Why I Felt Guilty About My Last Pregnancy (and Why I Don’t Anymore)

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On a recent December afternoon, the “big kids” (age 2 and 4) went to grandma’s house and I got to spend a couple hours with just my baby girl (7 months). She took a cat nap in her crib and then promptly woke and I sat on the couch next to our twinkling Christmas tree and nursed her. She typically doesn’t fall asleep while nursing anymore, but this time she did. Her precious little body relaxed and she dropped off to sleep on my lap. Her little chubby fingers were tangled in her brown, wavy hair she had been twirling. Her long, dark eyelashes brushed her round cheeks. And I was just spellbound watching her sleep.

Due to horrible morning sickness during my last pregnancy, we’re using Marquette method NFP to space out our next pregnancy for a few months. I’m doing everything I can with supplements and nutrition to prevent having such severe morning sickness in the future, because on many days during my last pregnancy it was impossible for me to care for the other children on my own. The vomiting, the 24/7 nausea, and the light-headedness kept us cooped up at home for weeks. Bob the Builder became a much more familiar resident of our days than I was comfortable with. And all those preschool homeschooling activities I had planned were tossed out the window. It was tough. And when I remember those months, I see myself in bed in fetal position sipping on ginger ale and feeling sorry for myself.

But when I see this little girl, my beautiful baby girl, I don’t feel sorry for myself one bit. The dimple she has on her right cheek. The way her ridiculously long dark-brown hair flips out above her shoulders. The way she holds onto my shirt when I pick her up. She is worth every SECOND of pregnancy misery. I would do it all again in a heartbeat and as I’ve watched many dear friends lose babies this year through miscarriage or stillbirth, I am filled with gratefulness for the gift I could never hope to deserve: my healthy baby girl.

But one thing I’ve still struggled with when I think of the possibility of a new pregnancy is how it would affect my other kids. Now that the baby is only waking twice a night and I’m not completely sleep-deprived, the kids are moving back toward a screen-free life. We still watch an episode of this or that a couple times a week or have a family movie night, but it’s not a daily feature in our lives. We’re eating up library books, the four-year-old is starting to read, and we’re always out and about with friends at playdates or at the museum. Looking back to the weeks I was in bed with just enough energy to press the remote to turn on another episode of Dinosaur Train, I feel badly for robbing my kids of their energetic mom.

But when I was looking at my baby girl while she slept on my lap, all of that changed.

I thought about what my preschooler had said that day: “Mama, you’re my favorite person. Can I only have one favorite, though? Because Baby Gwen is my favorite, too. I love her SOOO MUCH.” And he does. He loves his sisters with all his heart and is such an amazing big brother.

When my toddler decided a few weeks ago that it was fun to smack her baby sister and see what reaction she got, I was shocked. Because Benjamin, my oldest, wouldn’t have DREAMED of hitting the baby when he became a big brother. He was too busy protecting her and loving her. He rules at this big brother thing and tells me all the time how much he loves having little sisters. Should I feel guilty for having brought them into his life? No. My big brother is still one of my very dearest friends. Imagining growing up in a world without him is inconceivable and knowing that my kids get to share in that love is amazing.

And then I think about my oldest daughter, Lucy. So, yes, she occasionally smacks her baby sister. But most of the time she’s a champion big sis. The way she scrunches up her eyes and smiles when she says, “Hi, Gwen! Hi, Gwenny Gwen Gwen!” And when I don’t have Baby Gwen in my arms she says in a concerned voice with furrowed brow, “where’s Gwen?!” as if I might have accidentally forgotten her baby sister at the gas station and she needs to keep me in line. She loves her sister.

And while I watched my baby sleep, illumined by the sparkling Christmas tree, I thought about all the Christmases my girls will share together. All the squabbles they will have and the grace they’ll need to offer each other. All the nights they will stay up late talking. The days they might be bridesmaids in each other’s weddings. The days, long after I’m gone, when they will flip through photo albums and see pictures of their mother when she was young and exhausted caring for little ones, with love for them sparkling through the dark circles around her eyes. And each can squeeze the other’s hand and know exactly what’s in her sister’s heart. They can do all the sisterly things I will never experience, because I never had a sister.

And at that moment, any guilt I had over my less-than-stellar mothering during my last pregnancy melted away. Because now I understand that I wasn’t robbing my children of their mother for nine months, I was blessed to offer them the best gift I can imagine: a sister who will love them and be loved by them. And I just sat there with my sleeping daughter in my lap and cried. I cried because I was full of joy. I cried because I felt relief after feeling guilty. I cried because the mother’s love that God has placed in me is too big for my heart. It is all so hard and so good.

And so what now? Well, we will probably keep trying to avoid a pregnancy for awhile through NFP. But regardless, I’m not scared of another pregnancy anymore. The debilitating nausea, the Netflix marathons, the housekeeping failures that come along with those nine months, they will return if we’re blessed with another pregnancy. And it will be hard and I will be tired and I will curse the morning sickness with my cheek on the cold tile floor after being sick again and again and again. But it will be worth it a thousand times over just like this little girl is worth it. And the gift to our family will be so much greater than any sacrifice I will be making.

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  1. says

    Haley, I love this post…I love your blog. It’s super encouraging reading posts by someone who thinks so similarly to myself. Your kids are gorgeous. I pray you’ll be blessed with many more.

