Monday, November 21, 2011

Afflictions

1 Nephi 17:6

"...we had suffered many afflictions and much difficulty, yea, even so much that we cannot write them all...."

This scripture has been on my mind ever since I read it a few weeks ago.  This is a critical moment for Nephi and his family, because they had been wandering in the wilderness for 8 years, and now there was no more wilderness, just the water.  And they had to cross it.  And "notwithstanding [the crazy amount of afflictions and the new obstacle in their faces, they] were exceedingly rejoiced" when they came to the seashore.

I sit and wonder, "What were their afflictions?"  I can only imagine.  Did they get stung by scorpions?  Did birds and wild animals try to stead their food?  Did they get terrible sicknesses?  Malaria? Extreme fevers?  Did they have children die?  What about their feet?  After 8 years of wandering, surely you're bound to get blisters on your feet, and have cracked and bleeding soles at some point. Maybe the rancid smells of the camels afflicted them.  Then I remembered...being around Laman & Lemuel 24/7 would be a major affliction in itself.  Not only did his brothers try to kill him at one point or another, I'll bet they were simply irritating in general.  There were weddings while they journeyed.  Did the girls have to go without a nice wedding dress?  Did they have to sacrifice the reception they would have had if they had stayed in Jerusalem?  Were there dust storms and did the sand scratch their eyes?  Surely there was nothing like Visine back then, or eye doctors along the way to tell them they had a scratched cornea and not to rub it.  Maybe having no shade was a daily affliction as they traveled--were they majorly sunburned at times?  Surely all that walking gave them chaffing and sores.  Maybe their children wandered off and it took hours to find them.  And I'll bet that even before the bow broke, there were times that they all suffered from thirst, hunger, and fatigue.

Then I think about their pregnant women.

And I think about myself and the lingering self-pity I've had for the last 3months and realize:  At least I didn't have to travel in the wilderness while I felt like this.  I'll bet they didn't even have Zofran.  I probably would have died without it.  Instead I've been able to sleep for hours when I'm dizzy and fatigued.  I've been able to watch cartoons with my kids while I try not to throw up instead of wandering in the wilderness and fainting because of the exhaustion.  There have been some days that I didn't know how I could move one foot in front of the other.  I had no choice but to keep my schedule.  And let me tell you, it's been both a life-saver to keep the schedule, and an emotional breaker.  Sometimes it's the schedule that made sure I could at least get dressed for the day and do ONE productive thing.  And other times it was the schedule that gave me anxiety and made me cry because I felt so insane to still be living up to all of my commitments.

Nephi and his family had everything in Jerusalem.  They "lost everything" so that they could get to the promised land.  The "Promised Land" sounds wonderful, right?  It was wonderful, but by no means was it easy.  Having a child is like that.

I've seen both sides of the fertility spectrum.  I have sat on the side wondering if I would ever be able to have children of my own in this life.  I have also had the holes of loss filled in my heart because of the most beautiful blessings from Heaven: Tyson and Emmett.  And while I have been grateful to be expecting again, by no means has it been easy this time around.  I used to be really good when I was pregnant with Tyson.  Like REALLY good.  Each time I would throw up, I would be praying out of gratitude that I knew I was still pregnant.  Well...that's A LOT easier to do when you only throw up 5 times in your entire pregnancy.  When you throw up 5 times in 2 hours, your prayers have to change from pure gratitude to a begging or a plea for help to get through it and to still be a functional mother.  And I know the Lord doesn't think the less of me.  I know he knows I'm still grateful, but for whatever reason, this time around has not been allowed to be easy.  I've been so down, and so thrown out of my groove.

My dad one day with sympathy and love told me to "Thank Him."  I said, "What do you mean?  I am grateful to be having a baby."  And he said, "No, thank him for what you're learning."  And at that time I told my dad that I actually hadn't learned anything from this experience of extreme sickness.  Haha!...At least I couldn't see the things I had been learning.  But because he said that, I've been thoughtful ever since, and while I didn't recognize what I had been learning, I have learned so much.

There was a day that I would write notes in the margins of things I was reading that Love = Pain.  Part of me wonders if the law of opposition means that to whatever end of happiness you'll reach, you will have to experience the exact same depth of sorrow to match it.  Luckily because of the Atonement we don't have to linger in the depths of despair moments forever.  But when I look at the "happiest people in the world", it makes me wonder what extent of sorrow or sadness they've seen in their lives.  And while I felt sometimes that Love = Pain, I would still sing my heart out to the Celine Dion song that says, "I could never be sorry for love, because with you I've lived a thousand lives in one."

That's how it is with this baby that is on its way.  We chose to have this child.  We planned it.  Mitch and I were and are excited.  We've made financial sacrifices to make this possible.  We've had a history that's given us an interesting view on what it means to be parents and we know this is what we want.  And only 16 weeks into this, our love for this child has already caused us some pain and suffering, but we're excited to see the "thousand lives in one" moments that come when you look into your child's eyes.  At this point, we've been joking that this baby is going to come out grounded, though, because of how sick it's made me.  : )

Several weeks ago I asked Mitch if he was even having fun being married to me lately, and if he was happy, even though this pregnancy has really put its toll on him, too (he's been so exhausted--working more hours, and picking up all of my slack with the house and the kids).  And he just looked at me and told me he loves me. "You bear me children in sorrow," he said.  He made me laugh so hard.  Because that's one of the thoughts I've been pondering.  I don't know where the scripture is, but I know that even Eve, the Mother of All of us, had to bear children in sorrow.  I've always wondered why it had to be sorrowful.  I still don't really know why, but it IS!  It's also the most joyful experience in the world to be a parent.  No one can fully explain the depth of pain or joy of the experience until you go through it yourself.

