Pregnancy: Let’s Get Real

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Real Life: Wearing my hubby’s clothes, hair not done, no make-up…Nope, I can only do two things today; homeschool while trying to keep my cookies down…

I really admire optimistic people. You know those really sunny, smiley, eternally happy people that find the silver lining in everything and don’t seem to even feel or see anything negative. I love to be around people like that, they are inspiring and really just make your day. I want to be like that so I try to surround myself with what I want to become.

However, I’m not there yet. I wouldn’t say I’m a pessimist, but I’m very realistic. I can see the positive, but I don’t ignore the negative. I also need realistic people in my life, I want someone that is going to tell me how it is, or will be. Someone that will give it to me straight. I want to know what to REALLY expect.

So with that said, these next few posts on pregnancy are going to be realistic. They are my experiences, I am not a doctor nor expert in any way. I have had 8 pregnancies in the last 10 ½ years and am just about to complete my 5th full-term pregnancy in January. Every person and every body is different so I really don’t think anyone has the same kind of pregnancy as some one else. Furthermore, in my experience every pregnancy is different, though you may have some things that are similar with each one.

So let’s get real.

1.) Morning Sickness:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           -First of all I have NO idea why it is called MORNING sickness. For me it is all day and all night sickness. Morning is worst because my blood sugar is low and I’m so tired. Evenings are more indigestion issues. I generally start to feel queasy at conception and get to the “constantly” sick point at around 6-8 weeks and it goes to more infrequent spurts of sickness around 25-30 weeks, but I have had stomach issues for the entire 9 months for each pregnancy.

2.) Energy:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -For me, the tiredness is worse when the morning sickness is worse and then again toward the end. Not sure if it’s because I’m busier with each subsequent pregnancy and have less time to rest, but it seems that with each pregnancy I have had to battle the fatigue more. I also have a very hard time sleeping in general when I’m pregnant. In the beginning my stomach issues are the biggest hurdle, I can usually only sleep on my left side or I throw up. As the baby gets heavier my sciatica and tail-bone decide to wake me up in pain. The last couple of months I have really bad insomnia and though I’m incredibly tired I have a horrible time going and staying asleep, probably because by this time my mind is working MUCH more than my body is able to keep up so I get a bit frustrated and then anxiety kicks in. After the morning sickness is not constant I do find that I can get by with more normal amounts of sleep, but I still have to lay down to rest my back and veins for a bit during the day. I have had the “nesting” phase kick in with each pregnancy 2-3 weeks before delivery in differing phases. Sometimes it’s just enough to motivate me to get prepared for the baby while other times my husband has woken up at all hours of the night to find me scrubbing the top of the refrigerator (true story)!

3.) Body Changes:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 -You could get breast augmentation or you could get pregnant. Seriously, the girls GROW! My first pregnancy I went from a small C-cup to a very full E-cup….I didn’t even know until then that an E-cup existed! My poor first born trying to breast feed…you try latching on to a beach ball! Thankfully with my subsequent pregnancies I’ve gone only up to a DD-cup, but since it’s still quite the leap and my upper back and neck definitely feel the strain. Also, by my second pregnancy the ladies shrunk down to a full C-cup generally by month 4 postpartum.

-I’m nearly 6ft tall and just generally a large person. I also carry my babies low and to the back. Thus, I don’t even look pregnant until I’m about 5-6months. I’ve been told by dozens of people that this is a wonderful thing. While I’m sure there are benefits, the cons I’ve had to deal with are sciatica, tail-bone displacement, varicose veins, and back labor. Also, though comparatively speaking my tummy doesn’t get “out there” I’ve had abdominal separation (diastasis recti) with each pregnancy, and it’s never knitted back together completely after the last three, though I have gotten close. My hips and ribs also always have grown as the baby pushes away at my insides, sometimes getting up to 4 inches wider. Thankfully they’ve gone back to position by month 5 postpartum, at the latest.

