Working Through Your First Trimester of Pregnancy

first trimester exhaustedThis is a post about dealing with the first trimester of pregnancy, which can be particularly trying — extreme fatigue, nausea, and all while trying to keep your “situation” on the QT in case of miscarriage. (Pictured: mama·licious Sarah Work Blazer, available at Asos for $75.71)

But I suppose I should make a mini-announcement regarding some personal news in Katland. First, some hints: I’m on my third bra size since December. I haven’t enjoyed a martini, or deli meats, or zippers, in a long, long time. Lately, I’m having trouble falling asleep because someone keeps kicking me. The news, if you’re not with me yet: My husband and I are expecting our first child later this summer. Why yes, we are terrified; thanks for asking.

One of the things I’ve been dying to talk about since becoming pregnant is the first trimester,* and the complete, mind-blowing fatigue that most women suffer. I would have considered myself a trooper when it comes to energy and the job — I’ve worked through mono and two bouts of strep throat without missing more than a day of work. But apparently mono and strep can’t shake a stick at the whole “growing another human” thing. It became incredibly difficult to get up and out the door in the morning — and by 3 PM every day I needed a nap. And not a 20-minute power nap, oh no: we’re talking at least a full 90-minute sleep cycle. I kept thinking about that Sheryl Sandberg talk for TED about how women, upon getting pregnant, should ramp up their career and go 120 miles per hour. NOW??? I kept thinking. Is she CRAZY?

This fatigue caught me totally by surprise. After all, a lot of women don’t talk about their pregnancies in their first trimester — the chance for miscarriage is highest then, and there aren’t many external physical indicators of early pregnancy (most first-time moms don’t start to show until around week 20). A poll of my friends who have children or are pregnant confirmed it — everyone was exhausted during their first trimester, and every pregnancy book mentioned it. One friend, who was finishing up her final MBA year when she got pregnant, admitted that she slept 14 hours a day. A few friends told me their miscarriage stories, where after going through nearly a full trimester full of fatigue they lost the baby, and in addition to having to deal quietly with the mental and physical repercussions of losing a baby (including surgery, sometimes), they had to get the energy up to try again. (One friend noted that between her first pregnancy, which ended in miscarriage, and her second pregnancy, which she carried to term, her billable hours were shot for the year — and when she took her maternity leave they simply doubled the hours she had before she left. Ouch.) Another friend was cursed with such a bad case of nausea that she had to be medicated for it.

So I thought we’d talk about how to deal with the first trimester — keeping your energy up, rising to the occasion, and even maintaining your professional image through it all.

Before we get into the tips, though, here’s an interesting thing to ponder (and perhaps you ladies will weigh in): does it hurt us to talk about the hardships of pregnancy? By admitting that pregnancy affects our stamina and energy, is it simply justifying all those people who discriminate against women employees in their fertile years? I’m almost ashamed to say the thought hadn’t occurred to me — and I’ve even been joking (at work, yes, and yes, my face is beet red) about pregnancy brain. One boss/mentor/friend heard me and gave me a sound rebuke (and a lecture on what it was like to be pregnant in a male-dominated environment in the late ’70s), and I think the lesson here is right: pregnancy should never be an excuse for why you can’t get something done at the office, or why the ts aren’t crossed. But that may just mean you have to step up your OWN game even more — because while in the third trimester, when you’re showing and on your way out, people may cut you slack (whether they should or not): but in your first trimester it is largely a silent struggle.

