By now you know that I’m pregnant and that when I’m pregnant, I turn into a bed-ridden Cruella De Ville (minus the penchant for Dalmatian skins). Here’s how I survived the past three months:
I asked for help.
Eep! I know; basically the hardest thing for anyone to do.
We never ask for help because we either don’t believe we deserve it (lowly and insignificant as we are) or we’ve been told “no” so many times that it’s not longer worth the effort to even try.
Or both. Usually both.
In my life I’ve tried so many other things before asking for help: throwing temper tantrums, cutting my thighs with razor blades, swallowing Tylenol by the bottle, alienating myself from everyone who made an attempt to care about me, crying, screaming, listening to happy music, praying, writing, reading, exercising… Basically anything I’ve ever done in my life has at some point been an attempt to avoid asking for what I need. And oh! Shopping. That’s a favorite of mine.
Of all these things– including prayer on occasion– asking for help is the simplest way to meet our needs. Honestly, what could I have been praying for these past months? The apartment to magically clean itself? For my toddler to no longer require constant attention? For her to no longer need to eat THREE whole times a day? Yeah. I’m sure I tried.
So five weeks into my pregnancy I emailed basically everyone I know in New York and begged for help. Not exactly what I had envisioned for a pregnancy announcement. Everything went by so fast with Zoe that this time I was hoping for a cute family picture, the likes of which crowd Pinterest regularly. “Baby #2 due in September!” Or maybe Zoe holding a sign about getting a baby for her birthday. You get the idea. But every time I thought about the effort required to make myself look like I hadn’t spent the last several weeks throwing up, I just thought about how much I’d rather stay in bed. Five weeks is way to early to tell people you’re pregnant anyway. The rate of miscarriages before 12 weeks is so high, plus I’d just had a miscarriage at 6 weeks a couple months before.
But I couldn’t function. So I asked for help despite all of that.
Just as a side note, this was unfairly easy for me since I’m a Mormon. I honestly don’t know how I would have handled this before joining the church, but the best part of being Mormon is that it comes with this incredible community of people willing and eager to serve. And bring you donuts while they serve. I’m not kidding. We’ve had strangers help us move, watch our child for free, clean our apartment WHILE watching our child for free, bring us food, and talk to us about the gospel when we’re feeling low. It’s a pretty awesome church. Eternal salvation is just an added bonus. Anyway, the point of me saying this is that if you don’t have this kind of community, you have to work harder to build one for yourself but it is necessary and worth it.
So I sent out this email and received about twenty darling responses from people I didn’t even know were my friends. Some offered to buy groceries or watch Zoe, some said they couldn’t help but just wanted me to know that they care and understand what I’m going through. After reading these replies I felt the first sliver of hope that I could survive this pregnancy. In case I haven’t been clear enough, this is the second most difficult thing I’ve been through in my life, second only to being depressed and suicidal and believing my life was a miserable black hole of sadness. I literally thought I wouldn’t survive this before I asked for help.
I took up some of these friends up on their offers and then called up my mom and begged her to come stay with us for a month (something , again, I realize not everyone can do) because I was just that useless.
Before my mom got here, I asked my husband for help and that was the most important thing I did during this time. In the past I would have gotten silently irritated at him for not reading my mind and doing everything that I usually do around the house, plus his regular job. Slightly unreasonable. This time I told him straight away that I couldn’t cook until further notice and Seamless became our best friend. I asked for specific help with small, manageable tasks (washing dishes, taking our trash, putting Zoe to bed) and somehow, we managed.
It takes the drama and the strife out of difficult situations when we actively seek to ensure our needs are met. And hey, I made it halfway! Almost.