Friday, September 9, 2011

Self-Reproach in Pregnancy

(Savannah's wardrobe! Thanks to her spoiling friends and family)
One of the things most commonly associated with pregnancy, along with cravings, morning sickness, and the growing belly – is the roller coaster of emotions that pregnancy brings.  I was expecting to become more emotional and a little more weepy (both of which have happened), but I have also been surprised by some of the other emotions I have experienced in the past six months. 
I expected to feel overly emotional – crying at commercials, sobbing through birth stories, and tearing up often for no reason (check, check, check!).  I was also prepared to feel a little more irritable and more easily annoyed.  Considering we’ve also thrown a cross-state move into the mix, I’ve done my best to keep my cool.
But there have been other emotions heightened by pregnancy that I wasn’t really expecting.  Things like intense fear and worry, overwhelming gratitude, and perhaps most surprisingly – guilt.
I have found that my pregnancy guilt has come mostly in two forms…
1. Guilt that I was able to get pregnant.
I have shared Our Journey to a Family of 3 on here before, so you already know that it wasn’t a walk in the park for me.  But even so, I can’t help but feel guilty that despite my wait, it wasn't nearly as long as so many other couples. Those who are trying to conceive soon realize that it doesn't really matter how long it has been, the feelings can, relatively, be the same. What does come with time are lessons to be learned and miracles to be seen. Could I just bare my soul to you and share a portion from my journal? I wrote this section the evening before we found out that I was pregnant. 
"Truth be told, my infertility is not about me. Personally. And sometimes, okay, A LOT of the times I'll console myself with a reality check. Dear Janene, You are a good woman. You love your husband and family. Heavenly father knew that you could handle this trial. He CHOSE you! It is hard. You can do hard things. Sometimes when you feel your blood boil and you want to scream at the top of your lungs, "Its NOT FAIR!" Its ok. Because it's not fair. Life is not fair. And that is what makes it all so beautiful! You are right, it would be far easier to have a body that works...ovulating and cyst free! But yours does not. And even though you are learning and growing so much because of it, sometimes the pain feels like it might suffocate you. But your infertility is not about you. It is not an attack of your character. It is not a punishment or something you have done. And it is not because you are incapable of being a great mother to many. You are not broken on accident. Heavenly Father did not skip over you because you were undeserving. You were not forgotten. Instead, he chose you out of the crowd, and precisely changed you to be the person you are. I believe He took you aside, put His arm around you, and with tears streaming down His very own face, knowing it would break your heart, asked if you could carry this burden. He promised you would never be alone. And He would bless you along the way! But, He would need to make you differently. Not to break you. But, to create miracles for your eyes to see. Every day! You were not stripped of the most sacred act of multiplying and replenishing to your hearts content, because you were not worth it to be made whole. You may feel broken...and forgotten... in your divine right of motherhood. But you were made from scratch! Everything you have been given, had been given by God. So, cry until your soul hurts. Because it is hard. But don't ever feel broken."
It can be so easy to forget the emotions that I have felt because of their intensity. I keep re-reading that entry and my heart is pricked in the most personal way as I remember that He was my continual, solid hope. Before pregnancy, I read a story from the Ensign called "Faith and Infertility." It was a tender article and I fell in love with an experience a woman had. She recalls a Sunday School lesson in which a bishopric member shared an important message about faith—one she’s clung to ever since. He said, “When someone has an ailment or an illness and they are healed as the result of a blessing, their faith is being strengthened. But for those who aren’t healed but continue faithful, their faith is being perfected. The first is a faith-promoting experience. The second is faith-perfecting.” 
Prior to getting pregnant, I shared my struggles with a few close friends, some of whom were struggling with similar issues.  When the time came to share my news, I felt uncomfortable and guilty telling them that my story would soon have a happy ending.  Most everyone I told reacted with nothing but love and support for me and amc.  But just as I had feared, I also felt some people start to pull away. 
I can’t say that I blame them.  I know the bittersweet ache to hear of other’s pregnancies while I was still having 60+ day cycles with no end or solution in sight.  I felt the same way.  But having struggled myself, and knowing how deeply it hurt to learn of each new pregnancy that wasn’t mine, it made me sick with guilt to think I was causing that feeling in others.
I don’t think there is any way to avoid these feelings on either side.  But because getting pregnant was not easy for me, I try very hard to be sensitive to others and not assume anything about anyone’s fertility or plans. I never ask friends with fertility struggles how their treatments are going – when they are ready to talk, they know I am there to either celebrate or cry together.
I feel so incredibly blessed to have been given the opportunity to grow a life inside of me.  And to be honest, I am thankful for the wait and worries that I endured, as it has made me realize that pregnancy truly is a miracle not to be taken for granted.  And for those reasons, I struggle with the other side of guilt…
2. Guilt that my pregnancy is far from perfect.
As someone who's most favorite things in life revolves around fitness, nutrition(--okay, you'd think I'd be a liar if you saw my baking), and health, I have always thought that I would be my most healthy self while pregnant.  I quickly learned that it is one thing to read/talk/learn about pregnancy, and it is an entirely different thing to physically experience it.
The first two weeks after finding out I was pregnant, I tracked my calorie/fat/prtein intake, gobbled down greens and fruits, ran on the elliptical and cycled on my road-bike.
And then the sickness hit, and left me feeling humbled and helpless.  It turns out I was not quite the superhero pregnant woman I thought I would be – instead I was throwing up every few hours, nauseous every waking hour, skipping my vitamins, keeping down around 700 calories a day (half of which being the day's choice of cereal), and exercise involved moving from the bedroom to the bathroom. 
Even now that I am feeling better, I have found that my body is entirely new, and can’t do all the things I had hoped it would do through pregnancy.  I’ve had to readjust my expectations for exercise, and come to terms with the fact that my appetite is much more limited than it used to be.
Even though I know that this is all normal, I still feel guilty.  Guilty for not running/cycling, when I know others have run through their entire pregnancies.  Guilty for not eating salads and greens, when I know how good they are for me and for the baby.  Guilty for not being able to offer my baby the perfect environment, after being so blessed to finally be able to conceive

