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Posted on Jun 22, 2013 in Fertility, Parenting | 10 comments

Ten Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman with “Morning Sickness”

Ten Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman with “Morning Sickness”

DSC_0019 CROPPregnancy.  Ugh.  I’ve decided that the women who say they feel great and actually like being pregnant are lying.

Okay, so maybe they aren’t exactly lying, but they aren’t actually telling the truth.  Could they be?  Nah.  Pregnancy, as beautiful as the outcome may be, is not what I would ever call “fun.”

No, I’m not trying to announce that I’m pregnant. I just had a little trip down memory lane and thought that in my non-preggo, non-sicko state, I’d make a list to help you out when you encounter other women with that glow. And for the record, “morning sickness” is the most under-descriptive name for the all-encompassing, 24-hour, flu-like state of many pregnancies.

1. You should try ________ (fill in the blank – saltines, ginger, peppermint, etc.).
Do you want to know how bad those things taste coming back up?
Get me a trash can!

2. You just need a little fresh air. Go for a walk!
I puke when I walk to the bathroom and you expect me to make it outside and down the road?
Get me a trash can!

3. Everyone gets it. Suck it up.
Oh, that makes it so much better…
Get me a trash can!

4. I can’t believe you’re sleeping again.
I just grew a pinky finger in my womb. What did you do today?
Get me a trash can!

5. You think you’re sick now, just wait until labor and delivery! (Snort.) Let me tell you my horror story…
Thanks. Now I’m not just sick, I’m terrified.
Get me a trash can!

6. If you were busy enough, you wouldn’t have time to be sick.
Are you freaking kidding me?
Get me a trash can!

7. Do you want to have sex tonight?
Do you want to clean puke up off your face?
Get me a trash can!

8. I don’t smell anything. You’re imagining it.
How can you not smell that? It’s awful.
Oops! The trash can wasn’t close by enough. Sorry about the floor.

9. Why do you need a trash can? Just puke in the toilet.
Yes, because in my extremely nauseous, motion-sick, hyper-sensitive to smell state, I want to stick my face in the pot where we poo.

10. I don’t feel like going out to get the food you’re craving right now. You’ll just puke it up anyway.
If I can’t have [pickled bananas] right now, I’m going to claw your eyes out.
And yes, after eating the crazy food I requested, get me a trash can, please…

And now, for some encouragement on what you could say to a pregnant woman with “morning sickness” to help her through it.

• Tell me about what you’re looking forward to most when your baby is born. (Then remind her of that when she’s feeling the sickest.)

• Is there anything I can do for you? Clean? Cook? Get your groceries? Get you a cool cloth? Turn the heat/AC up or down?

• Your shoulders are probably aching from the constant strain of vomiting. Can I rub them for you?

• I see that it must be difficult to reach your feet these days. Would you like me to paint your toenails?

• How do you feel about epidurals? Isn’t it nice to think that after all this sickness, you won’t have to feel a thing when you deliver this baby?

• Here are some boxes of baking soda to absorb odors. Where all should I put them in your house?

To all of you who are going through this difficulty right now, my heart goes out to you.  Remember, there will come a day when you have a sweet reward.  What got me through some of the worst of it was imagining little baby toes, little baby fingers, a little baby nose, and the joy of it all sometimes helped me to smile through the nausea and exhaustion and discomfort.  It won’t last forever.  One day soon(ish), you’ll be rewarded with big smiles, adoring eyes, and chubby little arms wrapped around you tight.  Then, if you’re anything like me, you’ll wonder how quickly you can do it all again.

What dumb things did people say to you when you were pregnant?  And what brilliant things did they do to help?

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Posted on Jun 18, 2013 in Wisdom | 3 comments

Cultivating Joy

Cultivating Joy

Self-pity is not my friend.  It tries to pretend like it is, sneaking in and whispering to me like we are partners or something.  And I admit there are times when I listen to my ugly companion and give in to self-pity.  Yesterday was one of those days.  Eliana was unhappy.  Who knows why?  She wouldn’t sleep.  She wasn’t hungry.  She didn’t want to play.  She wanted to be held, but when I held her she wriggled around until she was in crazy-uncomfortable positions, then looked at me with total betrayal that I would let her get like that, and scream.  I walked, patted, bounced, laid her down, tried toys, sang songs, got quiet, tried the swing, gave her gas drops, gave her prunes and apple juice, put on more clothes, took off clothes, took her for a walk, a drive, and so on – all day long.

