Remember how my word for 2017 was surrender? We started out 2017 with Jordan’s car’s transmission going out and living with just one car for a month till we could replace the car.
The rest of the year wasn’t too bad.
But I suspected that pregnancy would be involved in a year with a word like that, I just knew it deep in my bones.
I knew God was calling us to have another one but I was scared. Jordan had conveniently forgotten how terrible pregnancy is for me and so he as all on board with another one.
I thought maybe, just maybe it would be like Hailey’s pregnancy or better yet, easier. So I said okay to another baby.
But this has been my hardest pregnancy yet.
And boy oh boy, have I had to learn about surrender. Suffering requires so much surrender. Surrender of control over just about everything.
Overview of The First 18 Weeks of Pregnancy
I was on the phone with my midwife more during the first few months of this pregnancy than I was my other two pregnancies combined.
I battled throwing up every singe day from weeks 6-18. For the most part, I was able to keep it to about 3 times a day, but every week or so I’d have a day or two where I would throw up every 45 minutes all day long.
I’d call my midwife again and tell her I couldn’t keep anything down and she’d give me something else to try. I’d tell Jordan and he would bring whatever the next thing was.
Eventually she just told me “I’m sorry, there isn’t anything else I know of to help you” and I just had to suffer through it and stay alive.
For 6 weeks, I wasn’t able to get out of bed or off the couch. If I sat up, I threw up.
The house fell apart, the kids fought, and I laid there watching it all because that’s all I could do. I had to surrender to my body’s lack of ability to do anything but stay alive.
This has been my most isolating pregnancy by far. HG pregnancies always come with their own form of isolation because so few women deal with that severity of sickness. And so very few women can relate to how terrible it really is to experience.
But this one was even more isolating than my other two pregnancies. The smell of anyone’s breath, outside (the smell lingered on clothes and hair even if they were out only for 30 seconds), food, shampoo, deodorant, they all made me throw up upon smelling them.
That meant that my own husband and children made me sick to be around them. I couldn’t leave the house because I got carsick and the smell of having anyone come to see me was overwhelming.
Reading and talking made me more nauseous. If I did manage to talk, I would start crying from the weight of it all and I would throw up.
My body was weak and I was trapped in my lonely, suffering, isolated bubble and there was absolutely nothing I could do but surrender to it.
I thought about all those who are sick and stuck at home, the elderly stuck in a nursing home with no one to visit them. How lonely they must be all the time and not just for a few months of pregnancy.
Or about people suffering through cancer treatments, without the prize of a baby at the end of it all.
Gestational diabetes set in at 8 weeks this time. I could only stomach fruit, but that spiked my sugar. So I had to take digestive enzymes to help my body digest meat and protein faster (aka: digest something before I threw it up again).
Because my morning sickness was so severe, my sensitivity to glucose has matched those crazy hormones (as it seems to have done with my other two pregnancies).
I can’t handle any refined sugar, honey or coconut sugar and barely any fruit. I’ve had to cut out all grains and anything with more than about 15 grams of carbs. No chips, bread, rice, pancakes, or any sweets.
I’m not on insulin at this point because I can keep my numbers in check by sticking to a diet of mostly cheese, meat, eggs and non-starchy veggies.
The isolating thing about gestational diabetes is that I have to eat (and cook) a separate meal from my family almost every night or alter it in some way (nachos for the family and I put the meat on a salad and skip the chips).
If they eat donuts after Mass, I sit and watch with nothing on my plate. They go to a pancake breakfast? I sit and watch them eat with maybe a sausage on my plate, although, sometimes sausages have sugar in them so even that I can’t have.
My birthday (which is Halloween) I watched as my husband and kids gorged on Halloween candy and leftover cake from the kids birthdays and I had nothing.
Let’s not even talk about the holidays…
It’s made me more sympathetic to people who have serious food allergies. How isolating it must be for them to have to deal with this for their entire lives?
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to suffer well. There isn’t anything I can do at this point but surrender to it.
The theme this pregnancy has been “there’s nothing more we can do”.
Whether it’s the chiropractor when I go back and tell her my adjustment only lasted 24 hours before I was in pain again. “I’m so sorry, but that’s probably the way things are going to be with your hormones this pregnancy. There isn’t much I can do”
Or the midwife telling me that there isn’t anything else to try for the nausea. Luckily, I only throw up once every couple of weeks and deal with daily nausea from about 3pm till I go to bed.
I’ve had symptoms this pregnancy that I’ve never dealt with before, like feeling like I’m suffocating for hours at a time. Not the trouble catching your breath feeling of the baby squishing your lungs, but feeling like I’m literally not getting enough air. (Cause: Hormones. Fix: Nothing, but having a fan on your face helps).
If you were to ask me how many weeks along I am, I couldn’t tell you. I can’t focus on where I am in weeks, because then I have to focus on how much longer I have left. Which is still about half a pregnancy and I know the discomfort will only increase.
So I put my head down and I focus on today, I get through today’s suffering. I surrender to the now that I can’t change.
Meaning in Suffering
Jordan got me the Rooted in Hope Advent Journal for my birthday this year and I really enjoyed digging into it every morning at the breakfast table during Advent.
My soul needed some healing from being trampled on by the first trimester. I was mad at God, I had stopped reading the daily readings. I had stopped going to Mass (although that wasn’t really a choice since I couldn’t get out of bed).
I was (and quite frankly, still am) frustrated with suffering.
I’ve been grappling with the meaning of suffering? Why do I we have to do it? HOW do I suffer with grace? Do I shove down the suffering? Do I share this with others so they won’t feel alone?
And the readings in the devotional each day keep pointing to the fact that there is meaning behind all suffering.
Will I get to skip purgatory? Is God stripping my selfishness down so He can build up something better? Am I helping my kids get through something in the future (God is outside of time)? Maybe its some unknown stranger that’s benefiting from me offering it up?
Suffering is never pointless and sometimes we won’t see the fruit of it till we get to Heaven.
And on the days when I feel like I’m going to crumble under the weight of the suffering, the devotional for the day would point right back to Christ giving us the strength.
So with that, I have to say I hope 2018 doesn’t require quite so much surrendering. How was your Advent? Have you figured out how to suffer gracefully?