During the 10th week of my third pregnancy, I was starting to feel really guilty. My two boys, ages 4 and 2, had spent most of their summer inside, watching television, while I lay on the couch and tried my best to keep the world from spinning. At this point, we had seen “Moana” about 20 times, “Sing” a dozen, and “Trolls” more times that I could count. I really felt as though I was ruining the remainder of their summer and rotting their brains, so I picked myself up off of the couch and trudged outside with my children to give them some fresh air and play time.
Within minutes, I was out of breath and dizzy. My younger son insisted that I carry him, which only increased my fatigue. Very rapidly, I started to feel more and more nauseous. I put my child down, and then suddenly, I threw up in my backyard.
Honestly, the entire scene was pretty comical. My 4-year-old was blissfully unaware that I was sick and just kept playing. My 2-year-old kept running up to me to check on me, but then ran to the opposite side of the yard as soon as I started heaving. And my sweet labrador retriever kept me company by nudging his head under my arm to comfort me and lying next to me as I recovered. Once I finished upchucking, I let my children play for 10 more minutes, and then we went back inside to watch “Trolls” for the umpteenth time.
I wish I could say I stopped feeling guilty after this incident. After all, I now had proof that it was more than OK for me to take it easy. But the guilt didn’t go away. I continued to feel like a bad mother, a bad wife, and a bad friend. I avoided any social gatherings after 5 p.m., thanks to my nightly nausea. My husband was not only working all day, he then had to come home and run our entire household because cooking made me nauseous and I didn’t have the energy to clean. I even fell behind on all my work, because the computer screen exacerbated my symptoms. And, of course, my children suffered the most when I couldn’t take them to parks, zoos, farms, or any of our other typical summer outings.
However, as much as I felt guilty for letting people down, I constantly reminded myself that there is one sweet person for whom I am doing the very best job — the newest little love in my life. The baby who needs Mommy to stop and rest, so he or she can grow big and strong.
The first trimester is such a delicate time during pregnancy, and I often think pregnancy hormones are nature’s way of forcing women to stay still and take care of themselves and their little babies. I will also admit that, as awful as vomiting is, every time I toss my cookies, I say, “Thank God, I’m still pregnant.” Because I can’t feel flutters and kicks just yet, nausea and vomiting are sometimes the only reminders I have that, yes, I am pregnant. So I will take it all (somewhat) gladly because I know it’s just a sign that my pregnancy is progressing well.
In truth, I’ve felt lousy for about eight weeks during this pregnancy. While these eight weeks are monumental for the fetus, they are a blip on the radar for my older children. I know they will barely remember the summer of Netflix and puke. Plus, we’ve still managed to have some incredibly sweet moments — staying in our pajamas until 3 p.m., playing video games while cuddling on the couch, napping together in Mommy’s bed. This may not be the summer I wanted them to have, but they’ll have many summers to come with their little brother or sister. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to keep the guilt at bay — because these eight weeks of feeling like garbage will pale in comparison to a lifetime of wonderful memories with my three children.