Monday, June 19, 2017

First-Time Mom at 42: The First Trimester

(Continued from Part I) Then life threw me a curveball. In the middle of 2015, my boyfriend asked me if I still wanted to have a baby. Without hesitation, I said yes. We weren’t even sure we were viable. In previous conversations, we talked about giving it a try for a year and then giving up if nothing happened. But we never gave it a go.

As soon as we tried, I got pregnant, as if parenthood has been waiting in the wings, standing by until we gave it our holy Yes. And when we did, we gave our Yes to the whole shebang—marriage, family, ever after. It all came naturally, because our commitment to each other had been established much earlier. We had already agreed to get married, but because my guy is more romantic than he would admit, he still decided to seal the deal with a diamond ring. He proposed to me on my 42nd birthday.

I was a ball of anxiety that first trimester, so protective of my precious cargo and so afraid that my 41-year-old body would betray me. A month after conception, pregnancy symptoms kicked in, booting the foodie in me out the window. I bristled at the mere sight of steak. I couldn’t stand the smell of sautéing garlic and onions. I stopped cooking entirely. I had sinigang almost every day because it helped keep the nausea at bay. My meals were limited to all things broth-based. I battled fatigue the entire day every single day.

My boyfriend and I kept the pregnancy to ourselves. It was my idea. I researched diligently and discovered that the likelihood of a miscarriage was very high during the first trimester, even higher for women my age. That being so, many couples hold off the big reveal until the second trimester, when the percentage begins to taper off. The downside to this is that I had to pretend to friends, family, and co-workers that everything was okay when in truth all I wanted was to spend the entire day in bed.

In hindsight, I had it easy during the first trimester. Except for the nausea and fatigue, I didn’t have other symptoms. But I was constantly bitten by worry about our baby. I asked my OB-gyne to order a triple test for me to rule out certain birth defects. I had it done in St. Luke’s and was relieved when the tests came out okay.

I have always been obsessive-compulsive about hygiene and became even more so. I wore a mask to hospitals and malls. My hands became dry from constant rubbing with alcohol. It became a habit to wash my hands three times with every visit to the restroom. I became wary of anyone coughing or sniffling.

By the second trimester, the nausea and fatigue began to subside. By Christmas, I could eat! What a relief that was! I still couldn’t bear the sight of steak and the smell of sisig, and my preference for anything broth-based remained. I also looked forward to my servings of fruits specifically papaya, mangoes (ripe and green), and pomelo.

Another source of relief was being able to tell our loved ones about my pregnancy. I told my brother first, then our friends, and finally my parents, who couldn’t contain their delight that their 40-something peripatetic daughter was finally settling down.

When January 2016 came, I became busy with preparations for our civil wedding. My fiancé and I agreed to keep everything low-key, inviting only immediate family and the closest of friends. Our count ended at 24, plus the two of us. We got my brother who’s an RTC judge to officiate, with two of our dearest cousins as witnesses. I loved the intimacy of it all. It allowed us the freedom to be ourselves. We ate. They drank. My husband delivered a heartwarming speech about us that brought tears to my eyes. My niece Joanna and our friend and kumpare Dingdong offered up a toast. My sister in law Pam and niece Jenna sang. We danced. We cried. We laughed. While all these took place, I felt gentle thuds in my belly, stronger than the gentle pulses I started feeling just before the new year began. I kept stroking my baby bump in response. I had never been happier. (To be continued)

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