When I was in MN for a day, my first college roomie, Ashley, known to us all as "Parker" dropped by for a few minutes and we swapped pregnancy talk. We're due about a day apart (her first, my fourth) and we've both been really sick.
I've talked about how Morning, Noon, and Night sickness can feel like a never-ending tunnel. Many women suffering from it find themselves depressed and despondent. If people think it's rough having a 2-day stomach flu, you can imagine how much harder it is to cope emotionally when it's a 60 or 200-day bout of nausea during pregnancy.
I truly want to help those of you who are suffering with sickness. I want you to know that I am here to listen and to pray if you find yourself in this situation. Please leave your e-mail in the comments or contact me on facebook if you are at the end of your rope and need some encouragement in getting through. I'd love to help you!!!
I am hoping to be done with the nausea soon. I've stopped taking my Unisom most nights now and am not throwing up or gagging much anymore. I still feel very nauseous at night, but have hope that soon that will end. Sometimes I feel like this 4th kid really has it in for me as I was feeling better by 13 weeks with the others and this has lasted 3 weeks longer.
How to Survive Morning, Noon, and Night Sickness Emotionally
1. Find a buddy who has been there, and preferrably someone who IS there with you. While it's always fun to talk to fellow preggies, it's important that you have someone in your corner who really understands the relentless sickness. Otherwise, you may find yourself resenting your friends who are glowing and "have never felt better than while pregnant" and they may feel that you are just a whiner or complainer. I have been so blessed to go through two pregnancies with my friend Lesley and to have her still encouraging me through this fourth one even though she isn't pregnant right now. I know about 40 women having babies this year (crazy!) and a few of them, including Parker, have been able to swap morning, noon, and night sickness tips with me through it.
2. When you find a buddy who is there with you, ask them to pray for you frequently and swap weekly calls or e-mails to keep you on track.
3. Look for ways to help others in the midst of your distress. Pray for those who are struggling with cancer and chemo and facing similar nausea. Send a card to someone who is more sick than you are. Get involved in a project to feed the hungry or clothe the homeless. This really can help lift your spirits when you feel down.
4. Read books and verses on suffering and listen to sermons geared toward those who are in the midst of trials and suffering.
5. Comfort tactics--in a previous post in this series I talked about comfort foods. But beyond the food department, look for things that have a soothing effect on you. Praise music, or gentle instrumental music really lifts my mood and helps the nausea feel more bearable. Buy some pretty flowers to brighten the kitchen table, look at neat photography, light scented candles, watch a favorite movie, snuggle in a microplush blanket, take a hot bath every night (yes, I know you have to be careful about hot water in pregnancy and I exercise my common sense here), etc.
6. Distract yourself. Stay busy, but not too busy. Don't try to do so much you are overly exhausted, as this will cause even more nausea. But laying around without a plan or places to go can cause you to feel worse. Stay moderately busy. I try to plan one errand or playdate per day so that I am getting out of the house and the kids are getting some exercise at the park or something fun to do (library, ballet, soccer, etc.) In the evenings, when I have felt the sickest, sometimes it has been hard to read a book or even surf the net so in those most-intense months of sickness I have watched lots of old movies from the library or watched Lost to help pass the time and distract me.
7. Don't make major plans or decisions while in the throes of sickness. Also, don't invite company over. We love to have Sunday lunch guests over but when I'm in the first trimester, my rule of thumb is NO COMPANY! I don't have energy to clean, I can't bear to cook, and I'm gagging all the time so this season of life is not conducive to hosting a meal. If you must host a meal, get hubby to help with the cleaning up, order pizza, and don't worry what other people think, after all...they understand that you are in a difficult season of life. As much as you will be tempted to sign your husband up for surgery during morning, noon, and night sickness, do not make a major decision like this until you have had time to process it further and are not throwing up daily. In so far as you are able, don't switch careers, move, start a business, start homeschooling, or go on a major vacation while you are in the first trimester.
8. Know that the Lord walks with you on this difficult journey. I have been so encouraged by my SEEDS Courage CD and by reading in the Psalms. When I have been at the end of my rope emotionally and have prayed for help from God, He has supplied. I've shared how various sweet ladies at church have blessed us with treats or meals. He does care and will give the strength you need to make it through each day.
9. Take time to look at your sleeping babies at night or go through their baby albums. If you don't have kids yet, borrow a friend's baby for a while. I nearly break down crying when I hold a newborn during my first trimester. It feels like therapy, and it helps me to keep my focus on the reward at the end of all this sickness.
10. Give yourself lots of grace. Don't expect yourself to keep a clean home and don't beat yourself up when you end up feeding your kids Dominos 30% of the time or letting them watch some extra movies. Don't assume that because you feel lazy and unproductive that you have always been this way and always will be. Your body is working as hard as it would be to run a marathon or climb mountains all day as it builds a little person with functioning organs and systems, so even if you lay around all day, you are working hard! Expect to be tired and less productive and focus on surviving, not keeping a perfect house and being the perfect mom, which you couldn't attain anyway, even if you weren't pregnant!
A final thought: For those of you who have gone through bad morning sickness, consider using your experience to help others. Look for gals in your church, neighborhood, or moms' group who are really suffering and share your tips, take a meal, babysit their kids, etc. I've told you how Elizabeth and Jenny really blessed me and I hope to carry that on and do the same for others in the same situation. I hope for the rest of my life that I can be a source of strength and help for those women who suffer from intense nausea.
So....what if you are one of those very blessed women who doesn't get nauseous and isn't sure how to help your friends who do get sick? Here are some ideas:
1. Ask how they're feeling and sympathize as best as you can and avoid mentioning that you felt great while pregnant.
2. Bring a meal by. Don't just offer, just jump in and do it! It's okay to find out what sounds good and what day would be most convenient but make sure you follow through if you offer.
3. Put together a bag of treats of things that are sour or known to help with morning sickness like my friend Jenny did. Pickles, lemon stuff, cinnamon gum, green apples, etc. are usually good options.
4. Share things that you didn't end up using because you didn't get sick. I have a friend who bought Preggie Pops and B-Natals, but didn't end up needing them and she generously shared them with me.
5. Invite your friend to do things with you. It has been a blessing to be able to look forward to a picnic at the park, a swimming playdate, or just a ladies' night out when I have been sick. Don't assume because they are sick that they want to stay home for two months. Treat them normally and love them anyway when they barf in front of you.
6. Share this blog thread with them and look for articles and books that might be of interest to them.
7. A little card or surprise is always fun. Try buying them a good-smelling item, like lotion from Bath n' Body Works, lavender or eucalyptus soap, or a quality candle or a reed diffuser or potpourri.