For my own $.02, these are the things I wish I’d known:

  • Wean yourself off coffee and diet Coke way before you start trying to get pregnant. The latest thinking re: pregnancy is that you are allowed to drink coffee, but only about a cup of it a day. Artificial sweeteners aren’t recommended, so diet Coke is off the list also. Before I got pregnant, I only drank about 2 or 3 cups in the morning, and then a diet Coke around lunchtime for an afternoon jolt — but decreasing to 1 cup a day and no diet Coke meant I was going through caffeine withdrawal at the same time as first trimester fatigue. (I should also mention that your tastebuds may change, as mine did — all coffee tasted totally burnt to me for about 4 weeks, and regular Coke continues to gross me out.)
  • Stock up on orange juice, and cut your dependency on vitamin supplements. I kept reading that pregnant women should avoid vitamin supplements during this time (beyond your prenatals) and so I have avoided my beloved Emergen-C. Instead I kept buying OJ when I needed a jolt of energy.
  • Take your prenatals at night instead of in the morning. I’ve heard it’s the extra iron in the prenatals that makes you nauseous on an empty stomach — but whatever it was, I wish I’d stumbled on the advice to take them at night instead of in the morning long before I did.
  • Prepare your office for naps. Yes, seriously. Bring in whatever you need to make for a comfortable napping environment — pillows, blankets, etc., because you WILL need naps to make it even to 6pm (let alone 10 pm or whatever other quitting time is usual for you).
  • Eat frequently, and guzzle water. It took me a few weeks to realize that the nausea was so  much worse if I hadn’t eaten for a few hours — I also would get these whanging headaches if I hadn’t eaten.  Just a few unsalted Saltines and some cheese can help you function normally.

My final advice to women embarking on pregnancy is to time it well. The first trimester can be 6-8 weeks of feeling far, far less than your best, and I can think of a number of times in my own life when it would have been disastrous to be going through the first trimester: the first semester of law school, being a summer associate, crunchtime studying for the bar, and trial prep. So nail down your birth control methods during those time periods, ladies.

For those of you who’ve been pregnant, did your first trimester affect your energy, and how did you compensate for it at work? What tips do you have for the readers who hope to get pregnant some day?

* Oh, and some terminology for those not familiar with the joys of pregnancy: your pregnancy is counted from the first day of your last period, not the day you conceive, which means that by the time most women find out they’re pregnant they’re already “4-6 weeks pregnant.” The first trimester ends around week 13 — so we’re really only talking about 6-8 weeks of extreme fatigue. Still: I’ve known careers to rise or fall in that time, so I think it is a relevant discussion for this blog.

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  1. Ohhh! Readers totally called it a few weeks back, with you posting the various generously cut tops and the diaper bag. Congrats, Kat. We are all with you!

    • Congrats Kat. Love this comment.

    • Yeah, but I didn’t actually buy into the hype! Joke’s on me. Hooray for Kat!

      • Congrats to all,

        I just wanted to say that it’s not that easy to work with women too. I realized that people kept talking about how hard it is getting pregnant in a male envirolment but trust me I worked with women only and the experiency isn’t that different from the males one.

    • Wonderful news! Congratulations, Kat, and to all the readers who are expecting right now!

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Congratulations Kat!

  2. Congratulations :)

  3. Congratulations! Wonderful news!

    On the topic at hand, though, I’ve never been pg, but I’ve noticed that when I’m tired, I cannot stay on task- I constantly think of things that I *have* to check, get distracted, stare off into space, decide to check Corporette for the tenth time an hour, etc. I assume that first trimester pregnancy would be like this times 10. Any tips for dealing with it?

    I’d also love to hear general tips about dealing with it and planning in a very small office (of the sort where duties can’t necessarily be re-distributed) and in a male dominated office (or an office where everyone else is in grandparent territory, age-wise).

  4. Anonymous :

    Hello, Kat! I’ve been following your blog for a while now and just wanted to say congratulations and thank you for the all the tips!

  5. Anonymous :

    Congrats! Such an exciting time!
    I have three children – the oldest is 4, so I know a little bit about being pregnant these days. The first tri is really tiring. Additionally, hormones can make you emotional. I found myself crying because I was tired and emotional. I’m not one who cries easily.
    I do not have anything to add about what I would have liked to have known. However, my best advice is to relax and try to enjoy it as much as possible. I don’t particularly enjoy being pregnant, but I loved feeling my babies moving. Also, try to let things go because, honestly, that is one of the challenges you are going to have to figure out once the baby comes. It is very difficult to balance it all unless you are willing to let some things go for a while. Good luck!