-As for weight gain, I have always lost weight (between 10-15 lbs) during the first trimester and usually don’t hit my pre-pregnancy weight again until about 5 months along. But don’t you worry! I do PLENTY of catching up in those last 4 months;) I’m not huge on weighing myself, I don’t even own a scale on purpose cause I get too obsessive. So I’m never real sure what my exact pre-pregnancy weight is but I’ve gained anywhere from 19 lbs with my second pregnancy to this pregnancy I’m currently at 44 pounds at 37 weeks! Yikes! I usually lose a few pounds at the end but suffice it to say I’ve got my work cut out for me after this one;)

-In the first trimester I generally have problems with body regulations. I don’t urinate often cause I’m vomiting up the liquids and/or not able to tolerate them, then due to lack of hydration I am generally constipated. I also am generally very cold during the first trimester and have a hard time regulating my body temperature. I get faint easily and often get headaches due to hydration issues. By the last trimester I generally just feel out of control of my body. I’m hot then cold. Gas is coming out both ends without warning. My bowels can’t decide whether to speed up or slow down. If I drink anything, or laugh, or cough, or pick up my toddler, or sit down or get up to fast, or go over bumps in the car, I have to pee. During two of my pregnancies I’ve had some swelling in my hands and feet/ankles, they’ve also been the ones in which I’ve gained the most weight, so go figure. Though I’ve always been able to keep my wedding ring on the entire time, every pregnancy either due to swelling and/or my feet actually widening, I’ve had shoes that I have to wait ‘til about 4-5 months postpartum to fit into again.

-Obviously, having a little baby inside of you is going to create some discomfort. Though the babies movements are thrilling and interesting on one hand, having someone kick your bladder, suffocate your lungs, press on your intestines and push your spine and ribs apart can be a bit disconcerting at times. I’ve found that personality tends to drive the types and frequency of movements. My more active and exuberant children have been that way even in the womb. My “dancer” today would hear one note of music in the womb and start “dancing”. Interestingly, my two children that have had the hardest time with sibling rivalry were that way from the beginning, if my toddler sat on my lap and the baby could feel her she would push at her until she moved. Thankfully, I’ve come to the point of acceptance for the most part and thankfully my last couple babies haven’t been the kick-boxers my first couple wereJ

4.) Emotions

-Generally speaking I’m a wreck when I’m pregnant. I cry over EVERYTHING. I over-react over EVERYTHING. I’m also much more “needy”, feeling lonely more easily and not liking to do things by myself. I get stressed and overwhelmed more easily. I generally hit some “blues” during all of my pregnancies, mostly due to overwhelm I think, but with two of my pregnancies I’ve had quite the battle with prenatal (antenatal) depression which seems to dissipate after the birth. I also get a bit of a “head-trip” when I really start gaining weight and my belly starts to grow. I like to be fit and seeing my body look more like the Michelin Man kind of makes me feel a little insecure, even downright ugly at times. Overall it’s a roller-coaster, I’m happy, then sad, then angry, then anxious….up and down and all around. Honestly, it’s just REALLY annoying.

5.) Spirituality

– Though incredibly related to emotions, I’m putting a separate category for this because it is truly a life changing experience. Honestly, I detest pregnancy in every other aspect other than this one. I would guess that I’ve had an overall feeling of deeper and more intense spiritual experiences during pregnancy largely because I am so intimately connected with another living spirit. Those that would argue that the fetus is not technically human, nor spiritually aware have never felt the immediate difference one feels even during the first trimester of pregnancy. There is definitely another spirit with you. With each of my pregnancies I have felt not only a presence but a definite personality and being with me. It is truly an amazing experience and it’s no surprise that when your baby is finally born it’s as if you’ve always had them in your life. God is truly wise.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, this is more just to “tell it like it is”, from my experience. In my following posts on pregnancy I’ll deal more with tips and advice. And still further posts on labor and postpartum.

Stay tuned:)

LIFE CLEANSE: OUTLINE

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“Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.” Stephen R. Covey

So do you remember a while back, well it would have been at the beginning of the year when I posted we were going on a beach trip and then I was coming back to start my 2014 LIFE CLEANSE?

Did you see my post right after about our crazy stressful trip that, although full of mercy and learning, left me a bit frazzled?

