First Trimester Survival: Making It Work the Second Time Around

If you are in or entering your first trimester, you may be experiencing total internal chaos. It’s not a pretty sight. You’re excited and happy (hopefully) but also feeling any sort of degree of terrible and terrified.

I’m coming to the end of my first trimester with my second pregnancy and honestly, it’s a totally different experience.

Morning Sickness

Last time around, the first trimester just felt like a constant mild hangover. My head hurt, I was tired and I was queasy. But my queasiness could always be settled with a few crackers or a banana. It wasn’t much of an issue.

I’m still lucky in that my nausea is mild compared to many, but damn it’s worse. We’re on our fifth bag of jolly ranchers (although in fairness Tyler has been helping me) at our house and I keep other candies in my purse, car, desk drawer and anywhere else I think I could need it. Same with crackers. I’ve started taking Unisom and B6 to help but I feel like it’s mainly a placebo effect. Regardless I’m very unnaturally attached to it.

Survival tools:

  • Sour skittles
  • Jolly ranchers- watermelon preferred
  • Lemonheads
  • Saltines
  • Unisom (at night)
  • B6 (in the morning)
  • Tic tacs/ice breakers mints
  • A lot of other weird new habits like breathing solely through my mouth and mentally waving away bad smells
  • Be physical, be social, do something even for a few minutes. There’s nothing that helps like breaking away from your funk.
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A 20 minute bike ride two weeks ago gave me so much energy!

 

Fatigue

When I was pregnant with Haines I just wanted to sleep my life away. I came home from work and laid on the couch. During dinner I would often eat with my head laying on the table and then immediately go to sleep.

Now I just have to keep moving, which isn’t hard as Haines is always moving. 100% of the time. But at work the moment I sit at my desk, I almost immediately start to slump down. It takes no time at all before I am borderline horizontal. The same happens at Haines’ bed time.

Pregnancy Brain

The first time around I did not believe in pregnancy brain. I was a doubter, I’ll admit it. But after I thought Tyler still spent time in Alaska and I tried to find a dresser that we’d left in Austin I admitted it was a thing.

I thought I was starting off strong but this weekend I left my laptop at work which was the most important thing I needed. I had spent 15 minutes carefully packing my workbag to make sure I had everything and completely missed the mark. I’ve also done some other dumb things but I just blame those on Tyler, which I think is fair.

Peeing all the time

Expectations are everything! Since I didn’t know about peeing all the time in the first trimester last time I thought it was extreme and complained about it constantly.

Now I feel like it’s not even a factor. It’s all about expectations. Sure, I got up 3 times last night but that seems totally fine. Right? That’s just the same for everyone?

Emotional State

With Haines, I was completely terrified from the moment we knew we were pregnant. Even though we were pregnant on purpose, the moment we found out I started questioning the decision. Panic set in. What were we doing? Did we really want to change our lives like this?

Now, I don’t feel any of that. I’m much more terrified of the logistics of having two small children, not of the decision. It doesn’t mean this hasn’t had its emotionally scary moments but the sense of calm, internally, is greater this time around. I know what to expect from myself, from Tyler, at least on some level. I know our strength a little bit more.

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Family!

 

Physical Changes

I was shocked at the changes my body went through in the first trimester last time around. Everything seemed to happen so quickly! I vividly remember laying in bed and thinking, “Are those my organs moving?”

Now I look down and think, “Oh, I remember you.” It’s like welcoming an old friend back. It was only a few months ago that the skinny, tan line on my stomach disappeared. Now, it’s still gone but I’m already showing. I already want to rest my hands on my belly although there’s hardly anything to rest on.

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2016: pregnant but still a secret!

 

And there’s the feeling grateful and excited part. Every day we get closer to the second trimester, I think we’re getting closer to feeling safe, that we can start talking about logistics and other practical things. There’s no such safe zone, anything could happen but I am glad to be here whatever happens.

Growing Family

Children are not logical.  They’re adorable, pretty fun (some of the time), and make your heart explode with joy on a regular basis. They are not; however, logical. They cost lots of money, sleep, time, sanity and home cleanliness.

And yet, here we are, ready to do it again. Not just ready, excited. (ILLOGICAL!) Another little one will be joining our family at the end of October. And if I’m totally honest I’m terrified. Bringing a new person into the world, our little world, could not be more intimidating.  But I don’t think being afraid is a bad thing. It just means something important is at stake.

It was an enormous decision to try for baby number two. There were lots of reasons to go one and done. There were two reasons to try again:

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1. I have loved watching Haines grow. I have loved every milestone, every new word, even every painful new tooth. Watching Haines grow from a fairly boring baby to a tiny, humorous person is joyous in the most quiet, incredible ways.