    • “Also, try to let things go because, honestly, that is one of the challenges you are going to have to figure out once the baby comes. It is very difficult to balance it all unless you are willing to let some things go for a while. ”

      Ditto this! Some of the best advice I received (actually before I was even considering pregnancy) was that if you choose to be a working mom, you have to accept that you’ll never be a perfect employee or a perfect mom. Seeme like odd advice until I was in the position.

  6. CONGRATS Kat! That’s so exciting and wonderful. We all wish you a very healthy and happy pregnancy!

  7. Congratulations! So exciting.

  8. North Shore :

    Congratulations, Kat! Great news.

  9. Congrats!!!

  10. Congrats Kat!!

  11. Congratulations!! What wonderful news!

    Selfishly, I hope you will think about sharing more about your pregnancy and even the reasons you decided to start having children now, if not too personal. I think one of the major issues for the younger corporette-ers are decisions about when to have a family. I’d love some advice from you or the community on this topic!

    • Agreed! Congratulations, Kat. We wish you all the best. I would really like to hear more about how to make choices like this to coincide well with your career. Someone recently told me your 5th year is the best time to have a baby — established enough in your career to have a good reputation and far enough away from being up for partner. Do you agree?

      Also, I can’t believe you were able to keep it a secret for so long!!! And I hope you write some extra blog posts that can go up while you are on maternity leave. I don’t think I could last that long without my daily Corporette fix! :)

      • I had my first during 5th year, but was canned when 8 months pregnant. This was in biglaw. I did get a settlement from them which allowed me to take a 6 months paid maternity leave.

    • I’d love to hear that, too- I know that it’s personal, but it’s something that I’ve always wished that more people talked openly about. Since it’s been on my mind a lot lately, I’ll share mine thoughts-

      I married young, while I was still in college, and there was certainly no hurry- we figured I’d finish school, we’d get to where we were in a good financial place, have a few years together just ourselves, and think about it in about five years or so. Well, those five years kept going- we celebrate our 10th aniversary next month. Oh, and, brilliant me decided that it would be a good idea to go to law school in between (as Kat alluded, I have no idea how a person could handle a pregnancy, or early childcare, during LS! I’m sure that I would have dropped out had I gotten so, at least in the first year.)

      Anyhow, now I’m 31 and 2 years out of school. As you may have heard, some sort of bad economic stuff happened a few years back, so my career has not been nearly as quick to develop as was anticipated. (On the plus side, the first of my years out was a clerkship, but that still held back actual career growth.) Hubby and I have always planned to have him be a stay at home dad, so we’ve been holding back while we try to get to where I can support us. (note- I know from prior experience that a lot of commenters don’t agree with this plan. I don’t really care and this is not the place to discuss it.)

      I just started a new job that I hope will earn the kind of money I’ve been seeking, so (here’s hoping), we’re starting to think about it again, depending on how things play out, money wise and when I feel like I’ve been at my job long enough. Another tough issue is that we’re pretty, I don’t know, each other dependant, so we’re hesitant to disturb that. We’ve discussed the idea of giving up our Saturdays sleeping in and hanging out, and it’s hard to think about. So, in other words, we’ll see how it plays out, but this is the thought process right now.

      • I had 2 kids during LS, and it was totally the right decision for me. My school was flexible, and let me take 4 years to complete, so I had lighter loads during the semesters that I was due. I also was able to use my school’s on-campus child care program (many large schools have subsidized day care for students and faculty – the waitlists are long, but worth getting on) which made the juggling much easier.

