Eva Amurri Martino’s Blog: Having An Honest First Trimester – Learning to Cut Yourself Some Slack
End of the first trimester! – Courtesy Eva Amurri Martino
Please give a warm welcome to our newest celebrity blogger, Eva Amurri Martino!
The actress, who has followed in her mother Susan Sarandon‘s footsteps, is best known for her roles in Dead Man Walking, Saved and Californication, with recent appearances on The Mindy Project and New Girl.
Two years after tying the knot in Charleston, South Carolina, Amurri Martino and her husband, sports commentator Kyle Martino, announced they were expecting their first child — a baby girl — in August.
Hey! You may know me from TV’s Californication and The Mindy Project, as the rebel in cult fave Saved, or as the crazy inappropriate teacher in That’s My Boy.
Writing this blog is especially fun for me because even before I got pregnant I found myself reading the celeb mommy blogs on PEOPLE.com and getting excited about the journey to come. I loved hearing women’s accounts of their own experiences at such a special time in their lives and I was amazed by how different they were, yet bound by many common threads.
It taught me that as mothers we really do all want the same things at the end of the day: a healthy happy child, a functioning relationship, and some semblance of a life.
On our wedding day – Tec Peteja
So let me start from the beginning. Kyle and my journey to parenthood did not start in that fairytale, “we-just-got-off-birth-control-and-oh-my-God-I-can’t-believe-I’m-already-pregnant!” kind of way. You know what I’m talking about. And if you were lucky enough to be that woman, I salute you. That was not my story.
I had a husband who travels for work four days a week, and a body that was taking a while to adjust to being off of birth control, and I found myself nine months later with no pregnancy.
This experience made me a crazy person. An ovulation-kit-buying, fertility-tracking, supplement-swallowing, bona fide Nut Job. It is a miracle that my husband still finds me even slightly endearing (enter the benefits of your husband getting four days a week on the road in a hotel, without you).
So after nine months of trying to get pregnant, and both of us with crazy schedules at work, we had a heart-to-heart and decided we would stop trying. We would just live our lives, throw out the fertility paraphernalia, and be adult humans again. If it happened, it happened.
And here comes the cosmic joke: a month later, and a day after we hosted a boozy party at our house, I peed on a stick to get rid of it from my bathroom cupboard. To get rid of it!
I was brushing my teeth and the little stick proudly displayed the word “Pregnant.” My toothbrush fell out of my mouth.
Here is where my blog post really starts, ladies and gentlemen, because I took one look at that stick and I was terrified. I suddenly felt like I was 14 again and I was going to get in major trouble.
Am I really pregnant? Am I allowed to be pregnant? Says who?! WHO IS THE BOSS OF ME?! Images of every pregnancy test commercial played through my mind, with these calm women smiling like they just swallowed a big fat Xanax, and I wanted to scream at them, “You idiots! Snap out of it! This is important! Now what the hell are we supposed to do?!”
It is real comedy to be trying for nine months to achieve a specific outcome and then find yourself shaking your husband awake in wide-eyed tears once you reach it because you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.
And then my first experience with pregnancy started, in what I like to call the “First Trimester No Man’s Land,” because virtually nobody talks about it! Or at least nobody talks much about the downsides. I’m still trying to figure out why.
It seems so crazy that many women aren’t honest with each other about their feelings, experiences, and struggles during the absolute most vulnerable and scary time in their journey to motherhood.
But anyway, I guess that’s the purpose of this blog. And it didn’t take long for the pregnancy symptoms to kick in. And I’m not talking about the morning sickness a.k.a. “all-day nausea,” the breast tenderness that makes even putting on a T-shirt a harrowing experience, the ever-glamorous pregnancy acne, or the uterus-expanding cramps (these are terrifying during the first trimester if nobody has warned you, by the way).
I was expecting all of that fun stuff! Those are the things that moms LOVE to complain about fondly in retrospect because what is more adorable than a little nausea and acne! These symptoms make pregnancy seem difficult, but still kind of funny. Everyone I spoke to had a surprisingly cute story about somewhere weird they had puked.
Okay. Well, that is NOT all that can happen.
I am talking about the unspoken emotional symptoms of pregnancy. Interesting and difficult feelings like confusion, anxiety, guilt, anger, and depression. Hormones are no joke, and for some women, they can induce feelings that coincide with the more talked-about “Hooray, I’m pregnant!” feelings.
