"I'm making an appointment with my doctor. We need some answers."
I said this to Jonathan right when Summer was fading into Autumn. I had begun to notice something was off with me. I was back to fighting sadness, anxiety and overwhelm; much like when I'd went through postpartum depression. I couldn't exactly pinpoint what was wrong but, like I said, something didn't feel right. All of it culminated when I suddenly missed two periods and took four pregnancy tests which all came back negative. After that, I decided to make an appointment with my midwives' office to see if they could help figure what my problem might be.
My appointment was set for November the 7th. The Friday before that, November 4th, I woke up in the wee morning hours severely nauseated. I started throwing up shortly afterwards. It came on so quickly and violently that I was convinced I'd come down with some sort of stomach bug. Of course, I also had the thought that maybe this was morning sickness. After all, we had been trying and I had missed my periods (but there was also that thing about four negative pregnancy tests).
Jonathan had to leave for work and I was so sick that I called his mom to come to our house and care for Behr in my place. All I was did was throw up and lay in bed or the couch from about 3am to 10am. I kept this up every day on repeat that weekend. It was grueling to say the least. I kept saying that I didn't think I was pregnant but wouldn't be surprised if I was (we had been trying, duh). But if this was morning sickness it was was more intense and overwhelming then anything I had with Behr. When I was pregnant with him think I was overall "queasy" for two weeks and threw up once (lucky me).
Monday finally came and I shakily made my way to the doctors office. Once there, I explained to the nurse about the negative tests and missed periods and was immediately sent to pee in a cup to see if they got different results.
The midwife walked in, sat down and uttered a simple sentence that shifted everything: "Well, the pregnancy test came back positive."
I felt jolted awake. I knew this was a possibility but I don't think finding out you're pregnant will ever not give you that 'my life is changed forever' feeling. I felt excited and nervous and shaky. And then the tears came. It almost felt like cruel timing.
Let me explain: the week just before all this transpired, my sister had called with the shattering news that the tiny nine-week-old baby growing inside her had no heartbeat. We were broken and grieving with them over the loss of their baby and here I was suddenly pregnant. I didn't know how to break the news to my best friend that I was about to go on a journey alone that we should have been taking together. And though their suffering was (is) far greater than what I was dealing with, the thought made me miserable. She ended up being entirely gracious and supportive when I called her and has been throughout this pregnancy. I'm in awe of her strength. But at the time, I was trying to wrap my mind around it all and still mind-numbingly sick and weak. To say I was jumbled mess of emotions that day is an understatement.
The coming weeks blur together. There were many times when my mother-in-law had to come spend the night with Behr and I while Jonathan worked. I was simply too sick to do anything but lay in bed and or throw up. That was my life for long while. And so November came and went and we endured with lots of grace and family help.
And just when I began to get a handle on morning sickness, I contracted two horrible stomach viruses in December. The final one put me in the hospital overnight because of dehydration. I don't need to go into the finer details. A quick summary would be that it was long two days of straight up physical suffering, exhaustion and thankfulness for my husband and his family. It was also the first time I'd ever spent a night away from my firstborn.
At this point--and well, honestly many points along the way--my spirit was withering. We had no sense of normalcy anymore. Everyday was a 'just get through it' day. I hardly did anything but the absolutely necessary. I cared for myself, for Behr and, on a really good day, got a shower. Even those things felt like insurmountable tasks at times. Behr and I couldn't seem to stay healthy. Even though the morning sickness was becoming manageable through medication, we kept getting nasty colds/respiratory infections. We've had three (four?) since this all started and are recovering from one now.
And amidst all this came the anxiety.
I started noticing that almost every day, late in the afternoon, a feeling of dread would creep over my body. I felt shook up and scared for no good reason. I was terrified for Jonathan to leave me alone with Behr and I couldn't explain why. A lot of times I had to just cry it out while Jonathan held me until it passed. The long, gray winter days seemed to compound these debilitating feelings. It usually lasted about an hour or two before gradually subsiding. I brought this issue up at my next midwife appointment and, without missing a beat, she said that the medication I'd been taking to help with nausea would definitely have a side effect of anxiety like I'd been experiencing.
This was both relieving and frustrating to find out. I wish I would have known about the side effects before taking it but, I was glad to know the cause of the anxiety. I've since been able to wean myself off those meds but we've noticed that the anxiety seems to be lingering. I'm still dealing with bouts of crippling fear, sadness and general incapacitation from time to time. I'm hoping at my next check-up appointment we can have conversation about finding me a solution.
All of that brings me to where I'm at now.
I was hesitant to share everything you just read. Why? Because I don't want to sound like I'm complaining. I don't want to make it seem like we're not deeply grateful to be gifted another chance at growing a baby. I don't want to make it seem like we've been going through some world-altering trial. We haven't. It's just been an arduous couple of months and I find myself described in two words: w e a r y and l o n e l y.
As physically difficult and isolating as this pregnancy has been, I still call that part of it a gift. It's taught me humility and that it's ok to not be ok. I've learned how self-suffiencent I'm not in this season. I've had to rely on others more now than any other time of my life. My husband, my family and his family have truly carried me this entire time. I don't know what I'd do without them. And above all, I'm finding that my relationship with Jesus has gotten sweeter, real-er. It's like all those verses about Him sustaining us and giving new mercies every morning and understanding our weakness have come alive. I've read them a thousand times but now they're taking root and blossoming within me.
The other day, I came across this quote on the Desiring God blog and it perfectly applied to what I've been learning in the last 97 days:
"And when God gave me my weaknesses, which are legion, His purpose wasn't to make me ashamed and discouraged. He gave them to me so I could have the astounding privilege of humbly receiving someone else's love as they graciously serve me in a place of my need, and then joyfully responding to them with grateful love in return."-Jon Bloom
Right now I am weak. I can barely function at the capacity I was able to before November 4th. I'm behind on housework, photography work, personal work and laundry. Anything from changing Behr's diaper to cleaning the kitchen has the potential to overwhelm me to tears. Everyday is a mental battle to not let thoughts of, I can't do this. I'm a terrible mother to Behr right now. Why is this happening to me?, eat away at my morale. Sometimes I'm able to fight the fear and guilt off and sometimes I crumple like fallen silk underneath their battering. Each day I'm presented with the choice to accept this with grace. And yes, that has often looked like letting Jonathan do everything (even put my shoes on for me because at one point bending over made me too nauseated). Or calling family in tears and quietly asking them to come watch Behr so I could rest. Or putting my child in front of another movie because I can't do anything but sit on the couch and grow this baby.
So, here I am. I didn't write this post from an 'other side' perspective of this personal trial. Instead, I chose to speak out from where I wrestle out every drop of grace God offers in this season. The truth is, I've never grown more than when I was forced into life situations that I absolutely would not have chosen for myself.
This is hard. This hurts. This is holy ground.
And as this babe unfurls beneath my heart, I will choose to open myself to the good my Father has lovingly ordained for me to receive in this place. In this life, suffering is undeniable. But still, Jesus can bring about His beauty in it. My life is not my own, it belongs to One who knows and sees and loves far beyond my capacity to comprehend. How could I not trust Him when He leads me into the dark and difficult places? So I will keep moving--sometimes staggering--forward with His grace and undeniably held fast by the faithful anchor of His love.
"Cast your burden on the Lord [release it] and He will sustain and uphold you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken (slip, fall, fall)." -Psalm 55:22