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Four first-trimester ‘veterans’ from the community talk about their experiences

by Shradha Aswani

Their unsung stories.

By Nina Phichitsingh

In the past, when other women talked about their pregnancy, I often tuned out because none of it was relatable and some of it even made me cringe, and put me off going down the baby-baking path. Now here I am, pregnant. Though I’m already in my third trimester, my first trimester sometimes still haunts me. It was rough! I didn’t think being pregnant could feel so miserable. For me it was riddled with severe morning sickness, which was actually ‘all-day sickness,’ throwing up, extreme food aversions, and 12 hours of slumber a day, yet still waking up absolutely drained. It took a toll on my mental health and confidence, not being able to do anything. And on top of that, keeping it all a secret did not help.

At that time, I wished I had paid attention to all those raw stories about how women felt, how they coped, so everything would now seem normal. The ‘secretive’ first trimester is a tricky time and women often don’t talk about it as much once they have jumped the hurdle. I spoke to four experienced pregnant women who candidly spoke about their ups and downs (struggles and joys), with the hope that this piece will become
a resource for women in their first trimester. Especially for those who are not yet ready to announce their pregnancies, but could benefit from hearing about other women’s journeys.

ANJALI THAKRAL – 32, Fashion Designer (7 Months Pregnant)

This is my second pregnancy, which I thought would be as easy as my fi rst. In fact, during my first pregnancy I felt unstoppable because my symptoms were per the textbook and hence expected and manageable: low energy, some dizziness, exhaustion and sleepiness. Since I didn’t think I would get pregnant so fast, my pregnancy ended up coinciding with the launch of my new brand. By the second trimester, I easily travelled to India for several months to prepare for the launch, I executed a fashion show, and walked the ramp.

This pregnancy, in my first trimester, I had fashion shoots to complete and long workdays. In addition to that, I found out in the second month of my pregnancy, I was suffering from subchronic haematoma (blood
clots). It was a battle to juggle work and keep the pregnancy a secret. Unfortunately, I had to come up with excuses for my clients such as “I sprained my ankle and can’t get to my studio.” There were a few times in the first trimester I thought I had lost the baby due to the volume of blood loss. It was scary, nerve-wracking and unexpected. I was on bed rest for 2-3 weeks and could not move much. It was nothing like my textbook first
pregnancy. This was challenging in its own way as I had another child to take care of. My doctor informed me that by 16 weeks if it all stopped, it’s a good sign. Luckily, I was eventually greeted with that good sign.

In summary, no two pregnancies are the same. Most importantly, stay hopeful and optimistic. Even with COVID-19 still present, things are often out of our hands. We can only do the best we can; mental peace is the most important. You can’t control what happens. Just know that we have the strength to cope with whatever comes our way.

ROSHNI SRIKUREJA – 36, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Energy Healing Practitioner (4 Months Pregnant)

When I found out I was pregnant, my husband and I were quite shocked in a delighted kind of way as we had not been planning this. At five and a half weeks, I started to experience such awful symptoms that celebrations soon faded into survival. I was heavily medicated, foggy, nauseous, bed-ridden and plain sick all day, every day. I was suffering from heartburn, gas, constipation, scent allergies and exhaustion. I had all of the symptoms.

I barely survived the first six weeks after finding out. I wasn’t prepared for how physically taxing it was. I wish women talked about this part of their journey more openly. Instagram showed me only beautiful pregnancies. It was also mentally and emotionally challenging as I suddenly had to take a step back from work and life. Being a financially independent woman who splits all her bills with her husband, it was a challenge to lean on and depend on him and my family for support. I’m still working on surrendering to my most instinctive role
as a woman and sinking into more of my feminine energy, by kicking back and relaxing.

My first trimester wasn’t quite a secret, my closest friends knew, and anyone who reached out to me during the hibernation period was told the truth. I enjoyed being transparent and receiving support from friends, family and clients around me. I would also not have attempted becoming pregnant if not for my rock-solid marriage. I am understanding the meaning of a conscious relationship even more.

I didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a mother, but I wanted it to happen someday and knew deeply that age wasn’t going to be an issue. Three years ago (2019), when I was in Bali on an intensive detox program, I had a vivid dream where I was told clearly that I was to be pregnant and have a baby at 36. I was 33 and single then, and motherhood wasn’t on top of my list, so I forgot all about it. Today, I’m 36, married, pregnant, and
back in Bali for my babymoon! Life is magical like that, things just seem to land at my door when I least expect it.