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2. I have a sibling who is almost 11 years older than me. I love her and our family just the way it is but growing up I often wished we were closer in age. I want Haines to have the full sibling experience… even though I know that means two kids under two, crazy fights over toys, personal space and the like.

These last 16 months have not been very easy. I have a tendency to isolate myself when I feel low and having a young child naturally keeps you at home more. This is something that I constantly have to work through- making sure I get of the house, reminding myself to make plans, to reach out to others. My company, nor Haines’ or Tyler’s, is not quite enough to give me all that I need. I’m not actually sure what does give me all that I need.

I assume that’s because I’m a growing, evolving person whose life has become much more complicated since adding 1 (and soon 2) children. So what I needed once, isn’t exactly what I need now. Plus before Haines I didn’t have it all figured out either.

I thought that by the time I had children I would be a pretty perfect, mentally sound person. I’m actually still me, which is more complicated and will probably make for a better mother overall.

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So, littlest Barrack we are not perfect. We will always make mistakes, but we will love you more than you can possibly imagine. See you in a few months baby B!

 

Baby’s First Year Survival Tools

One of the things expecting mothers always panic about is all the things. You feel you need all the things! In reality, you won’t need half of what you end up with when you have a baby. A lot of people will try to give you things. You’ll most likely accept everything  thinking, how am I to know what I need? You don’t, so cut yourself some slack. I don’t know what you need either, but I do know what I used to get through HEB’s first year. If we have another baby we’ll probably need totally different things! But hopefully not because we’re not buying anything.

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Newborn hell (or 0 to 3 months):

I have to be honest, those newborn days that everyone (without a newborn) glows over… those are pretty intense. Even if you are not breastfeeding you may start to think, surely this is impossible! Horribly enough we all started off as extremely needy, up all hours of the night, feeding every 2 hours, adorable little babies.

  • Netflix– get it, gift it, don’t judge yourself for binging it.
  • Chicco Keyfit stroller caddy– We loved this for the ability to plop our carseat right in and start strolling without ever disturbing our sleeping babe. There’s also tons of storage underneath so I could throw his diaper bag in there. I preferred using this for grocery shopping (heavy things in the caddy, light things in a basket) rather than a cart when he was small.
  • A breastfeeding station- Find yourself a Boppy or a Brest Friend or whatever and keep it near your comfiest chair or couch. Near that fill a basket with granola bars or easy to eat snacks, your kindle or your TV remote and remember to bring water when you’re sitting down to feed. Two minutes in and you’ll suddenly remember you’re DYING of thirst.
  • Rock n Play– Haines slept in the Rock n Play for the first 4 months of his life and absolutely loved it. Admittedly though we never put the batteries in so it didn’t rock him on its own. I would reach out and rock him to sleep in the middle of the night if needed, but never used the actual function. I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to stop.

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3-6 months:

This was a pretty tough time for me. I went back to work and Haines’ sleep had really gotten worse so the level of fatigue was high. At the same time though H started to interact with us. He was alert and playful. It really lifted me up.

  • Bouncy chair– This is something we didn’t know we really needed. It was a hand-me-down (as is everything else) and I wasn’t even sure why we would want it. Um… you want to carry this lightweight all over your house so you can get things done! This is what baby lays in while you cook dinner, go to the bathroom, type your blogs- all the important things.
  • Frozen meals- I had fixed some items in advance and my mom and Natalie also stocked my freezer as well. The first few weeks/months we were the beneficiaries of a meal train but that comes to an end well before the fatigue does. Having the world’s easiest meals on hand is very helpful. I also froze muffins to help me with my constant need to snack.
  • Ergo– We started out with a 2nd hand Chicco carrier which worked okay, but it was a huge upgrade when a friend gave us an Ergo. After a little while you start to want options for going out and having some sort of baby wearing device is a must. (Also, I tried a wrap and found it to be an enormous pain the tush.)

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6-9 months:

The first turning point! Everything was fun during these few months (minus sleep training and ear infections). Haines was excited for everything- food, Clara, being outside. There were also so many milestones during this time. He sat up, crawled and walked all between 7 and 9 months.

  • Kiddo food trays- I LOVED using these to make Haines’ baby food. I made all of his food at home which was much easier than I anticipated. When he napped on the weekend, I would dump all the veggies into a steamer before blending in our Nutri-bullet. Any blender will do. The only downside here- HEB moved on from purees pretty quickly. He wanted to feed himself!
  • Baby proofing- This turned out to be much more in depth than I would have expected. We had to get rid of several pieces of furniture that we deemed being too annoying with a baby to keep. If you’re going to try to limit your “No! Don’t touch that!” conversations than I will suggest going beyond outlet covers and cabinet locks. Every trash can in your house should have a heavy lid, your toilet paper should be moved near the ceiling and any knick-knacks resting within 3 feet of the floor should be moved. Probably just get rid of your blinds now.
  • Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy- For months this was Haines favorite toy. It could entertain him indefinitely. This is probably the only thing we ever tore up the house looking for.
  • Nursery rhymes- Start practicing now. This was the only way we could get perk up a cranky baby during diaper changes or going into his carseat.

