How to Survive the First Trimester When you Have a Toddler
With my first pregnancy, I had the typical yucky first trimester. You know the usual symptoms: the 24/7 death curse of nausea, the complete lack of energy to do anything productive…like even get out of bed, the wanting to lay down and fall asleep on the kitchen floor because it seems decently comfy enough, the appetite for only things that are so chemically processed that they aren’t even truly food anymore. BUT looking back it was pretty glorious because I only needed to take care of myself and really… I couldn’t even do much of that.
There is a reason that females are the ones that carry and birth babies (another story for another time). We are so, so strong and capable! Feeling like you have the flu for 3 months (or longer for some poor, poor souls) is no joking matter and somehow, we still survive it. To make matters even crazier, we are usually willing to go through it again to have another baby which is obviously our silly ovaries over-riding any logic in our brains.
When we first started trying to get pregnant with our second, I made a mental checklist of all of the things that I needed to do the millisecond I found out that I was pregnant again, just in case I felt the same as my first. Some might laugh and think I’m a touch neurotic but I was actually a little worried about making it through while also maintaining some sort of sane life for my toddler. Turns out that it was, in fact, a genius idea because this pregnancy was much tougher. I’m not sure if I actually felt worse or if it was just the compilation of being a stay at home mom and wife this time. During this pregnancy I had to keep my toddler, dog and husband (although he fended for himself the majority of the time, thankfully) alive and happy. I attempted to keep a house together and prep meals while also feeling like death all day, every day.
I truly am not looking for sympathy. This is just part of motherhood and life. I am passed the worst of it, thankfully, and am still thinking I want more kids…somehow! I know I’m crazy. My husband thinks so too! If you have a toddler and are planning on getting pregnant again, make sure to save this list for when the time comes…just in case!
10 Ways to Survive the First Trimester
I started planning meals right away. This was the absolute first thing that I did! I went and bought a ton of aluminum freezer containers (to save on dishes too-sorry earth) and did a huuuuuge grocery haul. At 5 weeks pregnant, I made up several of my go-to breakfast casserole, meatloaf, lasagna, spaghetti, soup and chicken to freeze. I also pre-cooked a bunch of ground beef because cooking meat is, by far, the grossest thing ever when you’re nauseous. I made these meals for my family and to be honest, I didn’t eat any of it. None. I survived on my own little snacks and cold fruit.
In the peak of sickness, I splurged and bought pre-cut fruit and vegetables. Normally, as a family, we don’t eat cereal but I started buying Cheerios for my son and I to have as a quick breakfast. I stocked the freezer with tons of store-bought, semi-healthy meals and we also ordered in much more than normal. I stocked up on SmartyPants Prenatal Gummy Vitamins because swallowing a pill is torture when you are nauseous. I bought the Smartypants brand as it was the only one that I could find that had a similar vitamin ingredients as pill form and the candies are a touch sour which helps with nausea. Essentially, our budget went out the window for awhile there and everything was bought to keep things easy and vomit-free.
2-Finish Any Major Tasks
Make a list of things that NEED to be done in the next 3-4 months. Do them right now. If it isn’t a necessity, just let it go. I was bad at this one and unfortunately, should have focused a bit more on this before I got sick. It is so important to reduce your overall workload so that stress isn’t added to your first trimester blues.
3-Expectations Talk With Your Other Half
I didn’t really have one specific talk with my husband but more so, 500 talks. When he got home from work, he would hear all about my complaints, haha! He knew how hard I was trying while also feeling like crap. Once he realized how yucky I was feeling, he never made me feel bad for not getting things done. Although, he tended to joke about me failing at laundry because let’s be honest, I ALWAYS fail at laundry. It is never-ending! Overall, you just need to make sure you’re on the same page with your other half so they can pick up some slack, give you extra toddler-free breaks and support when needed. This also helped him not be a Judgey Mc Judgerson when I fell asleep at 7 every night.
4-Have a Prescription Ready
I would suggest getting an anti-nausea prescription from your doctor at the first appointment so that you don’t need to go back for an appointment if things get real nasty. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do this and had to go back within 2 weeks which was annoying. Some doctors are more than fine with this and some refuse. I seem to always get the doctors that refuse to let me take the easy route.
