I am not going to sugar coat it, the first trimester for me this time around was a shit show.
Each day felt like I was in survival mode just trying to get by.
I know these hard times in our lives can bring us the greatest growth and a I guess for me its inspired me to share and support more mamas to look after their mental health perinatally and through into postpartum once baby is earth side.
How my first trimester went:
I already knew I was pregnant, I actually had that feeling of knowing which I was quite surprised about. It felt good to have that connection with my body and feel that knowing.
3 days after finding out I was pregnant I got the dreaded covid. Thanks to my man for testing and telling me to do one as one of his work mates had it. Luckily at this point I didn’t feel bad but my test came back positive. Obviously I was a nervous wreck and wondered how it would affect both baby and I. I joined groups online and felt reassured though still quite nervous. It hit me like a tonne of bricks for a good few days, bad head cold and felt absolutely exhausted an hour after waking. Luckily with my man at home I was able to snooze on the sofa and tended to perk up a bit more in the afternoons.
Just as I was getting better and starting to get some energy I got a sickness stomach thing overnight and ended up in hospital the next day with suspected appendicitis. The A+E nurse told me there was risk to the baby if they needed to operate which of course broke me completely. They whisked me over to Huddersfield hospital just in case I needed surgery but thankfully I got better and didn’t need surgery. They said it could be anything but because it hadn’t got worse like appendicitis usually does they didn’t want to risk surgery for obvious reasons. Thank god.
At the same time as this happening we found out my partner’s mum had breast cancer and would need surgery asap. Luckily she was an absolute trooper and before she went in for surgery (that went successfully) we went up to visit them in Northumberland. The thing is, every time we go up there our little one gets a flare up of bronchilitis which we now think is triggered by the family cat. So we arrive back home and have another rough few nights which always triggers me into a PTSD response about his breathing.
Just as little one gets better and I start to get some energy back after a month of intensity boom, the dreaded symptoms of first trimester hit me. Dizziness, morning sickness and exhaustion hit me like a tonne of bricks.
From 8-15 weeks I just felt absolutely floored and my mental health took a big dip. I was questioning whether I was capable of being a mum to 2 kids as it brought up a lot of fear and trauma from my first birth experience. There were times where I started to question my sanity which was a big trigger point for me too. There was a time in the hospital after my first belly birth that made me think I was going to go insane and need to be sectioned.Was I really capable of going through it again? What am I doing? I thought to myself often. It was a really scary place to go to mentally. One of my fears has been going back to that place. Though I have gotten through it once, it’s a really dark head space to be in and I really really don’t want to go back there. As soon as I dipped I booked perinatal counseling sessions to help bring me back out of it. I knew there would be a waiting time, it was 4 weeks and I laughed to myself as I knew that by the time 2nd trimester came about I would have probably listed out of that heavy fog I was currently experiencing. Which thankfully it did.
The thing is when you’re in that type of survival mode as a mum it can often feel that that’s what life is going to look like forever. I remember feeling it when our first little one arrived. I often thought to myself fuck, this is how life is now. What have I done and where is the joy!
2nd trimester has dropped me into that summer energy much like the menstrual summer/ovulatory phase filling me with life, inspiration and creative spark which I am so so grateful for. Nothing like a good summer period to lift your spirits and bring back that energy and zest for life. It has given me a boost to really put in the work and structure to support my postpartum period this time around. I learnt ALOT from my first birth and pretty much lost who I was during the 6 day hospital stay. It took a lot of coaxing to remember the practices and tools I had to feel like a human again and I am determined not to let that happen again.
It has been interesting looking back on my journey and how the birth trauma I experienced with my first baby is showing up during this pregnancy. Nothing is ever fully healed, something I didn’t really realise or accept until recently which opened up a lot of space to be okay with things coming up again for me. Our bodies hold so much and of course pregnancy was going to bring up some things for me to work through, especially when the first 2-3 months had me in survival mode much like my first postpartum experience did. The triggers differ in impact on me but I see the growth and strength I have and have a new confidence and power in advocating for myself. Though it feels uncomfortable letting people into our “crazy” mind, speaking it takes away its power.
When I noticed myself dipping I started speaking to my support network about it, I realised I needed to get back into my journal and clear my monkey mind. Journaling has always been a game changer for me being an air sign and very much an overthinker it does me wonders to purge and make space in my mind. Its actually a great reminder that as an overthinker I have to really put energy into embodiment practices to drop me out of the mind and into my body.
Through all of this challenge I have experienced during my first trimester I felt quite disconnected to my body and the growing baby. It made me feel quite guilty that I wasn’t making the most of the experience, especially if this is our last child which I do feel it is. There is a bittersweetness in it being the last and I want to feel it all as it’s the biggest ride of my life that I know will forge the older woman I am to become in the future.
Mental health in pregnancy and motherhood is so so important. It’s a really life altering time in a woman’s life if she does decide to have children. Because of my experience I am in ideas phase of creating a motherhood wellbeing collection to support you in a number of ways for your mental health.
4 ways to support yourself in the first trimester
Speak to your people
To your partner, your family and your friends. Go to your safest people and speak out about any “craziness” you feel in your head. Don’t hold back, set up the conversation by stating and intending that you are reaching out because you need to be held and heard. Tell them beforehand the support you need whether that’s just being listened to, or whether you need advice and support.
Look into perinatal/postpartum counselling
If you have birth trauma from a previous birth It might be worth looking into trauma informed therapy to help you work through and process what happened. I cannot stress the importance of going to therapy through out lives. We are messy humans always journeying something and therapy in whatever form works for you can only be beneficial to opening you up to my joy, happiness and confidence in yourself in your life. Im not saying going to therapy isnt easy, of course its going to bring up challenging things for you but on the flip side you are are allowing them to not hold as much power over you which then opens up sooo much more for you on the other side. I’m a big believer of a little motto I have in life which is from all negatives can be positive growth, as long as your willing to go through it and face those challenging elements of our lives.
Embodiment work and somatic practices
I cannot stress the importance of cultivating a connection with your body. To drop out of your mind and allow yourself to really feel your body and what it does. She speaks to you and will you so much if you are able to slow down and feel all the feels. Search up somatic practices to support you in getting back into your body.
One of my fave tools to allow you to open up space in that monkey mind. It also helps you have a safe space to talk about your “crazies”. I say crazies in the most lighthearted of ways, believe me, I have been to the point of thinking i’m going crazy and not coming back from it. I’m owning it, and there is power in that. In your journal practice ask yourself questions about what experiences are bringing up different thoughts, feelings and emotional responses in you.