Hey there, friends! A few weeks ago I shared that we are expecting our first little one and, to tackle your questions, I did a little Q&A on stories. However, maybe you’re new to me and want the scoop on all of that! So, I decided to throw everything [and more!] into a First Trimester Q&A blog post that tackles everything I’ve experienced so far – from symptoms to allll the things about being pregnant in another country – just in case you didn’t know to look in the highlights and went straight here to the blog. If that’s you, I’m already a huge fan of you and happy you’re here. Just as a head’s up – a couple of these were tackled in my initial pregnancy blog post so it might be good to read that one first but I included them anyway because they’re generic questions that anyone new may wonder about if I don’t. Okay, here we go!
When are you due?
March 8th, 2021
How did you find out?
I tackled this in THIS post!
Had you and John talked about children prior to getting pregnant?
Yes! We knew we wanted kids and we wanted kids together. I always envisioned that kids would come after we got married. John has always been open to having kids before as that’s not an uncommon thing to see here with serious couples. In 2016, I remember being so surprised to find that couples often buy homes and have kids together before getting married here and I think it’s because I’ve been conditioned to think that it isn’t right to do it in that order but also that marriage equals security in a lot of ways.
What were your first trimester symptoms?
I tackled this in THIS post! The only thing I think I forgot to mention was peeing a lot more than usual, which I think most people experience but also this super random occurrence, which might just be unique to me but you guys let me know! Okay, the week before finding out, I remember waking up to an incredibly sore back.
When did the exhaustion start for you and when did it end?
In hindsight, it probably started in week 5 but I finally knew what the cause of it was in week 6 after I found out. It finally subsided in week 13.
How did you get rid of the nausea you experienced? Or, how did you deal with it?
I tackled this in THIS post!
Do you think the boys have any idea a baby is coming? I hear they can typically sense it.
The boys got the UK about six days prior to finding out we were pregnant so it was hard to notice a change in their behavior. They were struggling with their own jet lag and figuring out where the heck they were and what was going on. But, over time, I have noticed that Fish will put his head on my tummy and I don’t really remember him ever doing it so intentionally before. Chips doesn’t have a clue I don’t think or maybe he does and he just isn’t as ‘lovey’ as Fish but, he’s still very much a little bull in a china shop and stomps all over me and my stomach without any care or worry, ha!
Will this be the first grandchild on your side of the family? Is your dad excited?
For my Dad, this will be his first biological grandchild! And, yes! He’s super, super excited! I still need to show you guys his reaction video on Instagram. I keep forgetting because the video is on John’s phone. I’ll try and get that done today.
How did you tell your families?
We told them in different ways. John’s mom loves bubbly so we got her a bottle of bubbly and put a fun customizable label on it. I will say – I wish I had looked for a champagne label because it was a little long for the squatty bottle but we made it work and she loved it!
For my Dad, we customized a neon sweatshirt for him because he literally wears neon all the time and just thought it’d be fun to have the reveal suit the person we were revealing the news to. We put ‘World’s Greatest Grandpa’ on it and it was literally the first thing he saw when he ripped open the box. It was cute! He was so pumped! My stepmom loves tea so we got her a really cute mug that says Nonna on it! We couldn’t tell them in person so we wanted it to tell them in a way that was fun and a surprise. We did it over Zoom.
How long did you wait to tell family and friends?
We found out at six weeks and we basically started telling close friends and family right away and throughout the first trimester. I realize this isn’t what most people do and for good reason but, for me, I knew that if we had any problems — I’d want those people to be there to support me. I don’t hide things well anyway, especially with my closest friends and family, so it was impossible not to share.
HEADS UP: I shared how some of our family and friends reacted on my Pregnancy Q&A highlight on Instagram!
Are you planning to have the baby in the US or the UK?
We will have the baby here in the UK. John’s from here. I live here now so it doesn’t really make sense for us to go to the States, have a baby, then go back home. Also, John isn’t allowed into the U.S. as a U.K. national at the moment due to Covid travel restrictions so, even if we wanted to, it wouldn’t be an option.
How has it been to experience this in a different country & interact with a new-to-you medical system?
