They said there’d be a glow.

They said there’d be a glow. The only glow I had, I paid $15.95 for at the local drugstore and came in the form of a bentonite clay mask – which I was using to control this outburst of adult acne that accompanied my first trimester. No one tells you that part about pregnancy. The down, the dirty, the reality of the toll growing a human takes on your body. No ones tells you how early the “mom-guilt” starts from not only those around you but even in your own subconscious. 

“Are you sure you want to eat that?”

“Everything you eat goes directly to that baby.”

“I haven’t kept my prenatals down in days, I’m failing my child.”

“Sickness is a good sign, you should be happy about it.”

“Don’t take the nausea medicine, you can handle this, women have been doing it for centuries.”

Guilt. No one told us that this was pregnancy.

During our first ER trip after a couple of days of throwing up – 7 weeks in – I laid on the bed with my eyes closed. Thinking of my husband who I know is exhausted, sitting beside me in the middle of the night, holding my hand while they change the IVs. The one thing that I’ve wanted, dreamed of, imagined my whole life – was the joy and blessing that it would be to carry a child. 

Under the incandescent hospital lights, no one told us that this was pregnancy. 

In this time in a women’s life when I expected to feel the most loved, the most surrounded by God’s grace and the most enlightened as a woman – even through the support of my loving, serving husband, our awesome families and encouraging text messages – I have never felt more alone in my life. I could barely stand the idea of being hugged, let alone snuggled or kissed because I was feeling smothered, not by anything physically around me, but by the pressure of the broken expectations. 

The idea of a social life went something like this: 

“Ya, sure lets get together on Saturday, it’ll be so awesome to catch up!”

Saturday morning: “ya, I’m on day 4 of throwing up, we’re probably not going to make it…”

So I stopped making plans. Soon after, they stopped checking on me too, as if I was contagious. I wasn’t, I was just defeated. 

Defeat. No one told us this was pregnancy.

People would ask how I was doing while at work, church or out and about – my response went from “I’m great, so excited” to “I’m here.” Because getting there was now the best and probably the only thing that I would accomplish on that day. I would pray throughout my whole day “God, do this for me. Be my strength, nourish this child because I’m failing you.” Patrick was praying throughout his days “God, help me support her because I don’t know how anymore. Get her through this because I can’t take this suffering from her.” 

Suffering. No one told us that this was pregnancy.

During our second ER visit – 15 weeks in – after 5 straight days of crippling sickness we finally decided to get the prescription and take the medicine. I cried. I have never felt like I’d failed as much at anything as I did at pregnancy – the one thing that I felt I was made for.

I was one of the lucky ones. At 5 months pregnant and a few weeks into the diclectin, I’m on the mend. Sick days are fewer and far between. I still take my mornings slow and my evenings short, but I am finally feeling a sense of comfort in carrying a child. A comfort that I believed didn’t exist. Everyday I am in disbelief that God continued to nourish our child through days I could not – that after a month of very little food, Tiny continues to grow.

The lessons I’ve learned throughout this time seem endless. I am greatful for the ability to carry this particular child for as long as I have and hopefully as long as needed, when others often miss this experience. I pray everyday that God’s will be done in our lives, as much as others. I can’t wait for the day that I will get to hold Tiny in my arms and share with them how loved they are.

I decided to write this brutally honest piece about my experience, not to depress you or discourage you, but to instead share that even the most wonderful blessings aren’t without their own trials. 

Leaning not on our own understanding is one of the most terrifying yet comforting calls that we could have on our lives.

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

One thought on “They said there’d be a glow.

  1. Oh Brenna, I know your pain.

    For sure, if every mom made an accumulative list of the agonies associated with child conceiving, losing, carrying, bearing, raising, and launching, likely our species would soon become extinct! Some days you are thrilled, others, you don’t know how you will make it through the next 10 minutes let alone the next 18 years! And oh the guilt we can heap on ourselves.

    From years of infertility and painful, nauseating, exhausting, disappointing treatments… to severe nausea through the entirety of my pregnancies… to 8 times a day testing blood sugar and giving myself injections…to 30 hour labour through pancreatitis and gall bladder attacks… to the delivery bed breaking beneath me… to almost dying during the delivery of my twins… (and I could go on). You get the picture. For some people the entire process goes easily like in the books and movies. And other people suffer. Greatly. Deeply. Far more than me.

    My greatest disappointment in that first year was not being able to breastfeed my babies… after weeks of trying and bleeding and lactation consultants, and so on. I felt like I had let my children down in a way that would impede their well-being for life. And it’s such an intense primal urge to fulfill. But for me, it was not to be. And guess what…they could care less. They had feeding cuddles shared with others, not just me.

    God is not just watching us go through these times of uncertainty and disappointment as a detached bystander. He brings us to them, holds our hand, calls our name softly, and gently assures us that he will grant us great blessing if we would only drawn near, lean into him, relax in his care, and fully release the outcome (all parts…even the guilt) to his loving care. Sometimes we weep and scream and bang our fists on his chest. And he just holds us. He never wants us to let go, but we tend to have our “fit” and run off to sulk on our own. But he calls us back because only he is big enough to handle this thing called life. And guilt is never, ever from him. Satan is the accuser and is the one who gets in your head and heart & tells you you’re not good enough or you’re too this or that. The earlier we learn to live a life free of guilt, the sooner we live a free life.

    My prayer for you as you walk through the days before you with wonder and anticipation is that you would entrust every wee detail, and their outcomes, to the God who wishes you to live in deep intimacy (not at arm’s length) with him. There will be disappointments. There will be pain. But, there will be joy.

    Love ya!

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