From the Series: A Glimpse at the Journey of Motherhood (Part 1)
The pregnancy is confirmed at home and at the OB/GYN. It’s real and it’s exciting! Now what? Get ready to experience all the things: sleepiness, sore breasts, morning sickness, food cravings, smell aversions; the list goes on and on. There’s also the decision about informing family and friends about the little surprise. Triple check your seatbelt…it’s time for the roller coaster’s first steep uphill climb and subsequent downhill plunge!
Pulling Out of the Station: Hormonal Changes
The first trimester is understood as the first three months of pregnancy. To be more specific, it begins the first day of the last menstrual cycle and ends with the last day of the thirteenth week of pregnancy. Goodbye period! Honestly, I didn’t even know I was pregnant until week five, so my first trimester was almost to the halfway point. I was tired a lot and my breasts were like rocks which did not allow me to sleep in my preferred stomach-lying position. I was also eating like a teenage boy. I never had an ounce of morning sickness. I think there must have been a higher power in charge because I don’t think I would’ve made it through that torment. I can report a lot of skin changes (acne), headaches as I ditched my coffee habit and weird cravings. It was like I was living outside myself or I was being possessed by an alien life form. Oh wait, I was growing my own tiny human.
After nights of copious reading about everything I was about to experience in this first chunk of pregnancy, I was honestly pretty anxious. I’m a facts person. I like to know what’s going to happen and when and where and why. There are a lot of mental cycles that get seriously rearranged by the constant surging hormones. Here comes the first doom-ridden drop on the coaster: I would awaken in the middle of the night with thoughts that I had had a miscarriage. The fear was at a constant dull roar in my mind. Beyond treating myself well, eating properly and getting enough rest, it was up to my body and cell multiplication to do this job. I like control, and here, I had very little. I was also very aware of the fact that my body had never done this before and so I worried. A lot. Nobody is perfect, right? I found comfort in knowing that I had a good foundation; I was at a healthy weight, I had no pre-existing health concerns, I was able to get ample sleep and I had a loving husband and family.
Things were moving right along. We had shared our exciting news with our family and friends, we were financially set, we were in the excited hurry-up-and-wait zone. Then it happened. At week twelve, I saw blood. I was at work and had little time to process what I was seeing. I hadn’t experienced any cramping or other symptoms so I tried not to panic. I called my doctor’s office and was advised to come right in to be checked out. My husband met me there and we learned that my body was actively trying to reject our tiny ball of cells.
I am Rh negative and my body saw my baby as an intruder and had begun its attack. Let me explain Rh factor; it’s short for Rhesus factor and it’s a blood group system. It is an inherited protein found on the surface of red blood cells. If you have the protein, you are Rh positive, if not, you’re Rh negative. Pregnancies with a Rh negative mom and a Rh positive baby require special care. If a small amount of my baby’s blood came into contact with mine, my body would produce Rh antibodies to ‘reject’ the intrusion. There is an injection called Rhogam that I received at that appointment. The doctor explained that the injection would provide a barrier to help protect both of us from each other. The ball of cells really was an alien! I spent the weekend in bed and the bleeding stopped after two days.
I like commitments. They are mostly black and white. They are usually binding and there isn’t much wiggle room or time to look back. Roller coasters are the same. Once you’re on and moving, you’d better be in it for the long haul. I did make it to the end of the first trimester and that first epic climb and drop. I like to think maybe telling our family and friends about the pregnancy helped in some way. I guess we’ll never know. Let’s keep this coaster on the tracks for trimester two.
Kimberly Fisher, RN/BSN is Healthcare Program Manager for JourneyLabs. A graduate of the University of Florida College of Nursing she brings nearly a decade of experience with a background in adult (ICU/CCU) and neonatal critical care (NICU), patient advocate work in the managed care space and in pharmacy tech.