Mind Over Belly

Get a group of ladies together and you are sure to eventually hear talk of having babies. And as sure as you will hear talk of having babies, you will hear talk of what pregnancy was like for each woman. Many of these stories sound like something out of a war memoir. In fact, if you stay long enough, they will begin to try to outdo one another.

“My back hurt so bad, I had to sleep with 5 pillows!”

“Well, my back hurt so bad, I had to sleep in the recliner!”

“Well, my back hurt so bad, I didn’t sleep at all!”

or

“My morning sickness was so bad, I lost 10 pounds!”

“Well, my morning sickness was so bad, I took anti-nausea meds!”

“Well, my morning sickness was so bad, I lost 20 pounds because I couldn’t keep the anti-nausea meds down!”

It’s not that we mean to get into this little competition of sorts, it’s just that we are certain no one had it as rough as we did and somehow we must prove it…even if we have to embellish just a wee bit. And honestly, there are some of us, who don’t need to embellish a single bit to have quite the war, I mean pregnancy, story to tell.

But, is all this dreary exchange of the worst “this” and the worst “that” really a constructive use of our time? Does it help us in any way? Not really. In fact, I would submit that it actually makes things

MUCH
worse.

Case in point…

With my first baby, I spent the last 2 months wishing it was over. Let me tell you that was a LONG 2 months!

With my second child, I had horrid, awful morning sickness. I was terribly depressed because of it, an emotional train-wreck. In fact, I nearly went through with having my tubes tied so I would never, ever have to do that again.

Then, a 3 year gap in babies. During that unexpected time, I learned much. One thing I learned was from a friend who was carrying her first child. She NEVER complained. Even when she went long overdue, she NEVER complained. Some of the women who knew her would whisper about how she was too good to be true and they didn’t know how she could possibly be content and be that overdue. Her answer to their incredulous looks of pity sounded something like this, “I don’t mind. Baby will come when it is time.” However, as her friend, I knew she hurt. Her hips were creaking, her back was always out of place, and she had endured the same horrid morning sickness that I had. However, she was bound and determined to enjoy every second of growing this new little life.

What I gleaned from her contentment was a new outlook on handling my own pregnancies. And when I became pregnant just a few months after she gave birth to her son, I CHOSE to adopt a positive outlook despite the difficulties that lie ahead.

In fact, looking back, I KNOW my pregnancy with our third child was by far, the most difficult. The morning sickness kept me on the couch until 20 weeks, the anti-nausea meds did nothing to help. I had horrible Restless Legs Syndrome to the point I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning bouncing on my birthing ball until with legs so exhausted and weak, I would literally fall into bed. I had hemorrhoids that required pain meds, and a host of other “issues” that need not be mentioned here lest they embarass the writer beyond recovery. Had I not worked very hard to stay positive and happy, I could have tumbled into the miry-clay of self-pity and really, no one would have faulted me one little bit.

But, instead, I made the best of everything. I even performed in a Broadway Revue where I sang “Broadway Baby” in all my 8 1/2 months of glory. I kept a smile on my face and happy words on my lips. If nothing else, I was convincing myself that this was a good pregnancy…an easy pregnancy. By golly, I could do this again!

And that, my dear readers, is the true moral of this story. What good does it do us to wallow in our aches and pains? Does it truly help to recount every awful moment of our pregnancy to anyone who stands near us more than 2 seconds? What do our other children learn from our belly-achin’? Mama hates having babies? Babies are horrible little parasites? Pregnancy is nothing but pain that ends in pain so we can bring the little pain home to live?

Not that I think it is wrong to share and empathize and occasionally vent, but to spend our entire pregnancies lamenting every single aspect of growing a baby doesn’t show a whole lot of gratitude to the Giver of Life. These little blessings aren’t just blessings once they get here, they are blessings from the very beginning.  So many people forget to enjoy their pregnancies.  From the positive test to the first push, they are just itchin’ to get it all over with.

