As you read this, I am probably sitting on the couch at 36 weeks eating a bowl of Doritos. Healthy pregnancy? Maybe not so much. Have I given up? Well, in a way yes, but I am not crying over spilled perfume here. Welcome to the week on self-acceptance, forgiveness, and self-care.
Uhg, if only pregnancy could be perfect every time around. As you have probably learned from previous posts, this is my second pregnancy, and Lord knows it has not gone like my first. The morning sickness, acid-reflux, back pains, Restless Leg Syndrome, constant exhaustion, and crazy cravings have left me down and out. My hubby says I have a second life at night. I take mutliple showers, stretch, practice yoga, walk around, and eat cans of fruit. I feel a bit like a locust-eating John of the Bible.
Yes, I have fought tooth and nail to make this a healthier pregnancy. I have attempted to eat less, eat healthier, sleep more, take in more water, exercise, and everything else. But some days, the exhaustion from my 4-hour sleep the night before gets to me. I wake up when my sons alarm wakes me. I run around washing dishes, throwing in laundry, making breakfast/lunches/dinners, and getting us ready for the day….all while still half-asleep. After the exhaustion steps in, I turn on the TV for a minute….or 30….. of peace with my coffee.
Have I given up? Well, in a way yes, but I am not crying over spilled perfume here.
But here is what I have learned along the way. God wants us to be healthy. He wants us to grow healthy babies in our bodies. He wants us to mold a strong body for labor. But He also wants us to have peace of mind and to forgive ourselves when things don’t go as planned. It is really difficult sometimes to really look at the kitchen mess, the unwashed clothes on the floor, and the amount of TV/tablet time my toddler has taken in. I want to fall a part. But then, a quiet voice reaches my ears and reminds me, “This is temporary,” or if you are a Lord of the Rings fan, “This too shall pass.”
This past week has been filled with moments of forgiving myself, times of reviewing what I ultimately want, and instances of putting down the dishes and taking care of myself. I look at the items I have left on my to-do list for when baby arrives and the empty labor bags sitting out, waiting to be packed. Before I have time to feel overwhelmed, that familiar sense of peace hits me. “It will all get done,” that voice reminds me. Before I feel guilty for my husband picking up my slack, that voice charges in with a, “You are partners in this.” Finally, when I’m scarfing down that can of mixed fruit in the middle of the night, I hear a soft, “At least it’s not pie….”
Being pregnant is a journey, and like all journeys, there is an end. We can always pick up where we left off, when this journey ends but we will miss those sweet kicks in our belly. Ok, maybe not the jabs and punches, but the sweet feeling of being connected in this way with our babies is a unique experience our husbands won’t get to experience. Those moments when you sit and hold your belly because he/she is in there. Those seconds when you hear the heartbeat and remember you are doing everything you can for your baby. Many don’t get to experience these moments in time. We are blessed…..even with those few hours of sleep that come at night.
So here is my advice for the next couple of weeks. Look at your daily schedule and change it. Make it easier on yourself. Do you really need to take everything on yourself? Do you really need to be the one that folds the laundry or does the dishes? What would happen if, just for a few weeks, you let your husband take on the bulk of the chores…..yes, I said the bulk of them. If you are like me, Miss Independent and your hubby works all day, it can be difficult to feel ok with putting these duties on your hubby. But remember that voice? “You are partners in this.”
But then, a quiet voice reaches my ears and reminds me, “This is temporary,” or if you are a Lord of the Rings fan, “This too shall pass.”
Next, make a list of things you want to do before baby comes that will give you peace, happiness, solitude, stress-release, and more good feelings. Get a prenatal massage. Schedule a mommy bath once a week where you allow yourself to just soak and listen to soft music. Take a walk by yourself. Have sex with your hubby…..the really good kind that starts with sexting at work! Schedule date nights with hubby to spend that extra time together before baby comes. Buy something fun for yourself, just to spoil you. Eat that dessert you haven’t been allowed to eat and forgive yourself. You only have a little time left! Make that time about caring for your body, mind, heart, and soul.
Finally, ask yourself a few questions. What do you want from your body right now? Do you need to stretch more? Exercise a little more? Do you just want to connect with your baby more? What do you want after baby is born? Start planning your diet now. This way you will know how you want to eat and what exercises you can do right after baby is born. You won’t have to strain your exhausted brain thinking about how many calories you need and how much exercise your body can take.
Make a plan for getting your body back, but don’t forget that includes taking care of your mind and spirit, too! If you usually go to church to feel God’s presence, great! But will you be taking time off once baby arrives? Could you watch their service online or another church’s service online? Make those plans now! What kind of plan do you have for taking care of your mind? Could you make a deal with your husband that you sleep in on Saturdays and he sleeps in on Sundays? Could you plan to take 30 minutes to yourself once he gets home so you can do whatever you want uninterrupted? Love reading? Make a plan to read before you go to sleep once the kids are in bed!
The point here is that, if you are like me, you only have a few weeks left. Instead of “making it through and hoping to God this baby comes early” (like me), take the time to invest in yourself. Put some pressure on hubby to take over some of the household chores. Forgive yourself for your mistakes now, and start planning on how you want your life to feel once baby has come. It won’t be long now, so enjoy these last few weeks/months of feeling baby in your tummy and being connected to him/her like you will never be again. Finally, listen for that soft voice. It’s comfort, forgiveness, love, happiness, and more. It’s God in the middle of the crazy. Place your eyes on Him….
Many don’t get to experience these moments in time. We are blessed…..even with those few hours of sleep that come at night.
So my little pregnant friends, this is the end of our Healthy Pregnancy Series. I wish you all of the blessings, comfort, and love that God can give you in your next few days/weeks/months. I pray for peace and sleep for your weary bodies. I hope that you are able to fully take in the incredible experience of birth and meeting your new little one. Love you all, and God bless!