It’s hard to believe I’m already more than 1/3 of the way through pregnancy! Wow! So I thought today, I’d tell you about my first trimester! The first trimester is from weeks 1-13. Once you hit week 14, you’ve moved into the second trimester. In terms of appointments, not a lot happens in the first trimester for most women. You’ll have a booking in appointment some time between weeks 8-10 with a midwife and a dating scan in week 12. Any problems during this time will usually be dealt with by a GP, or if more serious, A&E. So what did my first trimester look like? Grab a drink and some snacks, because it’s a long one!
My First Trimester: Weeks 1-4
Weeks 1-4 are a bit of a strange one. The first week starts a week after the first day of a woman’s period. So you’re already in week 1 before you’ve ovulated and conception has taken place. Conception usually takes place round about week 2 if you period’s are regular. As a result, it’s not possible to get an accurate pregnancy test result until week 4 (depending on how long your cycle usually is).
Despite it not being possible to get an accurate test result until week 4, I was starting to experience symptoms that made me suspicious that I might be pregnant. I put them down to other things as I was worried I’d be really disappointed if actually I wasn’t pregnant. There were two main things that I noticed – my PoTS got worse and I was sick.
The sickness only happened once, in week 3. I’d just done a 5 minute cycle on the exercise bike and I become very dizzy. The next thing I knew, I was being sick. I put this down to exercise exacerbating my PoTS and the sickness being a new PoTS symptom for me. But it wasn’t!
I also noticed a worsening in my PoTS symptoms. Not badly, but it was certainly noticeable. I started experiencing my usual heat indices PoTS symptoms at 25 degrees centigrade, when usually they wouldn’t appear until 27+. This lower heat affected me so much that I had to excuse myself from the second half of one of Dan’s concerts and lie down in the dressing room!
Week 4 of my first trimester saw me experiencing my usual (mild) hormonal breakouts, so I was less convinced that the earlier signs were accurate. I knew that hormones can also cause spots, but I hadn’t expected this to follow the exact same pattern as they would before my period.
This week also saw quite a stressful and scary experience when I was coming home from the GOSHUK AW17 Collection Event. You may have seen the below tweet – A stranger pushed into me, knocking one of my front caster wheels off the pavement. The only reason I didn’t end up in the road was that I was somehow able to twist and wobble to correct it. Baby is definitely a tough cookie!
When I went to see my GP to confirm the pregnancy/get my maternity care put in place, she was thrilled for us and gave me a hug! She didn’t think she needed to do anything, even though I was going to be under the care of the Women’s hospital, not my local hospital. I was sure that she needed to make a referral, but she said she didn’t. So she just gave me the number for the local midwife to make my booking appointment.
Once I’d had confirmation from my GP, I made contact with my other consultants, including the Gynaecologist I see at the Women’s hospital for my Premenstrual Syndrome.
My First Trimester: Weeks 5-6
Week 5 was the time that we came up with the nickname ‘Velcro’ for baby. We were looking through a dictionary of baby names and Dan spotted ‘Velvet’. I made a joke, replying “You might as well call your child Velcro!” We erupted in laughter and the nickname of ‘Velcro’ stuck!
This was also the week that Dan came out with “Being pregnant’s made you really irritating!” Haha.
Week 6 was a stressful one. I’d already made contact with the Women’s hospital midwife team as I’d been told to at my rheumatology pre-pregnancy counselling appointment and was waiting for them to call me back. After a week of waiting, I gave them another call and found out that my GP did indeed need to send off a referral. So I headed back to my GP surgery the next day (Tuesday).
My GP wasn’t in, so I saw the lady I’d been seeing while my usual GP was on maternity leave. She also told me that referrals aren’t necessary for local care. Ugh! Was she not listening to the fact that I wasn’t going to be under the care of the local hospital!?! I explained AGAIN that this needed to be done, and that now it was a matter of urgency and the hospital MUST have received it by the end of the week.
That afternoon, I received a phone call from my gyne’s secretary. My consultant was concerned that he hadn’t seen my referral come through and just wanted to check that I still wanted to be under the care of the Women’s hospital, which I did! I explained the difficulty I’d had with the GPs. But this point, I was getting rather stressed. I felt like I was having to fight for my baby’s care at just 6 weeks!
I got a phone call from my consultant’s secretary on the Thursday, saying that the referral hadn’t yet come through and that my consultant wasn’t prepared to wait any longer and was going to refer me internally. Because of my complexities, he wanted me to have an 8 week scan, so time really was of the essence. The secretary gave me the date of the scan then and there.
I’m so grateful to my consultant for keeping an eye out for my referral and sorting it out when the GPs didn’t. My local hospital don’t understand my conditions and I’m not allowed to be seen there any more, because they break me. So the thought that my maternity care might have to be done by them because the GP hadn’t done what I’d asked was terrifying.