So what does one do with all this guilt?  I am considering it to be one of my first lessons in parenting.  For as much as I wanted my pregnancy to be perfect, it isn’t.  And looking back, it was silly for me to ever think that it would be, as I am by no means perfect myself.
Pregnancy isn’t perfect, and parenting won’t be perfect.  I am going to question my decisions.  I am going to feel like I have failed at times.  I am going to make mistakes.
With all of the additional emotions (that I imagine will) come with parenting, I don’t need to continue to bog myself down with unnecessary guilt.  There is no reason to feel bad that I was able to get pregnant.  Instead, I will continue to simply feel forever grateful for the gift inside of me.  And I’m going to stop worrying about what I should be doing, and focus instead on what feels right.
I wished for so long to be pregnant and now that it’s finally here, I’m going to do my best to relax and enjoy it, ignore the guilt, and cherish the experience.

Photo updates on this diva-in-the making's nursery
(We're refnishing the chocolate crib and changing table to an antique cream. I fell in L.O.V.E. with the gorgeous spindle legs on the crib.)
(Hello...I love you. I bet you would kill to become the star of Savannah's dresser, huh?)
(Hey there, Nasty Brassiness.. Are you reading for a makeover?)
Yours truly, Me


  1. Tissue Alert would have been nice. Love ya

  2. wow you are one heck of a writer. I love reading your posts. I am so excited to see pictures of your little Savannah come January!!

  3. I hate to break it to ya...the guilt won't end. Nothing prepares you for the amount of guilt you'll feel as a new parent. Just this morning, I cried because I woke up an hour later than she normally wakes up and realized the baby monitor was somehow turned off. How long had she been awake crying for me?! What if it had been turned off all night!? What if she cried for me in the middle of the night?! Oh my goodness, what a horrible mom I am! Every day I still feel it. And every day, I just have to squeeze her tight and be grateful she's doing just fine despite the guilt I feel inside.

  4. Oh and I recognize many of those outfits you have hung up in that picture! Olivia's got the same ones. :) I also hung everything up long before she arrived. Then, got frustrated with it and found that, for me, folding them is so much easier and faster. Plus, the closet pole wasn't long enough for all her clothes!

