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How We Found Out, Symptoms, Cravings, & More

Michelle Whitley's first trimester pregnancy recap announcement photo.

Today’s personal post is all about my first trimester pregnancy recap. If you follow me on Instagram then you know Michael and I recently announced we are expecting our first child in May 2021! We’ll be welcoming Baby A into our world in just a few short months and couldn’t be more elated!

Michael and I have always known we wanted to have children. Since becoming debt-free last year and building our financial future, it has become even more of a reality to begin family planning. I definitely have felt more comfortable thinking about starting a family with a stable financial foundation in place.

How We Knew We Were Ready

For many women having children is a dream. That wasn’t necessarily the case for me. I mean—I knew I wanted children, but I haven’t felt ready yet, nor did I know when exactly I would going forward.

It’s worth mentioning that the COVID-19 pandemic really brought Michael and I closer in 2020. Truly, we bonded in ways we never had before as a couple. We started traditions of weekly movie nights, live streaming, cooking at home, and more. I had never felt more connected to my husband than I have this year. That feels so odd to write because we’ve been together over ten years.

While at home one night in October 2019, I was watching a movie with Michael called Mary Poppins Returns—you’ve probably seen it. I don’t want to spoil too much if you haven’t, but there’s a scene in the beginning of the movie when Michael Banks, the father, is rummaging through old family heirlooms in the attic. He begins to sing about his late wife who passed a few years earlier, leaving behind two children to be raised without their mother.

I sobbed. I connected with his song in some kind of way and it was in those moments I felt deep, real emotions and a voice within telling me I wanted children. I know it sounds silly but that’s truly when the switch flipped!

I waited a few weeks to bring up my feelings about having children to Michael. He surprisingly did not run away during that conversation. We decided together we would navigate our feelings as the weeks went on, and by the new year (one year ago), we both knew we were ready.

Michelle Whitley's first trimester pregnancy recap announcement photo.

How We Found Out

I got a positive pregnancy test on September 15th, 2020. In hopes that I might be pregnant a few months earlier on Father’s Day in June, I wanted to surprise Michael with a gift to tell him the big news. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but in my grand scheme to surprise him I purchased a custom Mario Brothers t-shirt that read “Super Daddio” that was all along hiding in my dresser.

When Michael arrived home from work I told him I purchased a new t-shirt for his live stream (I had purchased a couple other shirts for him the month before so he didn’t suspect anything). He initially had a puzzled look on his face after reading the shirt, but eventually realized what was happening and gave me the biggest smile. We hugged, teared up, and were immediately ready to announce it to the world.

How We Told Our Families

I couldn’t wait long to announce our big news. Being long-distance from everyone, Michael and I decided a video call would be the way to tell them. We told our parents, grandparents, and siblings just a few days after we found out ourselves. Everyone was over the moon. It was also important for us to tell a few other close friends in Maryland since they are a big part of our lives.

We don’t have any reaction videos to share with you of these calls because I wanted to keep that part of our life private, but know it was an exciting few days for us. I felt such joy and support from everyone we told, and was glad we didn’t wait. I was getting so antsy trying to keep our good news a secret!

Michelle Whitley's first trimester pregnancy recap announcement photo.

First Ultrasound

I had my first ultrasound on October 12, 2020. Baby A was healthy, looking great, and measuring about a week early at 7 weeks and 1 day. Unfortunately Michael could not attend that appointment with me, but this was the first time I ever heard baby’s heartbeat at 153 bpm, strong and steady! Sooo reassuring!

Another note on ultrasounds—I love being able to visualize baby’s growth week after week. It’s truly a miracle that my body is capable of growing a human. Some days I still don’t believe I’m pregnant. I’m incredibly grateful for every day I get to spend with baby in utero.

Baby A at 7 weeks

Symptoms & Cravings

Before we found out and in the very early days of pregnancy I was basically symptom-free! I did not notice a thing until about 8 weeks along. Some women recall period-like symptoms in the 2-week wait, but I had nothing!

My biggest symptoms in the first trimester were fatigue/exhaustion, food aversions, indigestion, nausea, and vertigo. I began noticing the fatigue very early first, taking two to three midday naps daily between work. I underestimated how tired I’d be and wasn’t sure how I’d make it through wedding season.

Food aversion came on next, and very strongly. These only foods I wanted to eat were mac and cheese, apples, bananas, Saltine or Ritz crackers, ramen, cheese puffs, ginger ale, Coke, and sweets (such as gummies, cookies, & ice cream).

I was eating frequently, about every 2 hours, or else I’d experience pretty terrible nausea. There was one day when I ate nothing but Annie’s mac and cheese and gummy bears—not my proudest moment! I also had a terrible aversion to red meats which still exists today into my second trimester.

Indigestion began around week 9 and persisted until week 12. I experienced vertigo only every few days and thankfully I was sitting down at every instance. Vertigo is no fun. I believe it was a direct result of not consuming enough water in those early days. But I feel very lucky to have not vomited in my first trimester. (Although, I came close a couple times!)

Baby A at 10 weeks

Daily Life

Post-lockdown a few weeks before our positive test, I began to shoot weddings again. Due to the pandemic I was also working as a registered nurse one day a week at our local hospital. Between jobs I tried to stay home as much as possible to avoid exposure to the virus.

Michael took over a lot of my usual responsibilities such as grocery shopping, pickup, etc. He was also very sweet and did a few late-night craving runs for me when I didn’t want/couldn’t eat anything else. It was a lot of cookies, gummy bears, and ice cream. Bless that man!

Early in the pregnancy it was difficult for me to manage my anxiety amidst widespread COVID infections and restrictions. Shooting weddings was mildly stressful because some couples/events did not require guests to wear masks. I did my best to distance myself as much as I could but that wasn’t always possible due to the nature of my work. Wedding receptions were especially tricky and I only took on work I knew would be safest for me and our baby.

Another obstacle was staying masked in the late summer/early fall months. If six feet of distance could be maintained during shooting outdoor, I found myself frequently removing my mask due to the heat. Looking back I’m thankful I was able to continue work and photographed more than 10 weddings without contracting the virus!

Just a few days pregnant here. I had no idea!
Six weeks pregnant shooting with Emily Blumberg.
Lunch with friends in North Carolina at 11 weeks.

My Bump

There are no pictures to share for this category because I didn’t show in the first trimester! Our announcement photos above were photographed at 13 weeks and my bump is barely visible. I’ll have lots more bump photos to share in my second trimester pregnancy recap.

First Trimester Pregnancy Recap

Overall, my first trimester of pregnancy was positive. Although I did experience some negative symptoms, I’m lucky they were mild and not worse than they could have been. I’m also lucky to have friends who are due around the same time as me and we can walk through pregnancy together.

Before I conclude I wanted to acknowledge the many couples out there who are struggling to or unable to get pregnant—my heart goes out to you. I can’t imagine what you must be going through and the hardships you’ve faced. With our pregnancy I know we’re blessed beyond measure and don’t take a single thing for granted.

I hope you enjoyed this first trimester pregnancy recap for Baby A. I’ll continue to document my pregnancy here on the blog with a second and third trimester recap as the months continue. I’m excited to have you following along with us in this new chapter!