First Trimester Reflection: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Top 10)

by Lara on February 8, 2012

I am 14 weeks pregnant today!  Depending on which resource you consult, this is the beginning of the second trimester.

Despite doing my fair share of research and speaking casually with friends and family members who have children, I was still rather blissfully unprepared for some of the realities that my first trimester of pregnancy would bring.  Here’s a quick breakdown of my experiences thus far.  Though I am well aware that “every pregnancy is different, ” maybe this can help someone out there feel a little more prepared.

The Good

  • I’m feelin’ the love.  It’s like I’m trapped in the movie Love Actually:  love is everywhere.  I’ve heard from people I haven’t spoken to in years, wishing us happiness and health.  Family and friends have shown an outpour of joy and enthusiasm.  But more than just receiving love, I am hyper-aware of it being all around me:  from those damn Google commercials to the exhausted but oh-so-patient mother of a screaming toddler at the grocery store.  I feel an immediate kinship with any woman who has ever been pregnant and, with an anticipation of everything ahead of me, a respect for mothers everywhere on a whole new level.
  • A renewed relationship with food and my body.  I have spoken recently about the time I spent last year reconsidering my thought patterns and habits with diet and exercise.  Pregnancy has dramatically enforced my belief that intuitive eating is possible and even necessary.  For the past 9 weeks, I have been more or less forced to listen to my body and do what it wants, regardless of my own will to binge or restrict.  It has been immensely freeing and thus far, without negative consequence (I actually lost weight last week despite a diet of Eggo waffles, macaroni & cheese, and cereal, which brings me to my next subject).

The Bad

  • Morning sickness.  I was confident I had escaped morning sickness until, during week 7, I woke up with what felt like the worst hangover of my entire life.  Ladies, take note: “morning sickness,” is one of the English language’s grand misnomers.  It is not just in the morning, and (for me at least), it’s not just a little nausea.  It encompasses a myriad of sickly feelings that collectively add up to feeling like crap, or that you could lose your lunch at any time.  This is coming from someone who, I have been told, is only experiencing mild to moderate morning sickness.  I had five rough weeks after Christmas, with an odd yet potent revival period that started in week 13.  My advice?  Buy a bucket and keep it handy.
  • Lower back pain.  This started around week 10 for me and is not letting up.  It’s centered around my tailbone and can become rather severe at times.  The doctor tells me it’s because everything is readjusting in my pelvic area.
  • Acne/dry skin.  I specifically remember that my big sister’s skin radiated with health when she was pregnant, which is why it’s been especially harsh to see that mine has reverted back to the breakouts of my adolescence, while also getting grossly dry and flaky around my forehead.  Hmm, maybe this has something to do with the mac and cheese…
  • Cramps.  Cramps during pregnancy have been infuriating to me, because some are normal and some are not.  This makes it difficult to discern when to freak out.

The Ugly

  • Exhaustion and anxiety. This is no joke.  When people told me I’d feel tired, I didn’t really understand the depth of exhaustion they were referring to.  Taking a shower and washing my hair now requires a sit down break before I have the strength to dry my hair and get dressed.  I have suffered worse from exhaustion than I have with morning sickness.  As for the anxiety, I’m an anxious person to begin with, but it seems that pregnancy hormones (or perhaps just the exhaustion) have exacerbated my worried mind.  I’ll expand on this in a future post.
  • Pityriasis rosea.  While this is a common skin condition under normal circumstances, I am told it does not commonly occur during pregnancy, and for about three weeks, I was terrified (and itchy) after reading the results of this study linking it to an increased rate of miscarriage.  You see, not much research has been done on pityriasis during pregnancy–so little that my case was a bit of an anomaly at the University of Washington.  I’d meet with a nurse and she’d say, “Oh!  You’re the pregnant woman with pityriasis?!”  It took four doctors to diagnose it, and all of them agreed: there was nothing we could do but wait.  After three weeks, it cleared, and everything seems normal.
  • UTIs/BV/general bladder discomfort.  I won’t go into detail here, but if you are pregnant and have questions about my experience, email me.
  • Crazy mood swings.  Before we knew that I was pregnant, Matthew said he first suspected it when I cried because my creamed spinach came out of the microwave cold.  Actually cried.  Over spinach.

It’s been a bit of a rough start, but I am lucky right now that my schedule is flexible and I no longer have the demand of being in an office.  I am grateful because I know not all expectant mothers have this luxury.

While everyone assures me that the second trimester will bring renewed energy and less nausea, at the moment I remain skeptical.

