Gabriel and Elisha (pronounced El-iii-sha) are my baby boys. My two miracles.
We found out we were pregnant with our firstborn around our 1 year anniversary. At only 23, I was a very young mom by today's standards but I didn't care. I was thrilled. However, I soon learned pregnancy and parenthood is not the walk in the park I had envisioned.
I grew up watch 19 Kids and Counting. I enjoyed watching them live out their faith through life's ups and downs. While I didn't agree with everything they said or did, I admired their convictions and love for children and their seemingly always united, happy family. I wanted that picture perfect family life too. Not having the easiest childhood, I had all these high expectations and fantasies on what motherhood should look like and what ours was going to be, starting with pregnancy. I was going to have a totally healthy and enjoyable pregnancy and it would be such a wonderful experience with cute maternity outfits and baby showers. Birth would be a tough but magical (not to mention fairly pain free) experience, and we would walk off into the sunset as a perfectly happy family, living a wonderful life for Jesus.
Let's just say, I got a rude awakening.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum - Or known also as EXTREME morning sickness, that lasts all day, all night, and all pregnancy.
It wasn't an exaggeration to say I couldn't keep air down. Shortly after the stick turned pink, the nausea grew worse and worse. I knew morning sickness was common for the first little while but this was way more than a bit of nausea and the occasional vomiting. Nothing could keep my stomach from turning and I ended up in the hospital (first of many trips) at only 7 weeks pregnant, for complete dehydration. They give you this supposedly successful nausea medication for pregnant women called Diclectin, but I might as well have eaten smarties. Gravol? Nope, that didn't work either. Ginger-ale? Peppermint tea/oils? Motion sickness bracelets? You name it, I tried it.
I was working part time as a youth pastor, and did my best to keep up with all my usual responsibilities but constantly needing a barf bag made things difficult. The only thing that helped was a medication that is normally given to cancer patients receiving chemo, to deal with the nausea. It was a wonderful relief, but having no healthcare coverage meant we had to buy it out of pocket and it was extremely expensive.
So, we did our best and I learned very soon that although some women have very easy pregnancies, mine was most certainly not going to be. When pregnant, your hormones go nuts, and you cry at the drop of a hat. You crave corn dogs (eat 6 in one sitting) then throw them up for the next 2 hours. You lose all dignity at the doctor's office, including weighing yourself in front of the entire waiting room. Complications arise like Cholestasis (liver issues), chronic illness flare ups, and the need for a c-section. Your back constantly aches, you cant sleep without an expensive body pillow, giant veins pop out, you pee every hour, you're completely exhausted and after that first "He's kicking!" experience, you feel like a wrestler is trying to rip open your stomach.
That all said, pregnancy is truly a miracle and a gift. I'd do it all again, even my second pregnancy which was far WORSE than my first. There are so many women who cry at night for the baby they'll never carry in their womb, or the ones they've lost. My heart breaks for those families and for ones desperately spending thousands on fertility drugs, waiting and hoping to receive a positive test. Dear sisters if that is you right now I am so sorry for this hard path you are on and I pray you will feel the comfort God has for you and to trust in His love. I can't know your pain but I cry and pray along side you, as we live in this broken world with so much heartache. I know it's not fair why some things do or don't happen, but I also know that Jesus can and will fill any void if we open our heart to Him.
I thank God every day for my children, and I pray I never take for granted what a miracle they are. That someone with so many health struggles could conceive, carry and birth two healthy babies. It wasn't easy, in fact with Elisha both of us almost died, but we trusted God to know the timing of if or when to have babies. We trusted that although everything seemed to be completely backwards from what I'd hoped, God knew what He was doing.
There are many things I learned through pregnancy and my two births, but looking back, one of the first lessons I needed to understand was that parenting is hard work. This is not something you do passively. This is a calling that requires great sacrifice. Those 9 months pushed me to new and harder limits. I can look back now and smile at my days of carrying a bucket around and begging Adrian for another back massage to ease the discomfort, but I know God was doing far more behind the scenes. Growing me spiritually, mentally, (and physically) to be able to be the mom I need to be. I'm not there yet. Not by a long shot, but I can see those were the first baby steps God used to shed some of my selfishness.
My babies are not babies anymore. We are in full on toddler days, filled with tantrums, learning and fun. I love discovering how as they grow physically and mentally, I'm growing too. From the first moment of conception, to the minute we take our last breath, God uses parenthood to shape us, use us, and sanctify us. It's an honour and a privilege to be Mommy to these two boys. By God's grace, I pray I'll one day grow into the woman, wife, and mom I'm called to be, all to the Glory of God.
There is no perfect pregnancy, perfect family, or perfect life, but there is a perfect God who takes the hardships and turns them into blessings. He is the author of our stories and the perfecter of our faith. In all the messiness of life and all the mistakes I make in motherhood, I rejoice knowing I'm being parented by the perfect Father, and I can trust in Him.
Author - Erin
Follower of Jesus, on a journey to glorify God and to advance His Kingdom while battling Chronic Illness in the everyday life. Diagnoses include Lupus, CVID, POTS, IBS, Hemiplegic Migraines and other Autoimmune conditions.