She wouldn’t stay comfortable or content for more than 10 minutes at a time, but usually it was more like 2 or 3.  I finally got her to sleep after 3 hours of struggling, only to have her wake up screaming less than 30 minutes later.  Exhausted, frustrated, and concerned for my baby, I let her fuss for a while and ate some ice cream.  Shoot.  That didn’t help.  I ordered pizza.  Gorging myself on pizza and falling asleep used to be my way of comforting myself.  I hated what the scale said later for it, but it gave me enough of a temporary fix that I got over the whole scale problem…  Last night it didn’t work.  I knew what I was doing as I drove to pick it up.  I didn’t care.  I deserved it after the day I’d had.  But my day wasn’t over and eating pizza is less exciting when one of the people you love most in the world is miserable.  I drank a Coke.  That didn’t work either.

She finally went to sleep at 9:00, five minutes before Rick got home from work.  He tried to talk to me, but I was too out of sorts to have a conversation.  After letting my frustration and misery be known to him, I begged him to just let me go to bed.  The sweet man who had been working all day himself came to bed early too (not his favorite thing to do) and rubbed my back until I relaxed enough to fall asleep.

Guess what happened then?

The baby started crying.

Rick got up and took care of her.  All night long she fussed miserably, and all night long her daddy held her, fed her, patted, rocked, bounced, and shhh-ed.  I got up a few times, reminding him that he had to go to work in the morning, but he sent me back to bed.  He ended up sleeping with her on his chest on the couch so he could comfort her immediately when she cried out.  That kept her mostly asleep for a few hours.  When it was time for him to get up for work, I switched places with him.  Thankfully, she kept sleeping for a few more hours and woke up happy and pleasant.

I took her for a long walk this morning, knowing fresh air and exercise would do us both good.  Rick and his parents have done such a nice job of turning the land into a beautiful home that it’s helping me to love country farm life more every day.  There are flowers everywhere I look.  It’s so peaceful and quiet, the early morning air was cool, and the sun was shining.  As we neared the end of our walk, we came upon the mama kitty and her five kittens that are about a month old now.  She had moved them under the car for shade and as we walked by, then ran out joyfully to greet us.  Delighted that they didn’t run away, I sat down in the grass and put the baby in my lap.  Together we giggled as tiny kittens crawled all over us, meowing and purring as we petted them.  Eventually the mama kitty laid down kind of under my leg in the shade and nursed her kittens.  I couldn’t believe it.  What a moment…  I turned Eliana so she could see them and we helped one kitten who couldn’t find a place get what it was looking for, then we watched with delight.

I hadn’t planned on that sidetrack, and I had things I wanted to do inside.  It was tempting to quickly put the kittens in their box so they wouldn’t get under the wheels of the stroller and slow me down.  Who wants to sit in the grass and get ants crawling on you?  But I’m so glad I did.  It was a few minutes of unexpected delight.  A sadness that I’d been working over in my mind came into perspective.  I was reminded of the dream I believe God sent me a few months ago to stop looking back and start looking around and forward.  The frustration and sadness and self-pity lifted and joy returned.

Self-pity is easy.  Self-pity is, in a way, comforting.  Nobody understands me.  This person hurt me.  That person ignored me.  My husband doesn’t meet all the needs I expect him to meet.  My baby isn’t always happy and sweet.  I ate too much pizza last night and now I feel guilty.  Why do I do this to myself?  Blah, blah, blah…

Shut up, self pity!  Just shut up!

