If you’ve been following my latest morning sickness posts, then you know that I have a pretty extreme form of morning sickness. More and more, my husband and I are becoming convinced that either I do have hyperemesis gravidarum or I’m pretty close to it. This is either my worst pregnancy or it’s tied with my first. Either way, it’s a lot harder because my kids are so young. I’m 34 weeks pregnant. My daughter is 3 1/2 and my son is 16 months. We’ve got our hands full of these precious blessings.
Should your pregnancy vomiting become fairly extreme, you may find the Help HER website to be a great source of information. I love their chart on determining if you have HG or morning sickness. The website also has helpful information for family and friends. I remember in my first pregnancy, when my husband spent some time googling and asked me one day if I’d heard of HG. I just smiled and said yes, it was mentioned in one of my pregnancy books. He said that he thought I had it. Just hearing him say this made me realize that yes, he understood what I was going through, and no, he didn’t think I was exaggerating or making anything up. But then he’s the one who sees me vomiting a lot, so of all people, he “gets it” more than anyone else ever could.
Last week, I shared with you a few of my tips on coping with morning sickness. My tips aren’t going to cure your vomiting or nausea, but they’ll help you deal with it. Whether you experience it like most women, from weeks 6-14 of pregnancy, or whether you spend the entire 9 months vomiting, I think you’ll find all of this helpful.
1. Accept Help
2. Budget Your Energy
3. Find Sanity Savers
4. Lower Your Standards: I’m the sort of person who has always believed that anything worth doing is worth doing well. But that is not realistic for most pregnant women, and it’s certainly not realistic for one who throws up all pregnancy.
I can’t tell you how many times during my first two pregnancies that I cried because I couldn’t do something properly. During my second pregnancy, someone gave us some great kids clothes for our oldest child. They sat in the living room for months, waiting for me to go through them, sizing, sorting, and labeling boxes. I cried one night at dinner because I didn’t think I would ever get them put away. My husband said to just throw them in the attic and deal with them later. My argument: But it wasn’t the right way to do it. My husband said those liberating two words: “Who cares?”
My husband, mother, and pastor’s wife have advised me so many times to simply lower my standards. Sometimes I feel like they can’t get any lower, but that’s not true. Bread making, home-cooked meals, and cloth diapering are all wonderful things, but those aren’t even on my radar at this point in pregnancy. Many days, we’re just in survival mode. We’re eating off paper plates, people! And that’s OK.
I still try really hard to be consistent with discipline for the kids, but I also recognize the stage of life I’m in right now. So we put a childproof gadget on the armoire doors to keep our toddler from getting into the CDs and DVDs. I suppose in an ideal world, he would understand that it’s always a no no, but that would require constant attention from me for a while, and I just don’t have the energy for that.
5. Find friends who understand you: No, they may never get what it’s like to throw up several times a day, off and on, throughout pregnancy. But they can sympathize enough to look you in the eyes and say “I’m sorry you have to deal with that.” Or one friend honestly told me that if she did pregnancy as I do, then she probably wouldn’t have such a large family. That was validating for me.
And the best is when you can actually get to know women who are miserable when pregnant, just like you, because you know that they get it. I’ve often thought of several friends, some of whom threw up way more than I ever do. On a particularly rough day, I might think of Wendy, who would throw up 8+ times a day, with two kids to take care of. And I say “If she made it through this, then I can survive too.”
6. Enlist your littlest helpers for cleaning tasks: I could write a whole post on this, and I probably will one day, but put your little ones to work for you. My 3 year old is pretty precocious and energetic, and discipline is a struggle at times. But I can lay down in her bed and instruct her in cleaning her entire room. Then we move on to the living room or the nursery. Meanwhile, my 16 month old is cleaning up legos, playing with a toy, or hanging out in one of the play areas I have set up. It’s not laziness on my part, because if I have the energy, you can bet I’ll clean with her. But I am also training her in cleaning, as well as teaching her sorting skills and showing her how to stay focused on a task. Getting your kids to clean up is a win-win scenario, with no losers. It definitely takes a lot more time when your kids are cleaning, but long-term, it’ll pay off. And at this point in pregnancy, I have more time than I have energy, so it’s important that we save mommy’s energy for the important things, like reading stories or changing diapers.
7. Continue with your usual activities, when you can: We decided early in our marriage that unless we were sick, we’d be at church. But if I missed church every time I vomited in the morning, I’d rarely be there. I’ve definitely had to go late before, or skip Sunday School so that I could rest and recuperate from getting sick a few times, but when I can muster up the energy, I try to go anyway. It takes a lot of effort to get out the door, but once we’re in the car, all I have to do is sit down when we’re at church while someone else watches the kids. But I get to worship God with the body of Christ, grow in my walk with God, and connect and encourage other believers. To me, those benefits outweigh the drawbacks of having to get the kids ready and out the door.
As for other activities, such as MOPS, playdates, Bible study, etc., well I try to continue on with those things too. It energizes me to be around other people, especially women at similar stages of life as me. I may cut out the playdates or anything that seems too much of an extra, depending on how I feel that day, but the other activities are important to me. They’re how I serve, grow, and reach out to others. Life can’t wait on hold while I’m pregnant, and neither does my walk with God.
But as I mentioned in #2, Budget Your Energy, I do keep in mind the week’s activities and plan accordingly, so that I don’t wear myself out too much and end up paying for it later in the week.
And sometimes you’ll surprise yourself. When someone planned a swim playdate for the kids today, I wanted to go for the sake of the kids, but I thought I would be miserable and hot the entire time. I was afraid I’d pay for it later by getting sick a lot. I’ve never been this big and pregnant in the summer before (I’m almost 34 weeks!), so I had no idea that the pool would be the perfect place for me. I stayed in the water the entire time, and it was absolutely perfect. I’m so glad I went.
We always make plans as if I won’t be sick, and then we just deal with it if I am. Either we’ll be late, I won’t go at all, or it just won’t be as much fun as we’d thought. It wasn’t fun when I woke up with morning sickness on Father’s Day, when we were out of town, but we just dealt with it, like we always do, and appreciated that it was the first time I’d been sick all weekend.
8. Make hay while the sun shines: When you feel good, enjoy it. Put music on and dance with your babies. Swing on the porch with your kids. Blow bubbles while you wait for Daddy to come home from work. Bake cookies with your pre-schooler, or put together meals for the freezer, for those days when you feel like you were run over by a Mack truck. But don’t overdo it, or you’ll pay for it tomorrow.
And when you don’t feel so great, learn to do things from the bed. Izzy and I have school time in bed. We snuggle up and work on a page of her phonics book, which she finds so fun. Yesterday, she got up early from her nap and we played Hi Ho, Cherry, O in bed together. Go Fish is another game that we can play in my bed.
9. Understand that this is a season of life: It’s not permanent. Even though 9 months seems like an eternity, it isn’t. It won’t last forever. Having a messy house right now does not define you as a mother, a wife, a homemaker, or a Christian. So don’t let it.
All the homemaking blogs that I usually find encouraging kind of aren’t right now. If I let them, they’ll make me feel like I’m less of a woman because I don’t get up earlier than my kids, my house is a wreck sometimes, and I bring a whole new definition to the idea that you could “eat off my floors” (as in my toddler could probably find an entire meal under the dining room table on some days). But I recognize that this is just a season we have to get through.
Be comfortable in who the Bible says you are. Do the things you can to take care of your family and accept God’s grace in the things that are left undone.
What would you add? How do you cope with morning sickness?