Emotional Isolation and the Struggle of the First Trimester

I decided to announce my pregnancy with baby number 3 at only ten weeks pregnant, prompting more than a few people to ask me whether I thought that was an altogether wise decision. My answer, of course, is “yes!” It was the right decision for me, and not one that I made arbitrarily.

I know that everyone is different and many women value their privacy. Perhaps I’m at risk of being labeled an over-sharer but I learned, painstakingly over the course of my twenties, just who I was and how I operate and I’ve come to know that sharing is just who I am. Personally I find speaking about my experiences therapeutic. I’m not a very private person because finding commonality with others makes me feel like I’m part of a community and one of my biggest fears is emotional isolation. Feeling like we’re the only one going through something hard can be incredibly difficult and I’m grateful for the platforms we have in 2020 to speak about our experiences and easily find others who are feeling the same way (this ability to surround ourselves with only others who think the way we do comes with obvious dangers as well, but that’s a discussion for another time).

Feeling so bad in the first trimester but not being “allowed” to tell others or talk about it always feels a little tortuous to me. Since 2020 started I’ve missed appointments, cancelled plans, barely left the house, and completely dropped the ball on all parenting-related responsibilities without being able to give anyone any explanation. Sometimes it feels as if the hardest parts in pregnancy and motherhood are the ones that are also considered too private to talk about. The majority of pregnant women feel nausea during their first trimester and it often lasts all day (that morning sickness label is exceedingly false for many!). There’s also a pervasive fatigue, like a cant-keep-your-eyes-open, exhausted-down-to-your-very-bones kind of tiredness, the likes of which challenges even that postpartum fatigue once baby arrives and decides not to sleep for the first six months if it’s life. I described the First Trimester to Tom as waking up with one of the worst hangovers of your life, but every day for weeks. You don’t have the appetite for any food but know you have to eat something to feel better and you wake up and wistfully dream about bedtime before you’ve even gotten out of bed to start your day. This is what the First Trimester is like for most of us so why should we have to suffer through it in silence?

There are some super exciting moments in these early days as well, like peeing on a stick in the sleepy hours of the morning and then sharing the happy results with your partner (or your hetero life partner/cousin, in my case), telling family and friends, and going to your first ultrasound appointment to see that tiny blob in your growing uterus and hear baby’s heartbeat for the first time. There’s nothing quite like those exciting and anxiety-ridden first few months of pregnancy and we try our best to enjoy it with gratitude and hope, even through the nausea and food aversions.

As in all things, what’s right for me may not be right for you – maybe you’re the type to keep silent and maybe you, like me, are prone to sharing and commiserating with others. Whatever feels right for you, do it! But know that you’re not alone – the first trimester is a tough time for all of us.