Thursday, March 6, 2014

Being pregnant and why it was important to not complain

(Maternity photos I never got around to sharing. This was 34 weeks)IMG_4547IMG_4565


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I've been wanting to write this post for ages, but I couldn't get it out. I got pregnant this time last year, so it's a good time to publish it, right?

Being pregnant was so surreal. The whole thing. I remember waking up on easter morning super early and had a feeling I was finally pregnant. I took a test but it was so so so light I shrugged it off and decided to not take another one for a few more days when my period was supposed to have shown up. We picked up a digital test so there would be no guessing, and I handed it to josh after I peed on it so he would know first. When he finally looked at it he ran around the room and finally came back and said, "there's a baby in there!" I know it's cliche but I instantly felt different.

Being pregnant is such a gift. I know its such a normal thing that it starts to seem like nothing, but it isn't nothing—your body is growing a freaking human. That is INSANE! And it drove me crazy to hear people complain so much about being pregnant. Yes, it can be uncomfortable. Yes, I threw up more in nine months than I have in my whole life. Sure, your body changes and it isn't always cute. Yes, you can't eat sushi or drink wine. But, complain about something I've been wanting my whole life? I seriously couldn't even fathom it.

So I was positive about it. Not forcefully, but if I was asked about it, I gave an honest answer about how much I enjoyed being pregnant. And I can't count how many comments, emails and in-person chats where people said things like, "it's so refreshing to hear someone talk positively about being pregnant." Why is that not the norm?

One of the main reasons I think it's important to approach this mindset during pregnancy (or even before) is because I think it sets you up for your birth. If you think getting stretch marks, uncomfortable sleep, swollen ankles, and whatever else is bad, where is your mind going to be when you're having painful contractions every few minutes? If you come from a place of gratitude throughout your pregnancy and you just roll with the punches—learning to love it knowing what it produces—then come labor, you are already in a place of confidence, gratitude and positivity which I think puts you in a good place for birth.

However, the more important reason I have a hard time stomaching the complaints is knowing how many women are heartbroken over infertility, and the trouble they're having getting pregnant. Or women who have lost babies. You have something they so desperately want and would give anything for, and showing anything but gratitude for the life inside you—no matter how uncomfortable—is really insensitive. To those women: You deserve apologies. And lots of them. 

I'm a complainer to my core. It's something I've been trying to work on for years in every area of my life. So I know the temptation. I know it well. Whenever I would get "complaining thoughts" I tried to take them captive immediately and realize just how lucky I was to have a baby, alive, inside of me. More than worth every ache and pain, stretch mark and sleepless night. 

I know this can be a controversial subject and people are entitled to complain about whatever they want—big or small—my hope is that you simply find this encouraging. Growing babies, birthing babies and raising babies is hard but staying positive and remaining thankful is so important. 

44 comments:

  1. I would have agreed with you if I were in my last night pregnancy, which I would consider pretty run-of-the-mill. This time around, though, I was so sick the first five months I had to take medication just to keep enough food down to gain rather than lose weight and spent weeks laying in bed, doing almost literally nothing all day. I couldn't believe it. I have no idea how common that is but now I think I am more sympathetic toward women who have challenging pregnancies.

    I didn't go around complaining about it (although not so much a bubbly person I'm not one for complaining), but boy do people loooove to ask pregnant women how they're feeling. And I don't have a great poker face - anyone I spent time with the first half of this pregnancy knows I felt like death warmed over.

    I understand that it's relative. A friend of mine was just a month further along in her pregnancy and lost the baby at 19 weeks. I know that my discomfort, no matter how severe, will end, and hopefully with a beautiful baby to show for it. Her pain is far deeper and an everlasting scar.

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    1. It sounds like you had what I had. Only about 2% of women get it. Hyperemesis gravidarum. I was one of the 10-20% of the 1-2% who had it the whole pregnancy, and it is literally hell. I feel justified in my complaints. Its a disease and not normal and everything we go through is not ok. Www.helpher.org has lots of info.

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    2. Yes. Me too!! And I heard it was 0.5% of women. We're the lucky ones (sarcasm.)

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  2. beautiful post.
    I had to smile at Josh's reaction, him running around the room. You too are so sweet and its such a joy to read about your relationship and positive outlook :)

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  3. This post is fantastic. As someone still waiting for the right time to start trying (financially and personally) it drives me bananas to hear perfectly healthy women with perfectly healthy pregnancies and babies complaining about how awful it is. NO SUSHI! NO SOFT CHEESES! NO DRINKING! How about strong, healthy body growing a strong, healthy baby? How about I am woman hear me roar? This post rocks and so do you.

