Let’s be honest for a moment. The first trimester of pregnancy kind of sucks. Sure, there are good things about it – seeing that positive pee stick is pretty awesome. And watching your breasts transform before your eyes is pretty cool too. But, for the most part, the first trimester doesn’t win any “Best Trimester Ever” awards. Well, not in my books.
What makes the first trimester so blech isn’t just the constant need to pee, the morning sickness that lasts all day or the exhaustion that leaves you asleep at 5pm. The hardest part is that you go through it (mostly) alone, in secret and without the support of your friends, family or coworkers.
And it’s about time we mums get to talk about it.
Welcome to Struggleville: population, just you
There is this unwritten rule in pregnancy. It suggests that women should keep their pregnancy under wraps until the second trimester. Why? Because this is when the risk of miscarriage drops. Until then, women should go about their business – working, socialising, taking care of their families -without letting anyone know that they’re growing a baby.
Fair enough, right? But the thing is, the first trimester is often when you need help the most. The kind of help you don’t start to get until that baby bump is big enough to be noticed. But by then, all those god-awful early pregnancy symptoms have settled.
Think about it …
Where’s my first-trimester casserole?
Growing an infant is a big deal, especially during the first trimester when your body is pretty much a whirlpool of hormones.
During those first few weeks, imagine having a day or two off work to rest (or spew) without having to fib about having the flu. Imagine how it would be to tell your boss you’re pregnant instead of secretly dozing at your desk while nibbling stale crackers and trying not to spew on your keyboard.
When you get home, you need a meal. Having a pre-made casserole dropped off would save you from having to dry-retch over the stove as you struggle to cook something for everyone else in the house.
When you’re supposed to be going to a dinner party, it’s a lot easier to simply call your host and admit, “I’m pregnant and don’t want to squeeze my newly developed boobs and bloated stomach into a teeny dress and drink soda water out of a champagne glass all night. I want to stay in my slippers and be close enough to the toilet in case my dinner decides to make a quick escape”.
And on the weekend, how great to admit to a friend that you’re overwhelmed with pregnancy hormones, rather than pretending nothing exciting is happening in your uterus? And if she offers to put out a load of washing, would that be so bad? I think not.
Help me, I’m newly pregnant
Not every woman follows the golden rule. I did. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t. I wish I had shouted, “I may not look pregnant but I still feel like death. So, let me sleep, dammit. And bring me chocolate”.
Newly pregnant women deserve support. And chocolate. And, if the worst does happen, then those women deserve all the support in the world. They deserve to take time off work, to cry all night, to sleep all day. And, mostly, they deserve to be able to publicly admit that, at this moment, life isn’t that great.
The golden rule exists to protect pregnant mums from having to reveal the bad news if miscarriage does happen. But perhaps it’s time to rethink this rule, to let a few in on your secret and to acknowledge that pregnancy doesn’t start at the second trimester. Let’s start building our village from the very beginning.