It’s official: I’m pregnant again. Baby number 2 (a boy) is due at the end of June. I love him already and cannot wait to hold him, snuggle him, and study him. I’m looking forward to enjoying those moments that I forgot to enjoy with Ella: the sleeping baby on my chest; the sleeping baby everywhere we go; the ease of feeding the baby anytime, anyplace – because the food supply is attached to me.
But heck if this boy isn’t trying to kill me before then.
I found out I was pregnant on October 16th. Within about 2 weeks, the nausea started. Whoever came up with the word “morning sickness” is on crack. I was sick all day, even in the middle of the night. I would wake up feeling like I was going to throw up… But I wouldn’t. I never did barf, and I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than if I had just gotten it over with. Instead, the nausea lasted about 6 weeks, with very little reprieve. Wandering around the house with a barf bowl, chasing my toddler and changing her (very smelly) diapers while gagging… These aren’t the glamorous moments of motherhood that I pictured when I was young. I am supposed to be the beautiful, glowing pregnant woman who nests and has energy and wears adorable maternity clothes.
Oh yeah – maternity clothes. I was in full maternity wear by the time I was 10 weeks along. My stomach has popped so much, in fact, that my belly button resembles a pig’s snout – and has resembled that beautiful specimen for about a month now. My daughter likes to push it like a button, and then giggle. Ok, usually I giggle too.
November is when the real fun began. In short, we visited the ER or Urgent Care 4 times in 1 month – twice for our daughter and twice for me. My daughter had a stomach flu, a cold, her first ear infection ever, and hand foot and mouth virus – all within one month. I caught her stomach flu, then wrapped it up with a cold that turned into bronchitis that caused me to separate a rib (yes, seriously). While I was under Doctor’s orders not to bend, twist, sneeze, cough, or lift anything (including my darling girl), I developed paralyzing sciatic pain. Sciatic pain originates from a nerve that comes out of the spinal cord and runs down both sides of your butt, down your legs, and into your toes. The pain can be constant and dull, sharp and searing, or tingling and sore. Or all of the above (check!). So, to review: coughing, separated rib, sciatic pain. The coughing slowly dissipated, but my pains remained. I developed another cold a few weeks later, and as that was wrapping up began experiencing light-headedness. I had a couple bad mornings where I laid on the couch while my child destroyed the house, but then I convinced myself that I was being a wimp and dramatic and lazy and needed to suck it up and get on with my life. “Good for you!” you say? Wrong. I blacked out in the checkout lane at the grocery store. Mike had to come home from work early, I made a doctor’s appointment, and we are now awaiting test results to figure out why I am falling apart.
I have had approximately 14 copays, 2 blood draws, 4 debuts in hospital gowns, 2 bouts of narcotics, and additional bills from providers whose care was not fully covered by our insurance (like the ER) – all in the span of less than 2 months. Amidst all of this, we also traveled to Florida and spent the holidays with both sides of our family, returning by plane with a screaming toddler (which is how I discovered she had sores covering the insides of her mouth).
Make no mistake about it: I am not faring well. The stress, the illness, the pain, and the lack of sleep (due to pain or worry) have not made me a better person. At least not on the outside. My skin is rough and uneven, my eyes sunken with dark circles, my hair wiry and undone. My days are not spent beautifying myself or my house – the dust bunnies are organizing an attack, the laundry has morphed into a monster beyond control, and the dishes keep piling up like they’re staging a Beauty-and-the-Beast-esque dance number. I use my energy to lay on the floor to keep from fainting, lift Ella into and out of her crib, high chair, car seat, and various other necessities. I’m a mess and I know it. I look terrible, feel terrible, and I am unable to do anything to change that – just survive.
But God has sustained me. Even in the moments when I thought I would puke up my toes, or the pain has been so bad I have cried, or the light-headedness has become so strong that I’ve laid on my daughter’s floor to keep from falling… He has sustained me even when it doesn’t feel like it. Because here I am: proof that He’s still got me in his big old Papa hands.
And He has given me gifts, like friends who come at a moment’s notice to babysit me in case I faint, who run to the grocery store (yes, on foot) to rescue me while my head is still between my knees, who come over bearing snacks and clean my house and care for my child. Who pray for me, hug me, and take care of me – even after 2 months of doing so. They are cheerful, loving, and encouraging.
He has given me family who cheerfully cared for Ella while I was in Florida and unable to lift her. Who have prayed for me, checked in on me, worried about me.
And He gave me Mike. My strong, patient husband. Who has done dishes, laundry, sweeping, vacuuming, cooking, and caring for Ella, including baths, bedtime, and meals. He has worked full time, traveled to the West Coast several times, volunteered at church, and still has energy to take care of me and our child.
Not only that, but he turns to me in bed every night and whispers “I love you.” Then he holds my hand like I am the most beautiful, glowing, vibrant woman in the world. We lay there, facing each other, haggard me and handsome him, and we fall asleep.