        I also think having young kids during LS is much easier than trying to do the same as an associate. If your kid’s sick and can’t be sent to daycare, it’s just a missed day of classes in LS, where basically no one notices, compared with angry bosses and resentful colleagues in a law firm. Plus, there was the bonus of having summer breaks for gestation (again, extending LS meant I was able to take a summer off from doing an internship).

      • I think kids can fit in at any point in a woman’s career trajectory; there are just different pros and cons at each stage. Having them early on can work well in that you have fewer responsibilities at work and others can more easily substitute for you than will be the case later. I was able to take a six month maternity leave almost undisturbed after my first child was born. Having them later can also work well in that there may be less risk of losing ground professionally once you are more firmly established, and you may be better able to afford the quality childcare you will need in order to keep working.

        The frustrating thing, too, is that you can’t wait forever. I had no problem getting pregnant at 30, but then couldn’t conceive when I wanted to 5 years later, miscarried, and ultimately used assisted methods to have a second child.

      • Anonymous :

        Lyssa, I don’t know who’s said your plan’s not good, but I disagree. If your career isn’t where you want it to be and you’re not making the $$ yet, I’d encourage you to lean even harder into that plan. Tighten everyone’s belt for a year or two, make sure hubby is taking all childcare and homemaker responsibilities whether he’s working or not, and go all out at work.

        This advice comes from the single mother of an 8-yr-old boy. I love him dearly, but have recently become more and more aware of how decisions when he was young that I thought were small and temporary have had lasting impacts on my career, including my earning potential.

        Kiss your babies every morning and evening, and in-between, knock yourself out. Figure out the sweetest part of your weekends and preserve that, but you might find some time to squeeze in work too. Just one anon stranger’s ideas of what might work.

      • You just described my situation, except married almost 6 years (right after college) and worked for a few years before law school and have been finished with law school for almost one year. And I am turning 30 this year. My internal clock is ticking, but I don’t think my career is in a place to have a child.

      • I know this is a late reply, but I want to add that when considering the option to add children to a family, people always focus on what they will give up. This is natural, and I did this as well. You have what you know, and parenthood presents a scary unkown. All you know is what you see your friends give up. However, I never knew all the things I would gain as a parent. Yes, you give up sleep. But, you gain some very precious times with your children in those early morning/late night hours. Yes, you give up exotic trips with your spouse. But, you gain the privilege of seeing everything through a child’s eye. The beach for the first time is magical. The first snow makes their month. I will also add, one of the most amazing things I have seen my husband do during our marriage is parent our little girl. We don’t have as much alone time together, certainly, but we still have plenty of alone time, and the time we share with our daughter is special in a bigger way than I ever thought possible.

        Being a parent is not for everyone, but don’t spend too much time focusing on the things in your life you will give up. They will be replaced with some pretty special times.

    • Anonymous :

      Obviously, the best time to have a child is a very personal choice. However, I will share my reasons. I met my husband when I was 25 and had 2 years of school left. We got married when I was 28 and had been working a year. I wanted to have kids soon. I worried about infertility and that was exacerbated by the fact that my husband’s older sister was struggling with it at the time (has since adopted). I also am impatient, and when I want something I don’t like to wait! We were also ready though. We were done with school, had decent jobs, and were financially in a good position. So, we had our first child days before my 30 birthday. I’m not yet 35, and we now have 3 children: 4, 2 and 1/2 year old!

      When I see some of my friends who have decided to wait, or are still waiting, I sometimes reflect on the benefits of waiting. Some of my friends travel a lot and go to these amazing, exotic places. While I did that before having kids, certainly we would have traveled to some more amazing places had we not had children. It would have been fun to enjoy more experiences and time to ourselves.

      Still, I don’t regret it for a second. I am looking forward to enjoying some amazing places with my children, and we already do (although not quite as exotic!) I actually really like not focusing on myself so much. It gives me a lot of perspective. I would like to sleep more, but that’s just a trade-off when you have children. Also, in a lot of ways having children hasn’t been as big a change for us as it is for others. My husband and I are homebodies. Our idea of a great weekend is cooking meals together and then working in our yard. We did have to give up our nightly walks once our oldest had a regular bed time (at about 6 mos for us), but we aren’t terribly social and we don’t mind being tied to the house. I see this as a major stress for other couples.