Here’s the deal, I was originally planning a 90-DAY LIFE CLEANSE. Yep, whole thing start to finish from January through March.

Well, here it is April and I’m just now getting to the next Phase!

At first I was kind of getting down on myself, which was definitely not helping the process, and then I thought to myself, “Come on Meg! Who put a time limit on this thing anyway?! You did! Nobody else is imposing these time restrictions! You silly thing, just keep working on improving, stop with the crazy/impossible expectations!”

So, here I am. I went back to the original 2014 LIFE CLEANSE title to relieve my personal anxiety on the subject. Plans are more motivating to me when they have a title;) Also, I’ve taken a more “Move on when you’re ready” approach to reaching the next phase.

Each Phase of my plan has a Section that I can work on exclusively or in connection with the other two sections. Also, each section tries to focus on a different aspect of my being (ie: spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, etc.)

Here’s my ORIGINAL plan:

Phase 1: Renew, Revitalize, Reflect

Renew: This is meant to be a more Spiritual and Emotional Section of Improvement. Spiritually I want to Repent and Forgive (mostly myself), moving forward, as if I was starting life anew. Emotionally I want to leave Discouragement and Self-doubt behind and move forward with Hope and Courage.

Revitalize: This is a more Physical Section of Improvement. For myself, I know I need to focus more on self-care, especially rest. Sleep, breaks, and focusing more on where I’m “letting myself go” physically. It’s impossible to fill everyone’s bucket from my empty one. Also, in my surroundings, to make myself more efficient and productive I’m organizing, downsizing, and deep cleaning my home. This “spring-cleaning” is always very refreshing for me.

Reflect: This is a Mental, although touching on the Emotional and Spiritual Improvement Sections as well. This will of course require Heavenly help, my knees will get a workout With this Section I want to focus on three main questions: What do I really need to change in my life ? What is/are the root(s) of what is holding me back from this change? What changes can I make that will make change in my family?

Phase 2: Study, Strengthen, Synthesize

Study: A mostly Spiritual Section, a need to focus more on the quality of my study rather than quantity. I’ve been going through the motions lately and don’t feel the invigoration of learning and inspiration as strongly as I once did. I mostly want to focus on my study of Scripture, being “IN” my prayers and not just habitual monologues, and the topics that I have pondered on during my time of Reflection in Phase 1.

Strengthen: In this Physical focused Section I was to hone my routines/habits. Making sure I “Put first things first” (Stephen Covey), namely my study and self-care. Also, taking a literal interpretation of the section, I want to focus more on changing my exercise routine to include more strength training. I’m finding I can do my daily Mommy tasks when my body is in better condition.

Synthesize: This will be mostly a Mental Section. I want to focus on how I can use the emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical aspects of my being to work together more efficiently and productively. I believe this will mean paying more attention to timing, and highs and lows of the day/week/etc. For this section I will focus more on receiving guidance through prayer, and daily planning, using a long-term vision. Also I plan to write the things I’m discovering about myself so that I can forecast what, when, and how to do tasks/activities.

Phase 3: Clarify, Cleanse, Create

Clarify: This will be a Mental and probably Emotional Section. At this point in the process I am hoping I can define what really are the roots of my personal vices. The idea being, to kill the problem from the source.

Cleanse: A Physical Section that will focus mostly on food cleansing. Omitting some foods and adding others to cleanse my body of toxins and hopefully find a good food balance that will lessen the “build-up” in the future.

Create: Another Mental, Spiritual and Emotional Section mix. Now that I have found the roots, I want to create a “game-plan” of how I can use my virtues to eliminate the vices. This will probably be an ongoing process but I’m thinking that the earlier Phases will help me get rid of distraction and focus on the things that will empower me to make real change.

Another thing I noticed after I started working was that the Phases kind of overlap. Right now I’m still working on Revitalize from Phase 1, and I’m learning that Renew is something that needs to happen more regularly…. but I’ve moved on to all three Phases in Phase 2, albeit slowly;).