I’m not going to lie … I wouldn’t say that aspect of the pregnancy has been fun so far. Finding out I was pregnant and what that meant for our future was a big enough pill the swallow and then realizing I needed to figure out this new health system in order to have this baby felt like another large mountain. It was really overwhelming but, I tackled it in a way that most people tackle things that feel really big — you make the first logical decision and see where that leads you and then make your next one. Eventually, you’ll look back and you’ve made a ton of progress.
With so much experience in American healthcare, even if much of that experience hasn’t been in women’s health, I’d be lying if I said there are a lot of things that I expected that are very different here. Everything is led mostly by midwives. You don’t see anyone or have an ultrasound until 12 weeks. You choose which hospital you want to give birth in in the very beginning so they can get you registered into their system and with their midwives and set up to receive the appropriate calls and set up the appropriate appointments for you at that hospital. It does make sense but it felt like a big thing to figure out when you’re still trying to wrap your mind around being pregnant – at least for me, personally!
But, slowly but surely, I’m figuring it out. I’ve had a very low-risk pregnancy so far and all has been going well (knock on wood) and I do somewhat understand why they do things this way. If you’re low risk, you don’t really ‘need’ an ultrasound until about 12 weeks or to hear from someone until 8 weeks. They kind of see women as ‘made to do this’ so they don’t interject if they don’t ‘need’ to. I have my next midwife appointment on Friday. One thing that I don’t particularly like is that I don’t KNOW who is delivering my baby now. I want to build that rapport. I want to have the comfort of knowing that person, who knows what I want for my baby’s birth, to BE THERE on the day. That’s not something you get here unless you hire a private midwife. So, yeah, I’m wrapping my mind around that, asking questions, Google-ing a lot, hah! I’ll keep ya posted on what I end up deciding and how things go.
[All of this that I’ve mentioned is free through the NHS, the UK’s national health service, so it’s free and I want to be clear — I am not complaining whatsoever. I’m just new here so it feels like a lot to figure out when it’s not what I’m used to. You can also choose to have your baby with an OB in a private hospital if you want but it is a pretty penny.]
Does this change the status of your visa at all?
Will this little babe have dual citizenship?
They will be born a British citizen as it will have one British parent and then we will apply for him or her to be granted American citizenship after birth. I believe I have to prove my citizenship and that I have a British visa. Once all the legalities are done, which I need to seek council for, the baby will have dual citizenship and a passport for each country.
Did it upset John to know your first reaction was fear versus excitement?
No, not at all. He knows that it was a lot for me to take in. He knows I’m a bit of a control freak and that plans give me a lot of comfort. He knows that I thought we’d get married before having kids. He knows I’m overly sensitive and I live part of my life in the public eye and are inevitably going to be judged for everything that I do whether it’s good or bad. Of course, we knew that I wasn’t on birth control and we had to be extra careful and, even then, there was a risk, and … even still, he knew that it was a big surprise for both of us and that it was a big pill to swallow. He knows that the fear that I had in that moment was not tied to any kind of uncertainty about US so all he wanted to do was be there to support me and reassure me that we will be just fine, and he’s right. We will.
He made a good point during one of our many conversations. He was like ‘What if this surprise was our only chance to become pregnant. You’re 34 and I’m 38. What if in a few years, when we’re married, you have trouble conceiving? I hope we don’t run into that because I know that would be so hard but it’s not an issue right now. We are being presented with a beautiful gift. You have to remember that we can’t see what would have happened or how life would have turned out if we tried to control all aspects of it. For me, I see this is as a blessing, even though it feels a little scary but we both wanted this for ourselves and we wanted this with each other anyway so why not now?’
It really reminded me that life is always going to surprise you. And, when it does, you have to choose to shift your perspective, see the glass half full and make the best of it! And, when I think back on all of the times something happened in my life that I was frustrated by because it didn’t fit the timeline I had in my head, it ended up leading to something really beautiful — this blog is one of those things, the amount of time I got to spend with my Mom is one of those things, and I’m almost positive that this baby will be one of those things, as well!
Does having a child there make you a permanent citizen of the UK now?
No. Citizenship is a big deal and isn’t something that is given but earned. To be eligible to start the process of becoming a British citizen, I have to first achieve ‘settled status’. I won’t be eligible for that until I am on the same visa for five years. Then, I’ll have to apply for ‘indefinite leave to remain’ and take a test on British history to have it granted to me. After I get that, I’ll be able to start the journey to becoming a citizen after a year. So, I have a ways to go!