  2. says

    I love this post! I had a similar pregnancy with my second and I lamented all the tv my older son watched. But you know what, all those episodes of Super Why must have not been so terrible because it was in the midst of that awful time that he taught himself how to read. So surely he wasn’t so neglected? Maybe it’s good that we as moms are forced to step back and take a less active role in parenting during pregnancy. Maybe that is necessary for our kids to become more independent people in preparation for a new, needier, smaller person to be born.

    Wanna know a great tip for morning sickness I learned from a mother of eight? Cheerios! Not for you, for the kids. Just get everyone sippy cups of milk, set a big bowl of dry cheerios on the floor, and turn on PBS. Everyone is happy and fed and mommy can lay on the couch alternately napping and throwing up and nibbling saltines. I did that for 9 months with my second pregnancy and 3 months with my third and it sounds kinda goofy but it was a lifesaver 🙂 My kids eat a real breakfast now but I’m okay if someday they need a communal bowl of cheerios on the floor again so I can grow them a new baby sibling to love. Because you’re right, my kids’ favorite people in the world are each other. And especially the baby, they all adore the baby as if she were the Christ Child herself. I fear she may be getting quite spoiled 🙂

    • Haley says

      I am with you! My kids are allergic to gluten so we have to go the GF cereal route but there were several occasions when I had the preschooler run to the kitchen and grab a box of it when I couldn’t move from my bed where I was snuggling the toddler. They just stuck their grimey hands in the box and went to town. Cereal was everywhere but we survived the morning 🙂

      • says

        Just a thought, but… if your kids are GF… are you as well? Because I had terrible, debilitating migraines during my eldest’s pregnancy, and quite a bit of morning sickness to accompany it … when my eldest was ten months, I was diagnosed as non-celiac gluten intolerant and went off gluten. Second pregnancy? No migraines, threw up a whopping TWICE. This pregnancy, the same.. ex dpt for that two-week span where I cheated, didn’t get GI symptoms, and thought..n gee.. maybe my gut has healed enough to snack on it. Then I was brought low by a migraine that seemed even worse than what I had with my first – though it may have just seemed that way because with my first, I could call in sick for the rest of the day and crawl into bed with an ice pack, whereas this time I had to keep a 3.5 year old and 1.5 year old alive until Daddy came home at the end of the workday… so I couldn’t alleviate worsening symptoms by lying down. Regardless, it was horrible enough to warn me off of cheating further. I was even liking on an empty stomach just from standing up…

        All that to say… if your kids are sensitive, it might be worth going off it yourself before your next pregnancy. Or if you already are strictly GF, maybe investigating if there is some other food sensitivity that could be fri king your body into thinking it has a high toxins level to expel…

  3. Elizabeth says

    I know exactly how you feel as I hold my soon-to-be-5-month-old baby girl :). As I wrote before, she is my fourth (well, fifth really, but fourth on this earth). My second baby brought absolutely debilitating “morning” sickness, and I had to take anti-nausea drugs to stay alive. I couldn’t even keep water down. I was terrified of future pregnancies, but we kept going, using NFP to space the kids about 2.5 years apart. I have not experienced another pregnancy like that, although I found that I was low on progesterone after my miscarriage (4th baby), which was new to me. I am guessing my 30’s brought changes to my body. Anyway, progesterone supplements to support my 5th baby helped nausea tremendously, and Phenergan is much more effective for me than Zofran (which now has pregnancy warnings) if you ever need meds.

    Apart from dealing with the trials of pregnancy, I can assure you that you are doing a great job. My kids also get lots of DVDs and a pretty absent mom for pregnancy due to similar struggles. Now that my oldest is nine, I can see how they flourish and how much they love each other. Like you, we wean off of the DVDs as I feel better, and they read tons of books, do crafts, play outside, etc. They go to a very challenging classical Christian private school, and my two school-aged children are at the top of their classes, including very advanced reading levels. I also homeschooled for three years when they were younger and felt guilty when I needed a more traditional school to get me through pregnancies. That has been another unforeseen blessing. I can see by your love, faith, and parenting philosophies that your kids are and will also thrive!

    • Haley says

      Sounds like our pregnancies are similar! All mine have caused serious morning sickness but this last one was the first that I couldn’t hold water down. And so good to know about Phenergen because I caved and got on Zofran for the first time during the last pregnancy and when I heard that they’re warning against it now I thought, “Oh NO. What will I do next time if it’s that bad again?!” Thank you for your encouragement!

  4. says

    I get this, I really, really do. These are the sorts of questions we ask ourselves. Are we doing the right thing by the children we have, will their needs be catered for meet whilst pregnant, new born. and then how can we say no to this gift of love, with all its blessings.

  5. says

    I love this. And we have a blended family of 19, 12, 10, and 2. Our two year old daughter is our only one together. We have finally fallen into a comfortable rhythm as a family. It doesn’t feel quite so impossible to get out and do things together now. My husband is adamantly done having children. Sometimes I feel that I am too. And sometimes not. I pray and wait and see. Thank you for your encouragement!

  6. Natalie says

    We must be on the same wavelength, because I was having very similar thoughts as I nursed my 7 month old daughter this morning (also by the Christmas tree)! I also have hard pregnancies, but seeing my older two children peek into Baby’s crib in the morning and chorus, “Baby, you’re so cute!” just melts my heart. We are also trying to improve my health before entertaining the possibility of another, but you are right, any amount of suffering and, yes, netflix mothering is worth it for the gift of another sibling in the family!

