Morning Sickness Mindset
Morning sickness can make it difficult to maintain a positive mindset. “Morning” sickness can actually be evening sickness, or all day sickness, and for many women, it doesn’t end at 12 weeks. Here’s my experience flipping the script when pregnancy sickness takes over.
As I write this, I’m six weeks pregnant for the third time. My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage in a car dealership bathroom that’s etched in my mind for eternity. Miscarrying has helped me relate to women, moms, and potential moms like I never thought possible. I can be a safe person, helping them feel less alone, because I can say “me too.”
My second pregnancy ended with a girl, currently two and a half years old, who is smart, funny, intuitive, and clairvoyant on a level I couldn’t have imagined. My pregnancy with her wasn’t easy. I threw up five to ten times a day until I was about twenty weeks pregnant. At ten weeks, I was hospitalized for hyperemesis. In between seeing patients, I would lay in my office in the dark until I heard a knock at the door signaling the next patient was ready. I was supposed to be portraying health, but I couldn’t stay awake past 6 pm. It sounds strange, but I think all of this happened on purpose, and I needed to go through it.
So, how do I justify months of barfing having a purpose? Let’s find out.
To set the stage, know that I’m a big fan of natural healthcare – and that might be an understatement. I own a supplement company. We have one bottle of ibuprofen in our house, which is probably expired. Everything else is homeopathic, herbal, vitamins, oils, etc. So when I was hospitalized for hyperemesis, I shocked my family by asking the nurse for whatever medication would completely knock me out. I was done. This was my form of “surrendering” at that time. However, over my hospital stay, no medication seemed to actually help. Zofran was useless; B6 and Unisom didn’t really touch it. What helped was two days of mandated rest and a lot of fluid. I cried a lot over the next ten weeks because I was so tired of being sick. My husband deserves a gold medal for that particular time in our lives for being the perfect, supportive sounding board. Needing his support at ten weeks was a foreshadowing of needing him in the colicky newborn weeks, the sleep regressions, and defiant toddler phases. Eventually, the sickness went away, and I enjoyed the second half of pregnancy. I truly loved it. That’s when I started the BIRTHFIT online programming, and I felt like the best kind of beast. I loved going to the gym with a giant belly and executing each day of training. My daughter was born in roughly three hours and it was a dream.
Her birth story started like this:
Five days after my due date, I gave up all hope that I could predict when she was coming (there’s that “surrender” again). I was done seeing patients and thought I might as well do yard work. I made a giant to-do list that I would work on since I thought I was surely going to be pregnant for at least another week. That night my water broke at midnight, the midwives came to our house at 1 am, and my husband caught our daughter in a birth tub at 3 am on the dot. It was like a wild fever dream, and I was so curious the whole time through each stage. I quickly realized that my job wasn’t to control any part of the birth, but to let the baby and my body do what they already knew how to do. I never consciously thought to “push” her out, but was surprised in the best way, when my body started pushing on its own. It was, and still is, liberating to know I wasn’t in charge.
Two years later we started trying for another kid. I picked the perfect day. The sex was great, but no matter how precisely I knew my ovulation date, I wasn’t getting pregnant. Five months into trying, my counselor asked if we wanted more kids. I said yes. She asked, “What are you waiting for?” I gave her a list of reasons why I was too busy: I was teaching on the East Coast, headed West for my 30th birthday, filming a program for BIRTHFIT, and not to mention, I was so sick last time. How could I make time to be that sick again? She asked how I knew I would be so sick again. I didn’t. She reminded me that wasn’t my identity. She encouraged me to see myself as healed and whole. She suggested that my sickness with my daughter was necessary to up-level myself to be capable of parenting her as the unique human she is. I let her words marinate. I reminded myself I couldn’t control it, but I could enjoy my life, change my mindset to “healed and whole,” and appreciate a sickness that prepared me to surrender my own plans for motherhood. I don’t think my pre-hyperemesis self could have the patience and perspective I’ve needed for this tiny hurricane of a child.
Soon after, we bought a 100-year-old house and planned a big renovation that would depend on our own blood, sweat, and tears. I found out I was pregnant the day we closed on our house, and immediately faced my first lesson – other things will have to wait.
Now pregnant for the third time, I’m sick. Surprise! If you think being submerged in the BIRTHFIT culture makes you a magical pregnancy unicorn free of struggles, it doesn’t. It’s the closest thing to depression I’ve ever experienced. I don’t want to get out of bed whether I’m asleep or awake. Small tasks like checking my email now overwhelm me, when four weeks ago I was “Queen Inbox Zero”. Some little voice keeps telling me that if I keep eating, even though nothing tastes good, that I might feel better. BIRTHFIT doesn’t make you a magic unicorn, but it CAN teach you a magical open mindset. This is truly the biggest thing I’ve gained from BIRTHFIT.
My inner monologue now sounds like this: “I know now that this sickness is a constant reminder that there is life inside me. This life is loved, healthy, wanted, and exciting. This kid will surprise me, and parenting two kids instead of one will require me to “up-level” again energetically, and that up-leveling is happening now. The sickness is a reminder that I need to slow down and prioritize, cutting out things that don’t give me joy. It’s a reminder that I’m not in control of this whole thing, and babies have been growing in uteruses and coming out of vaginas for eternity without my planning every step of the way. Those reminders are the things that will help me enjoy an epic homebirth in my living room, or bathroom, or wherever this kid decides to make an entrance. I’ll surrender to the birth process with curiosity, something my body is asking me to practice right now, 34ish weeks away from the main event.”
If you’re sick, I’m sorry. It sucks, and I can’t make it better. My best suggestions:
- Try all the remedies (no matter how weird or against your grain), because if one of them works, it’ll be worth it.
- Let other people take care of you. (This may mean revealing a pregnancy earlier than you planned with some close friends and family.)
- Adopt a growth mindset. How could this prepare you later? What are some of the benefits of this happening?
- Talk to your baby. “You’re worth all of this. My body is sustaining you until my placenta can take over. You’re loved, wanted, exciting, and healthy. I am too.”
- Find moms online with similar experiences. Vent to or seek help from a BIRTHFIT Leader if you have one nearby.
- Know that it’s temporary. It seems impossible, but truly you can’t be pregnant eternally and food will taste good again.
Hannah Anderson, DC, CACCP
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