Monday, August 25, 2008

Pregnancy Sickness

(This is the second article I submitted. I won't know for a few months whether or not it will be published.)

My husband and I desired children early in our marriage, knowing that they are a blessing from the Lord. After three years of infertility and a miscarriage, God miraculously granted us the beautiful sights and sounds of a strong little heartbeat on an ultrasound monitor. I thought the hard part was over, not knowing that one of the most difficult seasons of my life was about to begin.

I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarium - severe pregnancy sickness. Nothing would ease the constant nausea and vomitting. With that first pregnancy I was desperate and would try anything suggested to me, but you can only take so many ginger pills, saltine crackers, and peppermint tea. Not knowing how to manage the sickness, I just stopped trying to eat since I knew it would come back up anyhow. This landed me in the hospital twice, followed by a few weeks on IVs at home. I tried to deal with everything myself, rarely asking God for help. After all, He had caused me to have so much trouble conceiving; shouldn't he owe it to me to have an easy, happy pregnancy? The sickness never completely abated but did ease some in my late second trimester. My beautiful daughter was born in September of 2002. The awful sickness slowly became a distant memory, replaced by the joy of her little face.

Surprisingly, my husband and I both hoped to have a second child only a few months after my daughter was born. Although we knew that conceiving might be difficult due to our earlier experience, we were encouraged when we were blessed almost immediately. But once again, we went through that sad, sad time of losing a little one when our firstborn was barely a year old. Fourteen more months passed very slowly.

We were so excited when we found out we were again expecting! I was full of hope. Maybe the first pregnancy was a fluke. This one just had to be different. But it was not. I was so sick that we had to move in with my in-laws because I could not care for my daughter at all. I was a complete vegetable for about four months, most days not even being able to care for myself. I was weak and dehydrated but managed to stay out of the hospital. One thing I did learn through this pregnancy was what a wonderful woman my mother-in-law is. She cared for me and for my family, never complaining. But I am humbled to admit that I cannot say the same for myself. I was full of complaints. I cried and cried, exclaiming that I would NEVER be pregnant again. It was too difficult. God had promised that He would never give me more than I could bear, but I was certain He was wrong! Yet again, the light at the end of the tunnel came when my bouncing baby boy appeared after only three hours of labor in July of 2005.

This time the memory of the sickness didn't fade as much. I remembered how awful it was and knew that I had no strength to go through that ever again. But apparently God had other plans. He still had more to teach me about relying on His strength instead of my own. He changed my heart and my desires, and after only three months, we discovered that we would be having a third child. This time there was no false hope. We knew from the beginning what we were getting ourselves into. But this turned out to be one of the most growing experiences of my Christian walk. Allow me to share just a few quotes from my journal...

If I really believe that children are a blessing, and I am willing to endure something this bad to have one, then I need to trust God to take care of me and my family during this time. I believe this verse applies to my hyperemesis: 'I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.' - Romans 12:1

Ten weeks of misery results in a 'soul that will never die.' THAT is why I am doing it. It is very hard not to feel sorry for yourself and let the hyperemesis be all you think about. I mean, how DO you think about anything else?

Today the nausea has been almost constant. It's like this...I know that if I actually vomit I will NOT feel better and will probably feel worse, because I will get dehydrated. So I fight it. All day.

An example of a day: I wake up off and on while Kevin gets ready for work and I lie as still as possible. Kids still sleeping. My sister is here, asleep on the couch. Try to get up to go to the bathroom but end up dry heaving for several minutes. Go back to bed shaking, stomach and throat are sore and head aches.

Finally around 9:30 the kids and my sister get up. My sister starts feeding them and getting them dressed. She makes me toast and ginger ale. I struggle to get it down, then immediately lie down. The next two hours are a fight to not vomit. The kids run around me and hug me; I try to respond as much as possible.

Eat lunch which I cannot even make for myself. Fight once again to keep everything down. That is what my existance boils down and then fight.

Try to nap...I have been getting about 1/2 hour before someone or something wakes me up. Spend time meditating on scripture or hymn lyrics (strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside, great is Thy faithfulness, all I have needed Thy hand hath provided.....He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.......His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness.......kyrie eleison, christe eleison, kyrie eleison.....).

I cannot say that I did not have moments of depression during my third pregnancy. But I was much more aware of God's presence, and was able to rely on Him for strength to endure. And I am learning that it is this way for all of life, not just pregnancy sickness. We are weak and sinful creatures, and we need to depend on God for everything. My youngest daughter turned one just this past week, and I cannot imagine life without her. I praise God for His gift of three beautiful children!

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