Mothers, what was your experience with your first trimester?  

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

marci February 8, 2012 at 11:55 am

Good luck! It does sound like you’ve had a rough beginning. I found that rolling on a foam roller helped my tailbone. I had a funny cry before we actually knew I was prego too. It was loud when I was trying to fall asleep and I started to cry because I thought they didn’t care about me. Then I realized how funny I was and thought it was maybe the hormones.

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Lara February 8, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Oooh, I’ll try the foam roller, thanks!

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Lissa February 8, 2012 at 11:57 am

Oh man, I didn’t even know I was pregnant until I was 7 weeks along and never experienced morning sickness (crackers helped and pretzels too–just b/c they sounded good) buuuuuut the exhaustion was ridiculous! By the second trimester I had more energy and felt much better but what’s funny is I remember blogging about how tired I was and not knowing why … turns out, I was expecting and didn’t know it yet!!! I couldn’t eat greens or veggies til the 2nd trimester, either. Crazy how our bodies work. And like you, I found pregnancy ridiculously freeing in the food/listen to your body sense. It’s incredible what your body is doing right now. ALMOST makes me want #2 now … but not yet ;)

PS–Adorable ultrasound pic! ;)

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Lara February 8, 2012 at 2:36 pm

The exhaustion was so surprising! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who experienced an aversion to veggies. I feel a little guilty about it, but plan to hopefully make up for it later in the pregnancy. Thanks Lissa!

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Gillian February 8, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I love reading your posts! I literally looked to my fiancé while reading this and said “You’re in for it. Since I already have nausea, lower back aches, hate throwing up and am extremely emotional this is going to be one fun ride when it happens.”

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Lara February 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm

LOL! Yeah, my poor husband has been through the wringer helping me deal with everything. It’s a lot of work for both parties, I think! You’ll be great, I’m sure :)

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Andrea@WellnessNotes February 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm

I hope you’ll feel better soon!!! I know every pregnancy is different, but I really think you’ll feel a whole lot better very soon. I had a very rough first trimester with the kid, from nausea to extreme tiredness. Yes, the tiredness is something you really can’t imagine…

Sometime in the second trimester, I started to feel a whole lot better, and I got all my energy back and then some. Toward the end of my second trimester, I had tons of energy (use it wisely if that happens to you; you’ll be glad for everything you got done once you are in your third trimester…).

I know it’s hard when you don’t feel well, but try to enjoy this time as much as possible. It goes by so quickly (I know it doesn’t seem like it at times!!!)…

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Lara February 8, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Thanks Andrea. I hope you are right!

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Rebekah February 8, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Congratulations on your pregnancy – that’s so exciting! I’m coming out of lurking to mention that I too had some weird skin issues during my pregnancy. I was pregnant last year – and during my first trimester I broke out in horrible hives. I looked like I had the chicken pox, the welts were so bad. All over my arms, legs, and sides. It took several trips to the dermatologist and skin biopsies and stalking my midwife for heart beat checks before they determined it was just hives and we’d have to wait it out. They eventually cleared up on their own but yes – I understand about skin issues. That and taking naps in my office and keeping my trashcan handy. Also – subsisting on a diet of grilled cheese and refried beans for awhile.

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Lara February 8, 2012 at 2:42 pm

How interesting! I was sure mine were hives too until the doctor diagnosed it more specifically. I’m relieved you’ve experienced similar symptoms and your little boy is obviously adorable and well! :)

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Rebekah February 9, 2012 at 7:18 am

Yes – everything turned out just fine as I know it will for you too – though I know it’s hard not to be neurotic during pregnancy. I’m pretty sure I diagnosed myself with Pre-Eclampsia like 4 times. I’m so excited for you to be holding your own little adorable babe – it will be here before you know it.

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Andrea of Care to Breed February 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I should have known I was pregnant when I had an uber-bitch moment at work when a coworker didn’t turn in her file with the paperwork in order and I had to spend 20 seconds rearranging it. i was PISSED. And like a day after I found out I was pregnant, I got a UTI. God must be a man becuase the shit we have to go through to continue the human race is freakin’ unfair.

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Lara February 8, 2012 at 3:24 pm

LOL. Agreed.

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Jessie @ Graze With Me February 8, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Since I found out I was pregnant so early, I had no aversions & I was SO PROUD of myself for eating normally. Until week 6 hit & then all I could stomach were saltines & bagels w/cream cheese. I was dry heaving & gagging all day everyday from weeks 6-14. But it gets better!! Hang in there! The second trimester is bliss….

