First trimester vacations: keep your expectations low

I just got back from a glorious trip to Hawaii to visit my husband’s family. My sister in law moved to Maui a few years ago, and ever since the whole family has gone to visit every year. I know, I know, my life is rough.

alyse tree pose hawaii

I look forward to this trip every year. I’d never been to Hawaii before she moved there (thank you, S, a million times thank you!), and though I’d heard plenty about it, I had no idea just how magical a place it is. It’s home to one of my favorite beaches of all time, where the water is warm and crystal clear, the sand soft, and pretty little fishes frolic around. Swimming at that beach is about as close to heaven as I can imagine. And the place where the whole family gathers has a pool so deep I can revisit my childhood fantasies of being a mermaid, and spend plenty of time playing with my nieces and nephews.

prana digging

This year was a, ahem, different trip. Swimming is possibly one of my favorite activities, but this year in paradise, I spent more time watching Game of Thrones than I did in the ocean and pool combined. Out of the ten days I was there, I made it into the ocean exactly once, and it was pretty anticlimactic.

Here’s how it went down:

We got up nice and early (thanks, time zones!) and I actually felt almost normal. Minimal nausea, pretty good energy, so I knew I needed to take advantage. My husband drove me to my favorite beach, about 30 minutes from where we stay. Kind of a hike, but so, so worth it. We swam for about 20 minutes before I felt the familiar fatigue creeping in, and I had to go lay down on my towel. A few minutes, and most of a can of Pringles later (breakfast of champions!), I was so. hot, in a panicky, get me out of the sun kind of way. Normal Alyse is pretty sun-sensitive, but pregnant Alyse is downright pathetic.

pringles on the beach cropped

We got back in the car as I wrapped up that can of Pringles. Before we made it out of the parking lot, I was nodding off. You know that kind of falling asleep when you’re riding a train or a plane and you jerk yourself awake, over and over again, but you just can’t keep your eyes open? That happened the whole way back.

It was almost beyond me to rinse off the sand and the ocean before collapsing back into bed.

It was 8:30am.

And that was my best day. Most other days I spent doing my best to lie in the shade by the pool, then shuffling back to bed. There was at least one nap every day. Instead of fresh fish and juicy tropical fruits, I ate a lot of bread, crackers, string cheese, and chicken broth.

lap swimming hawaii

This is me pretending to swim laps, so I’d have something to post on Instagram during my trip. It’s one of two total times I actually got in the pool.

In a lot of ways, it didn’t feel like a vacation, and I told my husband I needed a tropical redo once I was back in action. But I will say, being there with family—who were so, so supportive and kind and understanding—was way better than being at home, where no one yet knew why I was so wiped out. My sister in law is a midwife, too, so I had the chance to ask all sorts of questions, and she brought me some supplements that are supposed to help with nausea. More on those in an upcoming post!

Like with everything else this trimester, vacation was all about adjusting my expectations. It’s really hard to admit that when 1pm rolls around I just need to nap, and it’s even harder to confess how I basically spent my tropical vacation, indoors, in bed, when I’d much rather be coming home a pruny, sunburned mess from too much time spent in the water.

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Top 8 tips for dealing, when you can’t deal

When I first got pregnant, I read ALL the books and did all the googling. I wanted to know what was happening in my body, and how to save myself from the hard work involved in growing a human from scratch.

Once I started getting nauseous, those google searches leaned much more toward how to beat morning sickness (morning. HA. what a lie). Like millions of women before me, I learned that it couldn’t be done. No real way to deal, except to deal. Sure, there are old wives’ tales about home remedies, but most of the advice boils down to “You feel terrible! Give thanks for the miracle of life!”

Eight days into my journey with the sickness, I had this awful day. I spent it shuffling between my couch and the porcelain god. No hangover had prepared me for this level of incapacitation. All I could think was, I have 6 more weeks of this, before it’s *supposed* to stop. How am I going to get anything done?

Sitting on the couch for 6 more weeks begging the universe to release me from my body just wasn’t going to work. I have places to go and things to do—even if all I can manage once there is to nibble on some bland carbohydrates and try not to reveal my secret alien invader.

So, I resolved to find ways to deal even though I really couldn’t deal. Here’s what I’ve learned so far, and what I’m doing to get through this first trimester until this sickness is supposedly over.

  1. Buy foods in small packages. By the time you’ve eaten your third saltine, ginger chew, or wheat cracker, you’ve already associated that flavor and smell with the sickness, and you won’t be able to stomach it. 2015-05-30 08.32.09Just one week in and my pantry is full of open, mostly full bags of stale chips and crackers.
  2. Thou shalt distract thyself. I haven’t worked out in 5 weeks. I have been avoiding friends because my main hobbies are totally unavailable to me: exercising, eating, and boozing. I also can’t focus for shit on my work or any reading above Hunger Games level. (Sorry, if you happen to be waiting on an email from me. It’s coming. After this nap.) That leaves a whole lot of time to focus on how miserable you feel. I decided now is a good time to start Game of Thrones – a pursuit I had been putting off for some time now, knowing full well how thoroughly I’d get sucked in.
  3. Make yourself a motivational something. I live and die by gold stars and other tracking mechanisms. I love crossing things off lists, checking the boxes, and celebrating arbitrary milestones, so I made myself a paper chain.2015-05-27 17.33.06You know, the kind you make in elementary school to count down the days left before summer break. My husband came home in the middle of me working on this and had the good sense to celebrate my project instead of questioning my sanity. 2015-05-30 21.16.16The anticipation of violently ripping a link off at the end of every day might be the only thing keeping me from going completely insane.
  4. Just order the french fries. Vegetables—or whatever other healthy foods make you feel green—can wait. Bonus: potato chips have folate in them, so clearly we were meant to eat them, and only them, for 13 weeks.
  5. Order s’more french fries. This nausea is the party guest that just won’t leave. No matter how desperately you wish it would LEAVE already, it stays, and has another drink, and keeps babbling nonsense in your ear. Strangely enough, nibbling constantly throughout the day, even when the last thing I want to do is put food in my mouth, seems to have me slightly better off than taking breaks between meals. Here’s to eating for two.
  6. Give yourself a break, already. I spent the first two weeks beating myself up for not making it to the run group I’d just joined and paid good money for. Thankfully, I’m over that now. I’m getting good at dodging invitations and bowing out of obligations without feeling guilty about it.
  7. Feel free to adjust your standards. Never in my life have I counted regular old walking as exercise. (At least, not in the “give yourself a gold star” kind of way). Now, a few blocks on my feet totally, 100% counts, and I proudly tell my pregnancy tracker app that I exercised that day.
  8. Child’s pose. There are times when I want so desperately to just not be inside my body. When I start feeling the “this will never end” hysteria, I get into child’s pose and BREATHE. It does not make me feel better. But it helps to calm my panicky mind. yoga


Well, I’ve run out, and I need fall asleep with potato chip crumbs on my face. Do you have any tried and true tips? Please, please share.


Your friendly neighborhood crazy pregnant lady

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