Growing up, my mother would always tell me stories here and there about her experience of pregnancy. She always portrayed herself as silently strong and noble all the way through labour. So I made it my goal to be just as “cool”. She briefly talked about having meat aversion and I would nod with understanding that the sight and smell of meat could make a pregnant woman’s stomach turn. I was expecting this mild aversion when it was my turn one day. Yet in no way was I prepared to experience food aversion myself.
I was pregnant for a good several weeks without confirmation as the pregnancy tests did not show positive results until I was at least 1 month pregnant. To this day, I still don’t know how far along I am. Let’s say between 2 and 3 months.
My earliest pregnancy symptoms were constant uterine cramping without the sight of Aunt Flo. I had 3 days of pink discharge only when in contact with toilet paper. And then suddenly one day, I noticed my work of breathing was increasing and I needed more air to function. I easily became short of breath and even fainted a few times, confused why I’ve suddenly became so frail. One week after the fainting episodes, my pregnancy stick showed a barely visible positive band. At this point, I took both the Hcg and ovulation tests. So it is true that the ovulation stick can also tests for pregnancy.
Because the HCG stick still appeared too faint to convince me that I am pregnant, I continued to take about another dozen tests with each day, the band becoming darker until it was clear that I was not getting a false positive. Still, I went on to using the digital clear blue tests before my husband and I could believe we were going to become parents. The clear blue test took a few minutes before indicating that I was pregnant and another few before telling me how far along it thought I was. This was when I called to book an appointment with an OB.
So aside for the cramping, I believe my earliest symptom was having vivid dreams. My dreams were so long that I felt like I was able to remember all the details from the beginning to end. I also kept getting reoccurring dreams with babies and toddlers and babies talking earlier than they should. One 6 month baby girl clung to me and said, “Mommy, I’m real and I’m going to be yours!” At the time, I shrugged that off as being a silly dream. I felt like my pregnancy was relatively easy whenever I reminisced my coworkers vomiting at work during their first trimester. Until 2 weeks ago, it was my turn.
So at about 6 weeks pregnant, I started to experience the world differently. My husband first noticed how labile my mood was. I could be laughing one minute, and crying the next if he said something that came across as sensitive. Shortly after, I was getting grossed out by smells that did not bothered me before. I am a nurse so I have been exposed to a lot of pungent odors yet still be able to look like I was smelling fresh dew in the morning. Now? Now I cannot stand the sight of bodily fluids but because of work, I still have to fudge my way through the day.
One unfortunate shift, I received an order to teach a patient how to use inhalers, a task I never thought much of before. I remember seeing the vapors come out of the inhaler and although I did not smell anything from that, I started to have spasmatic coughs and dry heavings. My face was turning red and tears were coming out of my eyes as I apologized excessively for my unprofessional reaction. Again, he took another puff and that set me off for an even stronger reaction until I had to signal him to stop, dashing away to the back room to vomit into the sink, and then flipping my intestine inside out. And that, I thought was going to be the worse of my pregnancy.
The day before, I had these strong cravings for mixed vegetables so I packed them for work and I was surprised they didn’t taste as good as I remembered before packing them. Still, I thought little of this until I was living like I was in a morgue or dumpster 24/7. Everything beautiful and delicious became rancid. A lovely chicken pot pie smelled like a swampy pair of boots. The sight of mouth-watering mousse cake on a magazine looked like a cake made out of snots. And food that touched my tongue came across as bitter, metallic, foul or just disgusting on so many levels. Before this aversion started, I had a few days where my mouth felt like I had eaten insect repellents (which of course I did not). So about 2 weeks has gone by and I have gotten used to the fact that this has become my life. Wonderful friends and family cheered me on saying it will soon pass with the exceptions of a few who said this may last the full pregnancy.
Just as I mentally accepted this food aversion, the morning sickness kicked in. One morning as I prepared to go to work, I woken up at 430 am with a strong morning sickness. By 630am, I stood in my shower, shooting vomit from my mouth to the drain for several minutes. I was appalled by this as I usually have a very tough stomach. Did I mention that my immune system betrayed me?
At about 3 weeks through, I caught the pharyngitis then sinusitis and bronchitis back to back. Not only was I exhausted, I felt completely useless. Chores? What’s that? It took a whole night of sleep to give me enough energy to put dishes away. Speaking of sleep, I easily slept 16 hours a day waking up feeling I could go back to sleep again. I didn’t know who I was anymore.
I had to keep on telling myself I’m pregnant.
Aside from food aversion, I was pretty much repulsed by anything I could smell. Soap, detergent, etc. Shopping was torturous because I was overwhelmed by hundreds of different smells, none of which I like. I had always praised my husband for never outgrowing his baby scent, that you could not find any bad odor on him at any time. He was like an wift of fresh air. Until I got pregnant. Every time he exhaled, his breath punched me in my stomach. His clothes emitted smells I didn’t know existed. He became a troll and I couldn’t stand him. Poor hub, confused about what I’m so repulsed about. Nothing could make him smell good. And to be fair, everyone smelled bad to me!!!
And so my favorite item right now is the Sea bands I put on both wrists. It acts as an acupuncture trigger for relieving nausea. This worked great for 2 days until I must have built a tolerance for it. Still, I put it on when I am at work, using it more like a lucky charm to get me through the day. Popsicles, water, sushi, ensure, smoothies, fruits, and cookies kept me alive. My aversion kept me from eating and my nausea got worse on an empty stomach. I got into a battle defenseless.
It is an understatement to say that I feel absolutely miserable and depressed that I hate food so much. But that moment when you go for your first ultrasound, seeing your alien-like baby squirm, and huge heart beats, you momentarily forget about the sufferings and feel ever so blessed and blissful to be pregnant. Every woman I know who has gone through this has given birth to amazing, smart and beautiful babies. Remember the awkward puberty years? This too, will pass.