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Lara February 8, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Same! I was so proud of my healthy eating (salmon, tons of veggies, whole grains) the first few weeks I knew I was pregnant. Man, I really hope things look up in the 2nd trimester like everyone is promising.

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Melissa @TryingtoHeal February 8, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Good Luck Lara! I bet you’ve gotten through mostly the hard part…though I suppose carrying around a baby will be some work too. You’ll do great!

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Lara February 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Thanks Melissa…I hope so!

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lindsay February 8, 2012 at 6:57 pm

i had no idea! CONGRATS!! the bad and ugly will be worth it. yes?!

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Lara February 8, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Thanks Lindsay! Yes I think so! ;)

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Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) February 8, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Ugh. Well aside from all the love, it sounds pretty dreadful lol! I’m sure that it will get better as just about every mom/pregnant person say so! And then there are those amnesic hormones that make you forget all of it and then do it all again! :-)

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Lara February 8, 2012 at 8:04 pm

LOL. My mom keeps saying, “Mother Nature has a way of making you forget.” I’m not so sure, but I hope she is right!

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Heather Eats Almond Butter February 8, 2012 at 8:51 pm

First trimesters – mine were both awful as you know, but at least with my last pregnancy, I LOVED the rest of my pregnancy. Hoping the same thing happens with my current one.

Sorry Lara, but had to laugh about the creamed spinach. If it makes you feel any better, I remember crying when CD ate all the cantaloupe one night when I was pregnant with Summer. I made him promise that he would go buy another and cut it up for me.

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Lara February 8, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Hehe…spinach, cantaloupe…don’t mess with us and our produce! ;)
I hope the second trimester turns around for both of us, Heabie!

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Cortney Koors February 9, 2012 at 8:46 pm

The exhaustion part does get better after the first trimester, but it’s the worst when they’re born! I loved reading your post!

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Lara February 10, 2012 at 8:44 am

Thanks Cortney! How are you feeling?

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Leah February 10, 2012 at 10:34 am

Bloating, all day sickness, exhaustion and craving carbs all.the.time were the things I remember from my first trimester. The sickness started at about week 6 and carried through until week 14.

I remember hitting the second trimester and all of of a sudden it was like a cloud lifted and I felt back to my normal pre-pregnancy self – except with a growing belly.

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Lara February 10, 2012 at 10:35 am

I’ll be looking out for that cloud to lift then! Thanks Leah :)

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Aline February 12, 2012 at 5:14 pm

When I was pregnant I had the worst skin the first trimester. My eczema got worse than it had ever been as a grown-up (and you aren’t supposed to use cortison creams in the first trimester, so I just had to sit it out), I developed acne for the first time in my life, together with dry patches. It was terrible. I looked horrible.
Then the second trimester came and it all went away and I suddenly had great skin (though I do rely on my eczema cream still but I got a super-low-dosage one). My baby is now 9 months old and my skin is still pretty good (not sure if it’s because I nurse).
I had morning sickness (but for me it was in the evening) from 9 weeks to about 17 weeks.
The second trimester is awesome. You feel so great and beautiful and everything is just perfect. You start feeling your baby, so you worry a lot less. People are starting to see you are pregnant and treat you nicer.
The third trimester is hard. You are super tired all the time. You are super achy all the time (it makes sleeping hard – I actually slept better AFTER I had the baby then the last few months of my pregnancy – whenever people told me “sleep now!” it infuriated me because what could I do? I was too achy to sleep!). I remember in my last month of pregnancy I had to go to the grocery store which I felt like was miles and miles away. It was a tough trip. The grocery store is 2 blocks away …
The good news is, all of this goes away right after you give birth.
So does your hair though. These luscious locks all fall out about 3 months after you give birth. I had actual bald patches.
My tip – if you haven’t already – get a baby heart rate monitor. I used it every day until I started to feel my daughter move. It gave me such a peace of mind.

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Lara February 13, 2012 at 10:23 am

Thank you for this, Aline! It’s so helpful for me to hear about other women’s experiences and advice.

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glidingcalm February 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm

awww man! sorry for the bad and the ugly… but hurray for the good!! i am so excited for you.

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glidingcalm February 12, 2012 at 6:07 pm

wishing you a smooth road the rest of the way!

