Friday, April 27, 2012

Pregnancy: Weight Gain and Eternal Perspective

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After both Brayden and Kaitlyn were born, I never did anything special to get into shape. I would exercise sometimes, but often found myself completely paranoid about affecting milk supply. I also figured, why bother? I was just going to get pregnant again soon anyway (yes, at this point in life, I realize that isn't really the smartest way to go about things).

After McKenna was born, we weren't sure if we would have more children or if we were done. Once I got a diagnosis of PCOS, we knew there was a chance of us being able to ever get pregnant again, so I hit the exercise big time. 

I spent two years diligently working out day after day, week after week, to get into shape. When I finally felt like I was in good shape, I got pregnant. 

And then, of course, the weight gain starts. That is totally normal, right? When you are pregnant, you gain weight. Logical, yes, but also emotionally hard to take after you have spent so much time getting into shape. I really struggled mentally to accept this. Then you have some crazies (yes, I said crazies) saying pregnancy weight gain for a healthy woman to be 0-5 pounds. 0-5 pounds! That doesn't even cover the baby! (side note, I got a phone call from my insurance company where they asked me about my weight and height etc. etc. and then informed me that my BMI was right on and that I should gain about 25-35 pounds with the pregnancy. First I thought, "I don't need you telling me what to do" and then I thought "thank you."). At one appointment, I talked to my doctor about it, and bless her she told me not to worry about my weight gain. I love her for it, and her words help some, but they don't completely wipe away my worry.

One day, my husband was teaching a Sunday School class at church. His lesson was on eternal perspective. In our church, young men usually serve a two year mission when they turn 19. They leave home and pay for the mission themselves. My husband read a story about a young man who worked hard for two years to save for his mission. When it came time to go, the young man had a hard time spending that money on a mission. He thought of all of the other things he could do with that money. Of course, the benefits he would get from serving a mission would far outweigh any benefit from buying a nice car or something else with that money. I thought about his need to focus on eternal perspective rather than what was right before him.

And then it really hit me, and I knew it was an answer to prayer for me to hear it that day. I could easily parallel it to myself. Yes, I had spent two years getting into good shape. The reality is, that work is probably a big part of why I was able to get pregnant (with PCOS, losing weight can help chances of pregnancy). 

Like the boy, I had spent two years sacrificing for something, and like the boy, I was having a hard time with the idea of giving it up.

Also like the boy, I was about to give up my time for about two years. Since pregnancy is hard on me, and babies tend to take up a lot of time, that amounted to about two years of much focus going into this baby.

And also like the boy, what a great sacrifice to make! What wonderful lessons I would learn. I would become a better person. What better way to spend my time than bringing a child to this earth? This decision would be worth more to me, my family, and this child in the eternities than staying in good shape right now. Like the boy can earn more money after his mission, I can work hard to get in good shape again.

Sometimes the sacrifices we make as mothers and parents seem too great for our abilities. It seems like our lives will never be our own again. It seems so overwhelmingly hard. In the end, however, these are the things  that make us better people. These sacrifices make us stronger, more loving, more caring, smarter, wiser, and happier than something as trivial as body mass index. Motherhood brings eternal growth and eternal happiness. 

This is a picture my friend Serra took of me with my children. I see this, and see how happy I am. Sure they drive me to the brink of insanity some days, but they bring me so much joy. Who cares if I have to gain a few (or maybe more than a few) pounds to get another child here? She will be worth it, just like it was worth it for my other children!

No matter what you struggle with in your role as a mother, know that your sacrifice is worth it. Your sacrifice makes a difference that ripples further than you can comprehend in this life. Your sacrifice as a mother is worth it.

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Laura said...

Beautifully said!

Katy Pancake-Boal said...