If you’e read my Accessibility is different for everyone post, you’ll know that I had a very difficult experience with flash photography that should have been avoided. Dan and I went to an event (planned before I became pregnant) and despite making them aware of my photosensitivity and how flash photography affects my basilar type migraine, we were still subjected to a lot of this. Dan was able to get me away from the situation before I lost consciousness, but it caused me to loose my speech, co-ordination and made me twitch. There are some really serious implications for baby if I loose consciousness, including brain damage, so this experience was really stressful for both Dan and I.
My First Trimester: Weeks 7-8
Week 7 of my first trimester was uneventful, and week 8 had 2 big appointments for me. The first of these, was my booking appointment with the local midwife. This turned out to be a waste of time. When I booked the appointment, the secretary asked me to give the midwife a call and explain my situation and complexities. When I tried to do this, the midwife was very dismissive and really didn’t want to know. I suspect she thought I was fussing.
When Dan and I turned up at the local midwife booking appointment, I think she only asked me about three questions. The last of which was where I wanted to have the baby. She looked surprised/taken aback when I said the Women’s hospital and her response was “Oh, I only deal with low-risk pregnancies.” Erm… ok! If she’d taken the time to talk to me, she’d have known that I’m a high risk and will be under the care of a specialist rheumatology obstetrician at the Women’s hospital. Ugh! And that was pretty much the end of my booking appointment.
Apparently, the Green Notes (which are completed throughout every pregnancy need to be done by the main healthcare providers, in my as the Woman’t hospital. So that was the end of that! She did apologise profusely for wasting our time. I think she realised that if she’d just listened to me she’d have known that I didn’t need to see her at this point. I was particularly annoyed about this, because I’d rearranged my physio appointment for my booking appointment. Only to find out that it wasn’t necessary.
The next day was our 8 week scan. These are usually carried out if a women experiences problems early on in their pregnancy, but my consultant wanted me to have one just to check that everything was as it should be. I was really excited about it, until the morning when I went into panic that the scan would be done as a transvaginal ultrasound. Thankfully it wasn’t! The hospital have a specialist Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit, where the scans take place. It was amazing seeing our little baby and I spotted the heart beat straight away which was so reassuring, particularly after the flash photography incident.
As the clinic deals with potentially some very upsetting issues in early pregnancy, scans photos are not made available. But we were given a print out of the findings, confirming that everything was where it should be and that baby’s heart was beating. I’ve stuck this in my Baby Bullet Journal, which I’ll show you at some point in the future.
Before the scan, Dan took me to get fitted for a maternity bra. I was already starting to experience some discomfort from my usual underwired style, possible because I spend the vast majority of my time sitting. So I knew I needed something supportive for my large, and at this point quite painful boobs, that didn’t have a wire in.
In week 8, Dan had changed his mind from me being irritating to entertaining when pregnant. And we’ve flip flopped between the two ever since! Both are said with love.
My First Trimester: Weeks 9-10
While I’d been experiencing noticeable worsening of my Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome symptoms from early on, these kicked up a notch in week 9. This was the time that getting out of bed safely before 10am became impossible. Over the following few weeks, 10am became 10:30. Dinner has also became more problematic. My PoTS symptoms make it even harder for me to eat a normal sized portion. So I started reducing my potions sizes, but eating more frequently to reduce the inevitable dizziness, nausea and shortness of breath that eating caused.
Week 10 saw us at the Women’s hospital for my booking appointment. There are quite a few questions to get through, about both Dan’s and my health and our family history. The midwife filling out my Green Notes was lovely and really appreciated the prep I’d done for the appointment. I had all my conditions written down ready, with the hospitals I’m under and consultants I’m seen by. I had an allergy and intolerance list and a list of the medication I’d come off, as well as the few things I’m still on. I’d also created a single page of all the most important things. So that in an emergency, the key pieces of information were all in one place.
At this appointment, we found out that our dating scan would be done on week 12, day 6. This was the same day we were due to see the consultant. We’d hoped it would be earlier in week 12 so that we’d have that weekend to tell people, rather than having to wait. But never mind!
Week 10 also saw me experiencing my first ‘fluttering’ sensation – the initial feeling of baby moving inside me. I’d woken up in the early hours of the morning and felt it. This is quite early for fluttering, I’ve read that some Mums feel it as early as 13-16 weeks. But I definitely felt it at 10 (11) weeks. I’ve put 11 weeks in brackets there, which will make sense when I talk about our dating scan below. My Mum also felt ‘fluttering’ earlier than most people do when she was pregnant with me and my sister.
My First Trimester: Weeks 11-13
Week 11 was pretty uneventful, apart from one episode of projectile vomiting. This wasn’t made any better by Freya (one of my cats) getting in my way when I was trying to get to the toilet. She’s very lucky I wasn’t sick on her!