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9-12 months:

This was the second turning point. We have a routine. We can mostly anticipate Haines likes and dislikes. He’s fussier and harder to console but also easier to distract. Children are weird.

  • Alphaprints book & The Itsy Bitsy Snowman are Haines two favorite books right now. They are guaranteed to lift his mood!
  • Bathmat– If your baby wants to crawl all around the bathtub then I recommend getting a non-slip bathmat for the tub. It has cut down on his falls tremendously and ours has a hook so it can hang on the shower to dry.
  • Spoutless sippy cup– Haines has struggled with all the other cups we’ve given him but took to this one right away! (Full disclosure: we still use a bottle most of the time, but this cup has helped a lot).

 

If you’re stressing about needing all the things, don’t. Get a carseat. Figure out a safe place for the baby to sleep. Buy a few diapers (and expect many more in gifts). Collect every hand me down you can. You’ll figure out the rest.

And remember, for better or for worse, this is only temporary.

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Prenatal Yoga and Natural Childbirth (Or Prenatal Yoga & Surviving Pregnancy)

I have two pregnant friends right now which has given quite a few opportunities to discuss how much I love prenatal yoga. But clearly not enough or I wouldn’t feel the need to bring it up here.

Being pregnant had its magical moments but overall I can’t say I loved it. Going to prenatal yoga was one of my favorite things about being pregnant if that says anything.

When I shared my excitement for my weekly yoga outing at work, they were… skeptical. They told me to keep my patchouli and mantras to myself. But I just can’t! I must admit, there have been times in the past and in prenatal yoga that I wasn’t wild about. I can only Om so much before you’ve lost me. In a past life the yoga studio I attended played fun, retro music while we worked through poses. It was hip to the max. My prenatal studio, Longwave Yoga in Wilmington, was more traditional with what any skeptic would describe as new age, world music.

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You have to move past all that.

  1. At a certain in pregnant you begin to deal with a lot of physical discomfort and mental anxiety. For me the mental anxiety began almost immediately. Here’s a brief synopsis of my brain during pregnancy:
    • First trimester: Are we making the right choice? Am I going to lose all my freedom? What’s going to happen to my identity?
    • Second trimester: We’re going to be terrible parents.
    • Third trimester: I have to give birth?! I changed my mind.

It was something like that. Physically, my pregnancy was relatively easy but it was still hard. I felt sore, uncomfortable, weak. I started waddling pretty early on. Yoga was the only place I felt I could clear my mind for a few minutes and relax my body. I went every week from about 28 to 39 weeks and eventually it didn’t relieve my physical discomfort anymore. At that point though I had very little motivation to get off the couch and it provided what I needed to get out of the house.

2. When you’re pregnant, all of the sudden you don’t quite fit in the world. Pretty much everything is labeled- pregnant women should use caution or avoid. No alcohol, no hot tubs, exercise class instructors get nervous when you walk in and so on. My work chair was painful no matter how many pillows I brought from home. Prenatal yoga was the only place where it was meant for me. I surrounded my mat with bolsters and blocks to make my poses easier and support my big ol’ belly. The instructor knew what modifications to make to help me and she also knew what was on my mind. It was a safe place to cry through my poses when I needed or just hold my bump and breath for a little while.

3. Even though I was 30 when I had Haines I didn’t know many other young moms or pregnant women. I was desperate to be around women who were going through this same experience or who had just come out the other side. It was so nice to be around women who all understand some element of what I was dealing with, even if just for one quiet hour a week.

4. This is the kicker- the breathing I learned in yoga is the only reason I could survive my contractions. I had wanted to have a natural birth and Haines turned out to be on board for that. He was able to keep things under 12 hours from first contraction to his appearance in the world and I didn’t reach my breaking point until about 10 1/2 or 11 hours. While all the exercise and poses I learned in yoga definitely helped me for the incredibly physical intense experience of delivery the breathing got me through the pain. With each contraction I breathed in slowly silently saying “Let” and then exhaled slowly “go”. Over and over again this was the chant that got me through it. Not the heating pad, not the bath, not the tennis ball on my back, not my husband’s encouragement, not music, nothing but “let go” and slow breathing. Well, that and the living room recliner where I labored and squeezing Tyler’s hand when things got bad.

