Robin is extra careful when he’s flying two of us. This was taken at 12 weeks when I still fit into most of my yoga clothes.

When I was younger, I used to daydream about becoming pregnant “one day.”  I wondered what it might feel like to grow a human inside of me, what sort of maternity clothes I’d wear, what names I’d want to give my future children …  As a young adult, it never occurred to me that I might be infertile, that none of these daydreams were likely to become reality.

Beginning a fertility journey is terrifying, but it was initially exciting too.  We received a lot of positive feedback from our doctors, and when we tried our luck with IVF for the first time, we were filled with hope.  My in-laws pre-emptively bought us a pair of baby shoes that we proudly displayed in the living room.  But as we began to experience disappointment after disappointment, we eventually hid those shoes away in a drawer.  They were a painful reminder of my failings, and they only served to make me feel more broken and desolate.

Our 10 week ultrasound, next to our very first baby present (a swaddle blanket), and the original booties that my mother-in-law gave us back in April 2016.

When we received the news of our positive blood test on April 18 (and for several weeks following), the most common emotion I felt was disbelief.  I had gotten used to the idea of my infertility, and so saying “I’m pregnant” out loud was completely foreign.  I also spent the first several weeks as a bundle of nerves, fearing miscarriage.  An astonishing 15-25% of recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage, and even though we wanted to celebrate our miracle, I was wary of becoming too hopeful.  Instead, I counted the weeks, hoping they would rush by quickly because I knew that each week that passed lowered the risk of miscarriage.  It wasn’t until we saw the baby on our second ultrasound at 10 weeks that we started feeling more secure about this pregnancy.

The day after finding out I was pregnant, I flew to Newfoundland to chaperone a school trip for a week. It gave me some time to myself to process what had happened, and what would begin the next nine months of this new journey.

Despite the stress and unknowns, I immediately noticed a difference in my body.  My acne-prone skin started to clear.  My hair got longer, thicker, and glossier.  And I started to put on weight right away.  While this last part was a difficult adjustment, I tried to greet the pounds with a smile because it was a clear sign that my baby was growing!

I was very lucky that I didn’t throw up once during my first trimester, since I know that morning sickness can be a debilitating and painful experience.  While my first two months went by with only mild fatigue (hello naps!), the last four weeks really challenged me.  At around 3pm everyday, I became sore all over with flu-like symptoms.  I would need to sit or lie down, and while I never vomited, I felt nauseated, achey, and tired.  It made for a long, irritable month, and I’m so glad that those days are behind me!

Other interesting symptoms during my first trimester included:

  • early rising (I woke up everyday by 5am for the first month of my pregnancy)
  • increased visits to the bathroom to pee (this was especially annoying at night)
  • salty food cravings (it started with asian noodles and pasta and moved on to chips, chicken pot pie, fried chicken, and anything spicy!)
  • emotional outbursts (sometimes a good laugh would lead right into a good cry, for no reason at all)
  • allergies (my throat got itchy and my eyes watered…and I think I was actually allergic to my dog for the first month!)
  • requiring at least an hour long nap every day — the pregnancy pillow is a lifesaver!
  • feeling too tired to exercise, walk the dog, or do any movement in general, save for lying on my yoga wheel and groaning 😛
Baby’s first handstand! After we passed the 8-week mark, I slowly began to integrate more yoga back into my life.

A couple friends recommended joining some pregnancy apps, and so I downloaded “What to Expect” and “The Bump,” which I read voraciously each morning, and continue to open first thing when I wake up.  I loved reading about the new developments in my baby and my body, and I felt proud each week when I could proclaim that “my baby was now the size of a ______ (insert fruit of wildly varying sizes).”

The “What to Expect” app also signed me up into a group forum of mothers who are also due in December of this year.  While I was more of a voyeur than an actual participant in these online discussions, I was fascinated to hear about other’s experiences being pregnant, and, at many times relieved that I wasn’t the only one going through such radical changes in body, mind, and mood.

Making my first announcement on social media was scary, but I knew that I wanted to share our story of hope with others who may be going through a difficult time as well.

The first trimester is a confusing time, especially for first-time moms.  Everything was new and it felt like each day was a different experience in a different body.  I was also trying to process my emotions and come to terms with my 3-year fertility journey, and there were times (mostly during yoga class) where I’d weep because my emotions would pour out unchecked.

Although most couples wait until the 14 week mark (end of first trimester) to announce their pregnancy, we told most of our close friends right away.  I told my boss at 11 weeks, and we announced it on social media shortly after that.  My trepidation about “the announcement” didn’t stem from worries of miscarriage or genetic abnormalities.  It came from feeling self-conscious about our fertility journey and wondering if we would openly share about IVF.  It still makes me quite uncomfortable to tell someone about our struggle for the first time, but I am slowly starting to transform my insecurities about being judged into feelings of pride and strength.

We received so many amazing words of love and congratulations. They touched my heart — especially this one from my brother and my beautiful niece who live in Louisiana.

While motherhood is one of the most natural occurrences in the world, it was anything but natural for me.  In the end, it took a massive team of doctors, nurses, embryologists, and genetic counsellors to help us achieve our dream becoming pregnant.  But after being weaned off all of my fertility medications, I started to actually “feel pregnant” in my own right.  And even though there isn’t much of a connection between a mother and the growing embryo for the majority of the first trimester, I felt great love and gratitude for my tiny baby, right from the start.

My next milestone will not be just about saying I’m pregnant, but actually looking pregnant, too!  Stay tuned for my second trimester updates and other pregnancy musings along the way.

Although my yoga practice has changed dramatically, I still turn to it whenever I want to connect more to my breath and body. I always feel closer to Baby whenever I spend time on my mat or in meditation.
I still haven’t determined if Lola knows what’s happening, but she loves this pregnancy pillow almost as much as I do. Highly recommended for ultimate comfort!