And the truth is that I did experience all of these more taboo feelings at some point during my first trimester, and it was horrible. Not because of the feelings themselves as much, but because I wasn’t expecting them and so I felt that something was seriously wrong with me.
The hormones did a number on me, but I did an even worse number on myself with guilt and judgment. The pregnancy acne made me feel unattractive and awful about myself, which made me cry and avoid the exercise classes and social events that I used to cherish.
I already felt like I couldn’t tell anyone about my pregnancy, and so this added to the feelings of isolation. I became anxious about everything: what I was eating, what I wasn’t eating, the vitamins I was taking, the beauty products I was used to (I must have thrown out a full garbage bag of gloriously expensive beauty products for absolutely no good reason).
I vowed to use only organic everything, and then felt overwhelming guilt when I cracked and needed a hair conditioner, pasta dish, soda, or pimple cream that didn’t fall into this category.
A dinner that may not have fallen into the organic category – Courtesy Eva Amurri Martino
I kept trying to set up goals for myself (eating organic, working out regularly, cooking and running errands as usual) that were unattainable for me at that time. Every time I fell short, I felt more and more minimized.
I felt sick constantly which made me feel angry and frustrated. This of course also immediately triggered the guilt reflex. (“If I hate this feeling it means I must hate being pregnant which means I must hate my baby which means I’m the worst mother in the world.” I am now laughing hysterically rereading that sentence.)
My husband, whom I absolutely adore, was suddenly enemy number one to me. There was no way he could hold or comfort me that seemed comforting. His attempts at helping my nausea or mood swings only annoyed me more. I felt like a monster bitch of epic proportions. This absolutely horrified me and I wondered aloud to my mom and my close girlfriends if I would ever feel “normal” again.
In the thick of it, I swore I would have to live the rest of my life that way.
Looking back, all of these feeling mostly stemmed from the fact that I didn’t feel how I thought I was supposed to feel. And that was the most difficult of all. I truly believed that I was the only woman who had ever felt this way during pregnancy.
I had one brutally honest pregnant girlfriend who was a godsend to me during this time. I texted or called her with every cramp, twinge, or mood swing and she offered her most honest input. She should bill me.
And would you believe that she actually had experienced some similar feelings in her first trimester? In those moments I didn’t feel so crazy anymore. It encouraged me to open up to more women who were mothers, and share what I was going through.
Some of them couldn’t relate, but some could — in spades. More than anything, these women gave me hope that things would calm down and even out as soon as I got through my first trimester.
The best advice, though, came from my husband. I had been having a particularly tough morning, feeling guilty about feeling miserable, and he sat me down and took my hand.
He told me that I needed to cut myself some slack. That he would be just as unhappy if he were going through what I was going through right now. That there was nothing wrong with absolutely hating sensations that were making me feel sick and miserable. That it didn’t make me a bad mother, and that in fact (and here comes my genius husband with the golden nugget) it made me a better mother because I was being honest and dealing with my feelings as they came instead of bottling them up and walking around stressed and pregnant.
He told me he was proud of me, and grateful that I was carrying our child, and that he wanted me to give him as many of my daily tasks as I could so that he could take them off of my plate.
And ladies and gentlemen, I fell even more in love with him.
And the even better part was that HE WAS RIGHT. I needed to give myself a little credit. Who could be blissfully happy when they spent their entire day trying not to projectile vomit, with terrible acne, swollen breasts, and nuclear PMS?
My unborn fetus wasn’t judging me. She was a fetus. And so I forgave myself. And I decided to trust that these feelings would end with the first trimester. And luckily for me, they did.
Through the first trimester – Courtesy Eva Amurri Martino
In an almost-comedic way, one day they just lifted and pregnancy became fun. I never thought I would say this, but I love it. Completely. And once that baby starts kicking and moving inside you, there is a sense of wonder and gratitude that is almost indescribable.
But I will never forget those days and weeks of self-doubt, of guilt and stress that I was somehow not living up to what I was supposed to as a wife and as a mother-to-be, and that is my motivation for sharing my first trimester experience with you.
We are only human, and we all need to cut ourselves a little slack sometimes.
— Eva Amurri Martino