      As far as my career, I went part-time when I had my oldest. I’m an attorney at a large regional firm not on either coast. So, I work ~35-45 hours a week at part-time. My career has definitely taken a hit and the economy isn’t helping. Although I wish my career hadn’t been adversely affected, I wouldn’t make any different choices. I was ready to have children, so I had them, and I have made it work with my career. The people I work with day-to-day respect me, but the number crunchers…not so much, and the number crunchers are the ones who will decide whether I make partner. At this point, partner won’t happen unless I go full-time or the economy gets better. Honestly, I don’t know when I will go full-time, I don’t know how people do it (keep in mind that I’m up at least once a night and often twice, so my perspective may be skewed these days! My 6 mo. old is NOT a good sleeper!) Also, if I started having children now, I don’t think my firm would be receptive to a part-time schedule, but it works for me!

  12. First – congratulations, Kat!

    I’ve never been pregnant, but my immediate boss is very close to having her baby. I can’t imagine how tiring it must be, but I know from friends how exhausting it really is, which is why we were amazed by how energetic my boss remained. Not kidding- she exercised regularly (e.g. running and even pushups to a safe limit, of course), and I swear to you she was always the first person in the office and the last one out. I was more tired after our two hour meeting than she was after months of developing a human being! (Talk about a daily motivator to up my game!)

    Yes, she is unbelievable. Apparently, there’s hope for the rest of us…

    Really enjoyed this post!

  13. Congratulations! I’m not pregnant and don’t plan (or hope) to be for a few more years, but I love this blog, your posts, and this commenting community, so I’m really looking forward to being a observer to your pregnancy, so to speak!

    Also, is it weird that as a single woman with no kids and no loud ticking bio-clock some of my favorite blogs and websites are what would be deemed mommyblogs? Maybe I’m just storing away the info for future use/reference…

    • I must be weird too. I have no desire to actually have children myself but have been constantly reading mommy blogs and thinking about nursery designs.

      Congrats, Kat!

      • I’m exactly the same way. I think of it as research :) Though the idea of having kids still terrifies me, and actually doesn’t excite me in any way.

        • Johanna_D :

          Second that. I feel uncomfortable around children, but I don’t mind hearing stories or reading about raising children. I even enjoy watching Supernanny on TV; I think it is very eye opening.

          • Anonymous :

            Hi I am a clinical psychologist (go ahead and eye roll – it’s fine, I’m used to it ) but regardless of believing you don’t want kids, all of the above ladies, I hate to be the one to break it to you but you all in fact DO want kids. Actually I would venture to say you all REALLY want kids but are freaked out or in denial or pretty much defending yourself against the possibility that you might not be able to have kids for some reason or another (which is easier to tHink about if you convince yourself you never wanted any anyway). So whatever it is, money, men, childhood experiences, control issues, you name it- don’t let it get in the way of what you really want- even if you are terrified now, it’s not so terrifying once you are in it- just the same as every other challenge you have taken on and made it through. Good luck you can do it. Xo

          • Anonymous :

            P.s. I know my post is, oh about 3 years after these posts- but for future freaked out mommas (or if these ladies above happen to recheck old posts for some reason) maybe my words of wisdom will make a difference to someone out there. Xo

            ****peace and love and all that sh*t****

  14. Congrats!

    I was never even remotely tired my first trimester, and I think it’s because I didn’t change my caffeine routine at all. (I was even able to run the marathon I signed up to do — and PRed — around 7 weeks.) I talked it over with my doctor, and if you have a low-risk pregnancy, there’s really no need to change up the caffeine if it’s under 300 mg a day. I have not heard anything about artificial sweetners being a problem and probably would have been very unpleasant sans soda! So I was able to drink a huge cup of coffee (or two) in the morning and down a few diet cokes throughout the day to keep me awake and happy.

