I think most of us can agree that the first trimester is the hardest of the three trimesters. Symptoms may include all-day nausea, food aversions, sensitivity to smells, bloating, fatigue, and exhaustion, among other things — and the majority of us choose to hide all of these ailments from the public while we wait for week 14 to roll around. The joys of the first trimester. It’s so worth it, but it’s not easy.
I experienced all of these symptoms and more during my first pregnancy. Every day when I went to work in my cubicle, I came prepared with saltines and lemon drops, just praying I could hold it together for my meetings. But when 5 pm rolled around, I would get in my car, drive home and promptly take a nap on the couch. Without other kids at home, I had all the time in the world to rest when I wasn’t working.
Fifteen months after having my first baby, I found myself in my first trimester with my second baby. This time, a work-from-home mom with a toddler who still took one, sometimes two, naps, I found pockets of time to sleep when the baby slept. This often meant a 15-minute power nap on the couch before getting my work done, or sometimes it meant going to bed at 7 pm after the baby was asleep. Either way, I was squeezing in rest where I could get it.
Fast forward a couple of years, and yet again, I’m pregnant. So excited, but so exhausted. The thing about a third pregnancy, with two kids at home (one no longer napping), is that there is no time for downtime. All of that resting I did during my first and second pregnancies is now a thing of the past. And I won’t lie, it’s hard. I am now five years older than I was with my first, my core is quite a bit weaker than it was pre-pregnancies, and everything aches a little bit more, especially while chasing after and picking up kids who weigh a total of over 60 pounds combined. As much as I’d like to lay down and take a nap in the middle of the day, or go to bed at 7 pm, I can’t.
But that doesn’t mean I have to suffer. Here are my tips for having a somewhat easier first trimester, even with other kids at home…
- Don’t be ashamed of TV time. When I was pregnant with my second baby, my 15-month-old had no interest in watching TV. But this time around, my 4-year-old and 2-year-old will happily sit and watch an episode of “Little Bear.” I take advantage of this when needed. I know it’s just a season, and if it allows me to rest, so be it.
- Let the kids entertain each other. This might seem obvious if you have more than one child, but if I need to rest, I tell the kids to go play in my daughter’s room, and it gives me a few minutes of quiet while I pull myself together. I sometimes feel guilty for doing this, especially because my 2-year-old doesn’t get nearly as much one-on-one time as my oldest once had with me, but I know these feelings are probably my hormones talking — and he loves playing with his big sister.
- Order takeout. Often. My most difficult first trimester symptoms are nausea and food aversions. While my non-pregnant self loves grocery shopping and cooking, my pregnant self would prefer to do neither. Enter takeout. When you have a family to feed, the food needs to get on the table. It’s not ideal for the budget, but people have to eat.
- Get outside every day. There’s something about fresh air and sunshine that makes everything better. This isn’t easy to do in the colder months, but even bundling everyone up for a quick 10-minute walk around the block can ease the first trimester symptoms, if just for a little while.
- Tell someone the news early. I find the first trimester to be a little bit lonely. Many of us keep the news a secret for three months, but when you feel crummy and also have a family to take care of, this can cause feelings of isolation. In my case, my husband and I chose to tell the kids after the first ultrasound, so that at least my oldest could understand why Mommy hadn’t been feeling well. This took a weight off my shoulders and made me feel less guilty every time I needed to lay down. Having a friend, sister, or parent to text when you’re not feeling well can be just as helpful too.
The first trimester is hard, but since we’ve already done this a time or two, we know just how quickly the time passes, and how very much it’s worth it.