  7. says

    After the year we had, I have wondered about inviting the chaos of another pregnancy (and the messy house!) in anytime soon (and any more possible health issues for me). Was thinking about this just today and reflecting on how I would truly change nothing (including losing my gallbladder:) Jonah is worth it all, and any other babies we have will be too.

    • Haley says

      You guys have been THROUGH IT this year. But what a gift to have four healthy boys (and I just die of cute whenever you post pictures/videos of them playing in their hobbit house). You have such a beautiful family, Brittany. (But prayers for a less-eventful, AKA fewer hospital visits, 2014!)

  8. says

    Thank you for writing this! I too was sick for months (5 months puking every day and dwindled down to every few days after that). It was AWEFUL. I would love another baby, but the thought of going through all that again with a toddler this time seems overwhelming. Next time around, I’ll have the end goal in mind though. I’ll know what it’s like to hold a baby after all those months of suffering and know that it’ worth it.

    I just feel about what it will do to the one I do have now because I would probably not be able to spend as much time with him. We wouldn’t be able to do as many fun things for a while. But giving him a sibling would be so awesome and I guess in the grand scheme of things, 9 months isn’t’ that long compared to the YEARS they’ll enjoy with their brother or sister.

    • Haley says

      So true! And you never know, Rachel. My second pregnancy the morning sickness was not as severe, so you might catch a break!

  9. Renee says

    Great post!! I’d be really interested to read more about how to prevent terrible morning sickness with supplements and nutrition. Is there a link you can point me to? Thanks!

    • Haley says

      I’ve been doing a lot of research, Rachel and there’s a few different theories. As of yesterday, I’m being very intentional about cutting down (or eliminating) processed sugar altogether. I’ve been taking B complex supplements and using magnesium spray (depletion of B vitamins and magnesium can cause morning sickness). And I recently read about a theory that a certain kind of bacteria (that grows in an environment that candida yeast like) might cause it and that taking silver supplements can help. So, doing all of the above and finally giving in to the fact that I’m intolerant to gluten. Cutting that out, too. Whew. We’ll see how it goes!

      • says

        I’ve been working a few of those things as well. I heard about the magnesium and have been trying to up that and removing processed sugar as well. I hope it won’t be as bad next time 🙂 I’m certainly eating much better now than I was before I got pregnant last time.

      • says

        Would love to hear how this goes for you in the future! As far as I go regarding pregnancy, I wonder if morning sickness (and other symtpoms) has to do with your hormonal makeup. With me, I never get morning sickness (thank GOD) but I do get horrible pregnancy insomnia. Couple that with the exhaustion of building a human and I’m pretty worthless to my two-year-old as well. It’s the same thing when I get my period, too. The first few days of my cycle I can’t sleep. So I wonder if something like morning sickness/ other symptoms can be helped or if it’s just how we are wired. Bodies are so complicated!

        • Haley says

          I’m just convinced it definitely is connected to hormonal swings. But I also think my issues have something to do with blood sugar issues. Who KNOWS. Hope your insomnia goes away soon! That is so frustrating. <3

  10. Pat says

    Sweet Haley, I wanted to share a recent discovery with you (just in case you should ever need it–lol). It’s an essential oils product called QueaseEase that is totally safe for expectant mommies and works WONDERS! My daughter’s doctor gave it to her and it helped so much; I’ve started giving it as an early ‘shower’ gift to expectant friends and they report excellent results, too. How I wish I’d had it way back when–‘morning’ sickness, indeed! lol. And it’s also helpful for nausea from migraines, flu, etc.

    btw–I found the best price on Amazon; about $15, but since I have 2 expectant co-workers, shipping was free. 🙂

    • Haley says

      Pat! I’m so glad you shared that with me! You can bet that if we’re blessed with another pregnancy, I will give it a try for SURE. Thank you!

    • Pat says

      Sorry, another p.s.–The QueaseEase is a ‘sniffer stick’, nothing you take, so no worries about interactions with other medicines or nutritional sensitivities. It’s about the size of a lipstick, too; easy to keep handy in a pocket for cooking, diaper duty and other tummy challenges. Okay, infomercial over. LOL!

      And bless you, for having the wisdom to realize that if your little ones are healthy and happy and loved, you are a GREAT mom! I am always encouraged and inspired by reading what you and Daniel share. Thank you! Your voices are so needed. 🙂

  11. says

    Oh, friend, such lovely and needed words today. As I like to say, delirious is my favorite kind of happy. Because, really, I wouldn’t change a thing. Even the hard days, even the guilt ridden days. Nope, actually, I’d like to take that back. I would change something: I’d follow your advice here and let the guilt go.

    Beautifully written <3

  12. Sadie says

    I really, really needed to read this today. I am 7 weeks post-partum with our third and this morning I thought I might be okay if we didn’t have any more. I had a pregnancy much like yours. Extreme morning sickness to the point that my husband was calling people to the house to help me with the other two. It. was. rough. Reading this blog today has given me a different perspective. Thank you. Thank you for reminding me that the crazy days and sleepless nights are more than worth every minute.

