Since we expect my pregnancies to render me nearly non-functioning, it’s a family affair when the all-day sickness kicks in. For the last few weeks, my husband, parents, and sisters have been driving my kids around, feeding them, cleaning up after them, playing with them, bringing me ice water, bringing me random food that rarely tastes as good as it sounds. My friends, organized by my sweet friend Anna!! have been bringing dinners by and saving all of us from nachos (again). And yet, we are surviving. Here are my tricks.
1) Lower low expectations.
I put my etsy shop on vacation once I found out I was pregnant. If I can slide up into my chair to sew, great, I have some family project to work on. If I can’t (and that’s been more the case), I’m not under pressure to somehow make it happen.
Getting together with friends for playdates or me-dates or us-dates isn’t an option. I miss the company and my kids do too, but as I get light-headed and it isn’t always safe to drive, we’re finding little ways to keep our house an entertaining place for them.
The house is messy and dirty. A lethal combo. But AA did laundry this weekend, and I wiped the counters after breakfast today, so it’s not as bad as it could be.
Maybe you’re in the place of pregnancy. Maybe you can cut back on taking on extra projects at work, if possible. Maybe those volunteer positions at your kid’s school will have to be filled by someone else. Maybe dinner is mac & cheese!
2) Let the kids do what they want.
Within reason. They have to stay where I can see/hear them. But if they want to dump out all the legos, sure. If they want to zoom around the bedroom on a rolling foot stool, sure. If they want to cut up paper into tiny teeny shreds all over their floor, sure. If they want to play Monopoly and Risk and Ticket to Ride all at once, sure. If they want to jump up and down on my bed, sounds great. Just don’t hit me.
I find I’m saying yes to making messes (still no painting unless Dada is home because please) and to being a little insane. To running up and down the stairs endlessly dragging all their bedsheets. To listening to their favorite Jim Weiss story again and again and singing fifteen men on a dead man’s chest. To sorting all the baseball cards, and there are thousands, in the hallway.
I apologize I can’t do x, y, or z with them. But then I tell them how much I love them and how proud I am they’re helping take care of me and baby. I figure that absolves some of their annoyance that we aren’t at the zoo. (They somehow don’t realize our house looks like a human zoo.)
I am okay with messy. Are you okay with messy?
3) Rely on charity of others.
Like I said, our friends have been extremely generous, bringing by freezer soups, fresh lasagnas, desserts! So much kindness in our kitchen right now. Even though I can’t eat as much as I would like of it, the kids and my husband are not hungry. And that was my biggest stress going into this pregnancy was knowing how limited I would be in the kitchen.
Maybe a friend offers to play with the kids after school or one morning. Maybe someone says they have a meal in their freezer they can’t eat. Maybe your mom insists on taking the kids outside so you can lay down.
Just say yes and thank you and don’t fret about not being able to return the favor. Pay it forward later. (Not feeling guilty is hard for me!!)
4) Applaud any efforts your spouse makes.
My husband has been 100% on with the kids from the minute he gets home til they go to sleep, and then weekends, he’s taking them to all their activities, making all the meals, and cleaning up after bedtime. He’s uncomplaining and cheerful. He even took all three kids to target the other day, unprompted, for baseball cards and stickers.
So when he also lets them help him paint (everyone’s clothing ruined, naturally), and play with the hose and make puddles, and do fun stuff mama probably would warn against, I’m just shutting up so much and smiling. Backseat parenting is annoying at best, and even though I’m a pro at it, I’m just so appreciative of all he does that I force myself to shut it!
AND the marriage bible study I wrote with my friends is available if you’re working on going deeper in your marriage. It’s called Waiting in the Word: Our Vows, and is a collaborative project with Blessed is She. Go grab it today! We start next week.
5) Get perceptive.
I went into this pregnancy with perspective on suffering, watching my close friends Laura and Franco grieve their twin girls, Abby and Maggie. No matter how sick and how awful I felt, I knew that it was worth it. I knew that even if this baby doesn’t live to be held, or doesn’t live past a day of holding, the suffering is so worth it.
Every morning I throw up. At least once. Usually right when I wake up. And then I say a little prayer of thanksgiving as I rinse my face and my mouth. If I’m puking, I’m probably not miscarrying.
6) Find an amazing provider.
Our midwife, Emily, is a freshly minted midwife. But we’ve known each other since we were kids. And she was present at each of the other kids’ births as a doula. She knows my pregnancies. She knows me. She knows how I labor. She knows when I’m ready to break. She also knows birth really really well after years as a labor & delivery nurse.
I’ve loved all my providers, but with her, I’m most comfortable. I trust her judgment. I trust her level of care for me. And I know I’m better able to handle all the yuck parts of pregnancy so far because I can turn to her with my complaints! And after throwing up all anti-nausea meds, I have one word for you: suppository.
Knowing that me telling my provider how sick I am won’t result in me feeling bad for complaining or guilty for being a pest is a huge relief. If you’re sick during your pregnancy, I hope you feel your provider is taking you seriously and working with you to find a treatment that can abate it!
7) Talk about the baby, a lot.
The more I envision the growth happening inside me, and involve the kids in it, the better I feel about going through the hard parts. We always find out gender and then name our babies at 20 weeks. It makes it more immediate and exciting for the kids to know who is already part of our family. When I pat my belly, or invite the kids to talk to the baby, saying good morning or good night, I do feel that connection stronger.
Maybe it’s a surprise pregnancy for you. Maybe it’s a fearful one after many miscarriages or losses. Maybe you’re still numb and figuring out how to handle your body changes. My prayer for you is that you do feel a connection with the baby, no matter how tenuous. It’s been powerful for me and helpful in accepting all that comes with a pregnancy. Maybe it will help you!