But, what would happen if you actually tried to enjoy your pregnancy? What would happen if you put a smile on your face and looked for the good instead of dwelling on the bad? What would happen if when someone suggested you must be miserable you said in return, “Oh no! I LOVE being pregnant!” No, there wouldn’t be a long exchange of war stories. No, you couldn’t let them know just how horrible you actually feel. But, imagine your testimony. You feel BLESSED to be carrying a child, not BURDENED! When the whole nation sees children as a pain to be endured, you see them as a privilege to be held…inside as well as outside.

Drink those moments in, ladies! Consider all the beauty of pregnancy. Stop dwelling on every single ache and pain. Treasure those kicks. Enjoy the fringe benefits of being pregnant…the naps no one questions, the best seat in the house, the ready-made tray table, also known as your belly! It truly can be a beautiful time in your life, but you have to resolve to practice a little mind over matter…or in this case, mind over belly!

Enjoy!

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28 thoughts on “Mind Over Belly

  1. I have been reading your blog for a while now, but I’ve never commented. I really can relate to your post… my third pregnancy I also adopted an attitude of gratefulness, and it made me have a much better time of things despite the aches and pains. What brought it home for me was my dear friend miscarried her baby (a miracle pregnancy, a total surprise) just a week after I learned of my pregnancy. Our babies would have been born days apart. Instead, we grieved her loss together through my entire pregnancy. Praise the Lord, she delivered a healthy baby boy almost a year later.Anyhow, I just wanted to say “hello” and I appreciate reading your thoughts.Beth

  2. What a beautiful post, and no truer words were spoken. As one who will probably never have any more babies, I miss it terrible. And yes, my 2nd and 3rd pregnancies were really rough and both deliveries were scary…but given the chance, I’d do it again. So I try to remind my friends who are PG to ENJOY every second of it. It’s a blessing we need to be THANKFUL and GRATEFUL for, not complaining just because that’s what everyone else seems to do. Prayers for the rest of YOUR pregnancy! And I’m trying to figure out how to copy/paste your link to my blog!

  3. Pregnancy is a gift. A miracle. I marvel every time I am pregnant at the creativity of our God. Each pregnancy I am amazed at God’s goodness in allowing me to carry another precious gift. We should take nothing for granted. We should savor each moment of pregnancy. It is not the curse that the world makes it out to be. It is an amazing beautiful thing to experience. Thanks for your post.

  4. Thanks for the great comments, ladies! And DeeDee, you are so very right…we cannot take our fertility for granted. How very sad it would be if we had spent our last pregnancy whining the entire time.Dana…to copy and paste, I think you can just right click on the picture and copy it to your blog. Try it and let me know if that works.

  5. I never understood the ‘pregnancy horror story thing’! I loved every minute of being pregnant!! I didn’t have totally easy pregnancies, but they were just the ‘normal’ preggy problems. I loved having that little life inside of me so much – it was like being part of a miracle! I’m now so incredibly glad that I made the most of every minute. I went on to have five pregnancies that ended in miscarriage, and now I can’t carry any more children. When I found that I couldn’t have any more, I grieved deeply. Not for not being able to have more children – because God promised to bring more children into our home through adoption and I KNOW they will be just as much ‘MY KIDS’. I grieved for not being able to ‘be pregnant’ again – I loved it so!! You are so right that we need to treasure these times – also because we take for granted that it can happen again. What if you knew this was your last pregnancy? Would you treasure the moments more? Just a thought for others reading this. Thanks for sharing so openly.

  6. Wow Amy, that was profound. The effect that “horror” stories has on the next generation of mothers is so evident. As a doula I hear many a young woman tell me how terrified they are at the thought of being pregnant and giving birth. It takes MUCH education and encouragement to undo these drilled in ‘facts’ that pregnancy and birth are a curse. And the fact is some women never get over those horror stories. They actually go into birth expecting a horror story and the body generally [not always] follows the mind.So thanks to all of you who promote pregnancy as the joy, blessing, PRIVILEDGE that it really is!

  7. I loved being pregnant, even though I tend to worry too much. Then afterward I wish I hadn’t, because it steals joy from the experience.Today is National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day – this is the website: http://www.october15th.com/I’ve prayed for you, & will continue as He brings you to mind.

  8. You know, I think I actually read that book before the birth of my 3rd child! I’ll have to read your review of it to make sure.

