I am very blessed to be pregnant with my third child. Since my reversion back to the Catholic Church several years ago, my husband and I have been completely open to life. No more IUD, no more last minute withdrawals, no more pills, and no more "sins against nature". I can't speak from the male point of view, but for me it has been surprisingly easy. I simply made a decision and am trusting God that things will work out. After years of contraceptive practices, I know I am extremely lucky to be carrying my child. I am almost 38 years old. Tragically, many of my friends around my same age have and are suffering infertility, repeat miscarriages, and even stillbirths. Many acquaintances have turned to expensive infertility treatments in desperate attempts to have a child. My advice to any young married couple reading this, is to not delay having children! It seems to be so much easier when you are in your 20's. Fertility rates decline rapidly in your later 30's. Maybe you will not be able to conceive the child you dream of one day if you keep putting it off.
With that being said, however, while the end result is 110% worth it, and I will do it again in a heartbeat, I physically hate being pregnant. After 26 weeks I am finally able to even write about it. When I first realized I *might* be pregnant, and obviously we were trying, I ran out and bought multi-pack pregnancy tests from the drugstore. I was taking them every couple of days. I had been nursing my 18 month old and my menstrual cycle had just returned, so it was hard to tell what was happening because I hadn't re-established any regular pattern yet. I just kept taking the tests. Soon, and quickly, I found out I was pregnant. The initial feeling of disbelief and then elatedness washed over me. I realized I am carrying inside of my womb the secret of life and just wanted to get down on my knees and praise God for this miracle! I walked around in a state of happiness and thankfulness, not wanting to "spill the beans" to anyone yet, except my husband. I made my first doctor's appointment to confirm everything. The first week or so was thrilling and exciting.
And then the 6th week hits. The nausea starts slow but builds quickly. It is always there. Nothing works. Not crackers, not ginger, not lemonade, not wrist bands, nothing! The vomiting starts soon after. And progressively gets worse day by day. For me this is not typical "morning sickness". It is all day, all night, everyday sickness, and it is debilitating. It knocks you off your feet and makes you feel like you have the H1N1 flu virus constantly and never ceasing. It sucks all the joy out of my life. Initially, I begin vomiting everything, breakfast, lunch, dinner, a glass of water, a sip of water, an ice cube. Forget prenatal vitamins or my thyroid medication! It all comes back up, all of it, every time. I will throw up 4 - 10 times every single day, and feel like complete crap all day and night around the clock. I have tried every prescription drug prescribed by my doctor. Nothing works. I like to imagine the Zofran pills take the edge off for 20 minutes or so but that is debatable. Usually they just make me throw up. Once the weakness starts hitting because of lack of nourishment, I will do anything to try and stay hydrated, and stay out of the hospital. For months the only thing I could drink was cherry kool-aid and sip on Frozen Cokes. (Not healthy, but at this point, the last thing I cared about was eating healthy.) All food tastes bad and the nausea is so horrible, that even the thought of food is sickening. Thank God I am usually able to keep one small portion of food down, something bland like a piece of toast or some oatmeal, at least once a day, it is probably the only thing that kept me going through those first 3 months. The tiredness and fatigue is all encompassing for me. I cannot afford to lose my job, so I literally save every ounce of energy to get to work and then shut down before and after. I manage to drive myself to and from work everyday, but I do whatever I can to avoid interaction with people and quietly do my work in my cubicle when I am able. I survive by spending long bouts sitting locked in the bathroom stall and by bringing gallon zip lock bags to work with me and going out to my car several times a day to throw up in the bags. I would also take a 2 hour lunch break as often as I could get away with it, pull into a supermarket or busy parking lot, and just sleep through lunch in my car. Often I would have to go out and sit in my car alone, drive to a secluded spot, and just break down crying because I just couldn't handle it anymore. I would manage to get home, then crawl into bed with my clothes on, and sleep for 14-16 hours a day. Sleep was the only respite from the nausea and the pain, so I slept as much as possible. I could not cook dinner, or do the dishes, or be a good wife or mother. My poor husband is always left doing all the work, taking care of the kids, the house, the dishes, the laundry, everything. I simply cannot do it. Another disgusting symptom that I have to deal with, is the excessive salivation. It comes faster than I can deal with, and at times literally pours into my mouth! If I try to swallow it, it makes me sick, so the alternative is to spit it out. I constantly have to run to the bathroom or any nearby trashcan and spit into it. I have to carry a "spit cup" or bottle with me wherever I go to deal with the over production of saliva. My doctor thinks this is all in my head, but I assure you, this is one of those rare symptoms that women with excessive nausea in pregnancy have to deal with, and it only adds to the problem. At night, I would have to sleep with a rolled up towel under my face to catch all the drool. I would produce several cups of saliva a day in a cup that I would have to dispose of. Talk about disgusting and embarrassing! Although this is not physically painfull, it just is one more thing to deal with on top of everything else. To make matters worse are the encounters with hundreds of pregnant women who say, "I didn't feel a thing", or "I felt like I had to throw up once or twice, but never actually did", etc. etc. My experience is definately NOT the norm! It is a lonely, difficult, and guilt-ridden road.
So, you get the point. During this phase of the pregnancy, I'm completely miserable. I am depressed, I don't want to socialize or talk to anyone, and it is difficult for me to even be around my children and husband. I can't smile or socialize. My patience is gone. My humor is non-existent. I feel like I am dying. Even worse than the physical and social aspects of the pregnancy are the spiritual aspects. It all goes out the window! Normally I have joy for life. I enjoy reading the Bible, saying the rosary (almost) every day, going to adoration. But now? Forget it. It's not like God turns his back on me, but I feel like I turn my back on Him. I lose all desire to pray, to read, to go to Church! For weeks at a time. My spiritual life suffers greatly and because of my withdrawal, my family also has to suffer. Initially, each time I am hunched over the toilet throwing up over and over, I will try to "offer it up" and say "God, just let one soul out of purgatory for this suffering... Your will be done!". But after missing Mass for weeks at a time, and knowing I have shut God out, I just kind of give that up also. It is difficult to explain, but I can't handle the suffering and develop a kind of aversion for all spiritual things! It is definitely a trying time, and I don't deal well with it. It is my "Dark Night of the Soul". I have physically and mentally suffered more during my pregnancies than probably anything else I can think of.
So, where am I now? I have gradually been coming back to life. After 22 weeks, I started to notice slight improvements. I am 26 weeks pregnant now and am able to enjoy food again. Finally, my hormones have settled down, and although I am not 100%, I am so much better than I have been for the past 20 weeks. I have been to confession several times. I need to go again! It is a struggle. I am going to Church again. I am being a mother to my children. I only throw up about once a week now. Still feeling sick, but it is so much better and manageable. Soon, hopefully, I will be able to resume saying my rosary. I know God is waiting for me to come back. There really is a light at the end of the tunnel.
May God bless my wonderful husband for his support during this trying time. I could not get through this without his love.