I’ll never forget being 7 weeks pregnant with my third son when a friend gently and lovingly reminded me that I needed to rejoice in my pregnancy. I did not take it well. When she asked me how I felt, I responded that I felt horrible. She looked at me and said, “Well, try and keep a good attitude about it. Because you are blessed.”
I was not enjoying pregnancy. I could barely step foot near food without gagging. I fought bouts of puking every other hour. I felt so exhausted and desperate as I struggled through my workday. I did not want to be told how lucky I was. Instead, I wanted empathy for how sick I felt. But I have to admit, I couldn’t stop thinking about her words for the following few weeks. Little did I know, my friend’s sister had just lost her second baby to miscarriage.
Finding Joy in Pregnancy (Even When It’s Hard)
When I am pregnant, I like to kid that the only thing I enjoy about being pregnant is that I get a baby. And that alone brings me joy when fighting nausea during the first part of my pregnancies. And swollen and unrecognizable in the latter half. While some women feel beautiful and glowing while pregnant, I feel the opposite. I gain tons of weight, experience back pain, and have many other discomforts and unpleasant symptoms that I will leave to your imagination. But they are not glamorous. And they make it very hard to rejoice in my pregnancy.
However, I’m also aware that my pregnancy trials are nothing compared to some of my friends and acquaintances’ experiences. I’ve had friends who threw up every day of their pregnancy until delivery. Friends that lost 35 pounds due to extreme nausea. Girlfriends that were hospitalized to receive IVs because of their dehydration from illness. And friends who were on bed rest from 14 weeks on while trying to raise other children.
These stories and experiences prove that pregnancy can be incredibly difficult for many women. And it seems unfair to tell these women to be grateful when they are sick in the hospital receiving IV fluids. But this brings up two important questions for women to consider from both sides of the pregnancy experience.
Questions to Consider
- Does a woman verbalizing the difficulty of her pregnancy unknowingly disrespect those who so desire to be in her shoes?
- And if it does, is it right for this woman to feel guilty when she admits she is not enjoying her pregnancy?
It seems many women wanting to get pregnant and struggling to do so find it hard to be around pregnant women, let alone those struggling to rejoice in their pregnancy. While a pregnant woman may assume she knows to whom she can complain, many women experiencing infertility stay silent about their struggle but grieve nonetheless.
So, “What is the best way for a mom to rejoice in her blessing, acknowledge her difficulties without guilt, but be sensitive to those who want to be pregnant around her?” I think remembering the experience of those on the other side is the best place to start.
Your Experiences Don’t Always Match Others’
First, do not assume the woman you are talking to does not want a baby herself. However, do not feel that saying you are having a hard time means you are not grateful or that you should know she is trying to conceive. You are not a mind reader.
Your Struggle Has an End in Sight
Secondly, remember you have a right to acknowledge your pain, too. But in doing that, try to keep gratitude close by when at all possible. Because while pregnancy may have a set amount of time of uncomfortable symptoms, there is an end in sight that gives you a BABY! But with infertility and miscarriage, there is no end to the pain or understanding of the struggle they are experiencing. And that reality is hard.
For strength in staying positive while feeling so sick, I recommend separating your symptoms from your baby. Simple pregnancy affirmations and statements like, “I feel sick, but I know that my sickness means a baby is growing inside me.” Or “I feel fat, but I’m grateful my body is making room for the new life inside me.” These statements help keep you positive as you find yourself over the toilet each morning or night.
The more we train our minds to think positive thoughts, the more we begin to feel them! And that can help when we feel less than in love with our pregnant selves.