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  4. On one hand this post hurts me. I totally get the sentiment, and I understand that you are mainly talking about normal pregnancies. I didnt have a normal pregnancy, and I complained. I still do, I have ptsd from it. It was still worth it for my amazing son, but I was one of the 1-2% of pregnant women who suffer from a pregnancy related disease called hyperemesis gravidarum. I was also one of the 10-20% of that 1-2% who had it throughout my whole pregnancy. HG is quite literal suffering, I had extreme nausea and vomiting 24/7. I lost over ten percent of my body weight. I lost friends, my marriage suffered, the emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical tolls were unbearable at times. I fear having another child I want to badly because my chances of having hg again are 80%. I hate to hear women with normal pregnancies complain. The regular pregnancy aymptims, even labor, were all bearable. I would do it over and over in a heartbeat if that were all I had to endure. Everytime I see someone getting to enjoy being pregnant it stings because hg robbed me of that. So, I complained, and I felt justified. My speaking out against the disease that almost killed me is my way of fighting back. Some people dont like to hear it, but how else will people be educated if hg sufferers dont speak out. Sometimes, some pregnant women, complain because it is all they can do. Like i said I know this post wasnt directed at women with pregnancies like mine, but i cant help but feel lumped in. You can find out more about hg at www.helpher.org

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  6. I am glad to see women with hg commenting on this. Our voice is our strength. Sometimes complaining is how we get the help we need. Hg is serious and dangerous for mom and baby. Other potentially deadly conditions can be caught early (preeclampsia) if one complains about it. I know this post is well intentioned, but it is hurtful. Pregnany is hard. And you can be grateful and be miserable. And being weak is okay. Asking for help is okay. Telling women just to be positive is so isolating and horrible for those of us who have experienced hg. I am not less than because I complained. In fact, I found support bc of it.I'm glad this worked for you, but remember not to judge others. That's the last thing we need as we all walk our own reproductive paths.

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  7. I believe some of you are missing the point of the post. There is a difference between being happy and being joyful. I don't have to like the pain I am in but I can still be joyful. I don't have to walk around with a fake smile on telling everyone you are great. Joyfulness is the attitude within you.

    I have been pregnant 16 times and have 14 beautiful children. It is not easy. It makes me so sad to hear women talk about how they wouldn't want to go through pregnancy or delivery again. What message are you sending to your precious child?

    Life is not easy. Pregnancy is not easy. Raising children is not easy. What an amazing testimony to be able to tell your children someday that while my pregnancy was difficult, you were worth every second and I would choose to do it again because I love my children!

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    1. I believe I understand the point of the post and there is a lot of truth to it, but I think you are missing the point some of the commenters are making. A small.percentage of women experience symptoms that actually make them feel like they want to die. I actually thought at one point that I'd prefer to lose my baby than continue dying. That is NOT a testament to my pain threshold or the love I have for my baby and to state otherwise only promotes guilt and prevents women from seeking treatment.

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    2. The women who have commented as I did, who have suffered from hg get the point in a way most others wont. We have been complained to about normal pregnancy symptoms while we are feeling like we may die from ours. HG, when managed, doesnt kill like it did, but it wasnt always the case. And by managed, I dont by any means mean thatvthe constant nausea is lessened, we still literally feel like we are dying. It is literally suffering. So, while we identify wirh what Abby is saying, there is a twinge of pain there BECAUSE we are lumped in with women who have regular pregnancies. A lot of people have no concept of what hg is and what sufferers experience. A lot of people put us down because we cant just eat a cracker and be done with it. We literally cannoy even hold down our own saliva...all day...everyday. my full term baby was preemie sized because my body literally had nothing left to offer him. Labor and delivery, while painful and difficult (i pushed five hours) were nothing in comparison to the nine months of hg. Does complaining make me less thankful, does it make me love my child less? I respond with a fierce no. I can say Ive sufferred more my child, and he was worth it, but I still speak out, I still tell my story, I still reach out to other sufferers and try to educate people. I participate in studies. I pray. I wish I could say I have as many children as you. I get it what it is like to hear people complain, its a slap in thr face when they complain they threw up a few times...and im like, really?!?! We get it more than you realize. We are thankful for our children and that they survived with us, more than you know. So, please, please do not misunderstand where hgers are comng from. We just passionately feel the need to be the voice we didnt have when we were too sick. If it comes across as complaining, so be it, but someone needs to speak out. Please look at the website I ppsted and eduxate yourself and others. Women are suffering.