I’m hoping this makes sense. Sometimes my ideas only make sense to me;)
I’ll be posting and hopefully vlogging some of what I’ve been learning in this process of Cleansing my life. My main goal is to find the main roots of change in my life that need to be made. I realize that some may take a life-time to change but I think that the identifying and concentrating on specifics will help me progress more successfully.

The Roller-Coaster

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So funny how silence can feel like a cold, uninviting void or a soft welcoming blanket. Chocolate a calming balm of Gilead or a secret, forbidden indulgence. Children’s laughter a musical joy that sends your heart singing or a rake of noise that boils your irritation. A song can be a warm whimsical welcome to nostalgia or a deep aching remembrance of heartache. Even a hug can become a two-sided coin of acceptance and love or of awkward realization of detachment.

What can make such straightforward things have two totally different outcomes? Well……you……

It’s us, our feelings and memories of feelings that create our world. Even very logical people are susceptible to the human code of emotion. I would argue that our deep emotions make us human. So why is it that we are so confused about what to do with them?

I ponder over this a lot. As a youth I used improper coping mechanisms that buried all negative emotion to the point of becoming blank, unfeeling. I can tell you that I did not feel human, actually life became very meaningless.

Fortunately, I continued my habits of prayer, gospel study, worship and devotions during this difficult time and the right people, experiences, and thoughts were put in my path so that I could find my way out of that dark and dreary waste. God is good.

Once I started allowing myself to feel again it was a bit of a mess. A mess that unfortunately, I still find myself in every now and again. I knew and know that learning to control my emotions did not mean that I would get rid of them or ignore them or belittle myself for them…..I must feel them and deal with them…..Easier said than done.

So, now as I still am working on dealing with negative feelings in a healthy way I find three things that have helped me beyond measure;

  1. God

–          If I am putting God first in my life, it is just easier. I show Him that He is first by reading and studying His words every day, praying daily, going to my Sunday worship services, and trying to do as He would do. Then I have His Spirit to guide me, and  I can know the BEST way to deal with an emotion or avoid many negative ones altogether.

  1. Step Away but don’t Put Away…yet….

–          When I’m feeling something negative I try to take a step away from the emotion to look at it, identify it, and see why I would be feeling this way. This helps me see the problem and I can better attack it at its source.

Also, many times I think I am feeling one thing but the root of the problem is really another (anger turning out to be loneliness or mourning, etc)

There are also times when my emotions are so mixed up, usually because other people are involved and I don’t have enough information to come to a conclusion, that I HAVE to put it away or get rid of it altogether. If I think for some reason I will need to analyze the feelings in the future I literally picture putting them in a glass jar and twisting the top on and putting them on a shelf in the corner of my mind. If I don’t see any reason for hanging on to those feelings then I blow them away into the sky and picture them fading away into oblivion. This may seem corny, but it works!

  1. Make a Plan

-Sometimes we need a game plan.

My biggest downfalls are depressive/discouragement type feelings and anger so when I get inklings of these feelings I first analyze and find the source and then I get to work.

With the “down” feelings I usually find that it’s one of three things, over-worked, under-worked, or comparing. When I’m over-worked, I take a break. When I’m what I call “under-worked”, it means I’m not striving for excellence, just going through the motions and not improving and learning. If this is the case I start the goal-setting and planning and add other interesting and uplifting reading material to my daily study.

Comparing…. Well, this is a hard one. Sometimes it is good, because it makes me realize something I need to improve on. Many times though it’s destructive because I’m comparing the surface level of what I see in someone elses life, with what is most likely one of their strengths, with a deep, down and ugly view of my own life with what is usually one of my weaknesses. This is when I have to slap myself into being realistic, make any changes I think are necessary and turn the rest over to the Lord.

Emotion is a beautiful gift from God. But like everything else, there is opposition. This is necessary, how can we know joy without sorrow? Forgiveness without offense? Love without loneliness? Humility without anger? However, we will decide what becomes of us by how we deal with these complexities of life. For me, there are days when it’s a minute by minute battle of what I will allow to take over my life. But when I put God first, take a step back and make a plan, the battle becomes a mere discussion and my virtue can increase. And that is what I strive for, a virtuous life.

What helps you to deal with the emotions of life?