    • Haley says

      I feel ya, Sadie. Sometimes friends came over and once I had the preschooler find my phone so I could call my mom to come over because I was stuck on the kitchen floor and just couldn’t move to get the baby out of her high chair. It’s so hard. But amazing how it fades into a distant memory when you fall in love with your new baby.

    • Pat says

      Sadie, bless your heart! I would bet there are some Meemaws like me whose little ones are out of town and would LOVE to come play with your littles while you recuperate. Don’t you dare deny all the grannies you know the chance to serve! Believe me, they will not be surprised to see laundry or dishes or toy-strewn floors–we’ve all been there! You let your hubby pick up that phone.

      • Sadie says

        Thanks, Pat! We are very blessed with our Parish family here in town. We have many adopted grandparents (our parents live too far away to be able to drop by.) It is good to be reminded that we aren’t burdening others but sharing the joy!

  13. Lois says

    So, being still in our first month babymoon with our first precious little one, after a relatively easy pregnancy (don’t hate me, ladies–we live in Nepal, and God knew it was not possible for me to survive a rough pregnancy!), I can’t chime in on the mommy side of this. But, I will tell you, Haley, and all you other mothers, that this is exactly right from the child side of things. As 1 out of 6 children in my family, I will say 100% without hesitation that my siblings are the best gift that my parents have ever given me. When we were children, we were playmates and companions, and got to learn all kinds of lessons because of each other. Now that we are adults, they are amongst my dearest friends. Looking ahead, I can’t tell you what comfort it is to know that, when my parents do reach an age where they will need care or more, that I will have 5 other siblings to share the burden of decisions and the pain of seeing parents age…
    I would never for a minute exchange having 5 siblings for having had more toys, technology, cars, private school–or even for having a mom who was more focused on me during my early years. Because, yeah, of course she was swamped. She had 6 kids within 9 years! Of course she didn’t plan elaborate pinterest birthday parties and activities. But she kept us fed and alive–and gave us the best playmates and friends that we got to keep for life.

    I actually struggle much more with the idea that some people might be called to NOT have a bunch of kids, for the sake of serving God in some other way. We both said when we got married that we wanted “at least 4,” but now we wonder if it would be even possible/wise to keep living in Nepal with 4. But the idea of stopping at 2 or even 3 still just seems sad to me…

    • Haley says

      “I would never for a minute exchange having 5 siblings for having had more toys, technology, cars, private school–or even for having a mom who was more focused on me during my early years.”

      Love that, Lois.

  14. says

    Great minds must think alike…I just wrote last night about how glad I am that my kids have siblings to learn from and to love. While I have been spared the horrible nausea and illness that you’ve suffered, my pregnancies have always been fraught with suspense, ever since I went into preterm labor at 32 weeks with my first (although she didn’t end up coming until her due date!) and have involved bed rest and “pelvic rest” (if you know what I mean) for weeks at a time to make sure that we’re not doing anything to cause the preterm labor. With the last two I’ve had to have c-sections, and recovering from a c-section with little ones running around is far from ideal. But when I look at my little one, I forget all of the troubles.

  15. Chrissy S says

    I have had 1 pregnancy so far and the nausea was terrible. I had to quit my job, which caused me huge amounts of guilt. I was working an administrative job that I was not particularily passionate about, but the decision was very difficult and i was depressed about it for months. We were lucky that my husband has a good job! Now my beautiful daughter is 1 year old and I can’t believe how bad I felt. She is hands down the best thing I have ever done. I am now 5 weeks prego with number 2 and I am nervous about the sickness kicking in. So far so good. I have been taking B6 vitamins and B12. If I do get sick I will be glad to have read this post. Thanks ! 🙂

  16. says

    {Kathy} As a fellow Catholic mom, I cheer you on, Haley. These are only questions that a discerning mother asks. My kids are now 20,18,14 and 10. My life would not be complete without any of them. God inspired them into being through our willing hearts. I feel privileged to have participated in His wondrous creation process.

  17. says

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year it is that after 1 sucessfull pregnancy (with similar morning sickness, depression, anxiety) and 2 losses, the only thing I’m not afraid of any more is another pregnancy. I’m afraid of everything I know that can go wrong again, but not the morning sickness, the worry or anything else.

    I think you’re wise to give your self a break as long as you can ( I needed two years to fully recover from my first so no judgement there), but it really does put it into perspective when you realize what you’d go through just to make sure you have that smiling baby with you in the end. =)

    Wise words as always my friend.

  18. says

    My girls fell asleep rubbing each other’s back in bed last night. They are always falling asleep holding hands or holding each other. It is the cutest thing ever.

    I always see that and my heart melts and then what I struggle with is worry–worry that I’ll lose Josie because she has had so many struggles and still has so many ahead of her with her defects and because the bottom has dropped out so many times in the past 5 years. I see them so bonded and I worry. That’s what always comes to mind. I need to work on that, but I’m not so sure how to go about it yet except pray a desperate prayer for God’s will.

    Also, I really think what you write about is normal–at least it is very normal for me–to fear the pregnancy for x amount of months then come around to being open to life again. I know for at least 6 months postpartum I am terrified of pregnancy again (I have awful–that becomes debilitating–SPD starting around 18 weeks that’s my main source of preggo miserableness, and migraines with aura and vomiting that start around 12 weeks, in addition to fairly bad vomiting, like 5-10 times a day in the first trimester). But somehow, I always come around. Like what you described in the first paragraph or so. It’s so worth it. Life always is!

