Learning to See the Struggle as a Gift

It’s a really strange feeling to find out you’re pregnant one week after posting about having a miscarriage.

It’s been difficult for me to muster up the confidence and motivation to write on here again for multiple reasons. First of all, how will this news make women feel who come to my blog for comfort after suffering from a miscarriage themselves? Many women are told to wait to try conceiving again and others maybe have been trying and it still hasn’t happened for them. To women in both of these groups, I would like you to know that my heart and prayers go out to you. I don’t know why God decided it was in His plan to bless our family with another life so soon after losing one and I don’t know why He hasn’t done the same for you and your family. I wish I knew, but I don’t. All I can say is, my life is pretty different than the plan I thought up for myself years ago, and that’s actually a really good thing.

Anyways, I’ve finally come back to write again and I hope to not take such a long break in the future…please don’t hold me to that though!  😉

I’m barely through my first trimester, and already this pregnancy has brought on a multitude of emotions:

  • Guilt- for the reasons listed above, for feeling unworthy to carry another life within me so soon, for maybe not waiting long enough before trying to conceive again. Deep down, I know that there is no reason to feel guilty, and these are all lies being fed to me, but even still, the guilt sometimes bubbles up.
  • Sadness – still for the life we lost 
  • Confusion – about why this baby seems to be doing well and our last one didn’t, 
  • Fear – for what changes this will bring to our family, what others will think, and what if this baby doesn’t come to full-term either? Again, I know I should let go of the fear of what others will think of me, but I can’t stop thinking that my readers must think that I eat, sleep, and breathe fertility/pregnancy! I even considered writing and posting a different, unrelated blog post before this one, but obviously that didn’t happen! 🙂 I’m sure I’ll get to posting about different topics eventually, but for now, this is the most poignant thing in my life. 
  • …and fortunately, Joy – Joy for this new life growing inside of me, for this addition to our family, and joy at the idea of our hearts and love growing even more

 

It’s been strange though because even though I am excited and have (of course) already been planning things out and sharing our news with family and friends (we used the sign in the picture as part of our announcement), joy once again has been difficult to choose on a daily basis. Pretty much the entire month of August was rough…

It all started after I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease, an inner ear fluid imbalance disorder that causes vertigo, nausea, and eventual hearing loss. Meniere’s Disease is most commonly diagnosed in elderly women, which really made me feel great about myself! 🙂 As if having some grey hair at my age isn’t bad enough! 😛 Receiving this diagnosis resulted in having to cancel travel plans to attend a friend’s wedding and see my family, which was a major bummer. To help with these symptoms, patients are often put on a low sodium diet to help regulate fluid levels. Right around the time I was coming to terms with this (there is salt in literally everything!) is when my morning sickness started to kick in. A part of me has found some comfort in having morning sickness because it’s been a nice reminder that things are going well for the baby. The other part of me though has really struggled with the timing of all of this because the only foods that have sounded appealing have been things that have a lot of salt in them (bread, crackers, pasta, etc.). Many days, either the low sodium diet goes out the window or I go too long between eating and get sick. Not fun at all.

In addition to all of that, my toddler has decided that he is behaviorally a two-year-old already. Shrieking, crying, and suddenly becoming a rag doll to avoid being picked up have all ensued when said toddler is taken away from doing something he wants to do. Sorry son, but I can’t let you wander into the street even though you want to. Fortunately, my husband has been showing up 110% since I’ve been way less than that. The most helpful thing he has done has been getting up with our son, changing his diaper, and getting him breakfast so that I only have to worry about getting something in my stomach to avoid getting sick as I start my day. Public shout out and kudos to you, Love! 🙂

Anyways, the reason for allll of this total Negative Nancy talk is two-fold. First, to explain why I’ve been MIA on my blog. The times I have reserved for writing in the past have given way to napping, relaxing, and trying not to get sick. The second reason is again to reflect on choosing joy, and how it can be difficult even when it seems like the major parts of life are going well. I honestly don’t know how people who suffer from chronic illnesses aren’t negative all of the time. I’ve really only had one month of not feeling well and trying to adjust to a new diet, and I’m already ready to throw in the towel and continue to be negative.

For some reason, it has been more difficult to turn to God with my latest struggles than it was after my miscarriage or during other dark times of my life. I think a part of it has been because physically my body hasn’t been up for doing much more than surviving, but I also don’t want to use that an excuse. I think most of it is struggling with the vulnerability and sacrifice of not physically feeling 100%. Up until this point in my life, I’ve been pretty healthy. Sure there have been the occasional contagious illnesses and recovering from childbirth was no small task either, but the unknown of my current situation has been really tough. I’m hopeful my morning sickness will subside in a week or so, like it does for many women, but the Meniere’s is something I will likely live with for the rest of my life. The unknown of what that will look like is terrifying. I’m also the type of person who would much rather take care of someone else than be the one being taken care of. I was a wreck leading up to my son’s birth at the thought of being a patient in a hospital. I hadn’t done that since I was born!

All of this brings me back to the one virtue I’ve always struggled with and need more of in my life…trust. As I’m writing this, the words, “Trust in Him. Rest in Him. Take joy in Him.” all come flooding in my mind.

A few weeks ago, I attended a women’s retreat led by a local parish. The theme of this retreat was Mary’s Fiat, her yes to being the Mother of Jesus (and all of us too!) when the angel Gabriel visited her. Can you imagine the amount of trust Mary must have had in that moment?! Sure she was without sin, but she was still a human being with a free will, feelings, and thoughts of her own. If Mary was able to say yes in that moment for something as monumental as what she was being asked to do, without reservation, why can’t I trust that the Lord will take care of me?

Just yesterday I heard a talk given by a local priest that was poignant for me right now. I actually had already written the majority of this post, but I was struggling with finding a title that encapsulated it all as well as tying all of it up. The main part of his talk that struck me was when he began talking about our struggles. He said that sometimes our struggles are our gifts. Without our struggles, he said, we wouldn’t rely on God or think that we needed Him. Whoa. This really resonated with me. How often do I only think about God or turn to Him in prayers when I am struggling with something? Obviously we are called to praise and thank Him in all aspects of our lives, but if it weren’t for our struggles, would we even think that we needed Him? I know that I often fall into this trap of thinking that I don’t need to rely on God, or anyone for that matter. This is so far from the truth. Maybe I should start seeing my struggles as gifts, as hard as that might be, because without them, I wouldn’t recognize my infinite need for His mercy and grace. Again, I wouldn’t recognize my need to trust in Him with everything.

I’ve heard before that if you ask God to increase a certain virtue in your life, that He will provide you with opportunities for you to practice this virtue. This certainly seems to be the case for me in this season of my life. Thanks for that, God! 😉 Again though, I am led back to the words, “Trust in Him. Rest in Him. Take joy in Him.” I need to trust that through this morning sickness will come a beautiful baby boy or girl, and I need to trust that He will lead me through this new territory of having a chronic illness. I also hope that I am able to begin seeing my struggles as gifts and to rely on Him more fully through it all. Please pray that I am able to do all of these things, and as always, please pray that I am able to choose joy through all of this as well! 🙂