’s heartbeat… my husband wasn’t able to be present for that, but it was such a happy and reassuring sound!
Also: can you get over the difference a month makes in regards to growth?! I mean, seriously… talk about MIND-BLOWING. In the first scan image the little white ball at the top of my little shrimp baby is the yolk sac and the head is actually the black outlined circle! 🤯 The size difference is essentially a the size of a raspberry vs. a plum (stealing those comparisons from The Bump app!). I honestly can not get over this “transformation”. 🥰
My next monthly checkup will be the first of my second trimester and I can’t believe that we’re 1/3 of the way through this pregnancy already — time is flying!
Thanks so much for joining me on this journey! I promise not to let this pregnancy completely take over my content, but it will certainly be present as it’s a big life change for me. It’s such a relief not to have to keep this secret anymore because I’m not great at lying / keeping [my own] secrets! 🤣
Please let me know if you have any questions in the Comments section below; I’m happy to answer them as best as I can. 😊