I’ve had this post brewing in my head for quite some time, but finding the words to write about something so joyful yet so challenging has felt nearly impossible. How do you find the words to write about something that feels so real, yet so self-indulgent at the same time?
As a momma who has walked through miscarriage three times, I know as well as most what it means to long for a big, round belly. Each time I’ve been pregnant, I’ve counted down the days to various milestones. Twelve weeks – out of the first trimester when the risk of miscarriage drops dramatically. Twenty three weeks – when baby is considered viable outside the womb. Thirty weeks – a baby born after thirty weeks generally has the same long-term outcomes for health as babies born at full-term. There is a certain holding of the breath that happens in each pregnancy after experiencing the loss of a baby, and my heart knows this well.
And while I’ve been overwhelmingly thankful for this baby, and every baby God has blessed us with, one side effect of experiencing loss is feeling horrible every time you aren’t eternally grateful for every aspect of pregnancy. I mean, what kind of person complains about something they’ve longed so deeply for?
Yet here I am, writing about my emotionally challenging pregnancy. Because when I quit powering through and really sit with my emotions, I’m faced with the reality that it’s been incredibly difficult for me this time around.
As was the case with my other two pregnancies, the first trimester brought with it a certain sense of melancholy and exhaustion. It was a familiar feeling, triggered by extreme nausea and fear about the what-ifs ahead. I knew enough about my previous two full-term pregnancies to know that after the nausea and exhaustion subsided I would likely come out of the emotional fog, too. And then, instead of 12 or 13 weeks of nausea, I found myself sick through the first 21 weeks, much longer than I had experienced with the girls, with the magical second trimester burst of energy nowhere to be found
Extended nausea gave way to both a 20-week anatomy ultrasound scare, followed by increased muscle reactions to the progesterone injections I take throughout pregnancy, which led to physical therapy and chiropractic. All the while, feeling a strange mix of exhaustion, sadness and irritability, made worse by everything listed above.
In the back of my mind, since the day we found out about this baby’s August due date, I’ve felt fearful. The transition to two kiddos was NOT an easy one for me, and while I look back at those early days with two kids fondly now, I still distinctly remember how stretched and maxed out I felt much of the first three months of Collins’s life. Knowing we will be adding another sweet baby to the mix, at the very beginning of football season (my husband is an assistant HS football coach on top of his regular work schedule) while entering a busy season for my own work has left me with so may fears about my own capacities.
My mind has taken every uncertainty, every day where I feel totally exhausted managing just two kiddos, every sleep-disrupted night as we’ve transitioned the girls into a shared room and jumped five steps ahead to, “How in the world will I do this with a newborn in the mix, too?!”
My body has felt tired, my heart has felt fearful, and I’ve never been more keenly aware of my own human limitations. Any of my other momma friends feel me?
So, with all that said, what steps have we tangibly taken to manage the challenges of this pregnancies and the uncertainties of the next few months?
Joe and I have talked about August and beyond a LOT. And we continue to talk about it as I need to process the uncertainties and what-ifs. We’ve had a lot of great conversations about family priorities and how we will communicate needs once baby boy arrives and check-ins on how I’m doing with our crazy schedule.
I’m starting therapy. I really dislike the fact that I even gave a second thought to writing this, but there is still such a stigma about therapy and getting professional help, isn’t there? But Joe and I are both huge advocates of the value therapy can play to getting + keeping people in a healthy place emotionally. The only reason I put off therapy for so long was not having a great option I felt was a good match with what I was looking for. With a personal referral and the ability to see the right people remotely, I feel much more confident in who I’ve found and having a resource going forward.
I‘m accepting help. That means our beloved childcare provider starting back up right after baby is born, and asking my mom to help do evening kiddo duty with me one night a week, and being willing to tell Joe if I feel that it’s all just too much on my plate. (I’m still working on that last part…)
We’re setting the bar low. Low expectations for the first few months, and low standards for things like meals and schedules. If my kiddos and husband have to live on Jimmy Johns, cereal, and PB&J for the first two months of this baby’s life, that’s totally fine. And if I need to get my house cleaned every week to keep up, I’m going to accept that, too. Settling the bar low has always helped me in avoiding disappointment or unrealistic expectations about situations or circumstances.
And in the end, what gives me the most comfort is knowing that my strength and ability to parent these three little people does not come from ME at all, but from HE who has the power to create and sustain life. We are so thankful for the gift of this sweet baby boy and remembering where my true source of strength comes from gives me the peace each day to know that each day is one God ordained and will get us through.