And so I begin the process of cultivating joy again.  I remind myself of all I have to be thankful for.  I remind myself of those who have been kind to me, of those who have gone out of their way to spend time with me, of those who have encouraged me to keep writing, and of those who have helped out.  I force myself to look around me, to consider the future, and to stop trying to right the wrongs of the past.  I get my eyes off myself and see the look of love on my daughter’s face, the way her eyes seek mine out and look for approval.  I look at God’s creation, the trees, grass, springs, flowers, plants, sky, and kittens, and remember that I am a tiny part of this great world.  I will start again on my plan for healthy eating, I will once again remember the healthier way to handle frustration and pain (call a friend, go for a walk, get some sleep, write a letter, play with some kittens) than comforting myself with food.

My life is so good.  It would be easy to nitpick, to find things to be upset about, and to chew them over repeatedly until I’m a total mess.  But I can make a better choice.  I can look around and see the good, thank God for His many blessings, and look ahead with eager expectation.

At times circumstances make it difficult to see the good.  At times it takes some concerted effort to see the good and appreciate it.  It’s a choice I make every day and it keeps the smile on my face and a song in my heart.  Lord, help me to drive self-pity far from me and to keep my eyes fixed on You.

Do you ever find yourself giving in to self-pity?  What do you do to fight your way out of it’s grasp?

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Posted on Jun 10, 2013 in Parenting | 7 comments

Things Have Changed

Things Have Changed

Showing my baby the beautiful world God made

Showing my baby the beautiful world God made

Wow.  Life as a stay-at-home wife and mother is very different from when I was a career-woman.  I prayed and prayed for God to give me the opportunity to do just what I’m doing this morning – waking up around 8am to the sound of my baby stirring (rather than a screaming alarm), nursing her, getting her settled, then making breakfast for myself.  After she goes back down for her morning nap, I drink a leisurely cup of coffee, read the Proverb of the day, and sit down to write.  Ahhh…

But what I didn’t write up there is that I was up most of the night with an inexplicably awake and unhappy baby, too young to tell me what the problem is.  Her dad and I (God bless that man) took turns with her so neither one got too frustrated, but we got very little sleep even when the other was on duty.  Who can sleep when your baby is crying?  She’s normally an excellent sleeper, so this night was rare.  But I was extremely thankful to lay her back down again this morning for her nap.  I thought I might take one of my own, but my mind has turned on and for now it won’t be shut down.

I compare nights like last night to the days when I was under a big deadline at work or dealing with a difficult situation that required my attention long after I left the office.  There were times I was so tired and frustrated with work that I just cried, wishing for a husband to put his arms around me and provide comfort and strength.  I wished for someone else to carry the burden of the mentally ill woman who needed intervention before she injured herself or someone else.

I would’ve gladly given up a night of sleeplessness to care for a precious child if it meant I didn’t need to sit in long meetings with people who listened to my ideas with blank stares, discussed other options for an hour, then clapped their hands at the brilliance of the idea when a male co-worker brought it back up again as his own.  Jaw hanging open, head shaking in frustration, I silently marveled at these “modern thinkers”, quick to say that women were equal to men, who were so blatantly biased.  It’s very tempting to make a list here of all the unjust things that happened while I was building my career, but I probably shouldn’t even have acknowledged the first thing on the list, so I suppose I will just end with:  Thank You, God, for a crying baby!

Back in my "women's pastor' daysEven with the memories of injustice and frustration, I have to admit that there are struggles I face today as I sit here with my hair in an untidy knot on the top of my head, in my husband’s sweatshirt, badly in need of a manicure, pedicure, teeth-whitening treatment, and spray tan, nothing even remotely resembling a suit in my closet…  There was a sense of pride I didn’t even realize I got from getting fixed up every day for work, hair in place, makeup done, nicely dressed, going to a beautiful office.

It was a burden to constantly manage my appearance, but I enjoyed hearing how nice I looked, getting double takes from guys in the grocery store, and having the time, energy, and resources to focus on my appearance.  There is no point in getting fixed up right now.  When the baby wakes, we’ll go outside for a long walk complete with bug spray and the incessant winds in this flat farmland.  I’ll hoe the flower bed, bleach some clothes, and maybe mop the floors.  It makes more sense to take a shower at the end of the day when the work is done, but why get fixed up to go to bed?  It is a DIFFERENT world.

