While the season of sickness is still fresh on my mind, I want to write down what I would share with someone else going through it. I say Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy instead of morning sickness because it was relentless morning, noon, and night. My first pregnancy I had hyperemesis gravidarum, but thankfully these last three have been something more in between that and "normal" NVP. I managed to stay out of the hospital, but keeping any food down and getting out of bed was a challenge. My advice is for coping with nausea and vomiting, not curing it, because nothing except patience and prayer cured me. I feel like an expert on this whole puking business by now so here you go from a four time NVP survivor:
1. Learn to Smile and Nod
You will soon realize that everyone around you is full of tips and strange things you should try that will "cure" you. Don't sweat it. Just think of it as practice. Now that you are a parent, complete strangers in the grocery store will feel free to give you their advice and opinions all the time. You may as well get used to it now and learn to smile, nod, and move on. Ginger, peppermint, small meals, crackers, sea bands, preggie pops, more protein, more magnesium, vitamin B6, Zofran, Phenergan, Diclegis--I've tried it all!! The majority of people offer advice because they really want to help you. Remember the good intentions. Smile and nod and don't be afraid to try some of those crazy suggestions because you never know when they might work. I gave Unisom a shot this time and--what do you know--it really helped. The friend who told me that nonalcoholic beer with a squeeze of lime is way better than ginger ale--she was right on.
*Note: If you are suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, you are exempt from this tip and I give you permission--right after you go puke again--to word slap anyone who mentions the word ginger to you.
2. Throw Out That Guilt
You cannot expect yourself to do what you used to do. You are sick and you need to extend yourself some grace. I will just be honest with you about where I was and hope that will free you up to be honest with yourself.
My bathroom looked like horror movie meets country gas station toilet--gross, gross, gross. I was not able to clean it, only stick my face in it over and over again. Did I mention I have three little boys?! That is an instant recipe for a nasty bathroom. When my mother in law saw it she--like the angel she is-- threw on some gloves and cleaned it for me while I lay in bed. I know it's hard, but let people help you!! I could have cried happy tears the next time I put my face in that toilet and it was clean again!
I didn't cook. I didn't step foot in a grocery store. I couldn't go to church and turned down any social events outside of family gatherings.
I stopped homeschooling and put my son in a private Kindergarten program. On more difficult mornings I sent him into school with bed hair and shorts that were way too short because I hadn't run his laundry. This is not the time to be Pinterest Super Mom!!
Let's not even talk about keeping down prenatal vitamins.
The most difficult times were those when I felt like I was letting down my husband or my children. It's awful to feel like you are disappointing people that you love dearly. Whether or not their disappointment is directed at you, it is not your fault. It is the fault of illness. Just as you will all share in the joy of a new baby, you must all share in the difficulty of the pregnancy. Just as you must learn to cope with your new normal, the rest of the family must learn to cope with your new normal. It's a journey and you have to forgive each other and yourself!!
3. Find Your Way to Gratitude
You are expecting a beautiful little bundle of squishy baby joy in a few months. That alone is reason to be grateful, but--hey--I get it. That is months away and TODAY you feel miserable. You need something to look forward to today. Find the little things that are beautiful today and hold on to them tightly. You may have to find something new to love while the old things (i.e. eating, cooking, and anything involving physical activity) you enjoyed are not enjoyable at the moment.
I have a tradition of having an Anne marathon in the first trimester. In the past I watched Anne of Green Gables and the sequels, but this time I listened to all the books on audiotape. It's a time splurge for me and helps me get my mind from "I feel awful," to "I love this part!!" . If you have small children like I do then you can listen to an audiobook while you keep an eye on them. Most classics are free online in audiobook format.
I also watched too many stupid, funny videos floating around the internet. Sometimes you just need to laugh!
4. Stay Lit
The physical difficulty of the last couple months combined with all those crazy pregnancy hormones brought me into an emotionally dark place. Some days I felt like hopelessness was trying to wrap around me like a blanket and smother me right out. God has never been so quiet in trials as He was this time. When I was quiet the negative feelings were so loud that it was difficult to hear Him. I could hardly pray or open my Bible, but I think that I was seeking God in the most real way. I was in the place where religion falls aside and you find out who you really are and who God really is to you.
There were two words that my spirit kept hearing in whispers. The first was, "The joy of the Lord is your strength." It kept striking me that God is joyful. If I could see past the clouds of depression then God's face would be there and it would be a happy, laughing face. I knew if I could just see that face, then I would be joyful too. I was desperate to see it. Tears were streaming down my face one night as I told Brandon how much it hurt to need to see God's face and not see it. The night may be long, my friends, but joy comes in the morning and he who seeks will find.
The other word that I heard was this: The only thing that a candle needs to do when it is surrounded by the darkest night is stay lit.
Let your heart stay in the fire of God's love. He loves you when you're sick. He loves you when you don't meet other people's expectations. He loves you when you don't meet your own expectations. He loves you when you are depressed. The depth of your weakness is no match for the depth of His strength. When the night is too long and you don't see the morning coming, just stay right where you are and persevere. Stay in the love of God. Stay in the place of sacrifice--loving and serving your family. Keep doing the right thing even if it makes your life feel all wrong and dark for a time. Stay lit until the sun rises.
The sun rises and the day is beautiful