At week 17, I’ve gained back the spring in my step and glint in my eyes. It hasn’t been easy, I still have lingering symptoms and a face full of hormonal acne. Yet I know this gift of life that is on his way to us will add more joy to my life than I’ve ever known.

PARVEENA KHANIJOU PASRICHA – 32, High School Teacher (8 Months Pregnant)

All it took was one little pink line to change the course of my life, or at least my body for the next forty weeks, and I couldn’t wait for all these happy changes: luscious hair and pregnancy glow, comfy clothes and eating for two. But quickly, the mere thought of eating became revolting. The image of my glowing skin was quickly replaced by the reality of morning sickness and growing along with the little blueberry inside of me, was my list of food aversions.

Throughout social media, movies, talks with friends and families, pregnancy has been depicted as being glamorous and almost always, the ugly truth about the first trimester is ignored. Maybe mothers forget about this after seeing their bundles of joy or the happiness that a baby brings outweighs any of the challenges faced. In my third trimester now, counting down the days to see my own bundle of joy, I feel a strong bond with the fl utters, somersaults, kicks, and punches I receive, but the memory of my fi rst trimester stays fresh. It was Christmas morning when I found out I was pregnant. My husband almost couldn’t believe his eyes when I showed him the test with two lines on it. The urge to share the news with the rest of my family was almost irrepressible, but, of course, we wanted to make sure the news was confirmed by a doctor, and everything was safe.

During this time, I sensed that I didn’t have a lot of energy. I was more tired than usual. I had to wake up countless times in the middle of the night to use the restroom. This was fine during Christmas break; when I got tired, I slept, when I needed to use the bathroom, I would. Then Christmas break ended. I had to go back to work and that’s when reality struck. My exhaustion could only be overcome by coffee, which I had to limit to one cup a day. My nausea settled with orange juice, but that only meant that I had to use the toilet even more frequently. After a long day, a nice warm bath would be comforting for my growing backaches, but that too, I couldn’t partake in. My aversions allowed for limited food choices and the one food I was craving was sushi, which, too, I couldn’t eat.

But slowly, first trimester went into second. And with the passing time, I continued to get more and more attached to this bouncing ball. And the truth is, with all the highs and lows
and all expectations aside, the reality of growing a life, although not glamorous, is still magical, and I can’t wait to soon cuddle with what started off as just one little pink line.

RANI SACHDEV – 30, Doctor (5 Months Pregnant)

When I first found out I was pregnant, it was a surreal experience. I was scared yet ecstatic, nervous yet excited, worried yet supported. All these emotions quickly turned into new experiences for me. The biggest struggle I had was hiding my pregnancy from people at my clinic. I wasn’t sure about how to let them know that I was going to be needing them to cover more shifts in the next few months and how I was going to handle my patient load. I was fatigued and sleepy during the first three months. It was a struggle to even wake up to go to work. Not being able to drink coffee was not helping my situation. I would get to work and try to act as awake as possible. I took numerous bathroom breaks to rest in between patients.

I remember one time I was speaking to a patient, and mid-conversation I became very nauseous. I had to excuse myself to the bathroom saying that I might have eaten something wrong. That evening I decided
to let my colleagues know that I was in my first trimester and that I might need some rest from time to time at work. It was surprising how supportive they were. They were more than willing to cover my shifts whenever I needed it.

By the sixth week of my pregnancy, I could not take the smell of coffee or tolerate the taste of krapao gai (which was a go-to lunch for me). I was hungry, but the flactuation of hormones made me not want to eat anything. I survived on smoothies, fruits and juices. They were easy to digest, provided quick energy, and made my nausea more tolerable. I recommend this tip to other women in their first trimester if they are
experiencing similar symptoms.

I’m thankful for not having morning sickness. That was definitely an upside in my first trimester. The other things that I enjoyed during the first trimester were the support and guidance that I received from my loved ones. My husband would drive me to and from work every day during that time. I spent time with family listening to past experiences as guidance for my pregnancy. These are the memorable moments of my pregnancy and I truly appreciated it. All of this is such a surreal experience which makes me feel that pregnancy should not to be kept a secret, but instead, celebrated.

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