7 Things About Early Pregnancy that Caught Me Off Guard
Before writing my article series about my training and nutrition during my first trimester, I want to share with you some of the things that happened to me in the very early stages of pregnancy. Particularly the things that caught me off guard.
I had read a lot about the signs and symptoms of pregnancy so felt as though I was somewhat prepared. But like everything in life there are always things you don’t expect and that’s what throws you for a loop. Hopefully my experience will help ease you mind should you find yourself in the same boat some day.
1. Experiencing So Many Signs & Symptoms So Soon
I’ve heard stories of women who’ve had no pregnancy symptoms, or just a few very subtle early symptoms such as tender breasts or implantation spotting. I had a laundry list of text book first trimester symptoms, but I didn’t expect so many of them to come on so strong so soon.
I felt like crap, overnight, and it all started as early as the week after conception. I didn’t get a positive pregnancy test until over two weeks later. I actually got two negative tests first, which made weeks feel like months. I was trying to be optimistic but I felt so awful that I could’t help but worry that something was seriously wrong. The concern subsided once I got a positive pregnancy test but that waiting period was a doozy and it stressed me out.
I’ve read and heard about pregnancy fatigue so I was expecting to be tired but I underestimated the intensity, severity and early onset of first trimester fatigue.
I’m the type of person who struggles with napping, to say the least. If the sun is up, I’m up! Pregnancy fatigue was a massive contrast to my typical energy levels. I was napping anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours most days and crashing into bed before 7 o’clock on a regular basis. I had to alter my work hours, and drastically reduce the number of commitments I made day-to-day. This didn’t last the entire first trimester but while it did I had no say in the matter. Fatigue ruled my world.
3. Hair Loss
In the very early stages of pregnancy (before getting a positive pregnancy test) I noticed that my hair was thinning around my temples. It was pretty noticeable because I have a short undercut. Hair thinning around the temples is a common sign of hypothyroidism and having hypothyroidism is linked to infertility and miscarriage so this was a “red flag”. I booked a doctor’s appointment right away. By the time I was able to see my Doctor I had got a positive pregnancy test result. We ran a thyroid panel just to be sure and thankfully everything came back in optimal range. My hair grew back after the first month.
4. Memory and Brain Fog
Surging pregnancy hormones can significantly impact memory and mental clarity. I’m sure you’ve heard the term “pregnancy brain” or “mommy brain”. It’s no joke. I felt like I was living in a haze compared to the mental sharpness I am accustomed to. I could no longer rely on my digital calendars and reminder systems because I was actually forgetting to check them, or forgetting to enter events/tasks altogether.
I had to buy an old school organizer, the kind that are made of paper! I had to write everything down, including simple reminders like “put laundry the dryer”. I kept that notebook by my side at all times. I’m actually enjoying the paper notebook style now, so much so that now in my second trimester, while the brain fog has subsided I’m going to keep using it.
5. Water Retention
Every woman dreads water retention. For decades I’ve experienced varying degrees of water retention during ovulation, PMS, and during the first few days of my cycle.
The water retention I experienced during the first month of pregnancy started a handful of days after conception and it was like nothing I’ve ever experiencing before. I was well aware that my body would change during pregnancy but this water retention was so drastic I literally felt like I was in someone else’s body. I didn’t recognize myself (talk abut an epic mind-f**k!). Could my body be changing this fast? Is this ever going to subside? Is this fat or water? Okay, I knew that it wasn’t fat but seriously you begin to wonder after a while.
My water retention subsided after the first month. Since then I have experienced slight water retention from time to time but nothing even close to what I experienced during early pregnancy. Understand that water retention is not excessive fat gain, and accept that it will fluctuate throughout your pregnancy. I know a lot of women panic and overreact when they hold water. You have to do our best to mitigate the emotional reaction and impulse to so something irresponsible like drastically cut calories, detox or cleanse – all things you should avoid during pregnancy.
6. Food Aversions & Cravings
I’ve heard all about pregnancy cravings and food aversions. Like most things, you don’t really understand what it’s like, or how powerful it is until you experience it yourself. I’m going to write an article about my nutrition during the first trimester but for now, let’s just say that what you want to eat and what makes you gag is not going to be what you expect. I bought bologna for the first time in my life and I still can even go near a yam without dry heaving. Just for the record, I only had a couple of slices of bologna, don’t judge, lol!
7. The Biggest Surprise of All
What I’ve described in this article might sound somewhat unappealing to those of you who want to start a family. You might even be turned off by the idea. But I want you to take away from this article is this: despite how horrible I felt and how hard it was to adapt to so much change at once, I was overwhelmed with happiness!
I wasn’t stressed, I wasn’t mad, I wasn’t sad. I was totally calm and at peace.
Experiencing how pregnancy hormones throw your body for a loop is fascinating. However, the sense of calmness, peace, and happiness that you simultaneously experience will be the most fascinating part of it all.