So I’m often asked how I’m doing in passing. I’m sure you are too.
But I think many people take the opportunity at church to ask how I’m doing due to the large protruding watermelon I appear to have swallowed.
My response on good days or in good moments is just that, “Good. And you?” And my response on harder days is, “Hanging in there.” Or if I’m feeling quite honest or feel like the question was asked with depth, instead of an extension of a greeting, I will answer, “Tired.”
I try not to dwell on the negative about pregnancy. But all the while there is the reality of pregnancy for me that has moved past the “feeling good” second trimester high. While I technically have a week and a half left before I officially move into the third trimester, my body is already there. I think a lot of my premature move into the “the trimester feeling” is due to my quickly-protruding watermelon belly. “They say” with more and more pregnancies the woman’s body begins to show earlier in the pregnancy. I had not anticipated that to mean I would look 7 months pregnant at 5 months in.
That being said, I wanted to be honest about the pregnancy situation over here – not because I won’t be honest if you were to sincerely ask me, but because I try not to dwell too much on the reality of the situation, instead focusing on keeping my eyes on the prize soon coming. But I also think it could help others to admit the reality of the situation, therefore encouraging those who are not in a similar situation and encouraging those who are “right in there with me.”
My dear friend Kassie is in her third trimester. She is 8 weeks out from her due date, despite the fact that we both think Jayla will be a late baby (due to her track record). I sincerely hope we are not having similar symptoms, but I must say at this point in the pregnancy I am having symptoms similar to the last few weeks of my pregnancy with Rachael and the last few months of my pregnancy with Abi.
Here’s how it’s going over here. Here’s what you’d see if you lived here:
I haven’t gotten a 6 hour stretch of sleep in over a month (excluding 3 spread out days when I literally just fell into bed). I wake up at night every 1.5-2 hours to pee, relieve the tension of cramping legs, reposition my pillows and drink water. If I don’t wake up on this schedule, my tongue will stick to the roof of my mouth (only it usually is if I have a slept a full 2 hours) and my throat will be sore from the scratchiness the next day, resulting in “smoker cough” sounding vocal chords. I sleep with a pillow between my legs to lessen the round ligament pain and my feet propped up on an old comforter at “above my heart” level to lessen the affects of the varicose veins that are decorating my right leg in particular. Whenever I get out of bed I always feel a burn as the normal blood flow returns to my varicose veins. If I don’t sleep with my legs propped up, I feel that burn all day long. I have congestion as if I were sick 24/7. Afrin helps. Sometimes I have to pair Afrin nasal spray and Sudafed every 4-6 hours to make it through the night. I have Charlie Horses… nightly. So to try to avoid them I eat a banana to two bananas (on really tight legged nights) nightly. Sometimes it works. Other times I eat a second or third banana in the middle of the night. I’ve taken a second prenatal on nights that our bananas are not ripe enough. I will confess right here and now that I HATE bananas. I think they taste like mucus. But I despise Charlie Horses all the more. If I add more water to my nightly intake, I’ll be up sooner than 1.5 hours. I need my nightly naps, solid sleep is no longer a part of my life. I take 2 extra strength Tylenol a night to try to help with the burning/aching varicose veins and leg throbbing. I’ve often been told that getting more sleep or going to bed earlier could help. I’ve tried it, but my body just can’t lay in one position for long before the leg cramps, aches and varicose veins make me get up (every 2 hours at max).
Last night I went to bed at 10p, got up at midnight to pee. Woke up at 1:30a with throbbing legs, right groin pain where my varicose veins were bulging and throbbing. I napped on the recliner part of the couch with two ice packs, one on my varicose veins on my right thigh and the other I rested both my calves on. I think I got one of the most solid two hour stretches of sleep I’ve gotten in a long time. I even found an app on my iPad that simulates the noise of a fan (all of ours were being tied up for white-noise factors during sleeping). I slept hard and good. And woke up at 5:30a feeling “ready for the day.” I cannot get more than 8 hours of sleep (in cat-nap chunks) without paying the repercussions of pain the next day.
So needless to say, when bedtime rolls around each night I am a bit reluctant to go. Sleep feels like more work than staying up and more pain or pain potential too.
But in this entire picture, I want to tell you that while the reality of the situation is pretty ugly at times (and I’m not even into my normal symptoms of pinched nerves in my legs shooting spasms up my leg into my glutes and the random pinches of moving from a sitting/laying to a standing position, though a few have started) Matt and I chose this. We wanted this. And I still do want this. No, I don’t want all the symptoms – those I could do without. But I want our Hannah Joy.
Joy can be described as choosing to focus on the promise over the situation. I think her middle name is fitting and I think there will be many times in her life that I will be reminded that her middle name is fitting.
It is a choice. It is a mindset. And it changes how you live.
Pregnancy has never been ideal for me. That’s just the truth of it. Sacrifice is high for me in this equation. But I find joy in looking into Rachael and Abi’s eyes, watching them play, remembering their babyhood, even the less beautiful parts. And I allow myself to focus on the joy of the promise in our Hannah Joy.
Is it a distraction technique? Maybe. But dwelling on the roughness of the situation never made it feel more comfortable. And a bitter heart is hard to change. I don’t want to associate these symptoms with “what Hannah is doing to me.” Certainly Hannah’s presence is causing my body to freak out. But anyone’s growing presence would cause my body to freak out. So instead of tying that negativity to her, I choose to brush off pregnancy (as best I can in moments) and focus instead on the hope of the promise: the tiny fingers, the little alien toes, the grunts, the little rash movements. I wonder about her eyes, her hair, her face. Will she have the Stauffer nose? Will she follow suit and look “just like” Rachael and Abi in her newborn days or will she carry characteristics of her own? What will be her snuggle spot? Who will she take to?
The list of wonders and excitements in longer than the pregnancy symptom list. And that’s the way it should be.
I’m going to avoid the game of creating an image to go with Hannah, so as not to be let down when I meet her. No expectations need to be tied to her yet.
I just look forward to delighting in her. Our newest miracle. Life.
And in the harder moments of pregnancy symptoms I am trying hard to focus on the life that comes from all this hurt and pain.
our Hannah Joy.