    What I will continue to do for my subsequent pregnancies is keep up and maybe even up the coffee/soda during the first trimester and beyond. I had a cake walk pregnancy — no fatigue, ran all the way through it, and had absolutely no morning sickness. These things are unpredictable, but I definitely think lots of caffeine and lots of exercise helped keep me awake.

    I also think that some books/blogs/websites tend to overreact about pregnancy recommendations. My brother is an OB and has said that there are not a lot of really great evidence-based studies regarding the caffeine during pregnancy He said there is one a lot of people point to, but it did not control for any risk factors and has been used as more of a scare tactic than really good clinical information. Obviously talk to your doctor and do what you want within your own comfort zone, but I felt very comfortable making minimal changes to my lifestyle and diet during pregnancy.

    • KOB – me too! I’ve never been a big caffeine consumer and so I just kept up w/ my routine through my 2 pregnancies. Since fatigue was my biggest biggest problem during my first trimesters, being able to have a little s’mthing-s’mthing at those moments was priceless.

    • I’m not sure that keeping up your caffeine intake is the only reason your energy level remained consistent. Everyone and each pregnancy are different, but I didn’t have caffeine for a good 6 months before getting pregnant (because I was trying to conceive) and I still was completely zapped during the first trimester of my first pregnancy (taking 1.5-2 hr naps when I got home from work around 5:30-6pm) and my second pregnancy energy levels for the 1st tri weren’t much better (out for the evening by 8:30pm).

      Anyway, CONGRATS KAT!!

      • I totally agree with you — but maybe you wouldn’t have been as tired if you had a few cups of coffee. Who knows. All I know is that I felt great after a good run and a cup of coffee during my entire pregnancy. I’m sure, however, that karma will bite me in the ass and I’ll be non-functionally exhausted no matter what if I ever get pregnant again. :)

        • While I agree with you that moderate caffeine is probably safe in pregnancy, I disagree that pregnancy-related fatigue is just an illusion caused by caffeine withdrawal. I’ve never been a caffeine user (I don’t care for the feeling) and was completely exhausted while pregnant. No like a “wow, I really could have used another hour or two last night” but “help me, I’ve been drugged.” One morning, my husband had to literally dress me because I was so limp. My grandmother, on the other hand, swore that she had MORE energy during her seven pregnancies than any other time. Go figure.

          PS – I do hope that you’d feel as well with your next, though!

    • sometimes I see all the things pregnant women aren’t supposed to do/eat/drink, reflect on what life has been like up until recent decades (I’m watching mad men recently and don’s wife is drinking and smoking while pregnant), and think it’s a wonder the human race has made it this far.

  15. TheOtherCoast :

    I was clerking when I got pregnant and so my job was not as taxing as it was when I was in BigLaw prior to that. I was still exhausted, though. I switched from coffee to tea, and had only one cup in the morning. It gave me some energy and had the bonus of not upsetting my stomach further. Another first-trimester problem that no one likes to talk about is bloat– I had some of the worst stomachaches EVER and there were times I thought I was going to die, but had to keep acting like I was enjoying my lunch and could stand up straight. I quickly learned to keep Gas-X on hand and to take it as soon as I felt a stomachache coming on. And I’m not talking about the passing of gas– I’m talking about the pressure build-up on your insides. It is killer. Fortunately that lessened in the second and third trimesters. Eating frequently also helped with the nausea. I was lucky in that I could go to bed early and didn’t have to bill 2300 hours a year. But even going to bed early doesn’t make you less exhausted– it just cures it for the time you are sleeping, kwim?

  16. SF Bay Associate :

    Congratulations, Kat and husband!

  17. Anonymous :

    Congratulations! I’m thrilled for you.

