Congratulations, you are pregnant! Getting the news that you are pregnant is expected to be very happy news. And for most people it is. But sometimes, either right away or as your pregnancy continues, the elation and excitement give way to other feelings that aren’t quite what you expected.
Maybe it’s because of the physical symptoms of nausea (“morning sickness” can often be a 24/7 ordeal), exhaustion, or pain (sciatic nerve pain, round ligament pain and varicose veins are just a sampling). Perhaps your pregnancy has brought up relationship issues that haven’t been healed, or former abuse that you’ve suffered, and the idea of someone else – even your own baby – somehow taking over your body makes you feel out of control. Maybe this pregnancy was a little bit of a surprise and not part of “the plan” and you can’t talk about it with your best friend who has been trying to get pregnant for 2 years now. So you smile and pretend to be over the moon with joy because that’s how you are suppose to feel. It may be that you and your spouse disagree on how to handle working after baby arrives, or struggle with your sex life during pregnancy, or your growing belly brings up body image issues that you’ve never fully resolved.
Pregnancy is a blessing, but in reality, it can also bring up feelings that you’d just assume leave alone. When you add to that your changing hormones, pregnancy can be arduous.
So what do you do when you are pregnant and finding it hard to cope?
First off, realize that you are not alone. Yes, the Pamper’s commercials show all pregnant women and new moms having the time of their lives, but that’s not reality. I know everyone says congratulations and tells you how wonderful becoming a parent is (even strangers in the grocery line!), but if truthful and transparent, we’d all admit that parenthood is joy and sorrow wrapped up into one. I think it’s safe to say that 99.9% of women struggle with pregnancy in some way during those nine months.
Second, tell someone about your pain. Gather some trusted people around you and get real. As Christ-followers, we are to share each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). It’s your turn to share. Maybe it’s a good friend, your mom or sister, a mentor at church, or your pastor. Admit that you are struggling. Name your biggest fear…out loud. Yep, it’s terrifying but you’ll feel a sigh of relief even as the words form in your mouth.
For many women, just processing your thoughts and feelings with a trusted friend or advisor will be enough. But for many, you’ll need additional help. And that’s okay. If you are feeling like you are on an emotional roller coaster and unable to get off, talk to your care provider. Your doctor or midwife is a great place to start to seek help. Another step could be finding a Christian counselor to work with as you sort out your emotions (your pastor or Alpha Childbirth instructor may be able to provide you with a list of counselors in your area). Seeking help isn’t weak and it doesn’t mean that you don’t have enough faith. It means that you want to be emotionally and physically healthy – for yourself, as well as for your loved ones.
Third, trust that God is with you and for you. I intentionally listed this last because sometimes when we Christians struggle, we feel we somehow aren’t a strong enough Christian if we need help apart from prayer alone. Please hear me out, GOD IS ENOUGH. But, God does His work through His people. He never intended you to live in isolation. He gave you His Holy Spirit, as well as brothers and sisters in Christ all around you.
Your faith is not failing you when you struggle, momma. God is calling you to Him. He will use your pain, confusion, exhaustion and raw emotions for His good purpose. In your own life, as well as the life of your husband, your child, and the others that you are brave enough to let in. In Christ, we are strong when we are weak. It’s not what the world tells us, or what the Pamper’s commercials depict, but it is the TRUTH that we set our lives upon.
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11