I’ve come up with a few tricks to help keep my balance though.  Even though my husband tells me I’m beautiful and often reminds me that there’s no reason to put on a bunch of makeup just to work around the house, I have to look at myself in the mirror and deal with my reflection.  While I’ve become much more accepting of my reflection over the years (trying so hard to love the imperfectness that makes me unique), there are some things that just look better with a little paint!

For all you naturalists out there, let me remind you that wearing makeup goes all the way back to at least the ancient Egyptians!  And back then men wore it too.  We paint barns, manicure our lawns, put flowers in front of our mailboxes, and trim our nails, but we don’t think our faces need anything other than a good scrubbing?  A little makeup isn’t the problem.  Someone with no makeup can put on a mask just as easily as someone who spent hours fixing up their face.  And for all of you who can’t imagine walking around for an hour without your makeup and hair done, just in case a neighbor stops you as you walk out to get the mail, shew!  Relax a little.

"The Look" these days while I spend time with my baby

“The Look” these days while I spend time with my baby

It’s tempting as a homemaker to stay in my pajamas all day, but I really try to get dressed every day.  (That did not happen so much when I was preggo/sicko.)  My career clothes have given way to yoga pants, t-shirts, and pretty much nothing that doesn’t have some spandex in it.  I wear tennis shoes, flip flops, or just got barefoot.  But still, I am dressed in something other than what I slept in.

I put on earrings, a necklace, and my wedding ring.  After I finish writing, I’ll brush my hair, put it up in a neat ponytail (resisting the urge to cut it all off), brush my teeth, wash my face, moisturize, deodorize, and put on some perfume.

As for makeup, that has been a struggle for me.  I wear good makeup and it takes a while to apply it.  Then I work and get sweaty and it all gets wiped off.  So I have come up with a routine that works for me.  Over the years I’ve collected all kinds of makeup – drug store brands that aren’t quite right but aren’t worth throwing away either, free samples of department store brands, leftover makeup that wasn’t gone enough to throw away but whose case got broken.  I’m amazed at how much of this makeup I have.

I keep my “good” makeup in a special bag I can grab on the go, so I’ve put my second-rate makeup all together in the medicine cabinet where it stays put.  I’ve figured out the very basic stuff I need to feel presentable and I try to at least put on the basics each day.  For me, that’s SPF20 tinted moisturizer, blush, and SPF40 lip gloss (I’ve had skin cancer in the last year and that will make even the biggest sun-lover slather up the sunscreen).  From there, if I have time, I add a little eye makeup.

This routine has really helped keep my skin clear, use up makeup that has been sitting around for a long time, and kept me feeling better when I look in the mirror. Also, I’ve taken all the leftover and sample bits of powder, bronzer, and blush, crushed them up, and mixed them together in a jar.  I apply that with a brush when I want more coverage and it works great.

I’ve also decided that those crazy colors that I saw on someone else and thought would look good on me (teal green eyeliner – what was I thinking?), but just scare me, can be used by kids as crayons, paint, or play makeup.  This routine also makes me happy because it’s more economical (good makeup is expensive) and is helping me get rid of stuff that was just taking up space.

As I’ve gotten older, it’s become obvious to me that moisturizer is very, very important.  And holy cow, good moisturizer is expensive!  I could take a bath in the stuff, but I read somewhere that it’s less important to use the good stuff every single day, twice a day (like they tell you to), and more important to use it “regularly.”  I also saw somewhere that some dermatologists suggest alternating between heavy and light moisturizers, and to be careful about over-exfoliating.

So I’ve gathered all the free samples of moisturizer, exfoliation, and masks I’ve accumulated over the years (who knows how I come into all this stuff?) and started to use it up.  I use the good stuff right after I get out of the shower, but every other time I wash my face I use the other stuff.  I’ve also made a travel-bag of toiletries that I never unpack and it has some of the sample-sized things in it, making packing much faster these days.  When I travel, the good stuff stays at home.  My skin doesn’t mind the change for a few days.