    Right now we *have* to wait due to financial concerns. And it kills me. But we really have to for the time being.

    I know that I’ll be so excited when you (and / or anyone in the play group) announces the next little one!!! Can’t wait to meet Colleen’s!!! Yey babies! 😀

  19. says

    I think this post ties in wonderfully with your Stop Doing Start Being post. At my baby shower, my amazing aunt told me and my husband: “God wouldn’t have given you a baby if you weren’t going to be the best parents for her.” I think as mothers we should all resolve to feel more confident that we’re being the best mothers we could be to our kids!

  20. says

    God is really beating me over the head with the answer to my St. Andrew Novena intention of discernment about when to stop avoiding #3. You wrote this post just for me. I fret about wasting/losing that time with my girls (3 and 10 months), and I have huge guilt about “stealing” #2’s time as The Baby. You can’t know how much it means to me to be reminded that the gift of a sibling is far more precious than anything I could give them by waiting.

  21. LJ says

    Beautiful, Haley! I’m not a mom yet, but as a former toddler I can say… who remembers being three? No one. But who is still BFFs with their siblings? In a perfect world, everyone! Most kids hardly remember anything before they were five… but we all spend the rest of our lives enjoying relationships with our siblings, or else secretly wishing we had more of them around us. Bless you for giving your children that special gift that only you (and Daniel) can provide – more siblings to share the journey of life!

  22. says

    Do you have a list of the supplements you’re taking to avoid morning sickness this time around? Mine was aaaaaaaawful with my first pregnancy, but I think a big part of that was because he’s a boy – my morning sickness with my 2nd and 3rd pregnancies (a girl and twin girls) was much more bearable, but the fatigue with the last was so so awful that I definitely felt pretty guilty. And felt guilty through, well, pretty much the past year or so because I’ve had to focus so much on my twins that my big kids have kind of fallen by the wayside…

    Anyway, I’m not entirely sure my fertility is returning just yet (Almost 14 months of nursing twins will do that to you…), but I have a feeling we’ll be pregnant soon after it does return, and I need to have energy this time around! I can’t just leave all four children to their own devices all day long!

  23. Stacey D says

    Posts like these are always hard for me. I haven’t always wanted a big family, but after the surprise arrival of our son, I definitely reconsidered. Since our son was born, 13 years ago, I have miscarried 3 times and just recently found out that there is high likelyhood that I will never be able to carry a child again (even though I am able to get pregnant).

    This is why I am so happy for you that you have been able to banish the false guilt that you carried. It is such a blessing to see the perspective that you have gained through all of this and the teachings even through the hard times.

    So even though, I do hate to hear that you worried or felt guilty for even a minute of your pregnancy, I’m so happy to hear that God has redeemed it and showed you a new blessing!

  24. says

    Post made me cry. :p

    I suffered debilitating morning sickness with my pregnancy as well; for the first half, I was throwing up constantly, all day, I actually lost weight; for the second half I had preclampsia, with only a little bit of relief there in the middle.

    I said often, “THIS baby will have to be at least five years old before we have another one; old enough to, you know, make itself a peanut butter sandwich or something,” because I was just miserable. That one will be three in February, and we’re hoping to reunite with my husband soon. And the misery and illness, the feeling sorry for myself, the extreme discomfort and visits to the emergency rooms on weekends for an IV to keep some water down, I’m not remembering it as bad as I used to.

    So thanks for already working through the feelings and helping to understand that if God wants for us to have another little baby soon (and through prayer we judge it morally responsible), I shouldn’t feel guilty for “checking out” there for a while while I grow my son a baby sister/brother!

  25. says

    It is funny how fast we forget the awfulness of pregnancies. Ariana was not two months old when Adam starting talking about how he missed “the newborn stage.” Nevermind I spent three months laying on the couch, throwing crackers at Titus. I’ll be putting the suggestions from the comments into use though and hopefully next time will be better!

  26. says

    As someone who constantly feels like a failure because I have not given my daughter a (living) sibling, I’m so glad that you no longer feel guilty! There is nothing to be guilty about. A sibling, especially a sibling close in age, is the best gift you can give your children and it’s certainly worth a lot more than screen-free time!

  27. Jill Ricardo says

    Hi there, I really liked this post and have felt the very same way. It I sounds like you suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum rather than just morning sickness. There IS a difference and I encourage you to do more research on it. While there is no cure, there are treatments, medications and even pre-pregnancy protocols to follow to *try* to make the pregnancy a bit easier. Visit http://www.helpher.org for more information. The forums are particularly helpful and there is a LOT of information there.

    My 5th baby is 10 months old. I spend 7 months in bed, a total of 13 days in the hospital for dehydration, 6 months on a subcutaneous Zofran pump, took a number of other medications. It was just simply awful. My homeschool was done from bed, my kids ate horribly, my house was a complete wreck. Yet, still I wonder if I’ll be blessed enough to do it again.

    Wishing you all the best.

  28. says

    Beautiful, Haley. Love.

