Random Reflections on Pregnancy, Blogging, Anxiety, and the Trouble with First Trimesters

feet in puddle

I’ve started so many blog posts in the last couple of weeks, but haven’t had the energy or mental clarity to finish any of them. So I thought perhaps it was a time for a personal update. Which of course involves an update on the pregnancy. (I promise these won’t take over the blog.)

I’ve been having a hard time writing about it for a couple of reasons.

1. My brain. It’s not fully functioning right now. I walk around feeling like I’ve been drugged — I can’t concentrate, everything is muddled, and I just want to sleep. I don’t remember this with my last pregnancy. I can’t write more than three sentences without wanting to go lie down. (This post was written in stages).

2. One thing I do remember from my first pregnancy is that carrying a child tends to turn my whole being inwards. My introverted tendencies get ramped up and I become more private. At least in the first trimester, I temporarily lose all interest in my outside goals and pursuits as all my energy is sapped up by the work of creating another life.

3. When you talk a lot about infertility, you end up building connections with a lot of other people going through the same thing. And then if you end up getting pregnant, it gets kind of awkward.

Because you know how heart-wrenching it is to get pregnancy news when you’re still waiting. You just know you’re causing someone pain. You’ve been there yourself. So it’s hard to talk openly about it. You don’t want to talk about how awesome it is, because then you’re just rubbing it in their faces; but you also don’t want to talk about how hard it is, because then you’re being ungrateful for this incredible blessing you’ve been given.

But of course it’s still important to talk about it. I want to be honest and open. (I can’t not be, I guess. It’s a disease.)

So here’s where I am with my pregnancy.

(I’m at 10 weeks).

It’s been a long month. I’m tired all the time, and until recently, have been pretty nauseous most of the time. (But not throwing up, thank goodness.) Food is my nemesis. Even on good days, I get little pleasure from food. The smell of the fridge interior repulses me. Cooking is a nightmare.

I praise the Lord daily for my wonderful mother, who has brought us more meals than I can count and saved us from starvation (or at least bankruptcy from all the Vietnamese takeout.) On days when we aren’t given food, I heat up a frozen pizza or cook store-bought perogies. Yesterday for lunch I got dangerously close to picking up Arby’s, but then Ben suggested we try the local cafe and we were saved by vegetarian ciabatta sandwiches.

I’m just starting to feel better, though, and am hoping I will be back to regular cooking soon. I miss real food much.

But food hasn’t even big my biggest adversary.

It’s been anxiety.

Here’s the thing with the first trimester:

1. You feel awful: nauseated, bloated, tired, foggy, constipated, breathless, etc. All you want to do is eat and sleep and puke. All at the same time. But

2. You have no reassurance that this will all be worth it. The baby’s chance of survival at this point is only like 75%. There’s a good chance you’ll go through all this and more and end up where you started: without a baby.

And then there’s the fear of if the baby does make it to delivery.

This anxiety is especially heightened for me because Ben and I both have genetic problems in our immediate family.

I had a brother who died after three days due to a severe genetic disorder which prevented his bones from fully forming. He suffocated to death because his rib cage couldn’t support his lungs. All my parents could do was watch and grieve.

Ben has a brother with autism (and also two cousins, one of whom passed away in childhood.) Twenty-three years later, he still brings his mother to her knees with exhaustion on a daily basis.

What kind of baby could I be carrying?

If he/she makes it, will the burden of caring for him/her weigh me down from being a good mother to Lydia (to say nothing of the child him/herself)?

At this point I haven’t heard a heartbeat. I haven’t seen an ultrasound. I just saw a plus sign on a pregnancy test and then started feeling crappy for six weeks solid.

There haven’t been any bad signs whatsoever; but nor have there been any real reassuring or good signs, either.

* * *

I go to see my midwife for the first time tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll get to hear a heartbeat, and hopefully that will inspire some more hopeful feelings.

I feel a little crappy talking to God about it, because he finally and miraculously gave me my heart’s greatest desire, and all I can do is worry.

I feel selfish asking for a perfectly healthy baby when my own parents — and countless others — have had to suffer.

So this is where I’m at. I feel like I’m in a kind of limbo, just waiting. I have no idea what my life will look like in seven months. Waiting around, feeling exhausted, sickish, guilty, worried, and occasionally hopeful and even excited.

I hope to be back soon with more interesting, less depressing words. I just wanted you to know where I was.

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  1. Congrats on the pregnancy and prayers that all goes well and that you are able to get rest this first trimester! As some Carmelites told my husband once, “Don’t worry about situations that may happen as you don’t have the graces for them at this moment”. So, basically, the available graces are there in the moment and trust God that they will be sufficient at the time :) God bless!

  2. Kathleen, I have, for weeks, been meaning to write you and say how excited about about your pregnancy. Hooary! Every time I thought of it, it made me so happy. This post is wonderfully honest about anxiety. I relate thinking about my move, about how we worked hard for it and now it’s here there is a lot that can go wrong and uncomfortable, even though I have hope that it’s going to be wonderful. It kind of seems trivial to compare a move to a little person, but that the way that hope and anxiety seem to chase each other is present in so many parts of life. I heard recently that the most frequent sentence in the Bible is “Do not fear.” So I suppose we are in good company, fearing and hoping and fearing again. I have been reflecting so much on the need to be gentle with myself and a fall into anxiety and climb back out, irritated that I’ve fallen. So I pass along that word, be gentle with yourself. The Lord is gentle with us. Love from Wisconsin, Amy
    Amy Rogers Hays recently posted..Coming Home for EasterMy Profile

    • Thanks, Amy! I don’t think the comparison is trivial at all. Home, family, vocation: they’re all interconnected and central to our lives.