  9. Hi there~I read this post back when you first posted it,and just read it again and wanted to say that I have enjoyed all my pregnancies and most of my deliveries accept two. Those two were my homebirths with baby#4 and #5. I was given a book titled”Birthing From Within” by Pam England for use with baby#6 The book really helped me mentally with the labor and delivery. The book talks about leaving past BAD expriences in the past. Remembering that the mis hapes that may have occured last labor ect.. my not happen this time,and how not to carry the mental baggage with you. How to be present for this baby. There are music and art exercises layed out in the book… to help you relax prior to delivery day.I highly recomend it.(I will write a post soon on my experiece).There are even formal classes tought with this book.Peace,Georgiann

  10. Amen!! I do have some really horrible stories–due to hospital/dr circumstances during the losses of our babies (one from a lethal birth defect and one from full term stillbirth)–which has caused us to do the birth center and even unassisted homebirth. But I do so love to be pregnant and hope that I may yet still be able to have another. I feel like I am doing such an amazing thing to carry a child.I’m glad that I stopped by your blog today. I pray that the remainder of your pregnancy and your birth will be AWESOME!! Blessings!! Kris

  11. Another wonderful post, Amy!

    (I know it’s old, but I tripped over it on your “You might also like” icons. Those icons are a neat idea. I imagine, since you have them, you don’t mind me commenting on your old post.) ;)

    I loved this part the best (the whole thing was good):

    “Pregnancy is nothing but pain that ends in pain so we can bring the little pain home to live?

    Not that I think it is wrong to share and empathize and occasionally vent, but to spend our entire pregnancies lamenting every single aspect of growing a baby doesn’t show a whole lot of gratitude to the Giver of Life. These little blessings aren’t just blessings once they get here, they are blessings from the very beginning.”

    I linked it at my blog in today’s post.

    You’re the best. Yes, I know I sound like a groupie, but I’m not. I’m just a fan. Just another woman going through some of the same struggles you’ve gone through. :) Remember that MOMYS curriculum thread? The one about what books you planned to read? Next time I’m gonna add your blog to my list. ;)

    OK, OK, OK; I’ll stop before I give ya a big head. ;p

  12. Oh I like this post. It’s true, pregnancy is one of the easiest times to slip into self pity and complaining. I’ve done, helped a lot by those depression causing hormones.

    I discovered during one of my births that resolving not to complain about the pain but embrace it and accept it makes labor go a whole lot easier. It got me thinking whether that could work for for the entire pregnancy as well. And, well, it does. Go figure. :)

  13. Thanks for sharing this with me too!!! It’s so true and easy to forget about all the good stuff with pregnancy and only focus on the bad.

    Take care!!!
    Dee

  14. Hello there…I found your blog from Lynette’s and I have just been poking around reading here and there. I read Emily’s heartbreaking story and then your Bathtime schedule and now this. I am absolutely in agreement with you about enjoying pregnancy. I LOVE being pregnant and cherish each and every minute of it. I have 3 children here on earth and 2 in heaven so I think it is easier for me not to take pregnancy for granted.

  15. Beautiful post!! Thank you so much for sharing. You share so much encouragement with me. All His love to you and your family.

  16. I am 6 months right now and LOVING every second! I have this baby and an 8 yr old here on earth and 4 in heaven and I am amazed by the miracles that they are! I hope that your post can help people to see all babies and every ache and pain of pregnancy as the amazing blessing that it is! Thank you for saying this!

  17. You had re-linked this today on FB, so I’m reading it for the first time. Guess I’m the odd man out here. I really don’t like being pregnant. I don’t even know why! My pregnancies aren’t horrible, not great, labor goes fine, love love love breastfeeding. But the entire time I am pregnant I am depressed. I actually wonder if it’s just hormonal (I’m also mildly depressed while nursing – hard to figure that out, I’ve only not been nursing or pregnant for 4 months in the last 14 years). I hate that I don’t enjoy it, but seriously, I do not like being pregnant. I feel like my body has been taken over by an alien! :-) (I do adore my kids and have 5 despite my anti-pregnancy feelings!)