At the end of week 12, we had our dating scan. While I’d been excited about the 8 week scan, I was surprised that I was really nervous about the 12 week. We were so close to being able to tell people and I was suddenly scared that we’d get there and not hear a heart beat. When we did, I cried a little! The scan started with a trainee, but my little one was being a pickle, so the sonographer took over. She said that we have the “most awkward baby [she’s] ever met!” Which we thought was fitting seeing as I’m the Mum! Haha Baby has positioned themselves quite high up and was constantly wriggling! It took the sonographer 20 minutes to be able to get all the information she needed from the scan. At one point, baby turned to look right at us! It was an amazing experience.
We went into the scan with a date of 12 weeks 6 days (based on period dates). But, we came out with a date of 13 weeks and 4 days! We lost 5 whole days! Based on this dating, we also had a due date – 22nd March (the day before my Mum’s birthday!).
This appointment wasn’t just for our dating scan though. We were also due to see the consultant. We arrived at 9:40 and were quickly seen for the scan. And then the waiting began…
We spent more than an hour waiting to have my blood pressure taken. Then we spent more than an hour waiting to be triaged by the midwife. By this time, I’d been under fluorescent lights for three hours and was starting to struggle. The midwife picked up on this and got me in to see the consultant straight after I’d seen her. Unfortunately buy this time, I was having difficulty putting words together in a coherent sentence.
The consultant I saw was covering for mine. He started off the appointment very confidently, saying “I’ve looked after a couple of women with hyper mobile Ehlers-Dalos syndrome.” But, 5 minutes in he suggested we come back in three weeks to see the right consultant. He said he felt she would be able to help more. I’d have preferred not to have to wait around and have problems because of my migraine only to have to go back again. But, I really appreciated that he acknowledged that he wasn’t the best person for me and arranged another appointment. For me, this is WAY better than someone who doesn’t really know, trying to fumble through an appointment and not achieving anything.
So then we just had to wait for a blood test and me to be weighed. The midwife spotted me waiting for these and hurled them along for me. We eventually left the hospital at 3pm. Dan was expected back at school at 2pm, as my appointment letter had told us that we may need to be at the hospital all morning. So he’d had to quickly send some emails explaining the situation and getting cover for his last lesson. Thankfully the school and Dan’s colleagues were very understanding. Dan even had messages from staff and students checking that everything was ok! Only a couple of members of staff knew why we were at the hospital. But because Dan is NEVER off, everyone was getting quite concerned. I thought this was really sweet.
We now have something in place with the hospital so that I’m not under fluorescent lighting for too long again. They’ve been very understanding.
Week 13 of my first trimester only consisted of 3 days, all of which passed uneventfully.
My First Trimester: Health
In terms of my basilar type migraine, the first trimester was the one that potentially could have been REALLY difficult. My consultant told me that there was a 60% chance that with this type of migraine it would get significantly worse in my first trimester. While my migraine certainly hasn’t been good, thankfully it hasn’t gotten any worse during my first trimester. I feel like I’ve dodged a bullet!
My hEDS has been affected. My joints are more unstable and I’m more prone to subluxations. In addition, my ability to push my wheelchair has reduced significantly. I’ve also noticed I’m not moving as much during the day, in order to minimise risk to my joints and pain. When I say not moving as much, I don’t mean just moving round the house less. I’m doing less sat on the sofa and taking more frequent rest breaks.
The thing that’s been most significantly affected has been my PoTS. I’ve spoken about this above, so I won’t go into it again. I’ve not covered everything, but this post is already really long so I’ll save it for a future Pregnancy and PoTS specific post. I contacted my Autonomic team, who haven’t helped and have just made me feel rubbish. The Women’s hospital are putting an urgent referral in to the cardiology team for me. Hopefully they’ll have some suggestions.
I spent weeks 6-9 of my first trimester consumed by fatigue. Showering and making it downstairs onto the sofa was a massive achievement. Dan was absolutely fantastic during this time, fetching me drinks and making dinner so that I didn’t have to move. I will say, the sleep during this time was bliss! As soon as I put my head on the pillow, I was asleep. When I woke up, I felt so comfortable.
While pregnancy fatigue has improved, because of how my hEDS and PoTS are affecting me I’m getting tired much more quickly than usual. This may be another contributing factor to why I’m moving a lot less.
Pregnancy has also flared my eczema up, something I hadn’t even anticipated. Strangely, it’s appeared in places that I’ve never had eczema before! It’s at a manageable level and I’m hoping to keep it this way.
So that was my first trimester! Let’s see what excitement the second trimester brings.
N.B. Please don’t tell me how the second trimester is supposed to be the easiest. I’ve heard it a few times already and it really isn’t helpful with how much I’m struggling with my PoTS.
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