The first trimester is one of the strangest emotional times of a woman's life. We may be excited, shocked, terrified, thrilled or all of the above, but most often we are not supposed to talk about it. Many women keep the news of pregnancy within their partnership in the first trimester. Our culture in general is unaccepting of pregnancy and birth, and un-equipped to discuss the pain of working to conceive, of pregnancy loss, of body changes, or hormonally induced emotions. Women are isolated in the worry and joy of motherhood from the very beginning. And then, the puking.
You guys, I hate the term "morning sickness". Some moms do find this prenatal nausea to plague them only in the morning, or another limited time of the day. But I am one of the lucky mamas blessed with all day, all night, over all unrelenting nausea and calling it "morning sickness" feels cruel. During each of my three pregnancies I scoured the internet for ideas to relieve my all day sickness. All the natural remedies failed me. The pharmaceutical ones either didn't work or made me so tired I couldn't function, (though I willingly chose exhaustion over vomiting).
I'm not here to offer you a list of natural remedies. You can find those else where, they are all over the internet, all over pregnancy guide books. I'm here to relieve you of guilt. I'm here to say: WOW. THIS is hard fucking work. People don't tell you it will be this hard right away. You are doing it. It is an excruciating blessing: look at what hard work it takes to make a baby. Your body is a freaking masterpiece. It is making all kinds of hormones and a new organ and a PERSON in such a short amount of time. It is amazing and it sucks and it is so f'ing cool why doesn't our society pamper women during this time instead of expecting them to keep up with the pace?
Here's what I do know helps:
Eat whatever stays down. Please let go of all judgement here. Sometimes nothing works, but if a mom can find one thing that sounds desirable, go for it. Maybe that is plain toast or cheerios. Maybe you are a strict paleo eater that NEEDS fried mozzerella sticks right now. Slim jims the only thing that sounds good? Jello cheese cake cups and lemonade? It's cool. Go for it. Tomorrow you may hate what works for you today. You may find something that works for you consistently (ramen? cold apples? starburst?) go for it. Do not beat yourself up at all. This is a time where calories are more important than nutrient content. Whatever stays down is okay. It feels like it will be forever. It is NOT forever.
Experiencing nausea day in and day out is depressing. Only a mother can go through the pregnancy; it cannot be passed off to someone else for even day. When the nausea is unrelenting we feel alone, possibly even guilty of our own struggle. In my experience I've found very few people that understand this part of pregnancy. In my darkness, hearing other people acknowledge how I felt with out judgement was game changing. When I finally talked to a midwife that recognized what I was experiencing as closer to HG (hyperemesis gravidarum) than typical first trimester nausea, she listened to my exhaustion and really saw how disheartened I was. I don't remember what she said, just that she saw me instead of recommending I rest and drink ginger ale.
Getting support from a counselor, a pregnancy doula, an OB or midwife is critical to a mother's emotional state. Few people really get it. Try to find someone that does. I feel lucky that I had a family member that had been here before with her pregnancy, simply because she knew where I was at. My third pregnancy I enlisted a house cleaner and play dates for my older kids because I could not get off the couch. My friends checked in on me and helped enormously because I shared with them the crippling darkness that nausea brought me to. Now, I (almost) feel lucky to have experienced depilitating nausea with each pregnancy because I can support my friends and clients better. I know the guilt, the depression, the disgust at food. The array of maternal mental health issues begin prior to conception. This time of life is not meant to be navigated alone.
Lastly, please please please be easy on your self. Cut yourself slack about food, exercise, commitments. You are creating a new life out of your very being. Offer yourself whatever self care you can: a massage, acupuncture treatment, a dip in the river or pool. Anything that can uplift your spirits, even for a few minutes, can take the edge off. It's monotonous business, day in and out of throwing up, of mustering up the energy for work and hiding your nausea, hiding your belly. A little self-care brings your closer to recognizing the goddess of creation you actually are.
Other resources for pregnancy mental health and HG:
www.postpartum.net (resources included for perinatal mental health, infant loss, and abortions as well)
Please reach out for in-home Pregnancy Doula support if you in my area, or emotional support and game-planning Coaching, available worldwide. You are not alone. Ask for what you need.