JP’s last post, found here if you haven’t read it, gave some insight into Jp’s journey during a period of time where our marriage has been transformed. I (Lorelei) would now like to share my simultaneous journey. It’s one of the most personal, and, for us, the most powerful in our marriage so far.
When we found out we were pregnant with the little fella’ we would come to know as August, Jp and I were so excited. I was so sure it would be easier the second time around… somehow I’d feel better, be less nauseous, be able to eat more. With my daughter, I had lost 7 lbs in the first trimester from being sick.
Little did we know, that my pregnancy with Auggie would be far more challenging than I ever imagined. Long story short, I developed hyperemesis gravidarum. Which basically meant I threw up all the time. I could barely keep anything down, even a sip of a drink or a single bite. When I finally was coming out of it, I knew I was getting better because I was able to drink an Ensure shake and keep it down. It took me 4 hours.
And here’s why this was difficult on our marriage. I went from being a normal, competent wife and mother, to a shrinking bit of humanity who could barely move from the couch or even shower myself well. It was a time when I was completely out of control of what was happening to my body, and my emotions were very depressive as a result. I felt useless.
JP had to cook the food, do all the grocery shopping, and take care of Felicity when he was home because I was barely making it through the day. He was also commuting to Chicago each day and working a challenging post-doc. He wasn’t prepared for me to completely tank.
As a result, at a time I needed my husband to support and love me more than ever before, JP wasn’t able to consistently provide it. I think he tried, as best as he was able to. But there were moments and times that were seared in my mind and heart where I felt ever so alone. There were the nights he was making dinner, and I knew he was frustrated and resentful of the additional responsibility, and yet there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn’t move. I had to focus so hard on each little bite, that making a dinner felt like Mt. Everest.
There was the time, when I, skinnier than I should ever have been- about 12 lbs below my normal healthy weight, my eyes sunken and dark, when JP came around the corner after tucking our daughter into bed and he looked at me with such sadness and distance and asked me “Where did you go?”
I didn’t know how to answer that question. I was just trying to survive. It caused deep wounds between us. I knew that, because of how life goes, this probably wouldn’t be the only significant trial we would face, and I didn’t know how I could endure those trials without the support of my husband.
Once I passed the 20 week mark, things started to get better, as it often does with those who have HG and I started gaining weight again. I was able to cook eventually and resume my regular responsibilities. But the space created by feeling so alone for so many weeks in a time of my great need still remained.
Fast forward a bit to last fall. JP and I were each simultaneously and yet independently of each other on a path moving us closer to the Catholic Church. During the winter, JP discovered Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. And, even though we were not in any sort of significant trial at the time, my husband started changing.
He started giving more, without being asked. He started offering, with true sincerity to help out in ways he hadn’t before. He started looking at marriage as a way to be giving and loving, and it started healing us. I read Theology of the Body (for beginners), and I understood, and I started changing as a wife, too.
This isn’t a post about TOB, but, in short, it is all about the way God designed marriage to be a reflection of the union of Christ and the Church. And our model is Jesus, who gave himself completely for us. So, as we grow in our faith, we grow in our ability to model our own lives after Christ Himself. And we learn to realize that happiness comes in giving, in being “gift” to others, and that this is the fullest sense in which we can live out our married calling, as well as our calling to the others we encounter. But, I’m sure we’ll write more on that later.
The main point of this is that we had another significant test ahead. Through our journey to the Church, our hearts became more open to more life in our family, allowing for the possibility that we would have more children.
There was a lot of fear associated with pregnancy for me. I had an 80% chance that the hyperemesis would reoccur. I had felt so alone last time.
And I remember, either just before getting pregnant or just after, as JP and I were getting ready to fall asleep, I said to him “I might need to be gift to this baby for a while, and if I do, I’m going to need you to be gift to me.” And I hoped that in so many ways this time would be better, but didn’t know.
Thankfully, I would not have qualified for the hyperemesis diagnosis this time around. For the first time, I did not lose weight. I was able to try a new medication, which I think helped. But I was still extremely nauseated, and fought being sick all day, every day, for weeks on end.
But, I also think that the change in JP made a huge difference in how I was able to cope with the intense sickness I did have.
He scooped up taking care of the kids when he was home. He willingly went to the grocery store, and made the food, and even still, when I’m “off” in the evenings even at 20 weeks, he brings me dinner, and anything else I need so I don’t need to expose myself to my “gag” triggers, which can sometimes be as simple as opening the fridge or smelling something in the pantry. He has let me sleep when I need to sleep, because I’m less nauseated when I am well rested. He massages my feet every night without being asked. And as hard as it is for me to be less helpful than my “usual” self during this time, I haven’t felt resented at all. All his actions have been encompassed in an envelope of honest love and desire to help me get through the struggle.
And I know that this change in JP is contributed only to one thing. He is growing more in love with his Savior, and is starting to look more like Him too. I still remember when he told me that he was praying for me at Mass, that God would show me how much He loves me. And God told him, “That’s your job.” I can’t even tell you how, despite being horrible and difficult in some ways, this pregnancy has provided our marriage with incredible healing. I have not been alone. I have struggled, but I have been lifted up by my husband, who is modeling spiritual leadership for me and our children. In growing this baby, I have not had to bear the challenges alone.
And that is one of the amazing gifts of this faith we hold so dear. Now, at 20 weeks, and still emerging day by day from the challenges of pregnancy sickness, our marriage has grown in love and kindness and thoughtfulness in a way that strengthens my own faith in our ability to be a model of Sacramental Marriage in the world, no matter what we may face in the road ahead.