I think it's about time I tell you all why I have been pretty inactive in the blog-o-sphere and in my art making lately. For those of you who don't follow me on social media, I'm excited to share with you that I am pregnant! I'm due in March and Ben and I can't wait to find out our babe's gender in a little over 4 weeks! I'll be sure to share once we find out :)
My pregnancy story is a bit unique. Starting with the fact that I am one of the chosen few, .3 - 2% (to be exact-ish) of pregnancies affected by hyperemesis gravidarum, which is severe vomiting and nausea to the point of hospitalization, weight loss, and other fun things. I wanted to share my journey with you all today because the crap parts of pregnancy are rarely mentioned. It's kind of insane to me how little there is to be read about this condition, not to mention just general pregnancy woes. I've been doing some research (i.e. Typing "Pregnancy Sucks" into google and sifting through what pops up ) and it looks like most women don't want to share the less than sunny moments because they think it's a betrayal to their children, or because they feel guilty complaining when they know so many women who want to be pregnant and to act anything but #blessed you could offend them. I get that, I really do. But if you are pregnant and feel like total shit - you need to know you are not alone. You are not a bad person for being pissed off that your pregnancy makes you feel like shit. I hope that after reading this, you'll know that it's perfectly okay for you to complain, and that guilt and worry will not get you anywhere. Believe me.
In order to get the level of frustration I'm currently vomiting on, I feel it's important to go rewind my story back to when my obsession with fertility first began. Let's start at the beginning, shall we?
When I was fourteen I got very sick with an indescribable pain in my lower abdomen. I was admitted into the hospital and my time there is blurry because I was in so much pain. They gave me a thick chalk-like liquid to drink and I threw up all over the waiting room floor. I vaguely remember exams and ultrasounds and being asked if I could be pregnant. I remember saying that I had only kissed someone and they laughed. They sent an oncologist in to see me. Ignorance was on my side that day because I had no idea what an oncologist was. I was too sick and hurting too much to feel afraid.
Whatever the ultrasounds showed was not good. They rushed me into surgery. They found that my fallopian tube had wrapped around my right ovary twice, and had I waited any longer it would have burst and bye bye Mandy. They removed my right ovary. The doctor told me she had never seen anything like this before. I stayed in the hospital for a while, my family and friends would visit. My best friend brought me The Notebook to read. My stomach hurt a lot and when my sister would visit it was worse because she would make me laugh so much. They sent me home with a 6" scar and one more reason to hate bikinis. I was told to not use stairs or return to school for the next few weeks.
Over time my scar healed, I went back to school and things went back to normal. A couple years later Ben and I started dating and I warned him that I may never be able to have kids. We were still kids ourselves so it shouldn't have been that big of a concern. But as time went on my worrying grew exponentially. In college it became the focus of my artwork. I'd paint countless women in enclosed spaces with scars down their middle, questioning my identity and worrying, worrying, worrying what it would mean if I never got pregnant.
For twelve years I worried. So many people asked us when we'd have children. "Don't wait too long!" we were told. I started telling people we didn't want kids. I imagined a life with just Ben and me and we knew we would be happy. We had our nephews and niece, we were lucky.
But then it happened. In July I took one test, the line was so faint we didn't dare get our hopes up. The next day I took another test. Still so faint, was it really there? Or was I just willing it to be there? Later that day I went to Washington DC to give my Tech & Hustle speech for Google with the biggest knot in my stomach. Constantly forgetting my speech with interruptions of "I'M PREGNANT! AM I REALLY? I'M PREGNANT! MAYBE! AHHH" pounding in the back of my head. The next day Ben took me to Patient First and I got a blood test. It was positive! We waited a while before telling our family and friends. That part was so much fun :)
Now here we are about to enter week 16 and I'm still surprised that I get to be one of the lucky ones. I spend a lot of time wondering why my brain works the way it does. How it's possible to spend SO MUCH of my life worrying. Ben reminds me that I have less control over my life than I think I do, and that worrying isn't helpful. My infertility worry has been replaced with this God-awful sickness, HG. I throw up anywhere from 3-10x a day. It's really quite impressive. I feel this insane amount of guilt for not enjoying this pregnancy. Why can't I be like so many other women? Taking beautiful maternity photos in flowy dresses during golden hour, rather than taking a single sip of cranberry juice just to throw up three times and end up glued to an IV? I feel guilty for complaining. I feel guilty for not being able to work. I feel heartbroken that I can't hold a paint brush without my hand shaking from being so dehydrated. I remind myself over and over, this is what you WANTED. You wanted this for TWELVE YEARS. Why can't you be happy? Then I go in the bathroom and throw up more lemonade.
The thing is, the guilt doesn't make anything better. The worrying doesn't make anything better. The feeling like a useless blob doesn't make anything better. What does make things better, is reminding myself that ANYONE would be pissed off if they had say...food poisoning for 3 months straight. I think, if a friend of mine threw up 10 times in one sitting, I would not expect them to bust out their paints and make me a mural.
So often you hear "treat others the way that you want to be treated". But I think it should go the other way around. In seeing how poorly I've been treating myself lately, it's brought more light to the way I see people treat themselves. Whether it's downplaying accomplishments or berating themselves for gaining a pound while on a diet - people are downright hateful to the person they should be caring for the most - themselves.
The importance of self care should trump anything, especially during a time when you are creating another human. So next time you feel a shooting pain, or throw up for millionth time and want to shout FUCK THIS - know that there are other women shouting with you. Before you decide to bash yourself for being anything but grateful for the life in your tummy, pretend you're talking to your spouse, your best friend, your sister - be kind and...
Alright I know this post was mega-ramble-tastic. Just remember that guilt and worry get you nowhere and you deserve to be treated well by everyone, especially yourself. Also, it's alright to admit that being pregnant blows. This does not make you a bad mom. Just realistic.
Hyperemesis Support Group link.
Here's some of the art from college / a few years back that was centered around my obsession with fertility:
Hi friends! Welcome to the blog! I'm Mandy and I'm an artist, blogger & founder of the "Artists to Know" interview series. Here you'll find photos of my latest art adventures, furniture makeover projects & advice from successful artists!
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