  5. Don't worry Janene. It is totally natural. As a parent its hard to not compare your pregnancy and kids to other peoples kids but you automatically do. As long as you keep in mind that you are going to enjoy the ride and forget that your kid hates to wear super aggressive...stains your carpet...and still wants to sleep in your bed, it becomes much more enjoyable. And those little things become the things that you love about them the most and stop feeling so guilty because your kid seems happy and most of your smiles that day come from something they do. I HATED pregnancy even though I was grateful it was not hard. It still was not fun for me. You are just fine. MOST women...with the exception of like 1 in 10 don't like pregnancy and eat cereal instead of salad. =) Can't wait to see your little girls room. Maybe I can showcase it on my blog once you are done. =)

  6. Oh Janene!! I just FINALLY am getting caught up on blogs....I haven't had a chance to read yours for a while so I didn't know anything about your journey! Let me just say, our stories are sooo so similar. PCOS, the fear of never being a mom, the waiting, the praying, the tears, the finally being able to get pregnant, the guilt, and the sickness. All SO similar! You put into words perfectly what I'm sure sooo many have felt! I always thought I was "broken" and not normal, when everyone around me has monthly, perfect periods. It's amazing how blessed you feel when you get to finally experience the miracle of pregnancy! Something definitely that I never took for granted. And now in retrospect, the timing of how everything really did work out perfectly. Not on my time table, but really, I couldn't have planned it better. Amazing how heavenly father knows us and the plan! I am so so so excited for you and I think you are going to be a wonderful mom to sweet savannah! She is so blessed to be going to such a loving home! You can just feel the love that you and amc have for eachother, i think it's the cutest thing!! Love ya girl! CONGRATS!! :)

  7. Oh Janene...unfortunately, guilt is one of those constant pains of pregnancy/parenting that will probably NEVER go away. But put aside all that guilt for a moment and consider this:
    We love those whom we serve the most, right? Those that we struggle with the most? That's why we're so close and connected with our families, our friends, and especially our spouses and children. Think of the struggle and pain and yes, guilt, as an investment in the relationship. A worthwhile investment always yields an even greater return. And you have a head-start on many of us who are mothers. You have already invested years of prayers and tears in your daughter. And it pays off in that much more love.

  8. Guilt is highly overrated:) You will get used to it eventually! I think now that it actually serves a small purpose... to keep us humble-as long as we don't let it overwhelm us. There is no such thing as perfect pregnancies, mothers, children, marriages or anything else. We just do the best we can as consistently as we can and hope the Savior's grace makes up the rest! I love are wonderful.

  9. What a beautiful journal entry! Thank you for sharing that with us. In conjunction with what everyone else is saying, feeling guilty is just part of the process, just don't let it over take your life... It's taken me a few years to learn that :) Don't worry if people are jealous or feel bad that you are pregnant and you are not. I honestly don't know of a soul who would feel that way especially when they know of your fertility struggles in the past. I think women with infertility issues only think that way when a pregnant woman complains and complains and complains about being pregnant and seems ungrateful. Am I right? At least that is the only time that I feel bad that someone is pregnant and I am not. Anyway, you have such a talent for writing and again, thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings...It always brightens my day!

  10. Janane, you are so beautiful inside and out. I love that you aren't afraid to share your most inner thoughts. You are such a strong and confident woman. I just know you'll be a fabulous parent!

    Life is all about learning. We are each given specific trials to help us learn and grow through our journey. Just know that there is no perfect pregnancy, and no perfect way to parent. You are absolutely right when you say do what you FEEL is right. What works for one may not work for another. We shouldn't compare kids or pregnancies (Easier said than done, I know) because we're all different! Heavenly Father made us this way. :) Love you, girl!!!

    P.S. Chrislike Parenting is a FABULOUS book. We totally recommend it to help throughout the parenting process.

  11. Oh, and those black gaucho pants you're wearing in your picture is exactly what I wore just about EVERY day when I was pregnant. They are SO COMFY!

  12. Janene, I remember feeling those same feelings. I know my journey to motherhood wasn't the same as yours, as no two stories are but I do know that Heavenly Father has a plan for each of this. I love how you mentioned how he is mindful of our needs and we are each created with love. I know its hard to not feel guilty but try and enjoy this wonderful gift!!! Pregnancy is such a blessing and I know your sweet little girl will be so very loved!!! Im seriously so excited for your baby to keep on growing! She will be such a little darling!! Keep posting pics! You look fabulous! Miss you and lots of LOVE your way!