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Lara February 13, 2012 at 10:21 am

Thanks friend <3

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Lindsay February 14, 2012 at 5:32 pm

I hear you on the acne/dry skin! It’s been awful for the past few weeks and didn’t hit me until the second trimester. I am sure it doesn’t help that we have had a cold, dry winter this year. I am hoping that things clear up in the next few weeks but until then coconut oil and moisturizer are my go to’s.

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cheryl November 17, 2012 at 11:54 am

anyone know how to get rid of the headaches im 9 wks and they are coming everyday along with feeling so tired I have two kids already but this time around it much worse any advice?

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Lara November 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm

Hi Cheryl, I’m sorry, I didn’t experience headaches during pregnancy. I hope you find some answers and feel better soon! The first trimester is tough, but it does get better!

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Annie February 4, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Thanks for a laugh!! I’m currently 9 weeks and going through all that good stuff. It was just so nice to read about someone else who’s gone through it. This isn’t my first preggo, but each time feels kind of like the first when you’re in the first trimester, lol.

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Erin Nichols March 25, 2013 at 6:26 am

My first trimester was a NIGHTMARE. I ended up in the ER four times for extreme nausea and vomiting. I was actually admitted into the hospital for a week on the 3rd ER visit because it was so bad. I also developed gallstones and after having gallbladder attacks every night for two weeks (which I’ve been told by numerous women that if you can survive a gallbladder attack, giving birth is a piece of cake. We shall see…) I had to have my gallbladder removed while I was 14 weeks pregnant. I was off work from Jan 3 until just this week (Mar 25) due to the nausea and vomiting (and recovering from surgery). I am now 16 weeks and 1 day, and the nausea is still pretty bad. It can leave any day now!!!

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Lara March 25, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Oh my goodness, that sounds terrible! I’m so sorry. My nausea didn’t 100% go away until 20 weeks. Hang in there!

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Regina April 20, 2013 at 12:24 am

You ladies rock, its comforting to know that I’m not the only one whose had it rough,my nausea ‘s been terrible I coudn’t drink or eat anything even water, but it has eased a bit now& talking about being tired all day long I know all about that even as I’m blogging now I’m in bed and I don’t feel like waking up, but having a 6yrs & a 4yrs old I have no choice. I’m praying it’ll end soon.thanks Lara

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Lara April 22, 2013 at 10:06 am

That sounds terrible! I hope you feel better soon, Regina!

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Loriann July 2, 2013 at 7:57 am

Thank God, I’m not the only one going through this. I’m always hungry but I can’t eat, the only thing I can do is drink and at times that doesn’t help. My legs feel like lead and I’m exhausted.. Getting dressed for work in the mornings now takes longer that it usually does as I have to actually sit and get dressed.
Hearing all the stories and actually experiencing it for yourself is soooo different. I’m happy I’m pregnant but I’ll be even happier when I’m not throwing up and having to rest every 5 mins.
Reading about what you went through helps, A LOT!!!!

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Lara July 17, 2013 at 7:29 pm

I’m sorry you are having a rough time, Loriann. It will get better and it is so worth it!

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Christina Pettit September 12, 2013 at 8:07 am

First trimester is the worst. I can’t even work. Does it get better

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Lara September 12, 2013 at 9:13 am

I’m so sorry! Yes, it does! For me it was right around 20 weeks. For a lot of women I hear it’s earlier, around 13.

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Lucy March 13, 2014 at 8:37 pm

I feel so much better to read all this symptoms, last year i miscarried and after six months that my baby wento to heaven we decided to conceive again, im waiting to have a missed period but im having the same symptoms that i had before such as crazy heartburn even if i drink water, and crazy cramps, plus i burb like crazy! Im pretty sure im pregnant because we arent using protection, cant wait to find out!

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Diane August 13, 2014 at 6:17 pm

I cant tell you how much joy I got from reading your stories. I dont mean that I take joy in your suffering but I find joy in knowing I am not alone in this madness. I am 10 weeks pregnant and SOOOO over these symptoms! I have extreme exhaustion (pretty sure I almost fell asleep walking my dogs the other night), all day sickness, chronic nausea and serious aversions to most of my favorite foods. I have given in to the fact that my baby is now in control of my body. I wake up craving the strangest things but can only stomach eating fruit, bagels and cream cheese and lots of oatmeal. The most annoying part is my bladder! I have to be constantly but I pee slower than an 80 year old. Please tell me these symptoms do ease up into the second trimester!

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Lara August 13, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Hehe…congratulations on your pregnancy! Yes, I think the second trimester is pretty much universally great for everyone. I wish the same for you!

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