When I discovered I was pregnant, two thoughts burst into my mind.
My first thought: “this news is as huge as the universe itself—can I handle such a life-changing experience?”
My second thought was more superficial: “I am going be the best at being pregnant, ever.”
You see, I have the ability to turn everything in life into a competition…with myself. I must do things perfectly and be as good as I can be without any flaws.
My mind—the biased judge of my internal struggles—had me believe that in order to be “successful” at being pregnant I had to glide through the experience in constant euphoria, glowing and beaming with a goddess-like presence.
The first five weeks of my pregnancy were not too distant from this perfect vision—I still had bad days, but I felt this beautiful connection to the very meaning of life and I experienced moments of pure joy and happiness.
Then the sickness started. At first it was unpleasant, and I could handle that. However, day by day it slowly consumed my existence, gnawing at my energy and my spirit. Before long I found myself in a place where I couldn’t cope—a place where joy and happiness did not exist.
Every moment of every day I was either feeling sick or being sick. Both of these states locked me in equal measures of pain. I could not shake it off. My only escape from the agony of my sickness was to run from it by trying to enter a deep sleep. Each night I would close my eyes and bang upon the doors of my dreams, screaming for these doors to open and give me shelter.
Sleep became my sanctuary and saviour as it enabled me to separate from my body and the associated pain and discomfort of sickness.
Pathetic? Dramatic? This is what you may be thinking—it was what I was thinking. How can someone who is creating life within them, experiencing this joyous miracle wish to sleep all those feelings away?
My sickness was so bad that I struggled to smile and think positively. Every morning I would wake up and I would cry tears of distress because I had to endure another day of pain, a secret pain.
I hadn’t told many people about my wonderful news; generally women are advised to wait until the first scan at 12 weeks, just to make sure all is well. Following this advice, I tried to pull myself together each day and go into work. Sitting at my desk and having to hold back both vomit and tears felt like torture.
I could no longer interact with my colleagues in the same way and all after work activities had to be cancelled. Every day I felt that I was letting someone down, which just made the sickness even worse.
It felt as though my life was falling to pieces.
I tried everything to make the sickness subside: plain food, dry toast, a cup of tea and a biscuit in bed before I got up in the morning; ginger tea, peppermint tea, hot water, cold water.
Fizzy water. Ice lollies. Having a bath. Relaxing my mind.
Nothing worked apart from sleep. I slept for 14-16 hours every night.
One morning in particular, I couldn’t keep any food or water down. I was feeling dizzy and becoming weak. I had to do the dreaded task of calling in sick to work. I felt like a failure. I spoke to a friend who knew my beautiful news. She tried to comfort me and by telling me to look the miracle that was growing inside me. I talked to my mum who reassured me that I would get through it.
These words of comfort and encouragement helped for a while, but any positivity soon subsided with the sickness. My boyfriend was worried about me. I was worried about me. I googled my symptoms, frantically searching for some sort of answer—some reassurance that I was not a failure.
Suddenly it was so clear: I was looking to everyone else—even a computer—to give me the answer that I already knew: go to the doctor and get help.
I was so desperate to beat my own ridiculous measurement of “successful” that I was ignoring my inner guidance. In that moment I realised this simple but powerful thought: I am the only person who knows how I truly feel.
I know the soul who resides within me and the light that runs through me.
I know the sound of my heart and it was telling me what I needed to do.
I went to the doctor and it was confirmed that I had severe sickness which resulted in dehydration. I was prescribed anti-sickness medication which thankfully helped and I was able to start drinking and eating again. The sickness didn’t end there, but I was able to cope with it better knowing that I am the only person in this entire universe who knows what it feels like to be me.
I am creating life and doing a marvellous job.
My self-guidance is valid; there should be no comparison to others and no competition with myself…and if I need help, I had better goddammed open up and ask for it.
Author: Donna MacLellan
Editor: Renée P.
Photo: Author’s Own