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    3. Carrie--My mother also had horrible hg so she was my biggest supporter when I had it. I never ever, EVER thought my mother loved me any less when she talked about how pregnancy was so unbearable for her. NEVER. I saw her suffer with my sister. And she was the only person I could talk to truly openly about it. And with both my pregnancies she would call me everyday and just tell me to let it out, complain all I wanted. Because she knew how I was feeling and could empathize.

      So to answer you question, thats how your children will feel if you are honest with them about what you went through. Loved beyond measure.

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    4. Lonna, have you and your mom participated in the help her hg family study? There is strong evidence that it is genetic. Its just a cheek swab :)

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    5. No! Thank you for letting me know about it! I will look into right now. We looked at the website together and it was so validating to know it was out there.

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    6. It is! Its so great to be understood. If you cant find the info I can give you the email address. And also, if you feel led, you can volunteer with Beyond Morning Sickness. They provide books and write cards and such to current sufferers. I can also give you their email as well.

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    7. Yes, it would be great if you could pass a long the info. I looked, but am not sure I found the right thing. Thanks!

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  8. This is absolutely beautiful! Thank you for being so open and honest :)

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  9. I'm commenting anonymous because we haven't officially announced yet. ;)

    I'm 10 weeks along and this post was exactly what I needed to read. I joined a handful of pregnancy forums and then somewhat regretted it.. They're essentially chock full of complaining. Pregnancy is tougher than I ever suspected (and I'm only a quarter of the way there!) but all these crazy changes, the sickness, the exhaustion, the inability to poo (yea, I said it)...it's all for such a great cause and will be completely worth it in the end. Attitude changes everything.

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  10. Thank you so much for this. I am hesitant to read posts about pregnancy because my husband and I have been trying for awhile with no luck. It can be very painful and I just try to avoid the subject in general. But I felt like I should read this and I'm so glad I did. You are so wonderful and I love your mindset and THANK YOU for it! I appreciate it and when the day finally comes that I can make a human inside me, I hope to focus on the positive and enjoy it. :)

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  11. i've never been pregnant but i can definitely appreciate the beauty and sci-finess of it!!!! so crazy!!!

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  12. Thank you for this. So so much. This post was perfectly timed. Up until very recently I always succumbed to the lazy, negative monster inside me about anything and everything having to do with babies. I wasn't sure that I wanted children and the whole idea of pregnancy reached phobic-proportions of scariness to me. Then my best friend in the whole world got pregnant--surprise!--and suddenly the person that I commiserated with about the scary subject of pregnancy and child-rearing became a positive pregnancy pod person and I was absolutely thrown. Because of her pregnancy and childbirth I was forced to confront my fear on an almost daily basis when we hung out. It's taken me more than a year to truly warm to the idea of motherhood and within the last few months I have decided that I definitely DO want children and when it happens I don't want to be one of those complaining mothers. I respect your words here so much! Thank you again.

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  13. As someone who isn't quite ready for a child but knows more than anything that I would love to be a mother someday, this post was simply wonderful :) For me though, I think at this point I am mostly fearful of what to expect. And I know that the actual birthing part is but a relatively very short amount of time, the way that women have described it as some of the most pain they've ever felt...well, that's not very comforting! I read your birthing story though and it encouraged me. Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is, thank you for your honest and humble posts. I will keep all of this in mind when the time comes. <3

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  14. I agree that as soon as I got pregnant all I heard was negative comments like "oh your life is over!" "get ready to feel like crap!" and the like, and it wasn't very encouraging. I think it's terrible that that's what women tend to focus on when talking with each other about pregnancy! Although I have had a pretty "normal" pregnancy so far, there were still times when it felt awful and (in the moment) maybe the worst thing I have had to go through. I think it's important to remain positive and not complain, but on the same hand, not to go around pretending you are happy when you are not, that's not healthy either. I have always strived to be honest when people have asked me how I've been feeling, whether it be "So great, I love to feel the baby moving!" or "Ugh, I'm so sore and this heartburn is the worst". I think I'd go crazy if I couldn't vent once in a while!

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  15. Thank you so much for this. Over the past year my husband and I have suffered through two miscarriages. I just found out that I am pregnant again, and I live every moment in fear of losing yet another baby. I have dreams of myself throwing up and yet smiling through it because it only means that I'm pregnant. I can't wait to deal with swollen ankles, heartburn, and all that great stuff that means the hormones are working. Congratulations to you and your husband!

