Archive for June, 2012

English: A sleeping male baby with his arm ext...

English: A sleeping male baby with his arm extended (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other day, my colleague and I were sharing the joys and troubles of being working moms. I mentioned that I often feel guilty because when I had hg, my husband took over pretty much all of the housework. Since the baby has come, he has continued to help. It was then that my friend said something amazing: “Gee, instead of feeling guilty, why don’t you be grateful for all he’s doing.” It’s not often that my mind is blown, but her words really hit home.

I’m not sure why, but it seems as if we women accept the guilt card way too much. When I fell sick, I was faced with limitations for the first time in my life. The guilt I felt for not being able to do something as simple as put dishes in the dishwater was overwhelming. How I wish I would have let that go. Feeling guilty did absolutely nothing to improve my condition;  in fact, I bet it made things worse.

So today, let me encourage you: when you’re feeling guilty, remember that your first priority is to take care of yourself. In doing so, you’re taking care of your unborn child. Release the guilt. Feeling guilty does nothing, but feeling grateful can make all the difference in the world.

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Patriotic Comic

Got your attention, didn’t it? I stumbled upon this comic on Pinterest this evening. What a poignant and meaningful depiction of the sacrifices our soldiers have made for our freedom.

While you’re not in a military conflict, you are sacrificing yourself each day you carry a child in your belly. How much is this costing you? I know many women who have lost their jobs as a result of having hg. I know even more women who have suffered strained relationships with their significant others and family members, too. The effects of hg are not limited to the physical and mental. They reach out like tentacles, grasping even the miniscule in our lives.

When I had this condition, I often asked myself “is this worth it?” Is the all of the physical pain, the mental anguish, the strained relationships, the job that asked me to work while I was on short-term disability… is it worth it? As a first-time mother I couldn’t comprehend the joy having a child would bring. I simply knew that I was miserable, that I felt like I was dying, and that there was nothing in the world that could take the illness away except giving birth.

The price my husband and I paid for our child was high. Was it worth it? Definitely. Would I do it all over again to have my child? Without hesitation. That doesn’t mean that being pregnant with hg wasn’t the most difficult, and miserable experience of my life. It just means that enduring months of misery was worth the joy of having my child.

Reading my words won’t make it better. There is nothing I can say to take away the nausea, hypersalivation, or dehydration. But I can encourage you. When you’re in pain, when you’re miserable, when you’re counting the cost… know that your child is worth all of the suffering (and more). You may not feel it now, you may  not see it now. But that is the truth, and the moment you hold your child in your arms is the moment that you’ll know: it is worth the cost.

stressed and worried

stressed and worried (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By the time I was 30 weeks pregnant, I had a long list of pregnancy-related conditions: gestational diabetes, sciatica, carpal tunnel, tarsal tunnel, polyhydraminios… the list goes on. That was on top of the hyperemesis gravidarum.

I’ve always been a worrier. That’s just part of who I am. Yet the worry that plagued my mind while I was pregnant threatened to drown me. My counselor, a Godsend of a woman who helped me survive this difficult pregnancy, shared some advice that I’ve taken to heart and apply to my life every day: Deal with things in small chunks. For example: don’t worry about the baby blues when you’re pregnant. If they come, deal with them then. Deal with what you need to now and wait until you’re in the future to face problems that might arise.

This strategy requires a lot of work. It made me constantly assess my situation each time I started to worry. Here’s my thought process: I feel terrible. I can’t imagine what’s going to happen with my job when the baby comes. (Worry sets in. I realize that I’m allowing myself to fret, so I stop and guide myself). What’s going on right now?  (I’m feeling pretty sick.) Am I okay? (All things considered, yes.) The future is freaking me out, I’m worried about (insert scary thing here), but it hasn’t happened yet. It may never happen. Right now, everything is okay. (I take a deep breath) I may be nauseous beyond all reason, but the baby is doing well, I’m alive, I have food, shelter, and clothing. It stinks that I’m sick, but I’m alive, safe, and will soon experience incredible joy. This moment is okay. And it’s one less moment I have to feel sick.

Sometimes, this process is time-consuming and tedious. Sometimes, this process leads me to the realization that things really aren’t okay, and that’s part of life. But mostly, this process gives my brain a little vacation by releasing the stress associated with worry. Try it, and let me know if it works for you by posting a comment below.

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Feelin’ blue

Posted: June 7, 2012 in Survival Strategy

This isn’t the way it was supposed to be. You were supposed to glow, to shine, and to have a pregnancy filled with little moments of joy. Instead, you’re on your knees in front of the toilet most of the day, wishing that you could delivery the baby six months early.

It all comes down to expectations sometimes, and an hg pregnancy is no exception. So how do you deal with the overwhelming sorrow that comes with having a less-than happy (and healthy) pregnancy?

Step one: Look at the good in your life. Look at what you do have right now- a child that’s safe and probably pretty healthy (remember, most hg babies are very healthy). What else do you have? Make a list.