Also, yes. Pregnancy-safe anti-nausea medications do exist and they can be lifesavers! I personally went on Diclectin at 6.5 weeks which helped take the edge off to point where I could gently brush my front teeth without gagging. Hero meds, right there! The one thing about Diclectin is that you trade a little bit of nausea for extreme fatigue. I, personally, was willing to make that trade-off since I find nausea so debilitating. Make sure to talk to your doctor about all the side effects and see which one is right for you!
5- Have a Childcare Back-up Plan
I am so blessed that I have my mother, my mother-in law and other family members close by that could take Easton if I needed. I somehow managed to not abuse that privilege too much but it helped to have them help when needed. My little guy is also in a pre-school program one day a week which was heaven for me. I swear, I napped and hung out in the shower (helps with my nausea) the entire time he was there. Now the next idea is a bit of a creative one. A friend of a friend was so sick that she had her mom Skype her son from across the country and her mom would “baby-sit” her toddler while she rested for a bit. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!
6- Find or Prep Several Busy Activities
Before, I got super sick, I stocked up on some no-prep busy activities from the dollar store. I mainly searched for easy things that I could pull out and would keep my toddler’s attention for a good 15 minutes (stickers, activity kits, activity books, little dinky toys etc.). Finding some easy sit-down games was a must, as well. I found this Monopoly Junior Party Game
7- Force Yourself to go for a Walk
While I needed to keep my toddler alive, I also needed to take care of my 80 pound pooch. He NEEDS a walk every day and that is really not negotiable for the most part. That forced me to bring him and my toddler for a walk every day. Sometimes, I could do longer ones and play outside or at the park as well. Sometimes, it was just a quick walk around the block. Either way, I almost always felt a bit more energized afterwards and of course the benefits for my son and dog are obvious. There were a couple days that I just couldn’t even fathom going for a walk and that was ok too. Either my husband brought them when he got home or they just didn’t get one that day. Hey, they did survive!
8- Hire a Cleaner
I didn’t do this but really wish I had! We just lived in a constant routine of trying to keep up with cleaning/laundry for 4 months and it was hard! My mom always offered to help me clean when she came to visit and that helped as well but I didn’t want her visits to be full of toilet scrubbing! I did splurge and bought these compostable and non-toxic Green Works Cleaning Wipes and kept them everywhere in the house so I could do quick cleans when I had a energy spike. If you have it in your budget, I’d recommend hiring someone as soon as you start to feel yucky.
9-Plan a Rest Time
If you still have a napper you are the luckiest pregnant mom everrrrr! If you don’t have a napper, then you need to implement a quiet time asap! Quiet time was already part of our routine so that helped. I am hoping to do a full post on this subject some day but for now this is the overview: I set a timer and my toddler plays with his little cars, plays with stuffies, reads and does puzzles in his room for about an hour and a bit. Be aware that when we started he would only last about 5-10 mins by himself and we had to gradually work up to his current time. I’ve been slacking on this for a bit but if he comes out of his room for a silly reason then I add a minute to his timer. I am lucky that my boy is not the type to get into things that he shouldn’t be so that helps out a lot.
Anyways, the point is, when your toddler is napping or in quiet time, you should be resting or napping as well. Most days, I was so exhausted that I napped with the monitor on and stair gate closed so he couldn’t explore the house, not that he would anyways.
10- Take It Easy on Yourself
You are only human. Depending on how rough you get it, the first trimester can take a huge toll on everything. You are growing a freaking human being in there!
You are allowed to feel tired, sick and grumpy.
You are allowed to slack and not accomplish your never-ending list.
You are allowed to have a messy house.
You are allowed to eat whatever it takes to survive.
You are allowed to play Netflix out until it asks if you are still watching.
There are some hard truths right here. I had a hard time this pregnancy. In the midst of the truly sick times, I was lacking motivation and energy to do anything. I truly wondered if I’d ever get back to the person I was only a short time before. The person I was before pregnancy was almost completely gone and I hardly recognized the person in the mirror. I am the type of person that stays happy with routine and getting stuff done so this phase was hard!
I kept reminding myself that it was going to get better. I just had to make it through these couple months. And, guess what? I am slowly but surely regaining all that energy and motivation. I am blogging and writing again which brings me happiness. I am cooking. I am eating almost the same stuff that I cook for my family. My house is gradually getting cleaner. I am happy and less of a grouch. I am getting back to all my friends that I didn’t have the energy to write back before (love you friends).
Best of all, I have a healthy little baby wiggling around in my belly that will grow into such a perfect part of our world.
All of this. Every single thing. It is all worth it. I swear.