Finding Thankfulness

"How are you feeling?"

I dread this question. Of course everybody who asks is well-intentioned, so it's not the question I have an issue with. It's the answer. Because to answer it honestly, I'd have to say that I feel like complete shit. But that's not really an appropriate answer, and also, what a Debbie Downer, man. I usually just tell people that I'm feeling a lot better than I was in the beginning, which is true. But then I leave the conversation feeling discouraged because that is a complete half-truth. Thankfully I am not passed out on the floor next to the toilet like I was at one time, but I'm still very much feeling like shit. I really wish I could say that I'm feeling great and finally enjoying pregnancy, and then have that statement be true. But it's just not.

As you can see, my attitude has not been the best. It was absolutely terrible in the beginning and I still struggle with it even this far into my pregnancy. When I was at my sickest, I won't even begin to admit here some of the thoughts that crossed my mind. I was in a dark place and felt so desperate, isolated, and helpless. I hated what HG had robbed from me. I was not able to be present in the lives of my loved ones. I had become a burden (even though I know my sweet friends and family never saw me as such). I felt like a worthless wife, mom, and friend. I felt like my body was failing me at the very thing I was supposed to be good at as a woman -- growing a baby. I sobbed every day into my pillow wondering why I couldn't just have a normal pregnancy.

But during this time, I also had a lot of time to talk to God. He meets us in hard places, there is no doubt about that. There were many times I was mad at Him, but he was always there reminding me that He had not changed amidst my circumstances. I knew I was going through this journey for a reason. I hated that this was my journey, but I didn't want to waste what He was trying to teach me. So I began to intentionally thank Him for it and ask Him to help me FEEL thankful for it. I began to examine the good that has come from it, and I started writing it down to give me encouragement in the dark moments that I felt like crying that this had become my life.

This is my list so far:

1. He's grown my compassion for others' suffering. That's what happens when we go through tough stuff in life. We develop an understanding and empathy for others who are struggling and it stretches our hearts to care more about others.

2. I've had to let go of my pride and let others help me when normally I hate to accept help from others. This has been a huge one for me. I don't know if it's because I want to feel like I have it all together, or the fact that I hate to feel like I'm burdening others, or a combination of both. But I have always struggled with accepting help without feeling guilty about it. All that flew out the window this pregnancy, though. We have had people bless us in countless ways and I am so, so grateful and humbled by the love shown to us over the last 9 months. I've had the opportunity to grow friendships deeper and how can I not be thankful for that?

3. We have grown mutual appreciation in our marriage. Rick stepped up big time. He was already extremely busy with work and I know he must have been so stressed having to take on more responsibility at home on top of everything else. But he never once showed it or let me feel guilty about it for a second. He took great care of me and the kids and my love and respect for him grew even more than I thought it could. And I know this experience grew his appreciation for me as well. When I wasn't able to pull my weight, he saw firsthand how much goes into keeping our home and family running smoothly when he took over for me. He is definitely not one of those husbands who wonders what his wife does all day at home.

4. I'm SO much less uptight about stuff since I now know my kids can survive without me micromanaging everything and that they won't actually die if they eat crappy junk food for a few months :) I had to let go of the guilt because it was completely out of my control. It was a good lesson for me that I don't have to be a perfect mom and that kids are very resilient. My babies have a lot lower expectations for their mom than I do and that was refreshing to see.

5. I've learned a lot about my body and found a lot of encouragement from other mamas going through this same miserable journey. I joined an HG support group on facebook and have discovered I have so much in common with these other ladies. It has really helped me to not feel so alone in all of this because they understand firsthand. Wait? You also pee your pants while heaving into the toilet and fill up spit cups with saliva and are repulsed by a sip of water??? Me too! Some of the ladies have it way worse than I do, so I was able to gain some perspective. There are women who spend their entire pregnancy in the hospital with feeding tubes and PICC lines, so I know it could always be way worse. I've also discovered a lot of things are linked to HG that I had never connected the dots on. With breastfeeding, I have an overactive let-down and oversupply. Rick used to call me Elsie the cow because of how much milk I produce. It took me until Harper was 6 or 7 months old to discover that her colic and reflux was a result of a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance since she was getting filled up on the sugary foremilk and never getting to the fatty hindmilk. I also had a really weird thing happen every time my milk was about to let down. I would get this overwhelming sense of dread and panic come over me that would stop me in my tracks. It only lasted a couple of minutes and faded quickly once my milk released. I remember asking my friends and mom about it but they had never heard of anything like it. But lots of HG moms have this as well. (I found out there is even a technical name for it). It's all related to wonky hormones, which is also what fuels HG.

6. God has forced me to rely on Him more. Every day I cried out to Him and I can't say that that always happens when I'm happy and healthy and feel like I have my stuff together. It's amazing how much listening you do when you're incapacitated and forced to slow down.

I actually cried when I found this shirt :)
It's so easy to be consumed by suffering, pain, and the depression of our situations. I'm thankful for the reminder to search out small joys and blessings. I'm alive! I get a beautiful gift at the end of this all. Many people suffer illnesses that take their lives. What I'm going through is only temporary and will have the happiest of endings. It has been a crappy 9 months but I also know that the moment I get to hold this baby in my arms I will know without a doubt that I'd do it all over again for her.


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