This year I gave birth to a gorgeous little boy named Hercule. It was a daunting experience because I never really held a baby or felt clucky enough to think I would ever have a baby of my own. The entire experience of pregnancy was completely new and I really had no idea what to expect at different stages of my pregnancy.
I created a timeline of my experience hoping that it will shed some light on the kind of things you can expect when pregnant with your first baby.
My 9-month pregnancy timeline
What a surprise – I’m pregnant! How I discovered I was pregnant.
I had to see my doctor to find out why I had lower back pain and nausea. It was 3 days out from when I was scheduled to depart for my trip to China. I had some urine test and it confirmed that I was 6 weeks pregnant.
My heart fluttered, I felt hot and sweaty, and I was shocked with the news because we weren’t planning on getting pregnant until at least I returned from my trip to China.
6 to 12 weeks Pregnant – I ate and exercised as per usual with no changes to my body shape.
During my first trimester, my lower back was still sore and I still had nausea. I was also going to the toilet a lot, especially at night. My scent of smell became very sensitive and the smell of fried food (especially Asian food) made my stomach churn – so it didn’t help the fact that during this time I was in China!
13 to 15 weeks Pregnant – First-trimester scan and blood tests.
Because these 12-week tests are so important, I wanted to make sure I was back in Australia. These tests check for abnormalities such as down syndrome. It was totally surreal seeing my baby for the first time on the monitor moving around while I was having the scan. It was only then that it really hit me that this is actually happening.
My nausea disappeared, but I started to have headaches. I also had a shortness of my breath and sadly had to reduce my exercise from running, yoga and body pump to fast-paced walks and gentle Pilates.
My cravings kicked in (and would last until the very end). I craved carbs especially mac and cheese, salty and creamy mashed potato and crusty bread.
15 – 17 weeks Pregnant – I purchased my first piece of maternity clothes.
The first piece of maternity clothes was a stretchy and very comfortable lightweight black dress from Soon Maternity. It was the ideal style to dress up or down and became a staple piece in my wardrobe – I wore it a lot. I still felt and looked good and even managed to fit in another overseas trip – this time to Seattle.
I had an ankle injury during this time from the gym and noticed my body took a very long time to heal. Be careful not to push yourself while exercising because your body’s priority is not to repair your injury or wound but to grow your baby!
My weight and size didn’t change despite my intense cravings for carbs.
18 – 20 weeks pregnant – My first hospital appointment.
It’s during this time that you are expected to have your first hospital visit. I visited the Royals Women’s Hospital for the first time to meet my midwives. I also went over the results of my previous blood tests and ultrasound scans.
21 – 23 weeks pregnant – Hello heartburn!
I had terrible heartburn that sometimes woke me up at night – this would continue and get worse right up to the day I gave birth. It was also getting more uncomfortable in bed especially when I needed to turn to one side.
At 23-weeks I had another hospital visit for a general check-up. Each visit they would check my blood pressure, baby’s heartbeat and my belly.
26 -29 weeks pregnant – The not so pretty side of being pregnant.
I had my 5th blood test and noticed my body started to change. My weight began to pile on, I was very swollen, and I dreaded the fact that I would feel like this for another 10-weeks.
Some of the issues I experienced during this time include:
– Not being able to walk with bare feet in the house or the shower, my arch in my foot just wasn’t strong enough to hold my weight, so I had to wear inserts in my shoes.
– My swelling got so bad I wore compression socks to help reduce the build-up of fluid in my feet and ankles.
– I continued to have weekly massages to reduce the stiffness in my lower back, as well as help, manage the swelling in my feet and ankles. These massages were a life saver – they made a massive difference to my body.
– I always thought of food (even in my dreams)
– I slept a lot more
– I itched all over my body and continued to feel itchy until the very end of my pregnancy.
There were some positive experiences such as the fact that my skin looked amazing, it was so soft and plump – I didn’t have to moisturise even in winter. My lips were also very full and fat maybe because I was producing more fluid and blood in my body. I also had no signs of stretch marks anywhere on my body. And of course, I also felt the baby kick for the first time.
30 – 33 weeks pregnant – I started to think about my birthing plan.
At 33 weeks I had another appointment at the hospital to talk about the birth and more importantly what I did and didn’t want regarding pain management. Looking back this was so irrelevant because whatever you choose here is not likely to happen as there are too many variables that you can’t control when you give birth.
I also attended my first and only baby workshop at the hospital. It was a full day workshop with my partner, and other couples and we went through some valuable and insightful things.
My feet, ankles and fingers were becoming a lot more swollen. So the only shoes I could fit in were my wide Adidas sneakers or my open Birkenstock sandals. My arms, face and fingers were looking a lot puffier and I couldn’t imagine how much more weight I would put on until the baby was due! I had to wear my compressions socks where I could and was itchy all over my body.
36 weeks pregnant – When will this end – hurry up little man and come out!
I was over being pregnant – I was agitated, tired and very annoyed. Thank goodness the weather in Melbourne wasn’t hot at this stage because if it was there was no way I would be able to fit my feet in my sandals. The swelling was at its worse and if the weather warmed up I would be housebound as I wouldn’t be able to walk because of how swollen my feet and ankles got!
My eating was crazy – I couldn’t stop eating, thinking or dreaming of food. All I wanted to eat was carbs. I had to force myself to eat greens, even the site of things like spinach leaves or lettuce turned me off.
At this stage, all my baby stuff was done and I even packed my hospital bag. I was down to my last 4 weeks.
38 Weeks pregnant – Okay I’m ready to pop.
I had my last set of blood tests and was truly ready to give birth. The thought of waiting for another 1-3 weeks to give birth was too much. It was extremely hard to sleep, the heartburn and constant need to urinate woke me up several times (maybe getting me ready to wake up several times to feed the baby when he was born).
Turning was challenging and every time I turned in bed I would have to leverage of my partner meaning when I woke up so did he.
I managed to sneak in the last minute pamper session – I wanted to make sure I looked half decent at birth.
The Birth – It lasted from start to finish more than 12-hours!
The pain during labour was the most horrific, excruciating pain I’ve ever felt in my life. I have a pretty high threshold of pain but that pain was debilitating. It was so bad that I was not able to speak, open my eyes and at one stage my lips turned blue.
It’s not physically, emotionally or mentally possible for a woman to endure that level of pain for the entire time they are in labour (even the midwife told me). So, you do what you feel is best for you (and no one else) I had a birthing plan in place but that was useless because you couldn’t predict what the actual birth would be like. I started to feel pain at midnight on a Sunday night and gave birth at 8pm on Monday.
I’m a pretty confident person, but the idea of giving birth with 4-8 other people in the room didn’t phase me at all. The one moment I’m so grateful to have captured was those first minutes where Hercule was laying naked and totally fresh and innocent out in the world right on my chest and just staring right at me with his big eyes – a priceless and special moment that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.
Here are some cute photos capturing the love with our little new bundle of joy.