Originally published on Motherly
By Kelsey Cole
Dearest first trimester,
I’m here because someone has to say it.
You suck. Like, a lot.
You make the sanest women go completely crazy. I hear you denying it. I see your coy smile; I hear your whispers about the most magical miracle nature has to offer.
I’m drawn in by the promise of the pregnant lady glow.
I wish I could say this is the first time I have fallen for your charms, but that would be a lie. Between your pregnancy announcement ideas and the claims that the nausea will go away before you know it, any day now, you keep women so wrapped up that few call you out.
But it needs to be done.
I started planning for you months before you showed up. I counted days, tracked ovulation, held my breath each month waiting for my period to crush my dreams. Then, when my period showed up, I secretly breathed a tiny sigh of relief because as desperately as I longed for a baby, a little part of me was thankful for one more month of freedom before the first trimester took over my life.
Then came the month where my period was a day late. Probably nothing. Just an off month. Then two days late. I finally grabbed my box of $30 pregnancy tests (because the insanity had already begun and I automatically assumed that more expensive meant more accurate).
I sneaked a test into the bathroom for the first morning pee. Took the test. The fancy digital kind. Prepared for two words. After the three longest minutes of my life, one word stared back at me.
Then I took approximately 12 more pregnancy tests, trying different brands and varieties, just to be sure. I’ll never be able to send my kids to college because I spent all my money on pregnancy tests, but at least I was almost positive that I was indeed pregnant.
Excitement and horror intermingled and I thought I might be sick. Flashbacks to my first and second pregnancies crippled me with fear. Why would anyone voluntarily make themselves ill for four to nine months? Oh, right. Because I love my babies. But it wasn’t until that exact moment that I remembered how desperately I sometimes hate being pregnant.
The next two weeks were a blur of waiting for the worst to come and praying that maybe I’d be one of the lucky ones this time. One of the ladies who gets to say, “Oh, nausea? Well, one time I felt a little sick when I skipped lunch, but then I ate a cracker and felt brand-new!” But I know I will never be one of them.
I felt like a storm watcher tracking tornadoes in Oklahoma. No one knows when the next one will hit, but everyone knows it’s coming.
This first trimester madness starts with the underwear check.
No one wants to say it out loud, but every single mama who has recently peed on a pregnancy test and gotten that big fat positive checks her underwear for blood every single time she goes to the bathroom. And sometimes she goes to the bathroom for that purpose only. Like 200 times a day. It’s crazy. And it’s part of being a mother. Because we already love that tiny microscopic life so damn much that the fear of losing that child is already a part of who we are.
Sometimes we make it through that season of fear and get to the ultrasound, where we see a heartbeat and know all is well. For now. Sometimes we never make it that far and hearts break and grief is our journey.
Around ultrasound time (or for me, long before that time), the exhaustion and nausea set in. For most of us, the exhaustion is all-encompassing and the nausea makes daily life nearly impossible. I see women online doing CrossFit or running marathons through their pregnancies and all I can think is, Someday I’ll have the energy to shower.
As the first trimester progressed, my life became filled with rice cakes and ginger candies and peppermint tea. I lost weight. I lost the tiny bit of muscle I had. I scrolled through Facebook and Instagram and envied my friends who were out in public and interacting with real human beings.
I threw up basically always.
This time I had kids who were old enough to follow me to the bathroom, the one with the lock that doesn’t work. I threw up daily to a soundtrack of, “Mom! Can I have a snack?” “Mom, when you’re done throwing up I really need to show you something!” “Mom, can I sit on your lap?” And on the really lucky days they both crowded around and leaned over my back while yelling, “I WANT TO SEE YOUR THROW-UP!!!!”
I wanted to scream at them. I wanted to tell them to get the crap out of the bathroom. But each time I tried to speak I just heaved and threw up more and more. So with all my dignity gone they discussed the size and color and volume of my vomit. While I wiped sweat from my brow and reminded myself that it was so going to be worth it someday.
You see, my dear first trimester, after four pregnancies, I can say with confidence: You are one of the worst experiences of my life.
You have put me in the hospital multiple times just to keep enough fluids in my body. You have made me so physically weak that I could hardly stand. You have messed with all my hormones and caused me to have panic attacks so severe I was positive I was dying. You have forced me to miss out on multiple weddings for some of my best friends. You have secluded me from real life for months at a time. You broke my heart when I lost a baby I loved so deeply. And I am only one person. I have heard countless stories from other women who have braved your horrors multiple times. Each story is unique but almost always with the same theme. You are hard. You can be miserable and last forever and are too often heartbreaking.
You are the worst.
But you bring the very, very best.
Suffering through you brought me my boys. Choosing you once again gave me the gift of my baby who I never got to hold but who forever changed our family. Today marks the first day of my second trimester with our tiny rainbow baby, and I mean it with all of my heart when I say I hated every second of you this time around also. But I chose you. Because I needed you.
You are awful. But deeply important. And the truth is, I would choose you all over again a million times.
We all would.
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