    Your post brought be back in time six years, when I was working during my first trimester carrying my daughter. As my pregnancy was an unplanned blessing (which I realized after sobbing for a week), and I’m a bit of a health nut, I cut out coffee cold turkey and it was HARD! Not only was I exhausted, but I had withdrawal headaches on top of morning sickness. Slowly weaning oneself off of coffee would be an excellent idea.

    One of the best things I did during my first trimester was to confide in my boss on a business trip. I was dizzy in addition to being exhausted, and I felt like she would have thought I was morbidly ill if I didn’t disclose my condition. Fortunately for me, she was gracious and being a mom herself, gave me some wonderful advice regarding morning sickness that I pass along as often as I can. It was that moment that brought our relationship from that of cordial boss and employee to friends. Years later, we still stay in touch and swap war stories about our field and parenthood.

    But the advice! Very important. She told me — and it’s true — that ginger is the best anti-nausea agent readily available. Sure, there’s ginger ale, but there are also more potent ginger brews (available at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s), ginger candies, crystallized ginger, and even fresh ginger (great in a hot cup of water with honey). In fact, according to my former boss, ginger has been proven to be as effective for sea sickness as dramamine. This advice got me through my first trimester, helps the nausea I now experience with Crohn’s disease, and is even a good & safe remedy for my daughter’s upset bellies.

    Wishing you health for your final months of pregnancy & a peaceful and easy birth.

    • It’s old advice, but still true–keeping crackers by your bed to nibble before you get up can help combat nausea.

    • Diana Barry :

      I didn’t have much luck with ginger – real food helped me more than anything.

    • karenpadi :

      I’ve never been pregnant but I’ll second ginger as being incredible for nausea, motion sickness, and dizziness. Mythbusters did a show on motion sickness and found it was the best for “true” sufferers (but n=3 so it wasn’t horribly scientific).

      I like ginger tea (available at most grocery stores).

      • Also never been pregnant and I second ginger. I get terribly boat sick and powdered ginger drink mix plus ginger chew candies got me through the one hour speeding and ROUGH boat ride out to the Great Barrier Reef feeling just great.

        The best ginger drink mixes I’ve found are in the Asian sections of your grocery store (or in an Asian grocery store) – I wasn’t worried about ingredients since I wasn’t pregnant at the time, but it might be worth it to find someone to double check the ingredient list for you if you can’t speak the language to make sure there aren’t any ingredients that are iffy for mamas-to-be.

  18. Not every woman reacts the same way to pregnancy, and not every pregnancy is the same. The first time I was pregnant, at 18, I was tired during the first trimester, but nowhere near the exhausted state I lived through when I was 36. I couldn’t tell anyone the second time around, and a colleague was really concerned when she caught me on the floor of my office, napping.

    I wish I had some advice, but all I can say is that my mom was right–saving up anything, or letting yourself get out of shape, because you can do it or work out more easily once you’re no longer with child is pure foolishness (unless you give the babe up for adoption, as I did at 18). Honestly, the tiredness you feel now (I hate to be the bearer of bad news) is just prep for the interrupted sleep/lack of REM tired that you will be in a few months. For me, the tiredness during the first few months, especially when he was doing a lot of nursing, felt like the kind of tired I’d get when I did very intense 60-90 min heavy weight-lifting routines in the gym with friends who competed as a bodybuilder and a bench-press lifter.

    But they’re right. It is the toughest job you’ll ever love. My little man (he’s 8) just interrupted me to show how he’d cleaned his whole room and made it into “Dance Zone”. Totally worth it!

    • Dance zone! Ha! I love it!

    • So true about the exhaustion during first tri versus the exhaustion after the baby is born. There is no comparison. It’s been 7 months now since my baby was born and I still haven’t gotten an 8 hour stretch of sleep. I think we just learn to live “tired” after a while, if that makes sense.