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  16. These are my thoughts exactly! Thank you for sharing them. I was pregnant last year as well, and there were many other pregnant women in my life at the time. All I heard from the women around me were complaints. I told others that I thought I enjoyed being pregnant so much because I wasn't experiencing the morning sickness, or back pain, or heartburn, while they were. However, this post reminds me that it's all about our own attitudes. I'll have to stick up for my positive attitude in the future, rather than make excuses for it.

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  17. What a beautiful post. I am a grandmother now. My granddaughters will be 12 and 1 next month (the 8th and 10th). I had 1 daughter and miscarried twice. I still remember how hard it was when people were pregnant around me and complaining about everything. I guess you wonder why a grandmother reads your blog, but I think yours is very honest and you show so much appreciation for life and the things and people in your life. :)

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  18. I love love love this. Beautiful!

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  19. You couldn't be more right, we help ourselves so much by working to think positively. Hormones and bodily pain have gotten the best of me during a few of my pregnancies, and I complained a lot. But when I would step back and look at the whole picture, or look at how much easier my struggles are than other's struggles, it was a little easier not to complain. To instead be thankful and dwell on the positive. Thank you for this little reminder! :)

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  20. Or maybe it's important to understand that human beings have feelings and we shouldn't be forced to swallow our own feelings just because there are other people in the world. I mean, do you understand what kind of message you're sending to women by encouraging them to fake emotions through something, especially something as unique to women as pregnancy?

    Women in America are already set apart from men in every way, and even set against each other. Instead of encouraging women to swallow their emotions, to lie about their experiences, to put every other stranger before them, we should encourage women to feel what they're feeling and to express it honestly.

    Quite frankly, I'm tired of being repressed and I certainly don't need an education in repression from a fellow woman.

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    1. I would like to thank you for this comment, Fenna Blue. This is exactly what I've been thinking. This post has made me so deeply uncomfortable, and I have come back to see what people had to say about it. Your thoughts echo mine.

      We spend enough time being told to feel guilty during our pregnancy and motherhood; why should we add this one more thing to the list? There isn't any value in swallowing your honest negative feelings just in case someone else may not like hearing them, not if they are honest negative feelings about an experience you are going through and not aimed at anyone else.

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    2. This post has made me really uncomfortable too.

      Pregnancy has been the most surreal, hard, beautiful and strange thing I've ever experienced. Throughout it I've had both 'positive' and 'negative' things to say. To do otherwise would be false. Why should I feel guilty for expressing all of the different facets of this crazy time? Why gloss over everything with a sugar coat? I certainly don't want to deny my own feelings.
      I hate this blind craze for 'positive thinking', it's smug and shallow, and denies the complex people we are, and the complex lives we lead. Yes it's good to try and see the positive in things and have gratitude and joy, but that doesn't mean ignore or deny things that are hard. Be honest!!! Life is not black and white. I refuse to feel guilty for expressing the many different sides of my pregnancy.

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    3. Agree with all the above so much! It is possible to be frustrated with the negative parts of pregnancy and still be absolutely grateful for the opportunity to bring a child in to this world. I had HG with two of my pregnancies. My third pregnancy was truly the worst experience of my life. I hate even thinking about it, it was pretty much the darkest time in my life. I find it super inappropriate for any woman to tell someone that they can't express their feelings about something, negative or positive. I seriously hate posts like this so much.

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    4. ^^^^ thankyou!!!! I have been having such a hard time with me pregnancy! I did not see this coming. I feel almost depressed because my pregnancy is not the positive joyful experience I thought it would be, and because I am a very honest person who is genuinely surprised by the things going on! I tell people.. Someone told me today that I should be positive and it is mind over matter.. And then continued to pile on the guilt because they know people who have lost their babies...!!!! So my pain is not valid? Like ouch!!!! Well thanks for making me feel better! I agree 100%!

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  21. Thank you for posting this. I had a horrible pregnancy, I have such PTSD from the pregnancy, delivery and subsequent days. I was on bed rest, I vomited my ENTIRE pregnancy, we almost lost our son in pregnancy and ended in an emergency cesarean as his heart stopped beating and they were losing mine. The entire pregnancy though, I did not complain ONCE. When I was literally sleeping on the bathroom floor, I was praising Jesus that I had the opportunity to be sick because I had a baby growing. When I couldn't eat anything but plain uncooked veggies (because any other taste or smell made me ill), I was praising Jesus I could get enough nutrients through those. When I was on bed rest and was told not to move except to use the restroom, I was praising Jesus the doctors could see what I needed and pass that to me. When I was rushed into the surgical room after 23 hours of labor and my baby was delivered with no heartbeat, I trusted Jesus had a plan in even that.

