The porcelain bowl glistens clean and white, the scent of anti-bacterial wipes wafting from its open lid. This has been my on-and-off view for the past few weeks; the bathroom mat a frequent companion for this newly-pregnant mama.
Retreating back to my spot on the couch, cuddled up under a brown blanket, my nose twitches at the scent of whatever it is my husband is cooking in the kitchen. I gag and growl in frustration at my endlessly-rolling tummy. No one could ever say that this is a “fun” part of pregnancy, but nonetheless, I take a deep breath and direct a quick word of thanks upwards.
Despite the discomfort, I try to remember that I am enjoying this.
Not the bathroom trips or excessively loud dry-heaves that burst from within, not the person who named it “morning” sickness (I hate that guy), or the fact that I have nibbled my way, mouse-like, through several boxes of salted crackers — but rather, the fact that it’s happening at all.
With my past four pregnancies, I went weeks without even a hint of nausea. A blessing to most, for me, this was a sign that yet another little one was struggling. All four of those pregnancies ended in miscarriage and desperate tears. Despite being nearly eight weeks along with most of them, I never had any of the usual pregnancy symptoms and it was difficult to “feel” pregnant.
So this time around when the nausea began its full attack at just six weeks along, I rejoiced. Each heave and retch reminds me that there is a baby growing happily and healthily within, that hormones are increasing, and that all is well.
It’s counter-intuitive to rejoice when you feel so sick. But these four miscarriages have taught me to be thankful for small mercies like morning sickness. To be grateful for this opportunity to carry another babe.
By no means does the joy diminish the fact that morning sickness is miserable and exhausting, depleting already limited energy levels, and providing all-round feelings of yuck. I know that many women suffer from this their entire pregnancies and I’m sure that my thankfulness would begin to wane at that point too. But I also know that I can’t take these miserable-feeling days for granted.
For me, morning sickness is reassuring. Between the ultrasounds and doctors appointments, my morning sickness has stood as a comforting embrace. It calms the nerves that lie close to the surface, my reminder of life growing strong within.
I whisper prayers of gratitude as I remember that morning sickness is not a given. That even this is a blessing.
This thankfulness isn’t always an easy choice but if we look hard enough, we can find snatches of beauty in almost all situations. When these small pockets of gratefulness present themselves, they transform the way we view the world around us. They allow us to praise in the midst of the most trying of circumstances.
And so today, I lie in front of a toilet bowl, eyeing a couple suspicious stains left by a toddler still learning to aim, and say “thank you” for this too.