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I ended up pretty much living in this chair after H was born. 

Obviously yoga isn’t for everyone. Neither is natural childbirth…or childbirth at all for that matter. But if you’re pregnant and looking for relief or even remotely considering non-medicated birth, it’s worth your time to check it out. It’s been a year since I last went and I still think about it often.

 

Postpartum Baby Fever

Somewhere around 6 months postpartum baby fever hit me. I felt weirdly intense about my friends’ new babies and pregnancies. I followed another million mom Instagram accounts. I started to think about Haines as my first baby rather than just my baby. I sized up our guest bedroom for bunk beds. WTF.

If I’m perfectly honest, I’ve never had baby fever before. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved babies. I love their tiny features and wispy hair and baby smell. I like babies that look like old men (90%) and ones with outrageous fat rolls (sadly, not mine). I have never not wanted to hold any baby I’ve encountered, but I’ve pretty much always been on the fence about actually birthing one. So, when I was struck down with baby fever after recently learning what it was like to birth a baby (without pain medication no less), it was particularly shocking to me.

I started to think about all the new baby things we would need for a second baby, as if we actually needed them. Two babies in cloth diapers- was it possible? As if we actually had another baby on the way. I asked all my coworkers about their children’s age gaps. Planned/not planned? Too far apart or so close together it makes you want to jump off a cliff?

Finally, over one of these conversations I fully fessed up on my baby fever status. My coworker said, “Oh, of course you have baby fever! You were pregnant and then you had a baby and all these things are happening. It’s all so exciting but then it’s just stops. Everything becomes normal.”

At first I thought this was insane. My life isn’t normal. There is a baby here! I have become a parent! He keeps teething and getting bigger and now he crawls at an alarming speed. How is that possible?! The last 18 months (pregnancy + baby) have been a huge whirlwind.

But, I guess this is my new normal. I am a parent…of a baby…who will become a child.

 Unknown Adventure

Pregnancy is so incredibly exciting. Even when it is agony, it is exciting. There is this unknown adventure growing inside you. It is easy to spend much of your time in disbelief that your body is capable of this. No really, this is how babies are made.

At the same time, everyone is talking to you about the baby, the belly, the future. This can be the most annoying thing ever, especially if you do not like to be the center of attention, but it also adds to the excitement. Either way, the dynamic has shifted. There is always something to talk about- you. This is handy because while you’re pregnant your world feels especially small. It’s hard to move your brain past the excitement but also the practical aspects of a new person. So, how exactly is this going to work? Today we are two people, but tomorrow we are three?

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Kindness

Most of the time people are also extra generous and kind to pregnant women and new parents. They stand up so you can have their seat. Your friends stock LaCroix at their house so you can have something to drink. When you birth that tiny person they even bring you food so you don’t starve to death. You are in fact so tired you would probably starve if someone didn’t just straight up hand you food.

But then these things start to come to an end. You start to put adult beverages back in your life and eventually the meal train stops. You also just start to adjust and your baby (hopefully) stops torturing you with needing to eat every 25 seconds. Eventually everyone sleeps and you’re able to go to the grocery store and buy snacks that you can eat one-handed. (Even if your baby isn’t feeding, he’s still most likely on your body in some way.)

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Some people even come from other countries to meet your baby.

Baby Steps

Everything is a total novelty. Every day someone asks me how Haines is and I wish I could explain the new thing he has learned that week but unless you are where I am, it doesn’t mean much. I could tell you that he has started jabbing the air in little punches when he is excited which is adorable but also dangerous because he also sometimes catches himself in the face. I could tell you that this weekend he started standing by himself for several seconds in a row which is a huge step for him.  I could talk about how he’s able to get way more food in his mouth when he feeds himself at dinner time but let’s be honest, last week he was getting like every 8th pea in so there was a lot of room for improvement. It’s baby stuff. Unless your baby has also just learned to eat peas with his or her tiny fists, it’s just not that exciting to you. That’s okay, though. I want you to be more interesting than that, too. (I’m working towards it.)

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#2

I’m not trying to say that people who have babies back to back just want to keep all the baby excitement in their lives going. People want their kids to be close in age. People want to knock out all their sleepless months in one stretch. I get that! But if you have recently had a baby and been struck down with baby fever (severity may vary) there is a chance that you are also in the same spot as me.

There is a chance that you are also caught up in a whirlwind  of everything new and everything cute. Realizing that for me was what finally freed up my mind from bunk beds and new baby names. Now I’m just enjoying a baby who will be 9 months next week and I have the space to figure out what might be the right time if and when that baby needs to become a big sibling.

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