  18. This blog post rings so true! I was convicted this pregnancy (#5) that it benefitted no one for me to constantly complain about all my aches and pains. We already caught all the comments on baby #4, so I feel like if I complain how I really am hurting to other folks, it only gives them (and Satan) ammo to use against us for trusting God with our womb. I can only imagine telling my family how much I am hurting only to hear them say that the pain is a good reason to stop receiving blessings form the Lord (only they would say it’s time to stop having children, they are wearing my body out!)

    Thanks for sharing!

  19. I just wanted to say thanks for sharing that. We just found out that I am pregnant with our 4th, and I haven’t been too sure how well I’ll handle it–physically, emotionally, the whole thing during pregnancy and after. The only thing keeping us semi-positive is that, even though #4 was not part of our plan, this is all part of God’s plan for us, and I have faith that God’s plan is always better than ours. It was very encouraging reading your post; I really appreciate your perspective.

  20. I really appreciate your positive outlook here. I wholeheartedly agree that complaining about pregnancy or really anything doesn’t send the best messages, nor does it honour our Lord. Thankyou for sharing this!

    I would like to put something out there though. My mother did the opposite to this. She spoke about how easy her pregnancies were and how much she enjoyed carrying us and then how easy childbirth was for her. This was all true, however, then my sister became pregnant with her first. She had a very difficult pregnancy and a very painful delivery. Then she experienced an even worse time with her second. When she fell pregnant with her third she was so terrified of the pain she now knew to be coming that she had to hide from her children in her bedroom and cry to God. She adores her boys but after her second we were talking about it and I asked her what it had really been like. She looked at me and simply said, “Mum was wrong.”

    So I just wanted to put it out there that although I completely agree with not spending time complaining about it I think it’s a good idea to prepare daughters for the way things could be so they don’t end up discovering it themselves during pregnancy and delivery. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this and how best to go about it?

    • Funny you should say this! I took my oldest daughter out to lunch today and we got to talking about my morning sickness. She said she hopes hers isn’t like mine. I told her I hoped not either, but if it is, I’ll be there for her. She cannot help but see that this is difficult, so she cannot help but think about when she has children what it might be like for her. My mom was like your mom. She tells me over and over how she’s never known anyone like me (although I know plenty who are just like me!) b/c she never had any trouble. She had terrible deliveries, but her pregnancies were breezy. It is hard for her to relate to me in that way. I don’t think this will ever be an issue for me. ;) And yes, I do think it is VERY important we be VERY open and honest about childbirth. There were things NO ONE told me that could have saved me a ton of grief and anxiety. I have a very open relationship with my children, so I don’t plan to keep much from them. lol

  21. I gotta say, I love this post! My first pregnancy I lost 23 lbs from morning sickness in just 6 weeks-and that was horrid. At the same time, it was great, because every day that I was sick, I knew my baby was healthy. It was a blessing in disguise! I just had to choose to look at it that way. (and the best part? The day my son was born, I had only gained TWO POUNDS from my pre-pregnancy weight to my end-of-pregnancy weight. THAT was pretty spiffy!)

    And now that I’m expecting #2, I adopt the same mind set, every moment of nausea (which hasn’t been nearly so bad, thankfully!), every ache and pain, it’s a sign that God is continuing to grow that baby in me, and that thus far, everything is progressing normally.

    I’ve got people who say that I’m crazy to be so positive about it, and I am SO GLAD that you have this post, as it is so encouraging! Maybe I am crazy in the world’s eyes, but I’m not alone! Huzzah!

  22. No, Becky, you’re not!! I loved being pregnant. But it was not very difficult for me; I was blessed to just have the hip, back, and ligament pains with my three pregnancies. No morning sickness or other unpleasant “issues.” I was very lucky. Know what? I loved giving birth, too. O.O I have definitely gotten the “you’re crazy” comments before.

    Amy, thank you for posting this! It’s nice to hear positivity in the face of adversity. I’ve been perusing your blog the past few days and really have enjoyed it. It’s candid. I appreciate that.

    • Thank you, Emily. People say that and I always think, I’m just being me and writing about what God is showing me. Seems to strike a chord with others, and for that, I am thankful! :)