      • Related to Mel’s comment–I learned how to categorize work according to how tired I could be while doing it. Even exhausted, I could format citations, but any original thinking had to be done while I was as close to “fresh” as I could get.

      • This is very true. But one thing that has been helping me get through it the second time around (and this is true for the miserable pregnancy I had both times) is that “this too shall pass”

        The pregnancy and the sleeplessness (and all that other stuff) is such a short period of time in the grand scheme of things. But the amazing-ness (I know, not a word, but kids are just indescribable) that my kids bring to my life is so worth it.

  19. Hooray!! Congratulations Kat. Happy and healthy nine months!! (or four or whatever you have left :) )

  20. maine susan :

    Congrats, Kat. Was pregnant in the early 80’s, no morning sickness, could not stand the smell of coffee but the exhaustion was so overwhelming that I thought I had some kind of cancer and was dying. I’d never heard of exhaustion as a symptom of pregnancy and it started before I’d missed my first period. What a relief to discover it was pregnancy and would disappear in the second trimester.

    • Congratulations….

      • Dear Kate,

        This post has been amazing just being able to know what is happening to you is the most important. This was my second child after 14 years and to say the truth I had not experienced anything like this during my first pregnancy. I feel reassured and able to cope with the nausea sleep and all mixed feelings

  21. Diana Barry :

    Congrats, Kat!!!! :)

    I bought so many bras while I was pregnant. I have sizes from 34A up to 38F!

    I napped on my office floor. Not often, but a few times. I also went home early whenever I could, also not often.

    One thing – if you get sick to your stomach, you may not have time to run to the bathroom before you are sick. I kept extra plastic bags in my office for this, bagged it up, then took the trash out to the office kitchen or bathroom. Not great, but better than getting sick in the hall.

    I didn’t tell anyone at work before 13 weeks, but it was very hard. Had I been sicker, I would have told at least my boss. Don’t be afraid to press your dr for drugs – in retrospect I should have tried different anti-nausea drugs instead of just suffering through it!

  22. Related threadjack – Can anyone recommend websites/books about planning to have kids & finances? Thanks!

    • You might try NPR’s website. Driving home from work a couple of months ago I heard an interview they did with a man who wrote a book and/or gives lectures on that very topic.

  23. Congrats Kat!

    First tri is tough for sure. I had the extreme fatigue and crippling headache combo. I think the trick is just to try your best to act like you are fine when people are looking. Unless your work significantly suffers, no one will really notice if you take a few power naps in your office. Hopefully your co-workers are too busy to pay attention to everything you do.

    The toughest part for me were the clothes. I showed very early (whether it was baby or bloat didn’t really matter – the result was the same). Maternity clothes are too big in first tri but my normal clothes either would not fit or made it obvious something was up. I suggest a transition wardrobe with some loose fitting cardigans, some empire waist tops and dresses, and a bella band for your pants. You will want all of this stuff post-partum anyway, so it’s not as much of a waste of money as it seems.

    • Yes, I had a transition wardrobe too, and it’s useful for after baby comes too, when the maternity clothes might still fit (sad but true) but you’re sick to death of them, or the season’s changing.

      • With a now 5-month old, I wish I had bought more of a transition wardrobe for the first/early second trimester. I had to buy a whole wardrobe for coming back to work when the baby was 3 months, and I could have worn a lot of what I bought for post-pregnancy during that early pregnancy stage. Especially when you consider that both were about the same season. I am just now starting to be able to fit back into some of my old clothes, at least the bottoms and really loose tops, but since I’m nursing/pumping, I am still relegated only to the new tops I bought. If you lose weight easily and use formula, you could probably be back in most of your regular clothes by 3 months, but I don’t fit into either of those categories.

  24. Congratulations Kat!

  25. I felt pretty much fine throughout both of my two pregnancies — mild nausea and moodiness in the first trimester, but nothing that disrupted my routine. Some people do have severe symptoms (so it’s best to consider that possibility), but it’s not a given.

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