The First Trimester Really, Really Sucks. Here’s Why.

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So you just found out you’re pregnant. Congratulations! I’m sure you’re bubbling over with joy, already thinking of baby names, designing your nursery, and feeling super maternal. It’s a great feeling, isn’t it? Well don’t get too excited there, caterpillar. Because in a mere 2-3 weeks, you will be cursing yourself, your husband, your mom, and anyone else who dared tell you that it would be a good idea to procreate.

“Oh, I can handle a little morning sickness,” you say. “I spent most of my 20s fully functioning at work with a bitch of a hangover. I’ve never been so prepared for anything in my entire life!”

Well, I’m here to tell you that nothing, even previous pregnancies, can prepare you for the harrowing months that are the first trimester. If only it were just morning sickness. Hell, if only morning sickness were just morning sickness, it wouldn’t be that bad.

But don’t think that you’ll be given any sympathy from friends or coworkers. Unless you’re extremely brave or comfortably vulnerable, you can’t really tell anyone outside of immediate family and extremely close friends… that 15% chance of miscarriage in the first trimester is always lingering in the back of your mind.

And by the time you do start spreading the news, your memory is so shot that you cannot give an accurate recount of the past few weeks. Plus, the last thing you want to do is sound ungrateful- you know how fortunate you are to be in this position. So when people ask how you’ve been feeling, you’re most likely to mutter something about being a little tired and sick, but then you immediately perk up and proclaim that you’re feeling MUCH better now and that it wasn’t even that bad. You repeat this conversation so many times that you start to believe it yourself, and the rest of the world is left with this rose-colored impression that the first trimester is all about a little morning sickness.

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Lucky for you, I’ve been taking horribly misspelled notes throughout the first trimester so that I could paint a more accurate picture for you. There’s no candy-coating it. The first trimester really, really sucks. Here’s why.

1. You’re dumb. Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb. You’ve probably heard of “pregnancy brain,” and let me tell you, it’s a real thing. But we’re not just talking about pregnancy here- we’re talking about first trimester brain, which is an entirely different level of dumbacity and ineptitation. You know that feeling when you go into a room to get something but can’t remember what that something is once you get there? Just imagine that being the norm, all day, every day. Here is a sampling of some of the dumbass things that I’ve documented over the past few weeks:

  • “I just ordered a decaf triple nonfat latte in the Schlotzsky’s drive-thru.”
  • “This morning I was getting ready and couldn’t remember if I put on deodorant or not, so I went to the bathroom to put some on. Five minutes later, as I was getting dressed, I couldn’t remember if I put on deodorant, so I went to the bathroom to put some on. Five minutes later, as we were out the door, I couldn’t remember if I put on deodorant, so I went to the bathroom to put some on. After I dropped the girls off at preschool, I checked to see if I had remembered to put on deodorant… I had not.”
  • Repeat the above incident, but substitute “putting laptop in car” for “putting on deodorant.”
  • “The lady sitting one table over just asked me how old my daughters were. She then proceeded to tell me how she always wanted girls but that God decided she should raise boys. My reply? ‘Are these your sons?’ ‘No, they’re my coworkers.’ She couldn’t have had them by more than 10 years. Dammit I’m such an asshole.”

2. You’re tirrrrreeeeddd. You really want to be productive and feel good about yourself, but you simply can’t keep your eyes open. You start mistaking anti-depressant commercials for pregnancy movies because you identify more with the lady in the bathrobe who can’t get off her couch than you do with Katherine Heigl. And if you already have kids, they probably think you’re just turning into a lazy piece of shit. But, once again, you can’t explain what’s going on… because those little f***ers innocent sweethearts can’t be trusted with a secret. (This is not an exaggeration, btw. The morning after we told our 4-year-old the news, she managed to tell her entire day camp, including the drumming troupe that was performing that day.)

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And don’t think that you can just drink a shitload of caffeine to compensate, one of the many pregnancy “no-nos”. But now that I think about it, if you do need a couple cups of coffee in order to do normal activities safely like DRIVE YOUR CHILDREN TO SCHOOL, you can at least do it without judgment at this point. Try ordering a fully caffeinated latte when you’re 8 months preggo. People will look at you like you just took a shot of Fireball with a heroin injection as a chaser.

3. You find yourself crying at EVERYTHING. Pardon my French, but pregnancy really turns you into a big pussy. I am literally crying right now watching the Lego movie. We’re talking commercials without Sarah McLachlan in them, national anthems of other countries, quasi-heartfelt endings to mediocre novels, Buzzfeed lists… everything. Now excuse me while I try to find a tissue… and my dignity.

4. You have to pee ALL THE TIME. Thought that the peeing all the time thing happened when the baby grew big enough to push on your bladder? Wrong! If only. Not only does your uterus start expanding from day 1, intruding on your precious bladder space, but those lovely pregnancy hormones increase blood flow through your kidneys, which in turn fill your bladder more frequently. The experts like to praise the kidneys for their “efficiency” during pregnancy. I like to curse them for their dickishness. The Piss Olympics strike most frequently during the middle of the night, so you better get used to falling in the toilet because your non-vampire-peeing husband left the seat up.

