Having an unplanned pregnancy can stir up mixed emotions. Even though I wasn’t planning on getting pregnant anytime soon, with all my career and travel plans, there was an inner voice wishing for a positive pregnancy test, and a lingering anxious feeling, questioning if it was the right time to have a baby. And after the longest five minutes of my life, there it was, more advanced than a mere plus sign, the number of weeks since I’ve conceived.
Now I knew I was going to start experiencing changes, but at most I was thinking about stretch marks, weight gain, back pain and a minor level of morning sickness. I felt I had all those under control: body oil for stretch marks, and prenatal yoga and pilates for any physical pain. Thinking of the agonizing pain of labor frightened me but I didn’t have to really worry about it for another 9 months. No one ever told me I would need to worry about my first trimester. I could have used a heads up!
As I entered my second month (a third way into my first trimester), I instantly noticed a change in my taste buds and sense of smell. Suddenly I could smell EVERYTHING- the tiniest hint of a substance, even from a mile away, and everything smelled horrible. I no longer liked the food I used to love, and had zero cravings for any type of food, not to mention zero appetite! I couldn’t step foot in my own kitchen because the variety of smells would instantly send me running to the toilet. I sent my husband into the kitchen for every little thing I wanted. I couldn’t eat anything, only bread and unsalted cheese, seriously nothing else. I couldn’t even drink water. I lost 2.5 kgs during that month and became severely dehydrated – I could tell from my pale, cracked skin!
I was throwing up a few times a day, and spent my time alternating between my bed and the washroom. I had to take a few weeks off work because these symptoms had rendered me completely dysfunctional. I couldn’t even step foot in my elevator, since a variety of smells congregate in that enclosed space, forcing me to stay put in my apartment.
Sleeping helped a lot because in that time I didn’t need to worry about what to eat or force myself to sip on water. And although you crave a lot of sleep in the first three months – even longer in my case- the nausea is a barrier to a good night’s sleep. My doctor put me on Zofran, a strong anti-nausea medication that’s safe for pregnant women. But even Zofran didn’t do the trick- I was still throwing up and feeling nauseated 24/7. Maybe I could’ve been worse without it, but I wasn’t willing to take the risk and find out. So I used it until the very last day of my first trimester!
I soon discovered two things that slightly helped: icy water and skittles! I found water went down smoother with ice, and the fruity taste of skittles killed the constant bitter taste in my mouth from all the nausea and vomiting. The icy water was definitely a more effective solution, as Skittles has a lot of sugar and I tried to be as mindful as possible about the amount of sugar I was consuming. Even until now – I just started my fifth month- I can only drink my water iced. My doctor says it’s fine to drink icy beverages but she worries about me getting a sore throat or a throat infection. Those would have to be “treated unnecessarily” as she objectively put it.
I believe lots of women who’ve had morning sickness laugh at the “morning” label since they’ve probably experienced symptoms at all hours of the day. Ironically, my symptoms were the worst at night, right before I slept. I was at my “best” in the morning hours- relatively speaking. And when I had symptoms all day long, I was plain “sick”.
Luckily these symptoms slowly subsided over the course of my third month (towards the end of the first trimester), and then they magically disappeared within the first week of my fourth month. Other women aren’t that fortunate I’m afraid, and end up with morning sickness during their entire pregnancy. But they say it’s rare, so don’t worry too much about that. I’ve also been told that morning sickness symptoms are a sign of a healthy pregnancy, and that thought really kept me going during my struggle!
You’ll be somewhat of a bitter woman going through all those changes and symptoms, but don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with being a little depressed when you’re constantly feeling sick. Just try to focus on the fact that you’re bringing a baby into this world, and the thought of this miracle will instantly make you smile. It surely did for me.
Today I’m five months pregnant, developing a nice little baby bump, which will soon grow to be enormous! I’m still too shy to take a “bumpie” – a selfie with a bare baby bump- I only take photos of my tummy clothed. But maybe soon I’ll conjure up the courage to join in the prego bumpie craze that’s all over social media. Until then, I’ll stick to hiding under my maternity clothes, which – on a side note- I feel are lacking in Abu Dhabi. If anyone knows any good maternity clothes stores, please do share!
Sisi & Rara