A Grumpy Girl’s Guide to first trimester exhaustion

by Whitney Moss on April 5, 2011

in Lists and numbers,Momoirs of a Rookie Mom,Pregnancy

My son is on Spring Break, so I am probably busy building a fort. Therefore, we have a guest post today! Laurie and I were co-workers three hundred years ago (in Mom Time) and as I watched her Facebook posts come through since she became a mom, I was impressed. I asked if she’d like to share some tips with other rookie moms, and she sent me these ideas for sneaking in naps for pregnant career women.

“Rest up. You deserve it!”

This is great advice. As a mom-to-be, one is going to be tired. Ridiculously tired. “Who am I and where am I?” kind of tired. All of the pregnancy books say to listen to your body and rest whenever you need to, which for me, would have been every waking hour of the first trimester. Trouble is, I HAVE A LIFE! And I imagine you do too.

Like many women in their first trimester I hadn’t revealed my pregnancy to those around me, so it might have raised suspicion if I began to nap on the lobby couch at work. I was already struggling to keep up appearances as my fatigue was making it difficult to express myself in meetings and was zapping my short-term memory. Thank goodness for to-do lists!

I just wasn’t ready, or able, to let pregnancy exhaustion take over as my prenatal yoga instructor advised: “Don’t hold back ladies! Listen to your intuition!!” she chanted as she outstretched her arms, closed her eyes, and sighed a long deep sigh illustrating how she and the sidewalk became familiar when she succumbed to a nap during one of her recent walks. “Don’t be afraid to nap, WHEREVER you are!”

Hmm, right. Will do. Right after I throw my self-image that I have so carefully crafted these last 30 plus years out the window. Add my career to that as well.

So how do we take care of ourselves, our growing babies, and our responsibilities in the first trimester?!! I can’t say I fully figured it out, because most of it is simply survival. Perhaps the biggest comfort is that it does get better as the morning sickness haze rises in the second trimester. So hang in there. In the meantime, take a “relaxation binges” whenever you can to make the first trimester more bearable.

Tips for taking a relaxation binge:

  1. Have your partner pick up the slack. When I arrived home from work my husband would often have dinner ready. That was awesome! On the nights I was extremely tired, I would eat my food (whatever I could manage due to nausea anyways), give myself a few minutes of upright digestion to avoid heartburn, and then head to bed. Even if I left the kitchen with a pile of dirty dishes. Your partner may be the only one who knows that you are going through this, so lean on him (or her) for support.
  2. Go to bed early. I used to pride myself on being a night owl. But during the first trimester, I was in bed before most toddlers in my neighborhood.
  3. Take a sick day from work (or life) if you need to. My performance at work is important to me. So on days when I felt there was no way I could keep up appearances of being a productive powerhouse, I called in sick. Again, since I didn’t have the luxury of resting whenever I needed it, these occasional daylong relaxation binges got me through the most difficult days.
  4. Find a private space at work to relax. I slept in my car on my lunch break from time to time. Another day when I was nodding off midafternoon and my boss caught me with my feet up on my desk, I decided a micro-nap was in order. Venturing out to my car wasn’t appropriate at this time of day, so I snuck off to a small conference room in the back of the office that was tucked away from heavy traffic. I blocked the door with a chair, curled up on the carpet, and used a stuffed otter that I had at my desk as my pillow.
  5. Save the baby preparation for later. No need to get a jump on buying the perfect crib or planning your nursery décor. There will be plenty of time, and more energy, for that in your second trimester. Focus on downsizing your overall to-do list for now.

Thanks, Laurie! Laurie Peterson is an award-winning toy designer and marketer — and mom.

So, did you guys have any difficult first-trimester moments at work?

[photo:Kyre Wood, on Flickr]

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RookieMoms.com co-founder Whitney lives with her husband, son, and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area where she writes about parenting, crafts, and activities that moms can do with babies in tow. She and Heather also publish 510Families.com, a site for East Bay parents and are the authors of The Rookie Mom's Handbook and Stuff Every Mom Should Know.

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