Having your first baby means a lot of new adventures! Here’s my pregnancy story and some things I learned throughout the course of growing a tiny human.
This is by no means how I think everyone should do it, this was just my experience.
I learned a ton throughout my pregnancy, and I think it was a combination of all my research, informed choices, and some good luck made those nine months (childbirth included) go pretty dang smoothly!
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My pregnancy adventure
Let’s start even before I knew I was pregnant…
I had known for a little while that my nipples were sore as HECK but I told my husband (who always found the sore spots somehow) that it was probably because I was coming up on my period, even though I knew the feeling was different than my normal PMS symptoms.
That next week, he went on a 5-day business trip (the longest I’d ever been apart from hubs) and I visited family. I could tell I was way more sleepy than usual, like ready for bed at 8 pm, but I chalked it up to having a new routine. I was also ravenous!
When he got back and we returned home on Wednesday in the middle of August, I had one day til my period was due.
Related: How to track your fertility for natural birth control
Hubs keeps up on when my period is coming (I was still thinking that’s what was causing my sore nipples) so I knew it would be hard to surprise him or keep a secret if I really was pregnant.
I also wanted to know if my period was going to come while we were hiking a fourteener that weekend…
So that friday morning, after he left for work, I took my very first pregnancy test.
Bright blue lines!
I cried and shook and thanked God, and was pretty much a mess for that whole morning. I was able to keep my poker face when hubs dropped by home though!
Telling hubs I’m preggers
I spent the morning packing up for camping that evening, and deciding how to tell Brandon. I wouldn’t have time to get a baby bottle like I had wanted, and besides, hubs had the car, so I decided to go with a low-key approach.
When Brandon got back home that afternoon, I convinced him to sit down with me on the couch to enjoy some zucchini bread instead of packing the car and leaving immediately.
I had my computer sneakily recording us, although the webcam did pop up once… I was able to make up a story about testing my video recording some client calls, and Brandon believed it- crisis averted!
Eventually, after lots of internal back-and-forth dialog (because I still hadn’t planned what I’d wanted to say), I ended up telling hubs that I really enjoyed the romantic birthday getaway I’d given him two weeks ago… and that I enjoyed the gift he got me too!
He wasn’t quite sure what I was talking about…
After a bit, I said, “do you know what you got me?” and he goes, “sex?” and I’m like “well… Yeah……”
And then I asked him if he wanted to know what he got me, and lean forward to get the pregnancy test- he says “are you pregnant??” And I handed him the test, tears welling up for both of us. There was lots of shock and hugging and kissing that followed.
A new adventure for both of us!
We went hiking that weekend (lots to talk about on the drive up!) and somehow kept our news a secret from Brandon’s best friend, who came with us- I was feeling tired but managed to summit a fourteener at five-ish weeks pregnant!
After that, it took about a week for me to accept that the hunger, sleepiness, sore nipples, and positive pregnancy test were really real and that it wasn’t just a fluke.
Then, around week seven, BOOM, morning sickness! The fatigue and nausea hit me hard, but thankfully there wasn’t any vomit.
We started telling friends shortly after that… Most of our close friends had already guessed something was up!
I studied, read, and searched online for all the info I could absorb.
I also found a lovely midwife that really seemed to align with our values. All these little steps towards knowing more about our baby made me really excited to meet him or her!
Telling family our news
Around week 10 we finally made the 4.5-hour drive to go spend the weekend with both of our families and tell them our good news.
It was hard to keep it a secret around them before spilling the beans, especially when I was starving in the morning and had to eat snacks before breakfast!
We traveled to my family first, and got everyone together for a family photo- which we said was going to be their Christmas presents. Not a complete lie!
Hubs had the camera on a remote and took some pictures saying “everyone say…. cheese!” “everyone say…. raspberries!” “everyone say…. Rachel’s pregnant!” And we got shots of all the reactions.
It was a sweet moment full of lots of hugs, and of course, my mom was expecting something like that.
Next, hub’s family! We have a running joke of giving each other little llamas or other animal figurines, so we bought my in-laws some cute little felt llama ornaments as an “anniversary present”.
Once they opened the present, I pointed at the two big llamas, saying, “that’s Brandon, and that one’s me!” They looked at the little llama and asked, “is that [Brandon’s sister]?” We said no, and there was a moment of silence before his mom goes “wait pregnant… BABY?”
I think they were in shock for a little bit but then there was lots of hugging and congratulations. Both announcements were wonderful times that we enjoyed a lot!
After starting to tell people, it seemed like the milestones just started rolling by.