    Would you mind sharing how you find the motivation to do so many wonderful things with your kids? I have a 2yo and a 7mo right now, and I feel like tv is our bff 🙁

  29. says

    We have two girls who are fairly close in she to yours (Josie is 6 months and Faith is almost 3) and your description of sisters growing up together brought tears to my eyes.

    (Faith does the exact same thing with thinking I’m going to forget the baby, too. “Mama, get Josie!! Where’s Josie, Mommy??”)

  30. says

    Ah, the siblings. I have seven under me, and yes, sometimes it was hard to be the six year old grown up, but I wouldn’t change it. (And the large sibling count always helped with babysitting jobs.)
    My siblings are my best friends, and my mom constantly talks about how she loves what friends we are all. 🙂
    It’s such a good reminder, though, even for me. Pregnancy doesn’t make me puke much–just makes me want to go cry and cry and cry. And this is just my first! But I want my little in-utero son to have siblings one day, and it’ll make it all worth it.

  31. Mitzi says

    Thank you for sharing your growth in faith. I needed to read this, and didn’t know that I needed to.
    I had severe PPD after my last baby that spiraled into full-blown “regular” depression for a total of 2 1/2 years of struggling to be in control and “snap out of it” while spending hours contemplating how to most considerately end it all. (Which consisted of looking at various high places and gauging how easy the clean up and how unobtrusive the landing point would be to the casual passerby. It’s hard to remember why that seemed logical to consider, but it did.) I have been terrified at the thought of putting myself and my family through that again, focusing only on the time before I got help, before I turned at last to God, before I realized that my family and friends and FANTASTIC pro-life doctor offered only support without judgment. Maybe God is gently nudging me back to an openness to life. Maybe we’re ready to talk about the possibility without fear – caution and awareness and with my doctor – and without fear.

    Thank you for letting God speak to me through your words. One more step on the way to peace

  32. Jessica says

    Reading this while my 3 y.o. watches yet another episode, my 17 m.o. is napping and I’m trying to stave off another round of nausea with baby #3. I can relate. But the first two are so fantastic, I can’t wait to meet this one–definitely worth it. Thanks for the reminder/perspective.

  33. says

    Oh! This made me cry…the good kind of tears. We are struggling with secondary infertility: we so desperately want to give our daughter the gift of a sibling for all these reasons you mentioned (and so many more).

    Here’s to hope! 🙂

  34. Tricia says

    Your post made me cry (in a good way:)I am currently preggers with #5 and my morning sickness, still raging at 25 weeks has often made me feel like I am depriving the kids of their mom. However, my consolation is too the love they have for each other and their excitement at the arrival f the next sibling. Just one thought of encouragement. Don’t be too agonized about NFP. The beautiful part of NFP is that is is a letting go of oneself and total surrender to God’s will and openness to life. Sure we abstain and that seems like control, but ultimately we use our gift of reason to assess our situation as only God ourselves and our spouse can know. We are not preventing a little life. The true beauty is that we allow God to work within the sacrifices of abstinence that we use and if He decides that it is time for a new life, that life will be conceived…. I’m living proof of that right now 😉 NFP is awesome family planning, not a preventative or resistant relationship with God’s plan, but a mutual openness, respect and awareness of the three partners in the marriage, God, man and wife. hope this doesnt sound preachy (you clearly have a wonderful understanding of NFP) ; it’s meant to be encouraging. NFP has brought such joy and depth to our marriage of 10 years and 5 children that I couldn’t help but comment.

  35. Kate says

    Oh THANK YOU for writing this post!! I am currently 9 weeks pregnant, and sick sick sick. I couldn’t even hardly get out of bed for the past 3 weeks, and I’ve shamefully been telling myself “NEVER AGAIN! We’re adopting!” (Well, we still might do that!) It’s been so hard, and it’s really easy to lose sight of things in the thick of this illness. Thanks for adding some perspective to my nauseated day!!

    And, what are you doing to try to avoid morning sickness next time? I’m already planning ahead…

    Blessings to your sweet family!

  36. Dixie says

    Hi Haley,

    I too have truly awful nausea during pregnancy. I have been able to manage it using Diclegis, which is new to the U.S. market this year and is a category A drug (amazing!). It is not a miracle drug but a management drug; it does not end the nausea but it keeps me from frequent vomiting and really does make a difference. So keep that name in your back pocket in case you want to try something else before you do Zofran (which, in spite of the warnings, is a completely reasonable choice. You have to be able to function!).

    I don’t know if you have heard this, but it is also helpful to start medicine as soon as you get your positive pregnancy test if you are anticipating severe nausea/vomiting or hyperemesis gravidarum. I have read two recent studies on this in major OB journals. I think this made a huge difference for us in this, my second pregnancy. With the first pregnancy, on a similar drug, I truly couldn’t get out of bed. In this pregnancy, although I actually think I was objectively sicker (started earlier, and I’ve needed more medicine), I was able to at least move to the couch to supervise my toddler. It doesn’t sound like much, but the difference was huge in terms of the impact it had on my family (and on my emotional state)! I also was much more comfortable starting a category A drug at 4 weeks than a category C one…my doctor said to me that it is as safe as prenatal vitamins.

    Anyways, just wanted to encourage you that when the time comes, you have options! In the meantime, the Marquette model sure gives peace of mind…

  37. says

    wow Haley! This is soooo much how I feel. Our hormones are in sync…lol. I too didn’t have a sister and I think about sisterly love of Cece and Serena. I also love my bubba (big brother) so much. This is a great post I needed to read. xoxo

  38. Sharonda says

    Thank you SO MUCH for this.

