The first 11 weeks are a surreal experience. I say 11 weeks, because it's only at 12 weeks that any medical professional will want anything to do with you. I could not believe how blasé the first trimester was. I always thought that you would take a pregnancy test, see that it read positive and then book a blood test with your GP to confirm and it all went from there. It took until you believed you were 6 weeks pregnant until you were even able to refer yourself to the local hospital online. They then rang you at 8 weeks. And the first time you meet with anyone is 11 weeks.
I took a Clear Blue test which said 2-3 weeks pregnant. Now - the confusing part that NO ONE EVER TELLS YOU ABOUT is the timing of your pregnancy. Your pregnancy is dated from the moment an egg is released - this is Day 1. It then takes a few weeks for this egg to mosey on down and the sperm to fertilize said egg, lets call this day 14, the egg is then fertilised, lets call this day 16. So, as it clearly explains (not) in the Clear Blue test leaflet, that if the test reads '2-3 weeks' this is 2-3 weeks from when sperm met egg and NOT when the egg was released. So add 2 weeks to whatever the Clear Blue test reads. Are you still with me?
So you refer yourself to the hospital and you get a phone call when you are 8 weeks pregnant to arrange an 11 week appointment to discuss family history. Believe it or not, a childhood friends Mum who I had no knowledge of them even being a midwife, rang my mobile at 8 weeks to make the appointment - at first when she introduced herself I had no idea it was the hospital and thought she was ringing personally to book in an eyebrow wax! When she told me she was ringing from the Maternity Ward, baring in mind she was a family friend and had known her since I was 4 years old, the first words out my mouth were 'I haven't told my Mum yet!!!!!!' I immediately pictured my Mum bumping into her at the local Co-op and her congratulating her on my news! But she said even if she wanted to, she can't share patient information so my news wasn't going any further. That was a real shit-your-pants moment and I won't lie my palms did sweat.
At the family history appointment, I was a bag of nerves. Not for the appointment - but I was told I would be having a blood test. I was always the kid at school that fainted and they needed the gigantic crash mat for me when we had immunisations and every jab I had before I went travelling I spent the following ten minutes with my legs in the air so I didn't faint. I had never had a blood test before and the thought of a standard vaccination needle in my arm injecting fluids freaked me out enough - let alone a needle in my paper thin arm into a vein to take out my own blood - the thought made me want to be sick. I spent the entire appointment sweating and wondering at what point she was going to pop me up on the bed and poke me. I was wearing leather sandals as it was hot and I actually nearly slipped over when I got up to be weighed due to the sweat my feet had produced with fear. It got to the end of the appointment and she had asked a ton of boring questions to Luke and I about our medical history and family backgrounds but not mentioned the blood test. 'Is my blood test today?' 'Oh no sweetheart that's at your 12 week scan' Well I never, I had a squeaky bumhole the entire appointment for no reason!
The first 11 weeks I felt really really strange. Its a feeling of being tired but not that sleeping will help you, you just feel heavy and weak and the smallest of tasks completely drains you. I had morning sickness start on our holiday at 10 weeks, but more on that on another post for those with a strong stomach! I had the scent of a bloodhound and could smell things from a mile away and had a seriously weak gag reflex and would heave at the smell of anything meaty.
Although it may feel pointless taking photos of your belly, you can't spam your Instagram followers with comparison photos if you don't have your 'before' photo! You never realise how big you/your baby gets until you put them next to a photo of 4 weeks previous. I’m glad I took a ton of photos even when, to me, it looked like I wasn't even pregnant. My stomach has always been the only bit of my body I liked. It was flat and I seemed to gain weight everywhere else on my body and it always stayed intact. So the first signs of my 'bump' was a little pouch under my belly button. It took a while for my entire stomach to bloat but the first sign was the small bump above my jeans. I was working in a bar at this time and my first 'bump' photo is downstairs hiding in the cellar with a ton of beer barrels in the background - hardly appropriate! I, soon after finding out I was pregnant, left this bar job as I had ridiculous paranoia about being in a bar fight with a rowdy customer (like that would ever happen) or people getting suspicious when I stopped having a drink after work or accepting drinks from customers. Working in a bar is no place for someone hiding their pregnancy - there was also a terrifying flight of stairs down to the cellar and I would always put off being the one to collect stock as I thought I'd trip tit over arse down the stairs and lose the baby - again, not something I regularly or in fact ever did, but better safe than sorry!
I downloaded the App Pregnancy + which I found was plenty of information and had the cute progress pic on the homescreen of what your baby looked like at that week of pregnancy. I also got a ton of pregnancy books from my ONLY friend with a baby. Some were jokey (Pregnancy for Dummies) and some were far more serious (Childbirth by Ina May). Looking back, I think the only things worth reading about are labour/birth and how to take care of a baby. Anything that happens during a standard pregnancy you will find out about day by day in your App and anything specific happening in your pregnancy you can Google (if you dare) or ask your Midwife/friends with babies. I had a really straight forward low risk pregnancy and I will never get back the time I wasted reading about side effects that never happened to me. I remember finding a breakdown week by week of pregnancy and it listed every single thing that could go wrong, it was the most terrifying thing and didn't help at all. It would be like booking an EasyJet flight and reading 'The plane will explode, the staff will be rude, your seat will be uncomfortable, the food will taste shit, your flight will be delayed and your luggage will get lost' errrrr okay why would you want to read that? I would seriously advise to just 'cross that bridge when you get to it'. Only research symptoms you are actually having if you're concerned - why waste your time.
I had every intention of telling my parents early on so that they could be excited for our 12 week scan, however every chance I got I bottled it. I knew they would be nothing but happy but didn't want them to worry about me. It was silly really, as telling them was inevitable so there was no point putting it off as it's not like I couldn't not tell them. I decided to wait until they had got back from their week long holiday sailing so that they didn't spend their holiday wondering if I was okay or having a million questions and worries preventing them from being able to enjoy their holiday (that's what I told myself anyway - when really I was just being a complete wuss). Luke's parents found out before the scan as we had all planned to go for lunch and I was having terrible morning sickness so didn't want to go. And when explaining I was sick to his parents, they asked Luke jokingly if I was pregnant and his face couldn't hide the truth! During my first 11 weeks of pregnancy I told two of my friends - which I think was the perfect amount. One friend I met through Luke, that is married with a daughter to his best friend and then my best friend of 8 years who is my age with no children but in a long term relationship (this part definitely helped as she could tell my partying days were over so was happy for me implicitly).
I had told my friend with a baby that Luke and I were going to start trying, but by the next time I met up with her, everything had happened so quickly that when she asked how it was going I couldn't hide the huge smile on my face. I told my best friend the day she came round to have her eyebrows tinted (as I am a qualified beautician) and I had stuck a piece of paper saying 'Surprise! I'm 6 weeks pregnant' on the hand mirror, so after her lying on the couch for half an hour unbeknown to her my news, when I handed her the mirror for her to check her eyebrows - she was TOTALLY gobsmacked and so happy for me - so that was really special! I wished I had told Luke in a way like that but having said that I don't think I could keep it a secret for longer than a second that I was pregnant with his baby!