I hit second trimester and started feeling a little more energized, but not much. Cravings came and went.
Week 16, had our first midwife appointment and we got to hear the heartbeat for the first time! The little one was super active. There were happy tears from all of us, midwife included!
Soon after, I began feeling the baby move. It started as tiny little flutters but as baby grew, the kicks grew too!
Second trimester went by without too much fuss, and I was really excited when my belly started to pop out a little. I started gathering some hand-me-downs and got really excited at all the cute little baby things.
Some of the tiny onesies might have made me tear up a bit. Thanks, pregnancy hormones!
Tests, appointments, and travel
I did an at-home gestational diabetes test which just involved eating a fairly carb-heavy breakfast and then going for a walk and testing my blood sugar.
I passed, no problem, and was very thankful to get to skip the icky sugar drink- a routine test that I probably wouldn’t have passed since my body isn’t used to dealing with a lot of processed sugar!
Throughout all the appointments, my midwife was absolutely awesome and I loved getting to spend at least an hour and a half with her at each appointment. We got to know each other well and just enjoyed chatting.
Such a difference from what would have been an impersonal 15-minute checkup with the OB!
I started doing my Hypnobabies training, and really enjoyed the relaxing tracks, the helpful info, and the joyful pregnancy affirmations.
It is a stellar childbirth curriculum!
Related: My Hypnobabies review
At about 27 weeks my husband and I took a quick trip to Uganda to help out a school and orphanage by providing them with videos, photography, and a website for raising support.
It was definitely a little tough to travel while pregnant but overall it was a great trip!
And, suddenly, we were on to third trimester!
The pregnancy home stretch
In the final three months of pregnancy, I started to get more and more uncomfortable, especially trying to sleep at night. But I was thankful that my hips and ligaments were stretching out slowly instead of all at once while I was birthing!
This is also when Coronavirus hit the US, which made me very grateful that we had already been planning on a home birth using Hypnobabies.
My birth training kept me very calm when thinking about my pregnancy and birthing in the middle of a pandemic!
It was nice just spending time listening to affirmations. I also wrote out some affirmations to hang up during my birthing time, it was calming and meditative!
There were still a lot of changes I faced during third trimester though, and I was bummed to have to cancel both of my baby showers (or postpone them to a meet-the-baby party later on) and we canceled our later trips to see family.
That also meant canceling my chiropractic appointments, which I missed a lot as my pregnancy progressed!
I feel like continuing my regular chiro appointments would have helped with my stiff hips and legs, and might have continued to encourage the baby to stay in a good position.
When I got closer to full-term, I started doing some things to make sure that birth would be as quick and comfortable as possible.
At 35 weeks I started taking more probiotics for my GBS test, which ended up being negative. This wasn’t really necessary but the negative results just meant that if I transferred to the hospital, they wouldn’t try to push for antibiotics.
I also began taking a Gentle Birth tincture on top of my daily cups of pregnancy tea.
At 36 weeks I started eating organic dates regularly, as they are supposed to make for a quicker birth with less bleeding. It seemed to work! And I did some perineal massages and took borage oil pills.
Mostly though, I just got more and more excited thinking about getting to meet our baby!
Researching all the things
My personal health journey has involved a lot of learning about holistic health.
I’ve learned about how so many natural and alternative treatments are actually safer, healthier, and better in the long run for your body, mind, and soul.
Related: What is holistic living? (And how it can transform your life)
There are so many decisions to make in pregnancy- but be thankful you have a choice! Many doctors act like routine treatments are required, but you can stand up for yourself and make your own decisions.
You’re the one who’s ultimately responsible for your baby, after all!
Here are some of the things that I researched fully (and recommend you do too!) so that I could know the risks and make my own choices that were the best choices for me and my baby.
I’ve also included some links to the resources or books that I found most helpful as I was doing my research:
- Pregnancy science: studies on caffeine, alcohol, lunch meat, and more
- Home birth
- Midwife care
- Birthing techniques
- Natural childbirth
- Gestational diabetes test
- GBS test and treatments
- Delayed cord clamping
- Placenta encapsulation
- Vitamin K
- Eye drops
- The fourth trimester
- Postpartum recipes
- Bathing babies
- Cloth diapering
- Elimination communication
- Baby-led weaning
It felt empowering for me to be able to fully research both sides of many of these topics, and to make the decisions that I felt were best for me and baby.
My home birth ended up being a powerful and very positive experience, and I think that, in part, that’s because I knew I could make decisions for myself and not just go along with everything suggested by mainstream medicine.
The birth of our baby is another story, though.
Read about my home birth here!