So good to hear this! We are struggling with the decision if I should take another month off work to stay home with our first baby. I've had 12 weeks paid but the next month would be unpaid...we think we could make it work...but with a lot of sacrifices. We're trying to decide what's most important?? We want to have enough money to provide for our daughter...but the extra time I have with her is also just as valuable..and if we can make it work...even if we have to will be worth it right?? I mean...I'll never get those 4 weeks back...and she's hitting the three month mark and starting to become interactive and getting a personality! I can't bare the thought of missing things...but I also worry about the stress of money...thoughts on what we should do?? Any advice would be appreciated!!!

The Normans said...

Thank you! I was in the same boat - the fittest I've been since probably high school and then, BAM! Pregnant, and feeling crappy, and eating bad things, and exercising less. And gaining weight. Thank you for reminding me that in the end it's totally worth it!

Bethany Haid said...

Thanks for this honest post. You are honest about how your religion influences you, and that is not something very common I see in parenting blogs. You are also honest about how you felt disappointed your hard work was getting undone, and I think some people quickly say, "BUT ITS ALL WORTH IT FOR THE BABY" instead of honoring their feelings.

Good good! I hope you are making some good money off this blog, because your insight is valuable!

Leigh Anne said...

So very true! I need to be sure to read this if I am pregnant again. I've worked hard after the 3rd to be in good shape, but I do think the physical fitness does help w/ the pregnancy & delivery....slight consolation for the weight gain :)

Plowmanators said...

Katy, hard choice. I am of the opinion that you can make things like that work if you try--I think the Lord helps us. I bet you would be happy you did if you decide to stay home--but if you are the praying type, I would definitely be prayerful about it.

Plowmanators said...

You are welcome Normans. It is hard isn't it? Such a mental game.

Plowmanators said...

Thanks Bethany :) I always try to be honest about anything I write.

Plowmanators said...

Leigh Anne, I am just hoping it will not be as hard to get back into shape...hoping hoping.

A Wee Irish Family said...

GAH! I just turned away from the scale in shame at my appointment on Monday. Even though my weight gain is exactly average right now, I still feel huge. I didn't feel so bad the first time around, because I was just in the happy-not-sure-what-the-heck-is-happening-to-me mindset, but now I know! I also lost a TON of weight nursing because I was on an elimination diet, and I looked pretty good! I am not looking forward to the exercise and restraint needed to "get my figure back."
But you're right- two years of ugh cannot outweigh the blessings of a child. We can also keep each other motivated once our babies are here! :)

Little Charly said...

Thank you for a more eternal perspective. Why is it so easy for us to be so focused on the immediate?! We are due August 20th with number two and although I think my weight gain is close to the same with the first, I swear the first was kind of fun cause it was so new and unknown. I feel huge and so out of shape and just want to say thank you for reminding me about perspective this morning. I have no doubt that God is truly working through you to reach others. Thank you again.

Sarah Sloop said...

I definitely needed this today... as our little family recovers from a horrendous evening last night of tantrums and meltdowns from an overtired "almost" 2 year old. (Totally our fault due to a hectic day yesterday... yikes!). Trying to remember that I am raising children for the Kingdom, and because of that, this task is so much bigger than me, but SO WORTH IT. thanks for reminding me that it's not about ME. God's Glory :)

Amanda said...

I totally needed this! I was actually about to post on the Babywise Forum about this same issue! You'd think this being my third I'd be all relaxed about the pregnancy changes by now but gosh it's hitting me harder if anything. The weight gain is just not fun, it's frustrating to get back to my normal weight, finish nursing, feel normal and happy and suddenly get thrown back into the weight gain, hormones, and blahness of pregnancy!

Plowmanators said...

Yes Kim! Let's motivate each other.

Plowmanators said...

Kristina that is my due date!

I need to remind myself of this lesson often. Whether with weight, shape, pain, discomfort, etc. Always something to discourage you. But we can remind ourselves of the eternal perspecive!

Plowmanators said...

Sarah, excellent parallel with the other difficulties of motherhood.

Plowmanators said...

It is hard Manda. It kind of seems like it is harder as we get more experience with it :)

Lisa said...

You made me proactive with this post! Thanks so much for the share! Weight Gain


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