Will you be staying in your place?
I love so many things about our new place. It’s absolutely beautiful and has so much charm and character. However, I just don’t see it as the best place for us to bring a baby into. We are also learning a lot about what we both need now that we are both working from home. We will likely move after our lease is up next July.
Were you nervous to share your news?
Absolutely. Sadly, I’m one of those people that cares way too much about what people think and what people might say about or to me. I do think that, doing this job for as long as I have, I’ve developed a thick skin and, most of the time, I just let things roll off my back. But, I think because of where I’m from and what I’ve been told in church is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, and what I’ve shared with y’all over the years about my faith, that I would be thought of as less than or a hypocrite or … worse … someone who doesn’t love Jesus as much as she says she does. I know there are people that disagree with anything outside of what is considered traditional and, even though I don’t necessarily view it exactly through that lens, I am still afraid of judgement and ridicule and being made to feel ashamed. I let myself sit in that guilt and shame on the day I found out but I truly believe it was my faith in God that moved me on from that so fast.
How do you respond to judgmental people about not being married and also pregnant? I’m in the same boat.
First of all, I feel your pain as this was one of the heaviest things I felt after finding out. It wasn’t the guilt and shame so much as it was the FEAR of judgement from other people. Now, I know a lot of people are like ‘it’s 2020, we live in an age of modern family’s!’ and I very much believe that and LOVE that [and, if that’s also you, this whole section might not make sense to you]. I guess this is a great time to share that while I love Jesus, I have a lot of views that are a little outside of what is considered ‘right’ in the eyes of the church. I have a brother who is gay and who I love dearly. I have seen what judgement has done to his faith and it has broken my heart for years. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs so don’t think this is me saying otherwise but I think, because of that, I just don’t see what GOOD judgement does.
One morning, I woke up very suddenly. John was still sleeping and this idea of judgement and being considered ‘different’ was on my heart. I felt like God was talking me through it, in a way, so I started writing out all of these thoughts I was having. So, personally, what I’d say is and encourage you to remember is …
First, you are FIERCELY loved by God.
You are not defined by the ‘mistakes’ people tell you you have made. And, remember, they’ve made ‘mistakes’, too. No one is getting out of this life without having sinned so don’t let anyone make you feel less than or let anyone steal the joy that this blessing holds for you.
‘There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’ Romans 8:1
This baby was made out of love and in the love you share with your partner is how this baby will know the love of the Lord. Love is what we, as humans, need so deeply at the end of the day. If love isn’t what is given to you by other people, just know God that will. Seek Him for peace and comfort.
Ultimately, the decisions you make while you’re here are between you and God. We all need to remember that people make choices that maybe you wouldn’t have made for yourself and THAT’S OKAY. We need to stop using that as fuel for division, condemnation and judgment.
And, then I just wrote this as a form of therapy. I think I just needed to get all of these thoughts off my chest and … I guess it’s my response to anyone who does have a problem with this news. If you’re one of those people, you don’t need to respond or reach out to me. If you don’t agree with any of it, that’s totally fine. I’m not trying to encourage those of faith to do anything outside of what they deem as right. I just think that there needs to be more love in response to situations like this in the Christian community as those who are of faith likely already feel elements of guilt and shame so, judgement is only going to make those worse. Let’s all live a little less triggered in 2020, lead with with more love and compassion, and let people live the lives that make the most sense for them:
“I’m so thankful for a loving God. I think there’s so much beauty in being obedient to His call on your life. It’s going to look different for all of us and we’re all going to ‘fall short’ sometimes. But, even when we do, He’s still going to be the same loving God He’s always been and that’s not to say ‘oh, do whatever you want, he’ll always love you’. I’m just saying it’s inevitable for us to fail him. That’s the consequence of the Fall.