Step two: Accept the situation. I don’t mean that you should stop hoping things get better or that you should avoid trying to find medical solutions that might help. I mean that you should accept that you’re sick, and that your pregnancy isn’t going to be what you had hoped it would be. That’s okay. It may not be happy, but it will be okay.

Step three: Fight. When you feel the sadness descend, reach toward something positive. Don’t allow yourself to fall down into the cliched, but very real, pit of despair. Fight hard. Feeling blue won’t make your nausea go away.

What do you do to fight the blues? Help out others by posting a comment below.

Scrabble

Scrabble (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you have hg it’s hard to find something to distract you from the constant nausea. Watching tv doesn’t work– food commercials make you sick and the motion from most shows increases the nausea. Reading is out– you’re too tired from antiemetic medication and the act of reading gives you a headache, which affects the nausea. Your whole existence is weighted by the extreme morning sickness that most pregnant women experience for a little but that you struggle with all day, every day.

How do you distract yourself? Here are a few things to try:

1.) Paint by number kit: you can do it sitting down, and it requires a lot of concentration.

2.) A good, old-fashioned puzzle might do the trick.

3.) Books on cd/ipod: when I was really sick, one of my local librarians actually dropped off items at my house! (Audra rocks, by the way)

4.) An online game that doesn’t have a lot of fast movement like Texttwist or Scrabble.

5.) It may sound boring, but was fascinating for me: watching the birds outside my window. They have such personalities!

6.) Journaling can help your mental struggle, too.

7.) Scrapbooking: can be done sitting down, and involves critical thinking and creativity.

8.) Meditating: I haven’t done this (my mind darts from one thing to the next too much), but some women I know have found it helps to get quiet and think/pray.

9.) Talking: On the phone or in person.

10.) Color: It sounds silly, but it can be really fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

English: This tree was destroying by beaver. L...

English: This tree was destroying by beaver. Location Norway. The tree was 20–25 cm thick. Svenska: Bäver som gnagt av en björk vid en liten älv i Norge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As my husband and I strolled through a state park near Sturbridge, Massachutes yesterday, we noticed a beaver dam. The dam was near the edge of a tiny pool of water fed by a lake. Along the edges of the dam were trees that had been chewed through by the powerful teeth of some very determined beavers. Some of the trees were over ten inches in diameter, can you image trying to eat through a tree that wide? It struck me that it must have taken a lot of work for such a tiny creature to have felled these big trees, and then my brain made a connection: surviving hg is just like chewing through a tree.

Stick with me here: The tiny beaver needs the tree to survive. So it chews, and chews, and chews, chipping away at the tree until it falls. The task can’t be much fun, but is so part of their daily existence that they must instinctually keep at it. Surviving hg requires a similar process. We’re facing a huge challenge: months and months of nausea, exhaustion, constipation, dehydration, and vomiting. It’s impossible to tackle this challenge all at once. In order to survive, we must face it a little at a time.

That may mean forcing your mind to stop worrying about the upcoming glucose tolerance test, ultrasound, or blood draw. At times, putting worry out of our minds seems impossible, but breaking a huge obstacle into smaller pieces can make that obstacle seem manageable.

The next time you catch yourself drowning in worry, asking “how am I going to survive this pregnancy?” remember the beaver. He’s facing a huge tree. How will he cut it down? By chewing on it a little at a time. His teeth are used to the work; they’re razor-sharp from years of practice.

Get to work.

P.S. How do you tackle overwhelming circumstances? Share your strategies by posting a comment below.

Weight Loss Progress

Weight Loss Progress (Photo credit: Lexinatrix)

It could be worse. That’s what people say. Sure, you’re experiencing unrelenting nausea that’s more painful than food poisoning and the stomach flu combined. Sure, you can’t drink any liquids or eat any food without having it come back up. But hey, you could have leprosy, or shingles, or even cancer, right? Yes, it could be worse. But for some reason, knowing that things could be worse doesn’t always help us feel better, does it?

When you hear that, and you will hear it often, it’s okay to bristle inside. One of the most hurtful things I heard when I had hg was how great it would be after I had the baby because I wouldn’t have to worry about losing weight. No matter that I was losing two to five pounds a week, was terrified that my baby wasn’t getting nourished and felt that I was going to die– I should be happy because I was losing weight and hey, it could be worse!

Here’s what to do when you hear that phrase: allow yourself to feel upset for a moment or two. Then, do the best you can to turn your energy in another direction. Stressing about how people don’t understand what you’re going through won’t affect anyone but yourself. Give a tiny nod of acknowledgment toward the person who said “it could be worse, at least you don’t have (fill in the blank)” because s/he is probably trying to make you feel better. And then move on. Dwelling on things like this won’t help you feel better.

P.S. What things are the people in your life saying to encourage you? Share how you feel by posting a comment below.