(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