      I’ve been thinking a lot about that commandment (“Do not fear”), too. Sometimes I think it’s the hardest one of all! Fear is so easy and natural (but eats away at our lives). But I’m comforted that it’s the thing God wants to remove from our lives most. He understands. And we have no need to fear.

      Thanks again for your words.

      • I just wanted to chime in a little bit on the fear talk, because I myself have been thinking about fear a lot in my own life recently. A year ago, I was at Kripalu (a yoga retreat center in the Berkshire mountains . . . gosh, how hippie am I!?), and one of their healing arts professionals, completely casually and in passing, said something that totally blew my mind: “There are only two emotions: love and fear.” Ever since then, this idea has popped up over and over again (just like when you first learn a new word, or whatever, and then you see/hear it everywhere). Anyway, I don’t really have a point, because I haven’t yet figured out this fear/love thing myself; but I still wanted to share. XO
        Rebecca recently posted..Royal Tour New Zealand & Australia, 2014: Best OfMy Profile

  3. We say: I am afraid
    God says: I have not given you fear.

    2 Timothy 1:7 – For the spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power. . .

    I feel like I could have written your post from start to finish – including Arby’s close calls (which became reality on one occasion. It was DELICIOUS).

    God hears you – nothing is too trivial for His heart.

    Thinking of you!

  4. Standing with you in this hard place. I know that anxiety. I know the confusion of wanting to be excited but not wanting to hurt those who are still in the place you just were. I know about not having any idea what to pray. You’re doing just fine. There are so many things that can induce our anxiety during pregnancy (and motherhood!). Give them one at a time to God – he invites us wherever our hearts are at, not only when they’re where they should be (are they ever?!). Praying joy and rest for you friend x
    fiona lynne recently posted..Learning to love this [pregnant] bodyMy Profile

  5. Oh! I remember this so well! There’s nothing like the misery of the first trimester. I would do labor over, near-third-degree tears and all, before first trimester misery, hands down. In spite of how badly I’d wanted to become pregnant for so long, the only thing I could think about for those first few month were how much I just wanted to die. Praying it goes quickly for you and that you do indeed have a healthy baby as a result!

    • Wow, Emily! Thanks SOOOOOO much for sharing this — for some reason I find that so comforting! Oh good, I’m not alone! It feels horrible to hate pregnancy when you’ve wanted it so bad. And I felt so much more confident during labour than I do right now, too. At that point, I just KNEW my body knew what to do. But in these early stages when everything feels so uncertain and it feels like your body is bent on mutiny, it’s so hard to have faith.

      I just want to hug you so bad right now. :)

  6. I want to reassure you that there is *nothing wrong* with asking for blessings from God. It is NOT selfish to pray for a healthy child. In my opinion, (please don’t take this the wrong way because I’m definitely not saying you’re stupid because you’re not at all) it’s stupid not to. Praying for the health of your child is a good thing!! Praying for your own health is a good thing. PRAYING is a good thing.

    Sending healthy, happy spirits your way.

  7. Makes total sense. Very happy for you though. I can’t remember if I’ve ever commented, but I started following your blog several months ago and really enjoy it. Even though I think you’re crazy for not wearing shoes in public places. ;)

  8. Kathleen, I can empathize with the difficulty that you feel in praying. I’ve found that getting pregnant and having a little baby (who is so precious and special even as he wipes his food all over my shirt) makes it almost harder to pray, because it is so much harder not to want my own way. I want my child to thrive, grow, and above all, to live. Yet God does not promise me that. All He promises is that His work is good. It is hard for me to pray the Lord’s prayer (“Thy will be done,”) yet that is ultimately the best prayer for me. In the end, the hardest and yet most comforting thing that I can do is pray that God’s good and gracious will be done.
    Anna M recently posted..The Anxiety of an Indecisive MotherMy Profile

    • You’re so right, Anna. Praying “Your will be done” is SO HARD, because I want MY will to be done! God’s will is kind of scary! But you’re right — he wants what’s best for us, so of course it’s the right thing for us.

      Thanks so much for understanding and commiserating.

  9. I’m 18 weeks and I literally realized this morning that I do not remember the last four months. I have no idea how we survived. I did the same with my first, though that was worse since I was working and clients were not so understanding about my not remembering anything about what I had done with their accounts the month before. Heh.

    The point is, Yup, it’s miserable. And blessed. All at once. Praying for you.

    • Katie! I didn’t know you were pregnant! Congratulations! And I find that terribly comforting. Hope you’re feeling better and less fuzzy.

      • You know how you get so tired that even commenting on blogs seems TOO HARD? Yeah. So I’m not sure I’ve meddled it.

        I definitely do better on days when T-Rex has slept, but of course this coincided with a three-molars-all-at-once sleep regression, so. Yeah, I really do not do well at all without my solid eight hours. :-\

        But thank you!

  10. Good for you for putting this out there. It’s brave and strong and courageous and admirable and all kinds of good things. If you’re in the mood for a laugh, here’s a recommendation for what to do with your anxiety: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gyL1QFcls0. Enjoy :) XO
    Rebecca recently posted..Royal Tour New Zealand & Australia, 2014: Best OfMy Profile

  11. Yes to all of this. Thanks for writing courageously. There is so much risk in love and in bringing whole new people into the world. It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. Xx becca

  12. Kathleen! I’ve been traveling and haven’t kept up with my favorite blogs in feedly. Just found out you’re pregnant! Congrats! <3

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