People always ask if my pregnancies have been similar or different (usually it’s a question of feeling different with different gender babies). But my first pregnancy is so much harder to compare with the others. Why? Because it was my first baby and I only had to worry about myself and the baby on the inside — not other littles that were running around outside my body!
If I was tired after working all day, I would tell my husband the dishes could wait in the sink while I lay on the couch. But with my second, third, and now fourth pregnancies, things have been very different. I still don’t have a lot of energy during the first trimester, but there are a lot of people counting on me and I have to keep things afloat a lot more than I did that first time.
So how do you survive the exhausting first trimester when you have other kids running around? These are just a few things I have found helpful.
It’s time to pare life down to the basics. This means keeping everyone alive, fed, and clothed. I’m not really a minimalist, but during the first trimester, it helps to be one for a little while. I put away some of the toys with a million pieces that I just can’t pick up every day. The kids can wear the same few outfits for a few weeks to keep laundry down, and it doesn’t hurt us to eat the same simple meals (you know, the only ones that sound good in the middle of the nausea) a few times over. We might say no to some extra activities right now, or I might send the older kids with Daddy or the grandparents. The point is just to focus on what really needs to be done and not stress about everything else.
When you simplify, decide which tasks need to happen every day to keep things running smoothly. For me, this means the dishes need to be done, a load of laundry needs to be run, and the toys need to be picked up from the floor. If those things are done, then life can continue on. Maybe the bathrooms aren’t scrubbed and the floors aren’t mopped, but we will survive. Your most important tasks might be different than mine, but deciding on just a few can help keep you sane.
It’s time to let go of any sense of pride you might have about doing everything yourself. Now is the perfect time to let others help you, and even to reach out and ask for help. This can be as simple as asking your spouse to load the dishwasher (because, hello, the smell of those dishes that have been in the sink all day might just make you throw up). Or it might mean asking your mom, sister, friend, or neighbor to watch your kids or come over and do a load of laundry. Whatever you can do to take something off your list or give yourself a break, it might make the difference between surviving and drowning. Just ask for help.
This exhaustion and even the morning sickness won’t last forever! For most people, you’ll feel much better once you hit the second trimester — my OB called it “The Honeymoon of Pregnancy”. For me, it’s absolutely true; I wake up at 14 weeks and feel like a new person. So just try to relax when you can and make it through this first trimester. Take a nap — even if it means your kids watch an extra t.v. show while you do it. Let your husband pick up takeout for dinner and eat on paper plates. Let the kids eat a snack on the floor. Just do what you need to do to survive these months and do the best that you can. This will be a short season in your long journey of motherhood, so just snuggle up on the couch with those babies and try to make the best of it! It will be worth every moment.