    I’m 20 weeks pregnant with an incompetent/insufficient cervix and have been struggling with working FT, trying to rest as much as I should, and not spending enough time with my husband and daughter (together and separately). My husband has been pulling all of the weight. I don’t cook, hardly EVER clean and I’m not all that interested in looking pretty lol I just don’t want to lose our baby.

  39. says

    I love this life affirming post and I love this blog. It’s meatier than most of the other blogs I read so it takes a little more time and effort to sit down and read some of the posts, but soooo worth it when I do. I’ve thought the same thing about another pregnancy. I’ve had 5 c-sections and 2 miscarriages and my doctor pretty much told me to quit while I was ahead, especially since miscarriage is a big possibility for me and I’ve already had 5 c-sections and my uterus just keeps getting thinner and thinner with every pregnancy. My husband is totally on board with my doctor, so we’re currently practicing NFP. Sometimes it hurts though, because we have 4 boys and 1 girl. My 2nd miscarriage was in 2011 and occurred late enough in my pregnancy to know that the baby was a girl. It breaks my heart now when my little girl tells me that she wants a sister. I tell her she has one in heaven but want so badly for her to be able to have one on earth as well. Of course, if I did have another baby it could very well be another boy. After we lost our baby girl we got pregnant with a boy, and God must have known that we had been through a lot because he blessed us with the sweetest, most cuddly baby boy imaginable.

  40. says

    I think it’s great for kids to see their parents being vulnerable as they grow up. When you grow up learning that everyone needs help sometimes and you don’t have to have your stuff together 100% of the time as an adult and parent I think it gives kids a healthier expectation of what adulthood/parenthood is truly like.

    That being said I hope that the new regimen helps to ease and future first trimester woes! I’ve been lucky to escape with nothing more than fatigue and heartburn.

  41. Katherine says

    My husband stumbled on your post while looking at my Facebook page. He came home from work saying, “You need to read this one next time you get online.” He was right. I’ve just come off a really rough month of pregnancy with #3, and up until this week I thought that Phenergen, and the sleepy loopiness that come with it, was going to be my life until May. Thankfully we’ve discovered it is “just” hypoglycemia, and can be controlled through diet. But I was having many of the same feelings of failure as a Mom. Thank you for this Haley.

  42. tealady3 says

    My “baby” is 30 and I loved this post,you brought back so many memories.I also nursed my son and it was always such a special time to bond with him. I was never able to have more children, yet I was blessed with 3 step daughters and many foster children over the past 20 years.

    You have a very special site and I thank-you for giving me a chance to remember some special times.

  43. Jennifer says

    Marquette Method user here…just have to chime in to say that God works- always. No matter how “planned” you think you’ve got things. We conceived our #4 4 full days pre-peak, and peak shifted 4 days that month- so normally it would have been an 8 day window. We always “joked” that God would “have” to shift peak for a baby, and He did just that. And she is fantastic. God will do God’s will if you are open; and NFP is open, even in times of abstinence, to God’s plan.

  44. Aubri says

    Haley I think you’re right on with your Awesome Family Planning. And as a mother to 6 children ages 5 and UNDER I know it is HARD. Hard being pregnant with babies around, hard doing everything and anything with so many babies around. I have 2 children that are only 10 months apart….life can be very hard. But I couldn’t imagine having said “NO” or “Not right now” to any of these precious children.

    I’m not trying to pick a fight here. I actually have always avoided discussing NFP with ladies who practice it. I don’t see the point since I don’t agree with it and won’t say anything that would be “well received”.

    But I’m sad if you are feeling the pressure and burden of trying to avoid what God may want to bless you with. Pregnancy and these little years are so fleeting in light of eternity. If for 9 months you feel like a “bad mom” or for 5 years you feel like you are constantly dropping the ball with your kids, so what. God has created and given you souls! Souls that are His ultimately and souls you will spend eternity with one day.

    I know that the HARD CASES exist, where women may really need to “avoid pregancy”, but the problem is that as sinners, we all think that WE are the hard case.

    Don’t fear. God does not give bad things to His children. He is a refuge and strength to the weak in times of trouble.

    • Elizabeth says


      I completely respect the AFP method that you and your husband chose for your family — That’s the beauty of our faith. We have the ability to cooperate with God and do what is best for our family.

      I think your words are encouraging, but you are implying that many others are not cooperating with God within their family when they use NFP. When a couple uses NFP, God can still bless them with a baby if He so chooses. NFP maintains that openness to life. It’s almost impossible to judge other couples and their circumstances from the outside, so I would refrain from implying that they are doing it incorrectly. Even if we misjudge our circumstances on occasion, it is never a mortal sin to use NFP, and God isn’t going to punish us for it (at least as far as we know through the Church). He is working with us through our free will.

      God created women with many eggs and men with even more sperm. It can be a little overwhelming when we realize that most of these will never become a precious new human soul. We can agonize and analyze and worry about it.