As for all my career clothes, I’ve found they just take up unnecessary space in my closet.  I’m only getting dressed up once or twice a week for church or a night out, and that certainly doesn’t require a three-week wardrobe.  I’ve given a lot of clothes away over the last 18 months.  And as tempted as I was to keep hanging out in my maternity clothes long after I had the baby and could fit back in my regular clothes, I forced myself to put them all away until such time as I might need them again.  Goodbye, lovely stretchy belly-paneled jeans.  I will see you again someday, but for now I will once again wear zippers and buttons.

As for everyday clothes, I’ve mainly been wearing out my old gym clothes.  They were actually pretty nice as I only wore them an hour or two at a time before.  I invested in some wonderfully comfy, reasonably tailored, Land’s End knit pants.  They weren’t cheap, but they look nice and work well for me since they come in tall sizes.

I’ve given myself permission to replace t-shirts as they wear out or start to look shabby with good-quality, comfortable, cotton tops.  I don’t have to look like a slob to work around the house, but I don’t need beads or sequins scratching my baby’s face either.  (If I were a more standard size, I’d probably make use of the local thrift store a lot more often for everyday clothes.)

Now that the weather is nice and I have my energy back, Eliana and I have been taking daily walks.  That has helped with my screaming desire to get in a tanning bed or spend money on a spray tan.  I can’t do tanning beds any longer since I had a skin cancer episode, but I can go out in the sun for reasonable amounts of time while wearing sunscreen and still get some color.  The important thing for me is not to burn.  I make sure the baby is slathered in baby-safe sunscreen too.

As a single, career woman, I made a habit of going the gym most afternoons on my way home from work.  I took classes, had a personal trainer, and lifted weights.  It’s a much bigger deal these days to get to the gym.  It’s not “on my way” anywhere, it’s exorbitantly expensive around here (some things are way cheaper in the country, but other things are not), and childcare is an issue.  One gym I looked at has childcare a few hours a day, but no air conditioning!  What the…???

So for now, I’ve decided to make the most of the lovely place I live, put my daughter in the jogging stroller, and explore.  At first I only went a little way, but now I’m going all over the place, up and down any hill I can find, and enjoying the outdoors.  I’m finding physical work to do around the house and making it as hard as possible.  Remembering all the training I received over the years, I’m giving new meaning to the term “personal trainer” by training myself.  For now that’s working to help me get my strength back after months of sickness, bed rest, and recovery, and the fresh air is intoxicating.

When I worked in an office, I had tasks to complete, deadlines, meetings, and events.  It was a very different kind of work from what I’m doing now.  I find it tempting at times to sit on the couch all day reading, watching TV, goofing off on Facebook, or even sleeping.  The house doesn’t get super-dirty with just the three of us and I find that one day of concerted effort can pretty much complete the necessary tasks, leaving me plenty of time to be lazy and not do the things I deem less important.  At the same time, that leads to a constant feeling of guilt that there’s something I should be doing.  How long has it been since I dusted?  When will I ever get that ironing done?  When will I feel motivated to organize that closet?

So I’m working on a weekly schedule of tasks that need to be done regularly.  For example, on Mondays I deep clean the kitchen and dust; Wednesdays I pay the bills and balance the checkbooks; Thursdays is ironing; and so on.  If I have a big day on Thursday, I do the ironing on Wednesday.  I’m still tweaking the schedule, but it helps me not to feel like things are hanging over my head.  There’s a day for each task, which keeps it from piling up and keeps me from stressing over it all the other days of the week.  As I pass the desk, I don’t get a knot in my stomach thinking that I need to sit down and pay bills.  I know that bill day is coming and until then I am free to ignore them.  Ahhh…

First Tractor RideLife is really different these days.  Green fields of soybeans, large trees, and kittens greet my eyes as I stop writing to look out the window.  My sweet daughter sleeps soundly in the next room, my husband is out taking care of the farm, and I’m reminding myself to be thankful that I didn’t have to rush out of the house this morning to sit in an office.  The apple tree has gumball sized apples all over it.  The kittens are meowing.  The only deadline I need to meet is to get this new blog entry posted today.  I am soaking up the richness of the blessing.  He has been GOOD to me.

***I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts!  What tips do you have for adjusting to life as a mother, homemaker, etc.?

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