I Hate My Pregnancy
Have you experienced it?
The constant, relentless nausea. It keeps you up tossing and turning, it wakes you suddenly if you even managed to fall asleep in the first place. That feeling, a rock lodged in your stomach, forcing its way up to your throat is your unwanted companion for days that turn into weeks, then months. It feels different for everyone but it’s the same general awfulness. Incessant. Misery.
It’s part of many women’s first moments of motherhood, this gross and maddening sickness that makes you feel as if your body has betrayed you, makes you feel destroyed when you are actually creating something magnificent.
A sesame seed, a blueberry, a jelly bean turns into a lime sized bundle of new limbs and organs and life. Each moment of growth is painful.
It should feel glorious but for some women it is hell. It is prison inside your own skin and you want to love, to cherish and look forward but you dwell in this state of disgust. You lack nourishment of not only body but mind and spirit. It can break you and isolate you. It can turn something that should be exciting and happy into something that you wish had never happened in the first place.
My first pregnancy I had the dreaded sickness seep in around eight weeks. I was a little tired, and then I was feeling kind of strange, and then I was throwing up. It lasted a bit beyond the suggested amount of time, until about sixteen weeks. At that point I was working full time, taking graduate classes and wading through the murkiness of nausea with jolly ranchers and pretzels. I ate whole lemons and kept a bag of salt in my desk to sneak little pinches like some kind of drug. Eventually, it faded and life went on as usual aside from my ever growing belly.
This second pregnancy has been a whole different world. I was nauseated before I could even get a positive pregnancy test. I had the x-men level sense of smell and everything smelled awful to me. Especially my bedroom. And my child’s breath. While I looked like hot garbage during my first pregnancy I could still function as a semi normal human being, and after the sickness passed I was pretty and glowing. With this growing bundle of love I was so ill for months I became depressed, dehydrated and broken. No glowing to be found.
I thought “I don’t want this” as my body dented the couch for months, with no clear end in sight. I thought the words and even whispered them out loud, and worst of all, I meant them. I felt intense guilt thinking such thoughts even though I felt them quite fiercely. I told my husband, in my darkest moments, if it all ended right now I would be fine with it and never want to attempt this again. The enormity of my words made me feel ashamed and weak. I constantly googled “when will pregnancy nausea end?” and as each suggested week passed with little to no change I sank deeper into my despair.
My doctor doesn’t see pregnant patients until twelve weeks but I was told to call with any issues. I called, many times, and they started me on different medications. I felt the nagging inner voice, a constant in my subconscious even to this day “how could you take medication? What about your baby? Why can’t you tough it out? Other women have it harder, what’s wrong with you? Why are you so pathetic?” I annoyed my online mom group with questions and received so many suggestions and assertions of what absolutely worked and what didn’t. I finally sat in the hospital, shaking, while I was administered anti nausea medication and fluids via IV, crying because this is not how I ever envisioned a second pregnancy. The reality is our bodies are all different. Our pregnancies are different. Not everything works for every person. You can google the definitive end of pregnancy nausea and sickness as much as you like but no one can tell you when yours will end. That struggle is yours alone.
Any pregnant woman who has experienced any level of morning (actually, it can be ALL DAY) sickness) gets plenty of advice from other women, whether you ask for it or not. But let’s be real. Crackers? You think I didn’t try crackers? Excuse my snarkiness (thought I’ll hide it because I know you mean well) but don’t you think I have tried everything to help myself feel better? I can google quite well. But annoyed or not, you do take any advice and try everything, because sometimes women have ideas, beyond crackers and ginger ale, that you and google didn’t think about. Of course, the joy of pregnancy means things that worked my first pregnancy didn’t work with this one so I had to explore all options.
The biggest problem with seeking advice is sometimes you will get blunt, real and honest answers. When you are searching for hope, wanting other women of the world to tell you it will all be okay, you should stay away from the online bitch fest. Every forum and group has plenty of women willing to share the worst of the worst. And that’s where it gets tricky. I never want to diminish another woman's experience. I felt my experience was dismissed sometimes when a hopefully well intentioned person said they never experienced morning sickness or never heard of morning sickness that lasted beyond the first trimester. It is disheartening when you are hoping for an end and come across the straightforward “I was sick the whole nine months and then even a month after!” It’s like...hope, just vanished.
So I sat, motionless, with zero hope and piled upon guilt. More guilt set in when I caught myself constantly complaining and wanting this to end, knowing other women struggle and suffer with infertility and other far more serious ailments in pregnancy. I felt ashamed for being so miserable and self-pitying when all indicators were saying this pregnancy is healthy and thriving. I’ve said it many times, I am not a robot. I’m not programmed to just shut off all my emotions. I think there is a difference between being sensitive to others and simply being insensitive.
My official diagnosis: mild hyperemesis gravidarum. Mild. Seeing that word on my charts made me feel even more worthless, knowing there is a wider range of horrible for this illness and my version is the lighter kind. A wisp of gray clouds on a rainy day versus a raging hurricane.
As I write this post I am currently a little over halfway through my pregnancy. My anti nausea medication got me through four plus months but despite its name, never took away my nausea. I’m still nauseated off and on but I am doing better. I am not completely myself and I still cry sometimes when I feel unwell. I cry for my dark thoughts, my lack of joy, my having to pretend to everyone who tells me they are glad I’m feeling better, I cry about my forced smile in bump pictures I feel obligated to take because I took them with my first child. I cry for a lost season of holidays with my first born, for lost moments of being a family of three before it all changes. I cry for the times I couldn’t hold him or kiss his sweet little boy face because I was so sick I could not even stand his normally calming scent. I cry because I want this and I don’t want it at the same time. I cry because of course I want this and how could I even think I don’t. The guilt is debilitating. I’m already a mom so I can cling to the faith that when I see my sweet, new baby boy this will all have passed. Logically, I know my love will grow with this pregnancy. When he joins our family my hope will renew and all I will see, all I will feel, is love as the pain fades away. A friend reminded me, this is a season. It will pass. It is a dark season and I’m begging for the light.
If you’re there right now, crying in the darkness, please remember...
There is hope. The light is there, filtering through. Everyone’s story is different and each pathway of pregnancy is unique. I know how hard it is, this season. You’ll make it through the constant nausea and pain to another constant: unrelenting, forever love.