      Here’s an example of how worrying about timing (and our role in timing) can unnecessarily create anxiety: My fourth baby was a miscarriage. I conceived our fifth baby during the month that our fourth would have been born had that baby lived. Had our fourth not died, our fifth would never have existed. It would have been biologically impossible — Even if I got lucky enough to fertilize the same egg, the sperm would sure have been different. Now would any parent be happy that one child died so that another could exist? Can you see how that timing issue might drive someone crazy? How we could spend a lot of time analyzing God’s will to no avail?

      The very nature of having children will change the existence of future children. It’s a good way to drive yourself nutty — What if God wants me to conceive this month? What if he doesn’t because the baby who is really supposed to exist will come along next month? And on and on. We need to trust God in all things, especially when we are cooperating with him in procreation via NFP and/or AFP. We are not called to do otherwise, and to do otherwise would probably drive most well-meaning, good Catholics insane.

      Anyway, sorry for the long-winded response. I have pondered many things since my miscarriage, and I realize the wisdom in the Church in encouraging cooperation with God while also avoiding judgment on each egg, sperm, and fertile period. There is no need for anxiety and sorrow over choosing to wait a little longer, so long as we are living according to Church teachings.

      • Elizabeth says

        I guess my point is this: If a couple is using NFP and discerns that they need to wait a little longer for their next baby, that takes just as much trust in and cooperation with God as conceiving their next child. We are trusting that God has helped us discern rightly, and we are trusting Him with all our future children.

        • says

          I agree with Elizabeth completely – and would remind Aubri that everyone’s abilities and limits are different and no one is getting to heaven quicker based on the size of their families. The beauty of having a tool like NFP approved by our Church is that we have a wonderful tool which encourages a couple to continually evaluate and reevaluate their reasons for (attempting) to postpone a pregnancy AND their reasons for trying to have a child while making sure that they are are always aware that their actions may have consequences which they are ready to take responsibility for. NFP is simply a tool for those who need it, when they need it.

  45. April says

    Thank you for your beautiful words. I read this and keep re-reading this post. I even referenced it in my own family blog. Thank you.

  46. says

    I am so glad you shared this on facebook today, I needed it. I am entering week 13 of my fifth pregnancy, which I pray will lead to the healthy birth of our third child, and I am so sick and sick of being sick it is not funny. I am on my third medical plan to try to curb it, have lost weight, and feel like the worst mom in the world to my two children, not to mention a sore excuse for a wife and partner to my husband. I know it cannot be helped and I know there is a light at the end of my tunnel, but it helps to hear it from someone else! I am so supported and loved and I need to rejoice in that, rather than wallow int eh self pity that comes as often as the nausea. Thank you for posting this, it truly was exactly what I needed.

  47. Brittany says

    Haley, you made me cry with this post. Thank you for sharing, and I completely agree (from the sibling perspective). Having siblings to love and grow up together is a huge blessing! And having adult siblings when you all grow up is fabulous too!

  48. Sofía says

    Hi Haley, I love your post. I just had my fourth baby and my morning sickness was pretty bad… Crippling I call it… I read on your post that you are using Marquette for NfP – does that one work when you are nursing? Or you have to wait until you are done? Also I saw that you are doing changes to your diet to avoid morning sickness, what is that. With my last one nothing did it… And I couldn’ t keep water or anything down… Every pregnancy has been different as in the stuff I can handle… With one I couldn’t handle anything with fizz with my last the only thing I could handle was little sips of coca cola… Who knows…

    • Haley says

      Hi Sofia! So sorry to hear about the morning sickness. It’s so hard. I did use Marquette during the postpartum nursing stage and I’m actually still nursing–baby girl is 20 months. For me, learning Marquette was less anxiety-ridden than learning another method during that tricky postpartum time because the monitor is pretty black and white. There were a couple of months when my body was revving up to ovulate but hadn’t actually started ovulating again yet when a lot of abstinence was required and that was not so fun. But after that, I’ve been really happy with it. And I think they’ve updated the breastfeeding protocol since then in a way that should cut down on the prolonged periods of abstinence during that revving up stage.

      As for diet, cutting out sugars seems to help me. And I found out I’m deficient in Vit D which can affect how your body absorbs magnesium and B vitamins (both crucial for avoiding awful morning sickness). So I’ve been taking supplements for all of those! And taking baths with magnesium flakes or epsom salts. Hope that helps!!

  49. says

    I may just be reading all your blogposts on the subject of pregnancy this evening… I’m almost 7 weeks pregnant with our second, and my 18 month old is cutting four teeth, which means she wants to nurse all.the.time, and I am flat out exhausted and really concerned about what our family life will look like for the next couple of months. I’ve managed to keep from throwing up so far by forcing myself to eat almost constantly, and I’ve even had a couple of times where I’ve felt kind of sort of okay, but then I’ve pushed myself too hard and been way worse. It’s so hard to have grace for one’s self when one is suddenly incapable of doing a fraction of the things one did a mere few weeks ago. This post was a huge encouragement to me tonight.


  1. […] “Is there any way to prevent morning sickness? I’m on a mission to find that out. I’ve had severe morning sickness for all three of my pregnancies, but this last time was by far the worst. I wasn’t officially diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum (the pregnancy complication of excessive vomiting/nausea that can sometimes be dangerous.) But I couldn’t even keep water down and my midwife finally insisted that I take the prescription drug Zofran to manage the nausea/vomiting so I could gain back the weight I was losing. It was seriously miserable and I needed lots of support from my husband and extended family to be ab…. […]

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