5. Being sick sucks. I know, I know. This one sounds like it should win the Isaac Fucking Newton Award for Brilliant Observations, but hear me out. This is not so much because you feel bad… you feel like shit and can’t get out of bed anyway, so you might as well tack an illness on there and get it out of your system while you’re still bed ridden. The primary reason being sick sucks during the first trimester is directly related to the previous ailment. Because your bladder is constantly on the brink of overflowing, and you’ve increased your fluid intake to speed up recovery, you now pee yourself a little every time you sneeze or cough. And if you ever have a coughing fit… well, suffice it to say that you may want to go ahead and purchase some additional underwear to get you through these nine months. On the plus side, you now have a use for that economy size box of panty liners you had just purchased from Costco before you found out you were pregnant (make that a box of Overnights if you’ve birthed children before). So if you are out and about and witness a pregnant woman sneeze, I want you to look her directly in the eye, say “God bless you,” and mean it.

6. You revert to eating like a child. Here is a list of acceptable sounding foods during the first trimester: toast, bagels, sugary cereal, waffles, graham crackers, ginger snaps, PB&J, and anything that has “high fructose corn syrup” listed as its first ingredient. Sounds awesome, right? You finally have an excuse to eat a bunch of crap! Well, kinda. Except that you’ve stupidly googled “nutrition during pregnancy,” and it pretty much tells you to eat the opposite of what you’ve been eating.

  • “Eat plenty of dark, leafy vegetables for iron and folic acid.” Ewww, vegetables! Yuck!
  • “Make sure to eat a wide variety of foods so that your body gets all the nutrition it needs.” Does switching from the honey graham crackers to the cinnamon ones count as variety?
  • “Avoid foods that are high in sugar.” Great, now I’m going to starve to death.

And since you know that YOU are the one responsible for the health of your growing baby, you can’t even enjoy the sugar diet because all you taste in each and every bite is guilt. (Get used to it, my friends. That guilt never goes away.) But I say fuck it. It’s the first trimester. It won’t last forever, and you’re lucky you’re able to eat at all. 

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Side note: I kind of feel that pregnancy nausea is your body’s way of adapting to the fact that you are now a fucking moron. It doesn’t trust you to remember all the new food rules you’ve just been given (e.g., no raw fish, no soft cheeses, no deli meat), so it just develops a taste aversion to all of them for you. For the really evolutionarily advanced, the body will reject all food just in case you were forgetful enough to break one of the rules. If you were physically sick throughout your entire first trimester, congratulations, you are adaptively superior.

7. You’re bloated, and your clothes don’t fit. And that’s putting it nicely. Despite the fact that your child is about the size of a peanut, you’re hardly eating, and you piss out your body weight on a daily basis, you still manage to feel extremely and undeniably fat. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was all in your mind, but the fact that your go-to ass-flattering skinny jeans now give you a Snooki-styled muffin top, you know it’s real. And you are made aware of your complete inability to control it when your yoga instructor keeps reminding you “mula bandha” (i.e., suck in your fucking gut) throughout the entire class. The only thing that will bring you any sense of reprieve is the day your body finally decides to “pop.” The inexperienced will feel a sense of superiority over others who may “show” early on… the knowledgeable know better: The day you “pop” and become visibly pregnant instead of portly will quite possibly be the best day of your entire pregnancy. And the sooner it happens, the happier you will be.

8. Your boobs hurt like a biiiiitch. It starts with a burning, tingling sensation in the early weeks then progresses to a dull, throbbing pain as the weeks go on. Ever wonder what it feels like to get punched in the tits whilst sunburned? Go get yourself pregnant. And don’t think that skipping the bra will help. Your knockers are getting so disproportionately large that they qualify as weapons of mass destruction. Harness those bitches, for Pete’s sake! And don’t worry. Soon enough you won’t think this boob pain is all that bad… because the first few weeks of breastfeeding are worse. WAY worse.

9. You are in a constant state of panic that something will go wrong. You cover the full spectrum of emotions in the first trimester, from joy to guilt to doubt to whatever emotion goes along with “tits on fire.” But the worst of them, by far, is the paralyzing fear that you are going to have a miscarriage. It’s real, it happens, and you don’t know if you’re strong enough to handle it should it happen to you. What’s even worse is the fear that you’ve already had a miscarriage and just don’t know it yet. This also happens, and I know this because I’m a fucking idiot and poked around on Google right before my 12 week appointment, when they measure the baby’s heart rate using a Doppler monitor. When the nurse couldn’t find a heartbeat for a few minutes, I outwardly smiled but inwardly freaked the F out. 

“It’s like finding a needle in a haystack this early on, dear,” she says.

Well, I just read that the fetus is the size of a lime right now, so why don’t you just find the fucking lime and go from there. Sounds like a really fucking small haystack to me… or a really big needle. Why don’t you just hand me the damn…

“Hear that? Strong, healthy heartbeat.”

Everything’s fine. You resume breathing, change the Overnight pad that you just relieved yourself in, and carry on with your normal life… until you read something else traumatic on the internet… or you stop feeling the baby kick as often… or you can’t hear the newborn breathing on the baby monitor… or until that first big fall…

So you’re an exhausted, bloated, nauseous, bitchy, nervous, brainless, emotional train wreck who soils herself. But it gets better (and then worse… and then better again… and then worse than before). And this pattern goes on and on until… well… probably forever. And as bad as the first trimester is, you know how lucky you are to experience it… even when you’re half a pint into Mr. Ben & Jerry, mascara streaming down your face, tears flowing down your aching boobs and landing on the muffin top that’s spilling out of your yoga pants, as you sit in bed watching Father of the Bride Part II for the tenth time. Congratulations. :)

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