I originally wrote this post in 2018, after having made it through the first trimester of my first pregnancy. Now, in September 2020, I’ve made it through the first trimester of my second pregnancy – and I have more to add! These are those random pregnancy things that you don’t necessarily know to expect when you initially get pregnant. And sometimes, they’re the things you forget about later on. If you’re about to be a mom and you’re trying to figure out what to expect in the first trimester of your pregnancy – well, everyone’s experience is different, and even every pregnancy is different. These might be accurate, or they might be completely different.
In case you didn’t know; pregnancy is weird. Essentially, your body has been invaded by a parasite; a being who is dependent on the host, and will sap you of essential nutrients for its own benefit.
I knew that was the case.
I didn’t know so many other things.
You hear odds and ends, from friends and relatives and random clickbait articles on the internet. You learn about things in health class and biology while you’re in school. Sometimes you have reason to get more in depth. It doesn’t matter; nothing compares to living the experience.
Because seriously, it’s weird.
So if you are considering the idea of getting pregnant, or you’ve just encountered those two little lines on Ye Olde Peestick – well, buckle up. I’m about to tell you some of the things no one told me about pregnancy.
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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This does not constitute medical advice. It’s just a summary of my own experience.
That pregnancy test might be a lie
Oh, I’m not talking false positives. Pregnancy tests work by measuring for levels of human chorionic gonadotropin in your urine. HCG is only produced when you’re pregnant. Nope – I’m talking false negatives. Because the week before I found out I was pregnant, I took a pregnancy test (I even splurged and got one of the ones that was supposed to be “results five days sooner!”) and that sucker was negative. Not even the slightest hint of that second line.
A week later, I got sick with what I assumed was the stomach flu. After two days of feeling increasingly sick, I went to Urgent Care and found out it was not, in fact, the stomach flu. I later wound up determining that I was nearly five weeks pregnant with my “stomach flu.” My HCG levels were so high they were concerned I had twins or both an ectopic and a normal pregnancy (thankfully, neither was the case).
Now, when you count weeks of a pregnancy, the first two don’t really count. That’s the time in between your last period and ovulation. So in week 3, you ovulate. Sperm can live in the human body for up to five days. When you ovulate and the sperm find the egg, it still takes a couple days for the rapidly-dividing group of cells to make it into the lining of the uterus and officially make you “pregnant.” So it can be midway through week 3 to well into week 4 before you’re officially there. Which means that in the meantime, if you take a pregnancy test, and it comes up negative, it can still be wrong. So seriously – if it’s been a few days after a negative test, and there’s still no sign of Aunt Flo, take another. Especially if you’re feeling kind of nauseous. Because I swear, I must have taken my pregnancy test on the last possible day it could have been negative.
Also, I will never be able to have a queasy stomach again without running for a pregnancy test.
2020 update: this time around, I had a couple days of being ridiculously tired and then I started getting random flashes of nausea, at what I later realized was 3w6d. I took a pregnancy test at 4w1d. It wasn’t nearly as dramatic as my first pregnancy but I still felt pretty distinctly ill. Seriously – I will never again have the stomach flu in my life without running for a pregnancy test.
It’s okay to be grieving for your life
Life as you know it has just changed. It’s not just the absence of good sushi, alcohol, and soft cheeses for the next nine months – it’s the body you once had, the lifestyle you lived, and a certain portion of your heart and soul. This is something really difficult to adjust to, and it’s okay if you’re having a hard time with it. Guess what?! Everyone does!
2020 update: oh, man, I could go so much farther into this! It’s totally normal to miss the life you would otherwise have, even if things are changing for a great reason. I was happy to find out #2 was on the way, but I still cried because my daughter wasn’t going to be my only child anymore and I knew things would have to change with her.
Your boobs grow – like, seriously
Okay, I knew this was going to happen. Every female knows this. I just didn’t know how quickly it could happen! Before I got pregnant, I was already a D cup, and I was nervous about how bad it might get – but it was okay, because that happens towards the end of pregnancy, right?
Three. Weeks. It took three weeks and suddenly I was a DD and trying to buy all new bras, and freaking out because how far was this going to go?! I mean, quality bras are pricey. I was buying cheap ones from Ross because I didn’t want to spend a lot of money if I might not be wearing these next week.
As I write this, I’m twenty weeks into this, and my boobs are still DDs. They can still grow more. It’s like a ticking time bomb strapped to your chest. How long do I have before I have to buy still more bras?!
2020 update: I wound up getting nursing bras about halfway through. When I’m nursing I apparently shoot up to an H. That’s just nursing, that’s not even when I’m engorged. Oh, and your boobs are ruined forever. The one thing I wish I had known to do as soon as I found out I was pregnant – take pictures of my pre-baby breasts. I know that it might sound ridiculous but they were really nice.
Tired of being tired
It’s a tough adjustment for your body, and first-trimester fatigue is a real problem. I spent the entire first trimester (and for that matter, the first month of the second) with no motivation to do anything but lay around the house. I literally found myself stretched out on the floor a couple times. My husband was a saint during this time period, because I was completely useless.
2020 update: yeah, this time around also sucked. My house just went to pieces. I took care of my stepson and daughter and that was all I could manage. My husband is still a saint.
“Morning sickness” is a lie
Oh, you might be sick all right. Personally, I was sick all the time. Forget morning, it was morning, noon, evening, night. I threw up in every available receptacle in my house. I actually wound up preferring sinks, since they weren’t as stinky as the toilets or trash cans. My nausea was a beast I could not contain; I would just pray it would pick a decent time to appear.
Honestly, I have so much more I can cover on this topic – enough that I’ll have a post on it soon!
2020 update: actually, here’s the post I wrote about my ultimate guide to pregnancy-related nausea. This time around it was looking like it would be as bad, but I started taking magnesium which helped me dramatically!
Say goodbye to your favorite medications
In the first trimester, you become much more limited as to what medications you can take. Some medications are no-nos the entire pregnancy; some are safe after the first trimester. Ibuprofen? Nope. Antidepressants? They can cause birth defects (let me tell you what, that was a fun few weeks, withdrawing from antidepressants and dealing with the hormonal flood). I spent a lot of time googling “is (medication) safe during pregnancy?” If in doubt, ask your doctor! The good news is, once you hit the second trimester, and all those little organs are formed, you have a lot more options.
2020 update: no real change here. Drink plenty of water, take your vitamins.
Pregnancy is a weird time. The first trimester especially – it just feels like you have some constant, lingering illness. You feel pretty normal, and other than discovering you’re suddenly better endowed, you may not have many – if any – physical changes the first couple months. I was able to stay in my regular pants until I was eleven weeks along (2020 update: writing this at 13 weeks, still in my normal pants, though they are getting tighter). It does, eventually, get somewhat better though (and then it gets worse again, but we’ll cover that later).
If you’ve been pregnant, share what startled you the most when you were going through it! And if you haven’t been pregnant – what concerns you the most about it?
Related to this post
I also wrote about my experience and research on morning sickness.