Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Surviving the First Trimester with a Toddler

It took almost eight months to get pregnant with the second baby. Whether from wishful thinking or lactation hormones, I always thought I was pregnant. Every time I’d think I simply must be this time. Ryan laughed at how frequently I said “I am definitely either pregnant or dying right now.”

Every single month, I had a flash of hope and took a test. It showed up negative seven different times. Each time I would feel a burst of sadness with a slight twinge of relief… because even though we were excited and a little desperate for this little one, I was also very nervous about just how I would survive the first trimester with a toddler in tow.

I had morning sickness all the way through my first pregnancy. I imagined myself having the same problem this time around and sobbing as I heaved over the toilet while my toddler got into mischief. I imagined the fatigue being so unbearable that I accidentally fell asleep on the couch and woke up to hear him crying after he somehow got hurt. I imagined that changing diapers and making toddler breakfasts or lunches would always have me running for the bathroom.

It was really nothing like that.

The nausea was much more manageable this time around… and while it was still frustrating at breakfast time most mornings, it was no big deal to me since I was so relieved not to be re-experiencing the frustration from my first pregnancy.

The fatigue was the hard part, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I found that it was relatively easy to find games and activities that involved me sitting on the floor with him—coloring, building blocks, reading books, rolling a ball or car back and forth—and Ryan got a fence put up in our backyard pretty quickly which was a real lifesaver. When he had lots of energy, we played outside. I could sit in the grass and throw him the ball, or often just sit and watch him (and wonder how on Earth he never gets tired!) while he played independently. The housekeeping did take a hit, but I’m blessed and thankful for a husband who is extremely understanding and was more than willing to help out with chores around the house.

Running off energy on the Minnesota patio while Mama sits in a chair and kicks him the ball

In the end, it was just one of those things. It was no different from having a cold. I was a little distracted at times, a little more excited about naptime than I care to admit, a little less energetic in our play. He was still adorable, still fun, still precious. In some ways I think it helped… I’d look at him singing to himself in his little chair and I’d think, “All I have to do is get through the next few months and then I get to experience all of this all over again.” All the learning and growing, all the sweet quirks, all the snuggles and smiles. Definitely worth it.
I guess my best tips would be to make sure you’re giving your body the care it needs. Eat the healthiest foods you can stomach when you’re able to stomach them. Stay hydrated. Put your feet up. Figure out a few favorite sedentary activities and a few activities that will allow your toddler to release some energy while you relax (the soft playgrounds in the mall come to mind). Nap when your toddler is napping. Get chores and projects taken care of while you do have the energy so you aren’t trying to squeeze them in later when you’re dead on your feet… and most importantly, speak up. Ryan was more than willing to take care of the dishes after dinner or pick up a few groceries after work if I just asked.

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