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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.
GET ME A TRASH CAN!

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 Dec 10, 2012 in Fertility | 6 comments

Uncomfortable

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!

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Posted on Aug 25, 2012 in Fertility, Marriage, Wisdom | 4 comments

Writer’s Block?

Writer’s Block?

The writing muse seems to have taken a little vacation from me in the last several months.  Adjusting to farm life took a back seat to adjusting to pregnancy, and it’s hard to imagine that I’d keep many readers if every post began with an update on the number of times I’ve vomited recently.  I’ve attempted to write on some deeper topics that seem good as I get started, only to shut the computer in frustration and give up when it becomes obvious that my ability to relate the topic to others has somehow been broken.  How do I get back on track with writing my blog?

One of the things I’d really like to do is go back to school for a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Non-Fiction.  The degree would polish my skills and open doors into professional (i.e. PAID) writing.  And as I’ve learned over the years, a little education can go a long way to taking something good about yourself and making it amazing.  Since taking on the new role of mother has most of my attention right now, it’s not a good time to start a degree program.  However, I decided that there’s no reason I shouldn’t pursue an education in the field at my own pace during this time – preparing myself for the day I pay someone to give me feedback on all I’m reading and writing.  So I’ve been slowly reading more and more books on writing.  The subject fascinates me and I want to absorb all I’m learning.  Right now my bookshelf is full of two important subjects:  babies and writing.

A theme I’m finding in my writing books is that whether we are fiction or non-fiction writers, we must learn to write from our own experiences.  Our experiences are the only things we can truly rely on (unless we’re science fiction/fantasy writers).  I always assumed that literary fiction writers had tremendous imaginations and made up everything they wrote, but what their imaginations really do is look at the world around them, circumstances and people and things, and ask, “what if…?”  Then they allow their imaginations to take hold from there.  The details of the books are often fictionalized versions of their own lives and experiences.  (I’m feeling every day like it’s more and more possible for me to actually write literary fiction, although I’ve always felt like it was not my gifting.)

Because we must write from our own experience, it’s no wonder that writers are often full of angst, depressed, frustrated, and confused.  We must write to sort out the mess in our heads, get it down on paper (or screen) and make sense of it all.  By examining our own thoughts and feelings, we are able to make sense of the world.  As we make sense of our world, we relate it to others in a way we hope they will understand and appreciate.  So does that mean that a writer without angst, depression, frustration, or confusion is not much of a writer at all?

That’s the question I’ve been asking myself recently.  Has my world become so smooth, so joyful, so peaceful that I no longer have anything to write about that the world may relate to?

Um.   The answer to that question is a resounding NO.  While aspects of my life that I used to write about no longer fill me with fear and angst, there are new problems that come with every new stage in our lives.  But since my current sorrows involve people I love dearly, it’s hard to know what is appropriate to share and what is not my place.  How do I write about finding out several of my dearest loved ones have cancer, especially when they have chosen to manage their illness privately?  How do I write about the miseries of pregnancy when I’ve wanted for so long to carry a child in my womb – and wanted to be full of grace and beauty in the process?  How do I write about daily frustrations with sorting out married life, adjusting to a new family, and all that goes with it?  Are they my stories to share or is it disrespectful to drag those I love most dearly into such a public forum?

Is it really writer’s block, or is what I’m writing too deeply personal to publish?  Because I HAVE been writing.  It’s that I’ve been unable to share.

Lastly, I’ve been questioning if I want this to turn into a “mommy blog” like so many I follow.  I thoroughly enjoy reading about the joys of motherhood and money-saving tips on raising a family.  I could post more of my favorite recipes and share the information I’ve found on handling extreme pregnancy sickness.  But is that what I want to write about regularly?  The answer is no.  While my experiences inform my writing, and I’m currently experiencing major adjustments as a new wife and expectant mother, my hope is to share nuggets of truth and lead others closer to Christ and a healthy, biblical world view.  That isn’t to say I think my world view is the healthiest, most biblically-centered world view.  But as I grow in my understanding of that concept, my hope is to find a way to communicate it to others.  I have to write from my experiences, so the backdrop of my postings will center around my daily life as a wife and mother, but I’m hoping for something more to come out as well.

The Lord has turned my mourning into dancing, blessed me with all that I wanted and more, and I am grateful.  I want to find a way to share that with the world. In that sharing, my goal is to be respectful and honoring to those who share their lives with me and to earn their trust, so if they ever do show up in one of my blog postings, they will feel blessed.

So for today, I will not write about cancer, the shocking difficulty of this (healthy) pregnancy, or the latest negotiation I’ve had with my husband over what we do or do not need for a baby.  My life is not perfect nor stress-free, and finding my voice in that reality is a struggle.  Please bear with me as I stretch to find new ways to communicate effectively and respectfully.

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Posted on Jul 27, 2012 in Fertility | 1 comment

Oh Happy Day!

