This summer was slow. The days dragged on and I felt as though I was wilting. Maybe it was the intense heat of living in the high desert. Maybe it was misery of nausea that lasted all day and night. Probably both.
Are you one of those lucky women who barely noticed just a few queasy moments the first three months? No, me either. For me the term “nausea” is putting it mildly.
Every day I would wake up to a knawing stomach growling in hunger, only to rebell at the first sip of water or bite of breakfast put into it. Some days–the good ones–it would be more like a chronic annoyance reminding me of the blueberry inhabiting my lower abdomen. But most days the nausea would turn into dry heaves (or often worse), then settle back to an all day ebb and flow of constant nausea, fluctuating between bad, miserable, and borderline debilitating. By evening I would be spent, dreading the few minutes it would take to fall asleep without a TV show to distract me from the sickening revolt of my stomach.
Ginger didn’t help. Neither did saltines, fizzy water, warm Dr. Pepper, SeaBands, vitamin B6, essential oils, citrus scents, or the two prescriptions my midwife gave me. After slogging through three preganacies of nausea/vomiting and spending a total of nearly a year of my life in what feels like the worlds worst stomach flu, I have finally accepted the fact that this awful feeling is something that I just have to endure.
But the worst part is the guilt. The feeling so bad that I can’t be a better mom, a more engaged mom. A mom who takes her kids to the park on a summer day and doesn’t dry heave the second she steps into the heat. A mom who can make a whip up a real meal and not barely manage to fill four glasses with a mixed berry smoothie for dinner. A mom who doesn’t need dad to come in a put the toddler down for a nap, or let him find the kids in front of the TV again after a long day of work with wet laundry clinging to the inside of the washer and a kitchen floor covered in spilled Cheerios.
The guilt is awful. As a mother I don’t know a worse feeling than that of letting your family down. When mom is down, the whole house just stops.
But in my laying around I have realized, I’m not a bad mom. I’m dealing with nausea that’s on the extreme end of what’s considered normal. It’s ok to be sick. It’s ok to rest. I am a better mom when I ease up on myself and conserve my energy than when I try to meet the demands of everyone. Demands that usually are not urgent or concerning. Wet laundry will eventually dry.
Someday soon this will be done and I’ll feel better. I’ll be able to cook, and eat, and enjoy my daily responsibilities again. But until then, I cut myself some slack. I take a break, not just from the chores and expectations, but from the guilt of not being able. Because the guilt and pressure to be something I physically can’t right now isn’t worth it.
What is worth it is feeling cared for. It’s seeing my five year old make his little sister a PB&J for lunch because Mom is too sick to move. Or watching the glee of the two year old when I serve up a tall glass of her favorite breakfast for dinner. It’s worth it to let my husband pick up the slack because he sees what he can do to make this baby a little easier on me.
In my misery, my family has grown. They have started to see how a new life will ask more of mom, and how they need to mature. Because nothing will be the same when the baby comes. Life doesn’t go back to normal. It grows into a new normal; a family, who as it expands, also depends more upon the others. Soon there will be a third looking to me for everything it needs. But right now, I’m looking to them. And they have not disappointed.