With 16 days left until my due date, I find myself amazed at how good I feel. The earlier misery of this pregnancy left me absolutely terrified of how I’d handle the end. Instead, I’m elated to no longer be suffering from constant nausea, to have only gained four pounds through the entire 38 weeks, and to have a bit of my old energy back. I actually look pregnant, rather than just a little chubbier than normal, and can enjoy the experience of feeling the baby kicking, rolling, and punching in there. The idea of Braxton Hicks contractions (“practice contractions”) also caused me anxiety. I didn’t relish the idea of being in pain for weeks leading up to delivery. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that those contractions don’t actually hurt, but are just a bit uncomfortable.
Trying to sit up too straight or bend over makes me uncomfortable. Because my lungs have been pushed up so high, my capacity to breathe has been diminished. That can be frustrating at times, especially when trying one of my favorite activities of singing. I can’t eat too much at one time because my stomach doesn’t have much space to expand. All these things are uncomfortable, but not miserable or intolerable. THIS is what I was expecting pregnancy to be! I can handle “uncomfortable” a lot better than miserable.
I wonder how often we become scared and full of anxiety at the beginning of a journey and give up. The thought did cross my mind at week fourteen. Nine weeks of constant misery had me so full of frustration and despair that I caught myself with the horrible thought of ending it all. As soon as I recognized the thought, I was saddened and shocked by my own weakness. I told Rick that I had to do something different, had to find help somewhere. The next week I found some relief through an acupuncturist. A few weeks after that, I learned the trick to the anti-nausea medication. I wanted an all-natural pregnancy, free of medication. I thought I was tough enough to handle whatever difficulties pregnancy brought my way. Instead, with hyperemesis gravidarum (click the link to read an article written by someone I relate to well), an all-natural pregnancy might have caused me to severely compromise my health and the pregnancy with dehydration, malnutrition, and other complications.
When I heard that Kate Middleton/Princess Katherine of Wales had been hospitalized for hyperemesis gravidarum, I felt a huge sense of something like relief mixed with compassion for her. Someone else has what I have, someone who can bring some light to the little-known disease, has what I have! I wouldn’t wish this horrible sickness on anyone in the world though. I wanted to scream when I saw someone suggest on Facebook that she was getting special treatment for “morning sickness” because she’s royalty now. While approximately 70% of pregnant women have some morning sickness or nausea, most women do not have this monstrous difficulty. The thing that’s been especially hard for me is feeling like others have judged me as weak, not physically fit enough to handle pregnancy, or too old. I have certainly questioned myself about those things. But here comes tiny little Princess Kate, a picture of health and fitness, young and strong – hospitalized for it! My own mother, pregnant with me as a fit 24 year old, also suffered in the same way.
Unlike many of the women I’ve read about as I’ve researched this disease, my doctor was a God-send. She didn’t bat an eye when I told her I needed anti-nausea medication and was willing to help however she could. The first doctor I interviewed said the only way he gives medication is in extreme cases where the woman has already lost 10-15 pounds. Otherwise, he suggests not drinking with meals. Seriously? Several medical professionals I’ve dealt with during this time have suggested that I probably wouldn’t have gotten gestational diabetes or high blood pressure if I hadn’t been so sick at the beginning. My entire body was thrown out of whack by the constant, violent vomiting and other side effects.
And so I continue, one day from my 38th week of pregnancy, to unashamedly take the medication that has allowed me to function and survive this ordeal. I embrace the discomfort of this late stage of pregnancy, even the four-times a day needle sticks to test my blood sugar. Even the twice weekly non-stress tests that monitor my baby’s heart rate, movements, and my health. Even the long days of bed rest, bland meals, and constant alarms going off to remind me to take my medication. I embrace it all, so very grateful that it is just discomfort these days. And soon I will hold my heart’s desire in my arms – a baby, a rich reward for the days of misery and discomfort. And yes, I think I may even try this all again someday…
Uncomfortable is a condition I can handle, a condition I can even smile through. Thank You, God, for feeling uncomfortable!