One thing I refuse to do is live with shame and guilt because what is that going to do? It’s going to steal the joy that this blessing, this baby, holds. When you ‘mess up’, you’ll inevitably feel those two emotions but you need to deal with those and start to look for the good. While becoming a mother wasn’t on my radar in 2020 or 2021, I am choosing to remind myself not of the sin but of the blessing. This baby was made out of a deep love that I have for another person and we will be bringing this baby into that love and raising it to the very best of our ability. While having a baby before marriage might not be in the sequence of events that [some] people believe it should happen in, that is something we know is worthy of being grateful for, especially with as many couples out there desperate to get pregnant but can’t. At the end of the day, maybe this path wouldn’t be what you would choose for you … but gosh, is that not life at some time or another? Things are going to happen that you didn’t expect or plan for whether you want them to or mean for them to nor not … and sometimes things happen out of what is technically considered a ‘sin’. And, if you are someone who desperately tries to look perfect in the eyes of God — I promise you, at some point, you will fall short. I don’t say that to discourage you. I understand that we are all out here doing our best but … it’s just the truth. We all do. Things happen but, at the end of the day, those mistakes can turn out to be a major blessing so … instead of living in condemnation, in shame, and in guilt … I’m choosing to believe that this is what I’m called to do. I’m called to be a mother and I’m called to love this baby endlessly and … if that’s wrong, as cheesy as it sounds … I don’t want to be right because I’ve always wanted that – even if most days I feel like I’m not ready.
I think we all need to remember that, honestly, there are a lot of ways people can choose to live their life and if it’s not the way you would choose – it’s okay! Your reflex shouldn’t be to go impose your own choices or your own beliefs on someone else. If the only people you allow yourself to follow or keep in touch with are people who live very similar lives to you and have similar opinions to you, I encourage you to change that. One of the greatest things I’ve challenged myself to do over the past 5 or so years is to get outside of my comfort zone; I’ve challenged myself to be open-minded; and I’ve allowed what I have been taught to be challenged and learned from how other people do life. I’ve learned there’s beauty in what I was taught and there’s beauty in the timeline that I was taught was ‘right’ but, at the end of the day, it’s okay if we all do things different. You can stick to what you were taught when you were little or you can pivot, shift and change your mind … and that’s okay! We all don’t have to agree. We aren’t all going to follow the same path. We can all make different choices AND we can all still love God and be fiercely loved by God. If there’s one thing I think we all need in 2020 … it is to remember that we can easily choose love and compassion as easily as we choose disgust and judgement and I challenge you to think about which choice makes people feel the love of God more.”
I’m also going to say that I think that when your life turns out differently than everyone else’s … it opens you up to love on people in unique ways so I personally believe that this will allow me to live out God’s unique purpose for my life. He uses alllll things for good.
“And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
To end, I just want to say thank you to my community of Christian women [that I am close with] who have blanketed me with prayer, encouragement, love, excitement and confidence from the very beginning. They were some of the first people I told and I get emotional thinking about how quick they were to respond in that way. It meant the world to me and was exactly what my heart needed. Moreover, the beautiful community of Christian women who follow me on Instagram and my blog — thank YOU for your kindness and love, as well. I felt it and I appreciate it more than you know. My hope is that anyone who is afraid of judgement [for literally ANYTHING] experiences the same because it makes a world of difference!
What are you hoping for more – a boy or a girl? And what about John?
Honestly, I just want a healthy baby. I know that’s what everyone says but … it’s truly all I want. I would truly be happy either way. There’s something super sweet, in my mind, about being the mom of either a boy or a girl. I cannot WAIT to find out! Not too much longer now 🙂
John is really hoping for a boy because he is the last male on his Dad’s side to have kids and every other male has had all girls. So, he’d love a boy to carry on the Martin name. I want that for him, too. But, I also know that this baby [God willing] won’t be our last baby so I know this isn’t his absolute last chance. Every guy friend of his who is a ‘girl dad’ has assured him that it is so fun to have a girl and that they also wanted boys when their wives were pregnant so I think that’s gotten him excited about that idea, as well.
Do you have a ‘feeling’ about what the baby is – some say ‘mother’s intuition’?
I’ve thought it was a girl the whole time but so many of my boy mom friends have said BOY because of my symptoms. I just truly think there’s NO way to tell based on symptoms so I’m going with girl. I know I could be totally wrong and I’d be okay if I was but I’m going with what I thought in the beginning. Before we find out, I’ll be sure to share all the old wives tales and what they’ve pointed toward and, of course, I want you all to guess then, as well! Ha!
Alright, I think that’s it! Let me know if you have any other questions below and I’ll be sure to get back to you! xo.