Yes, that’s right: we found out recently that we are expecting our seventh baby! I’m pregnant again, and feeling both joyful . . . and miserable. How am I dealing with this sensitive early stage and all that comes with it?
First of all, I’m treating this as if I were going through an illness. Not that pregnancy is not normal; it is, and we shouldn’t think of this natural process as a medical anomaly requiring serious medical intervention (except in rare and extreme cases). Pregnancy and birth are part of God’s design for the continuation of human life, much the same as His design for fruit trees is for them to bear seeds inside their fruit, or for flower blossoms to release their seeds into the wind. It’s as much a part of normal life as breathing and digestion — with this one HUGE exception: a baby is more than fruit and flowers, breath and food — a baby is a unique, new person with an eternal soul! So, there is a spiritual dimension involved that is lacking in all other natural processes. However, in order to maintain a healthy and respectful cushion around this time, I feel like the best way to deal with it is to treat it as if it were not normal life. I feel like I need to explain further.
When we have a stomach bug, for example, everyone — including ourselves — understands that we are not to be expected to do most of the things we would normally do. We allow ourselves a lot more slack. So, we don’t cook, we don’t go on outings, we don’t get dressed, we don’t even get out of bed some of the time! However, we tend to think of pregnancy as something we just need to deal with and not let it interfere with our routines. We feel that if we do let it interfere, we are somehow weak and lazy. Frankly, I’m tired of trying to be stronger than I’m capable of being! Because the truth is, as normal as pregnancy is, it is also very hard. It is sometimes like having a constant stomach bug — for weeks or months on end!
Obviously, when we have the flu we know it will likely only last a week or two at most; so, we feel we are able to allow ourselves the extravagance of doing nothing during that time while we recover. But, pregnancy lasts nine months: will we really do “nothing” for that length of time? (besides growing a new human being in our womb . . . ) The truth is, we most likely will get the necessary things done (eventually), since pregnancy progresses through stages and is not always one blob of the same thing all the way through. We shouldn’t rush ourselves at the beginning; at least for me, it’s usually the worst part (though it’s never been easy at any point). But, if we are going to be able to deal with symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, extreme tiredness, abdominal bloating and cramping, etc. my opinion is that we need to give ourselves the space to be able to do so. Therefore, the “cushion.”
This cushion insulates us from the regular demands of life that we, in the super sensitive state we find ourselves in during pregnancy, can sometimes feel to be overwhelming.
- Cooking? I don’t do much of it; rather, I direct. I tell my older children and/or my husband what I have planned for dinner, and how I want it made. It’s almost always something very easy that they already know how to make. Then, I often eat it in my room, where I can be away from the “heavy, oppressive” kitchen smells.
- Chores? That’s what a chore list is for. My children know what they have to do, and I simply remind them to do it.
- Showers? Getting dressed? Just as if I were sick, I don’t worry too much about it. I let my kids stay in pajamas, too. I lay down when I need to, as long as I need to. Everybody knows not to expect me to go anywhere or do anything. I go to bed early.
- I let my kids watch more movies than usual, and I don’t always stick to our school schedule. For example, today we watched an intriguing movie about Noah’s ark from Answers in Genesis. After discussing it, I laid out the table work for my two middle children (ages 7 and 5) and assigned my two older children (ages 13 and 11) to help each one. Then, they were expected to attend to their own work. All the while, the littlest children played. And it went pretty well!
Allowing myself to relax in this way helps lessen the stress and increase my overall stamina. After all, this time should be beautiful, too, and I want to be able to enjoy it — if at all possible!
Here are a few more things I’m doing to get through this period:
- Eating snacks every 2 hours, or less. These snacks usually contain some form of protein, such as cheese, Greek yogurt, ham, or peanut butter. I make sure to eat something before I get out of bed in the morning (my husband usually prepares this for me). Since I’m having trouble making it through the night without my stomach gurgling like crazy, I plan on getting myself some snacks to take to bed with me; I have some chocolate protein bars that might be good for this. [Scratch this–I decided I don’t like protein bars. I think I’ll try mixed nuts instead.]
- Drinking kefir milk (a fermented milk) to help with gut health.
- Sipping water instead of gulping it down. Last night, I made hibiscus tea, and it was great cold! I also like to sip other teas, hot. [Water with Apple Cider Vinegar, and diluted kombucha tea are also good, and I think have helped me not have quite as much nausea?]
- Reading a lot. I find that reading books — especially while eating — distracts my mind from the nausea and decreases the feeling of “sensory overload” in general.
- Inhaling lemon, orange, Citrus Fresh, or Peace & Calming Essential Oils. I hold the bottle in front of my chest and take several, easy breaths. This can be so refreshing! It provides a temporary relief from all the other smells, while at the same time giving me a little emotional boost (and an immune boost, too). Contact me if you’d like to find out more!
I also want to order myself more of Young Living’s antioxidant, nutrient rich Ningxia Red drink, which is delicious and full of berries, including the superfood wolfberry. Another item I’ll be adding to my order is their Protein Complete shake mix, which comes in both vanilla and chocolate flavors. I’m so excited to see how their products might help me throughout pregnancy and birth! (with caution, of course).
One last but important point I’d like to tack onto the end of this post is that though I am not actually ill, I am very sensitive, both physically and emotionally. I believe that’s partly why the Bible calls women the “weaker vessel” when compared to men. It’s also why we need what I have referred to as a cushion — a protective barrier to guard us from the harsher elements of life that this vulnerable condition does not permit us to handle as well as we usually would. This includes relationships and other sorts of stressors, too.
I’ve been wondering lately why Elizabeth hid herself for five months after she became pregnant with John the Baptist (Luke 1:24-25). Was it because that was normal for their culture? Was it because she wanted to spend that time in prayer, thanksgiving, and communion with God, Who had enabled her to miraculously conceive in her old age? Was it to escape all the questions she was sure people would be asking about her husband Zacharias’ vision in the temple? Was it because she just felt plain terrible? Why?
Whatever the reason, it seems to me a good idea! For this time truly is special and deserves to be handled with awe, reverence, and much intimate communion with God, the Creator of all new babies.