“Pregnancy agrees with you, you’re absolutely glowing!” a sweet lady at my church smiled up at me and reached to put her arms around my ever growing middle in an enthusiastic, albeit awkward embrace.
Little ol’ church ladies know just what to say to make you feel amazing, don’t they?
I smiled back at her, and because we’ve known each other a good long time, I responded, “I think that glow is actually sweat beads from trying not to throw up in the car on the way here.” She gave me that knowing look and just patted my back. “Well you look beautiful, sweetie,” she said, with a twinkle, and all the honesty of a civil-war era president.
I needed to hear those sweet words, because the truth was I didn’t feel beautiful. My body was undergoing physical changes at an impressive rate. Changes which, by the way, were not limited to curvier curves and pat-inducing baby bumps. I had acne that put sixteen year old Amanda’s acne to shame, and I hadn’t seen that many skin tags on one person since my Grandma passed away when I was eighteen.
My pregnancy was hard. And not just the “all things worth having are worth working for” kind of hard. It was more of a “maybe God didn’t let me get pregnant for so long for a reason” kind of hard.
It’s painful to type that. For most of my pregnancy I felt so much guilt about not enjoying the very earliest days of my long-awaited motherhood. After our long and tumultuous journey to conceiving, I felt obligated and so desired to soak up every blissful moment of being with child. But those blissful moments were elusive, and often I had to consciously choose joy and excitement.
Can you even imagine that? Four years of trying to conceive, thousands of dollars spent on fertility treatments, the stress and extreme discomfort of needles and procedures and recurring tests, and then the heartbreak of shattered dreams when we miscarried. Pregnancy after infertility is supposed to be this overwhelmingly exciting and joyous time! Even now it seems impossible to me that I had to strive so intentionally to choose joy and excitement over my pregnancy with Ezra.
Oh, there were definitely times of joyous excitement. When we found out with our family that the babe I carried was a little boy – my heart overflowed with anticipation and gladness. When we were showered with love and prayers and precious baby things to get us started as new parents, I was overcome with gratitude for the generosity bestowed to us. When my husband read story books to my belly and we could feel Ezra responding to his daddy’s voice my heart very nearly burst with excitement for the new little person joining our family. Watching my bear tummy move in waves as he moved and thump, thump, thump when he had the hiccups brought inexpressible joy.
Those moments are the ones that got me through my pregnancy. They seemed few and far between, but that kind of inexpressible joy has a way of overshadowing days and weeks of being miserable.
And there were many days that I felt so miserable that it seemed very nearly impossible to even anticipate the exhilarating adventure of parenthood that awaited us.
Morning sickness for me was all-day sickness that lasted almost until my third trimester. For months my husband balanced work, housekeeping, cooking, laundry, and caring for me as if he’d prepared his whole life for this pregnancy. He sat beside me, rubbed my back, and held my hair while I threw up, whispered softly in my ear how much he loved me, then cleaned up my disgusting mess as though it were his most sincere honor. God bless that man for serving me so well during my pregnancy. He truly epitomized what it means to be a servant leader.
A few weeks before I entered my third trimester I finally began to experience relief from the nausea and vomiting. I remember the relief I felt when I realized I’d gone almost two days without throwing up. I felt invigorated, as though I could conquer anything! It was refreshing to be able to function somewhat normally. I felt good. I was pregnant, I was happy, and I was ready to resume some semblance of normalcy. I began to embrace pregnancy and I learned I actually appreciated people asking about how I was feeling. I was feeling great!
At twenty-six weeks my hips and pelvis began to prepare for birthing time, spreading quite a bit earlier than normal. This resulted in almost three months of severe pain in my pelvis, hips, and pubic area. My ligaments were so loose that I could literally feel bone scraping on bone when I rolled over in bed. My body ached and it was hard for me
Because of the pelvic and hip pain I never really had a chance to “nest.” I spent the last weeks of my pregnancy in bed, on the couch, or in epsom salt baths seeking relief for my aching joints. Not only was Ezra’s nursery not finished when he was born, but it was barely started! And all that cleaning I was itching to do? It just didn’t happen.
After years of anticipation and countless prayers and tears, it was heartbreaking for me not to enjoy my pregnancy. I felt so much guilt.
Guilt over my lack of enthusiasm and excitement.
Guilt over how very little I accomplished around the house, and on my blog.
Guilt over being irritated by well-meaning expressions like “soak up every moment of pregnancy” and “just relax and enjoy your pregnancy!” because I didn’t feel like I really could.
Guilt over wondering how in the world I could actually do this again if God allows me to be pregnant again. Especially since I’ll have a precious child to care for.
Guilt over wanting to be left alone all the time, because I knew so many people were so happy and wanted to rejoice with me.
Mama guilt starts early. And It’s an arrow from the enemy sent to prick your heart just enough to distract you from what’s important.
Yes, my pregnancy was hard, it was so hard that I really didn’t enjoy it. And that’s okay. I endured. I held tightly to His promise to be strong when I am weak. But it was worth every unlovely moment and painful part of pregnancy to be able to become Ezra’s mama.
And there is no guilt in that.