I have been sick. Really sick.
I have always been someone who believes that people should be able to express what they are feeling and experiencing, even if those things aren't rosy. I want people to know that they can be real with me. When I was struggling with infertility, I think many of my friends were hesitant to tell me about how difficult pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding can be, and I appreciated their sensitivity, but I always encouraged them to be honest with me. "It's okay to acknowledge that it's super hard," I would tell them. "It doesn't mean that you aren't grateful!"
I'm glad I've always had that attitude because now I find myself in the position that many of them were in back then--struggling with being pregnant. And I do feel guilty about that much of the time. How dare I utter a word of complaint when we waited so long for this and so many others would love to have this blessing but cannot?
And yet, I am reminded of what I told those friends: Just because it's hard doesn't mean I'm not grateful. Because I am grateful--soooo grateful--to have this little life growing inside of me. That doesn't mean I have to bask in every moment that I am too nauseated and fatigued to take care of my toddler or myself. My inability to function these past few months has made me feel pretty depressed at times, even though I know it's for the best cause imaginable and I know how blessed I am.
I must say that things have gotten noticeably better this past week or so. I'm 17 weeks pregnant tomorrow, and I can actually stomach some food now and occasionally get something done on my to-do list. I still don't feel like going out and running a marathon (or even walking a mile, for that matter), but most days I feel like I can take care of my son again, which is a huge step in the right direction. I don't think I will ever be able to watch the animated film Robin Hood again because even hearing the intro music makes me feel overwhelming guilt and inadequacy because Noah watched it so many times while I was too sick to interact with him much during the day.
It's hard for me to just lie down and not "accomplish" anything, especially for months at a time. I am by nature a do-er, and staying busy makes me happy. But in some ways, these four months of feeling awful have been a gift because they've shown me that the world goes on turning, whether I am "accomplishing" anything or not. Not sure how the laundry got done, or what we ate for dinner, or how the house didn't collapse under the mess of our existence--but somehow, we survived. I did nothing "extra"--no projects, or hobbies, or service to others--and sometimes that made me feel quite useless, but life went on.
(And as a side note, remember that blog post with my ambitious Secret Cupid ideas from a few weeks ago? Building snowmen? Researching date ideas? Cleaning off the overflowing table in our room and filing months of bills and important mail? What was I thinking?? None of that happened! I did write Ryan a card, though--pretty impressive, huh?)
A friend of mine wisely told me recently, "As frustrating as it is, try not to be down on yourself about the unproductivity: in reality, your body is making a human being, complete with an entire set of functioning organs, a skeleton, a nervous system...you've actually never accomplished more in such a short period of time in your entire life." So true, and this brought me a lot of perspective and peace!
I wish I could say that I have dealt with this trial gracefully. I haven't. I am a baby when it comes to not feeling well, and I sent lots of dramatic texts to my sisters and girlfriends. I felt sorry for myself and felt mad at Ryan because he can't read my mind or understand perfectly what I'm going through. I didn't turn to God enough. I felt a little alone when people would ask me how I was feeling, and I would tell them the truth, and they would shrug it off or say "Well that's pregnancy!" and move on with the conversation. I'm sure I have done that many times to pregnant friends in the past (if I even thought to ask how they were feeling), but I've learned from my experience that I want to respond with more empathy in the future. I am so thankful for the many friends and family who were a listening ear when I needed to vent about how terrible and desperate I felt and who didn't tell me to "just be grateful" (because, really, I am grateful!!!). I'm thankful for the texts and phone calls just to check in and tell me they were thinking about me. I'm thankful for the friend who dropped off a meal, and for my mother-in-law who came to help with Noah and make dinner one afternoon, and to my aunt who came and stayed the night. I have some truly amazing people in my life.
A friend who suffered debilitating nausea herself during pregnancy recently sent me this scripture, and it has given me comfort over the past few weeks: "As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all." Ecclesiastes 11:5
I hope that the worst of this trial is over, but if it's not, I hope I can adjust my attitude a little and have more faith--remember that God is aware of me and is carrying me. As I did when things were hard when I was going through IVF, I've been keeping a gratitude journal through all of this. Noticing and writing down a "magic moment" that I share with Noah every day really helps me focus on my blessings--and reminds me that all of this will be worth it in the end. Motherhood is awesome, and kids are resilient, even when they watch Robin Hood on repeat for several weeks. (And even if their behavior suffers a bit because their mother is too sick to be very consistent with discipline and routine.) I plan to share some of the "motherhood is worth it" moments that I've had these past few months in an upcoming blog post or two about Noah...as soon as I get the energy to start blogging consistently again and to get our computer with all of our photos on it fixed. For now, I'm just taking it one day at a time.
The best news is, in two weeks, I get to find out if this little person inside of me is a boy or a girl and see his/her face for the first time. And maybe I will feel a tiny kick by then? And maybe I will have a little baby bump by then? My friends all tell me that the fun stuff is just around the corner, and I simply can't wait. There was a time when I thought I would never get the chance to experience pregnancy--the highs as well as the lows. I am very, very grateful.
Life is good, God is good, motherhood is good, and yes, pregnancy is good--even when it's hard.