As most of you know, I’ve never had a pregnancy quite like this. Sure, I’m always huge and fairly miserable at the end. Yes, I have horrendous morning sickness at the beginning. But, usually, I have lots of good weeks in there, and typically, I’m still on the go right up until the end. Not so this time. I went from morning sickness to excruciating pain with only a couple weeks in between. I have cried out for mercy more times than I care to count. Nearly every day I have wondered if I would make it through. It’s been very, very hard.
But, as I look to the end of this week (and believe me, the word DELIVER has never held more meaning for me than now!), I am also able to look back and see where I’ve been with more clarity than I have had in a long time.
While not all of you will face bedrest, I can almost guarantee all of you will face a trial that will have you at the end of yourself. Perhaps what I’ve learned from this time of trial will help when you face your own…
No one asked me to be super woman.
I’ve always been one of those moms who pushed through. It’s my German Mennonite heritage – don’t complain, just do. My husband once said I am the strongest woman he knows. In my mind, that equates to saying, “You are super woman, and I think you can do anything.” But, in reality, he never asked me to be super woman. No one asked me to be anything other than me. I put this on myself by setting a standard that eventually couldn’t be achieved.
We moms do that. All. The. Time. Sure, our husbands and families tend to rely on us to keep things running, and yes, quite often they think we can handle all sorts of things with grace and beauty, but that is due in part to the fact that we are purposely trying to juggle everything and we rarely say, “Hey, I don’t think I can do ABC and still manage XYZ.” It is ok for us to be vulnerable and let one thing go in order to keep up with another for a time. It’s ok for us to say to our husbands, “I need to walk away from this one thing for a time so I can do this other thing well.” We have to stop multitasking ourselves into oblivion and then wondering why things are spiraling out of control. Let go of the super woman myth, and be willing to just be plain ole wife and mother – exactly where you are at this very moment.
The kids are more capable than you realize.
My husband was gone for the entire 4 months I was dealing with morning sickness. I had to rely on the kids to step up. First, I asked my newly turned 18 year old son not to take a summer job so he could be home to manage the everyday running of the household. We did pay him for his time because I felt that was one way we could show our gratitude for him taking on a rather large job here at home. He and I worked together to put systems into place that would make life here run as smoothly as possible. The day ran on a routine of meals, school, chores, movies, naps, and a set bedtime for everyone under 18. The 3 oldest children handled meals (they are still in charge of this task). The girls took turns taking care of the toddlers. Movie time started and ended at a certain time every day, and everyone had bedtime buddies to get them to bed on time. My oldest checked in with me on a regular basis to make sure I was ok and see if there were any new marching orders. We worked together and we made it work. And when I wasn’t sick anymore, I sent my oldest on a couple of fun trips that were just for him – one to my mom’s and one with a friend of his. All in all, the kids have done great, but we are all looking forward to mom being back in the game!
Texting is a great invention.
My husband, my oldest son and my oldest daughter all have cell phones. (My daughter’s phone is daddy’s old phone and only has wifi, but it does have texting capability via her email address.) One of the best ways I have had to keep in touch with my older kids and my husband is via text. When I was sick with morning sickness, my son used text to check on me. When I can’t get my hips and legs to cooperate enough to get to the living room, I can text the kids or my husband to ask for certain things or relay important information. It keeps us connected, and saves me from yelling! Another alternative to this would be to keep a bell nearby that is loud enough to be heard.
It’s ok to rely on others
If there’s anything I hate, it’s looking weak. This pregnancy has been an extremely humbling experience. My family desperately wanted me to come to the State Fair with them. It’s a family tradition, and they couldn’t bare the thought of me not being there. So, I went…in a wheelchair.
I often have to hold onto my husband or my children in order to walk. People have to dish up my meals for me. I can’t remember the last time I did a load of laundry or picked up my little daughter, or gave a child a bath. I try to help as much as I can, but the simple fact is, I’m not very helpful.
And that’s ok.
Yes, sometimes I cry over the things I’m not doing, but my sweet family remind me that this is what family is all about.
Everyone really appreciates the moments when mom is well enough to sit in the living room.
My oldest son will often invite me to watch a movie with him after everyone has gone to bed (we’re both night owls). If I can, I try very hard to get out there and hang out with him for at least part of the movie, if not all.
My husband is always appreciative when I sit with him. He doesn’t expect me to be chatty or even stay long, but just being beside him is enough.
My younger children are happy for a cuddle or a back scratch, and everyone knows when Mommy has pushed to her limit and needs to go back to bed, it’s ok.
Look for the little things.
Sometimes I have been so focused on the big things I’m not doing, that I miss all the little blessings along the way. My daughters doing my nails, giving me facials or a back rub. My boys brushing my hair, telling me stories, and showing me their drawings. The extra time I have had on my hands to binge watch Amazon and Netflix and YouTube. The late nights talking to my two oldest children and laughing, even when it hurt. The holiday planner that is bringing a smile to my face. The fact that we found a cleaning and cooking system that works for us – even if it isn’t perfect. My husband spending as much time at home in the mornings as he can to make sure things are running smoothly before he heads to work. The doctor who hugs me just because she knows how hard things have been for me. The childless woman from church who barely knows me who texts me just to say she’s praying and can’t wait to meet the baby. The friend who is a mom of 12 who texts me with encouragement every single week. Another friend who is in terrible pain herself who checks on me via Voxer. And countless other “little things.”
All these little things can easily be lost amongst the big things. And just when I think I can’t go on any longer, God sends a little thing to remind me that I can.
I’m almost there. Of course, there will be recovery from surgery and all these months of bedrest, and I will have to tell myself to slow down and have a little mercy on myself. But, I know there are lessons in everything, and even when the pain doesn’t seem to have a purpose and my life feels cracked and broken, there is beauty amongst these cracks. For that, I am thankful.
By the way, if you are curious what systems we put in place while I was on bedrest, I’ll be writing about those (probably AFTER baby comes). Until then, feel free to leave a comment here with any questions you might have, so I can try to address those in upcoming posts.