    I may seem a bit extreme and unrealistic, but 7 years prior to this, I had a stillborn - a son I will never get to comfort or watch grow... it took 6 years (and a miscarriage) to have another full term pregnancy. I had a very extreme pregnancy, on top of fears that I would lose this one as well. To hear people complain about their pregnancies (or children) is one of the most hurtful things to experience. I try to give others grace, as they have not walked the road I have, but when I leave, know that I am hurt and crying.

    Praise Jesus, my son is now healthy and 18 months old. I can't even fathom going through another pregnancy. On top of that, the doctors have advised against it, as both deliveries almost killed me as well. I am grateful for what I went through- hard, absolutely - but I see the blessings everyday. My faith was tested daily during my pregnancy. I know God has a plan.

    "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds"-James 1:2

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  22. This post is so beautiful! I totally agree, and think I was a bit too guilty of complaining during pregnancy. But sometimes I miss it! Shhh don't tell ;) What an amazing thing it is to grow a life.

    And on a total frivolous note- I'm in love with the shirt in your first picture! So cute! Do you mind sharing where it's from?

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  23. Marin Cordova BoydMarch 31, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    Ugh Abi you are the best! This post was seriously so (really cliche word coming up) inspiring. I mean that in all honesty. You are an amazing woman who is so filled with the grace of God that I constantly see joy brimming over in your life. This post made me very very excited to, Lord willing, one day be pregnant too!!!

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  24. This is such a beautiful post! You took the words right out of my mouth! I am not pregnant yet, but hope to be soon and agree, pregnancy while can be very hard is such an amazingly beautiful thing! It's so amazing what our bodies our capable of doing. You are growing a human being! Cherish every moment of it. xoxo

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  25. Thank you so much for this. This was so soothing to hear after 5 years of trying and having to go through the most terrifying, painful and expensive IVF process without even the assurance it would work. I've always thought that everything about pregnancy was magical and amazing because you are growing a human! And that is hard work! But nothing compared to parenting, I'm sure. I'm choosing to treasure every moment of this pregnancy, every pain and lurch of my stomach because I now know intimately how many tiny things had to go right to make this miracle happen.

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  26. Hi Abi,
    When I found out I was pregnant (by puking my brains out) all I wanted to do was complain. Then you posted this while I was still in the midst of my morning sickness. At first, I thought you probably didn't have morning sickness or you were just a little crazy. But I felt that God brought your words to me for a reason so I prayed about it. I did come to the conclusion to try my best not to complain. I am honest when asked how I feel but I don't feel it necessary to dwell on the negative. At first, I thought my quest to maintain a positive attitude was simple to be respectful of those who are unable to experience pregnancy or have had a miscarriage(s). Recently, another blogger I follow who is just a month ahead of me and also having a girl found out that her sweet angel had a genetic bone growth disorder and the prognosis was very grim. This bloggers little angel went to be with Jesus on June 24th. I am overwhelmed with sadness for this blogger but also try to rejoice with her in the fact that her baby girl is dancing in heaven which she would have never been able to do on this earth. At this moment I was so grateful that I had chosen to stay positive through the hardest moments of my pregnancy. Some only get half a pregnancy to enjoy our babies. This experience has taught me to live in the moment and take each day one day at a time. Thank you for sharing this bit of wisdom with us. You were very brave to do so.

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  28. I think that this post criticizes vocalizing about the discomforts of pregnancy from just one perspective. It is easier to deal with when just you suffer as a result - to remind yourself that the trade offs are worth it. But the very real emotional and physical toll of pregnancy are a whole other level to contend with when it renders you unable to parent well and remain emotionally stable in the midst of a busy family life with other young children who also need you. My last pregnancy was traumatic and horribly hard, and I'm not going to be ashamed to say that - women struggling with a hard pregnancy need to know that they're not alone. The real struggles of pregnancy and solidarity in sharing the struggles are important and the same goes for birth.

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  29. I love this post. Some people may have serious issues, but most are just whiners and seeking attention. They are spoiled, ungrateful brats who never dealt with any health issues. How can they not focus on the bigger, happier picture? It would seem bad karma to complain so.

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  30. I just found out I was pregnant a few days ago and I haven't 'complained' about anything.I am a teacher who's been teaching for 13 years and now I am finally pregnant with my own so you can imagine how elated I am.But I did notice some changes in my mood(crying over the littlest thing).I read some articles and realised it was perfectly normal.But my dear spouse thinks I should 'Change my mindset and look at things positively.' I wasn't even being negative to start with.Lol!But it is a little frustrating to have someone who isn't going through the same physical changes as I am to just sit there and make it sound like it's easy to just DO something.

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