Just a short post to mark a momentous day in this pregnancy…  Today makes one whole week since I’ve thrown up!  This is not to say that everything is better and I’m back to my regular, perky self quite yet.  I still have to be very careful about what I eat, avoiding the foods I’ve discovered this baby just isn’t interested in.  My energy seems to be returning a bit and I’m very grateful for that, but I still get worn out if I attempt too much at one time.  The ability to keep my meals down is a major improvement, though, and I’m so thankful.

Thank you all so much for your prayers.  I feel like I’m coming out of a dark room and still need a little time to get my eyes adjusted.  God has been good to bless us with this baby and we’re so thankful for that.  I’m very hopeful that I’ll be able to focus my energy in the coming months on the joy of this pregnancy and less on the inside of a trashcan.

I’m working on several new postings for the coming weeks and I look forward to returning to regular blogging again soon.

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Posted on Jun 12, 2012 in Devotional | 4 comments

Strength

Strength

The last several weeks have been difficult for me.  According to the doctor, the way I’m feeling is typical of pregnancy for about half of women.

I’ve felt extremely weak and lethargic.  I have to eat every 2-3 hours or I get sick, but what I eat often gives me a sour stomach so I don’t want to eat.  Very little sounds good to me.  When I do eat, there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll keep it down.  If I get sick, I have to eat again or the sickness will start all over.  My body will only tolerate small amounts of food at one time.

On top of that, my sense of smell is extremely sensitive.  Things that I never smelled before, or that didn’t smell bad to me, now gag me.  I’m taking a prescription medication for nausea, which helps me keep down most of my food, but it doesn’t stop the sickness over things that gross me out.  I’ve broken out in unexplained hives, developed a painful ganglion cyst on my right wrist that restricts the use of my right hand, and have extreme motion sickness.  When I get up and walk around, I get motion sick.  Seriously?!

I’ve spent most of the last six weeks lying on the couch with a trash can right beside me.  I haven’t been able to cook meals.  Not only do I have little energy to do so, but many foods turn my stomach so I can’t even look at them.  Rick has been surviving off of cereal, take-out leftovers, frozen pizza, and sandwiches.  Every once in a while I get a burst of energy and load or unload the dishwasher, but he’s been doing most of the dishes.  He is also the designated trash-can emptier.

Yesterday I had a little pity-party for myself.  Rick heated up some perfectly good food that smelled so bad to me that I went outside to sit on the front porch for some fresh air.  It was a really nice evening and I was glad for the change of scenery.  But I sat there and cried, feeling like a failure as a wife, wondering if my strength and energy will ever return, wondering how I can ever get pregnant again, and begging God to make it all stop!  Not the pregnancy, of course, but just the sickness.  Please, God, please – make it stop.  I can’t take any more.

God didn’t answer me this time.  He was quiet.  But I recognized the pity-party for what it was.  I sometimes struggle with self-pity and the loss of my pride.  I know how to handle this demon.  I didn’t want to, but I begrudgingly began to sing a song of praise and thanks to God.  It wasn’t very pretty, and I cried through much of it, but I sang anyway.  I thanked Him for His many blessings.  I thanked Him for the dang sickness that is making me nuts because it means I will soon be a mother.  It means my sweet husband will finally have his own child.  I thanked Him that my 36-year old body is still capable of pregnancy.

And then He spoke to me, very quietly and gently.  He reminded me that when I look at the waves around me, I’ve taken my eyes off Him.  He encouraged me to stop watching TV all day and to take some time to get my eyes back on Him.  I promised Him I would, got up and walked back in the house, then promptly lost the sandwich Rick had just made me because the smell in the house was still so strong.

I didn’t go to church this morning because I woke up dry heaving with terrible heartburn.  Instead, I returned to the practice that has gotten me through so many difficult times in my life.  I read the Scriptures for the day from The Book of Common Prayer Daily Office.  I took notes.  And from them I discovered exactly what I needed to hear today.

I noticed a theme as I read the various verses from different parts of the Bible.  What stood out for me today was that God gives His people strength.  As I read Psalm 29, I noticed that it doesn’t say God will make everything easy for us.  “The Lord sits enthroned over the flood…  May God give strength to His people.”  Bad things (like The Flood) will happen, but God gives us His strength.  I’ve been praying for relief when I should have been praying for STRENGTH.

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31 KJV

So this morning I changed my prayer.  Lord, give me Your strength to handle the difficulties of pregnancy.  Help me to remember that this is temporary and that a miracle is happening inside me.  Thank You for this precious miracle baby that You have given us.  We waited for Your timing, Lord, so please help us to have the strength we need to be parents, to have more children, and to do so without growing weary.  In Jesus’ name, amen. 

I decided to share this difficulty with you today because I figure there are probably others out there who are going through their own trials and pain.  What do you do when you ask for it to be taken away and God allows the struggle to continue?  The best answer I have for today is to pray for God’s strength to make it through. 

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