One day I told Tyson that Mom and Dad love him THE MOST of anybody on this earth.  He said back to me, "No, everyone loves me the most!"  And, don't get me wrong--this child has had a lot of love in his life.  He has stellar aunts and uncles and grandparents on both sides of the family, plus he believes that he has the most friends in the world because of how awesome all the kids in our ward and preschool are.  So, he's felt a lot of love.  But it was just sweet, because I looked in his face, knowing he won't understand until he's a dad someday, and I said, "Nope, Mom and Dad do."  I never truly knew how much my parents loved me until I had children of my own.

What's funny is that a few weeks ago when I thought I would never quit being nauseous.  When I was on 4 Zofran a day and still had my mouth water ALL DAY like I was going to throw up.  When I would smell a NORMAL smell and it would make my stomach literally wrench into knots--the feeling in my stomach was comparable to the way you wring out a towel by twisting it in opposite directions on both sides as tight as you can.  When I felt like the world's worst parent because I couldn't remember how many hours of cartoons and movies they were watching in a day.  When I felt awful because I lost track of time and didn't make a wholesome lunch until 3 pm for my kids.  When I couldn't so much a pick up toys or dishes for more than 20 minutes because it was too much for me.  Back when I had so many side-effects medicines and afflictions of sickness from this pregnancy that I could not number them..back then.  I looked at my life and realized the Queen of Sugar-coating didn't know how to sugar coat anymore.

I'm so grateful for the women in my ward who have checked up on me.  Their texts asking how I'm doing, and their willingness to listen to what I've been going through has made such a huge difference to me.  My friend and neighbor, Sonnet, has really meant a lot to me.  I really love her for checking up on me and just caring.  And Merri has just nodded in understanding each time I've told her the truth about how I'm doing, because she totally knows.  Elena one time told me that I didn't look as pale as I used to.  Haha!  That was like a month ago.  I guarantee the next week she saw me she thought I was looking pale and sickly again, but she didn't say anything.  : )  I feel bad, because I'm sure there have been friends who have needed me and I haven't been there for them because I've been so overwhelmed trying to get from one day to another.  And I'm glad that they're still my friends, anyway.  Like Rachel--who has recently had a baby, and could probably use help, and I haven't helped her in the slightest.  I've only sat in her living room for some talk time because I felt the need to eat food during Sunday School...I wasn't helping Rachel--I was letting her help me.  I'm hoping someday soon I'll be back to being a friend who is able to reach out to others.  In the mean time I'm just grateful for the people who still look at me for me and know that I'm doing the best I can, and they love me, even though I know "the best I can" has been far below par lately. 

I believe that this is such a long post and that no one is really going to read the whole thing anyway, so I'm just going to type for a little bit longer, because it's therapeutic for me.

As hard as the last 3 months have been for me, I have felt so extremely blessed.  I have the most stellar family.  My mother in law, Myrna, my mom, Jodi, and especially Mitch, have all been found helping me with dishes and laundry and organizing toys. Mitchell has spear headed some organizational projects that have astounded me.  Myrna has gone and picked up medicine for me, and my dad has run errands for me.  My brother Taylor was around when some embarrassing side-effects happened with some medicines I was taking and he was helpful and sympathetic and thoughtful, and made me laugh when it was over.  And I know he hasn't talked to anyone about it.  I really love him.  Jodi, Taylor, and Heber have all kept me company when I've been lonely or bored.  My mom puts up with my phone calls all the time because I've had anxiety with being alone.  Mike & Erin put up with me taking my precious old time on everything we did when we went to visit them.  : )  Tina and Ashely have helped me by hanging out with me and making me feel important when I felt like no one cared about me.  And I can't even count the times both sides of the family has helped watch the boys while I've gone to appointments or needed help with whatever it was that day.  I really love my Tenney and Borden families!

So that's it.  I'm looking forward to "the promised land" of having this child come into the world in May.  I hope I can handle having 3 children.  I'm holding my breath that my life is getting easier and my sickness is waning, because this week I've been able to take about half of the amount of nausea medicine I used to take and I seem to be managing.  I'm praying that the next obstacles in my way, are going to be comparable to the "many days" on the water that Nephi's family spent, as opposed to the "8 years" of affliction that the last 3 months have felt like.  I'm sure it'll be smooth sailing from here, so I'm going to find cause to rejoice, too.

I love the scriptures.  I love what they teach me, and I love that the Lord has listened to my "cries" and has sent wonderful people in my life to help me.  I'm pretty sure that since I'm already able to start looking back on this experience with some joy, that someday when it's all over, I'll be able to look back and think, "Oh, sure, that was hard, but look at where I am now.  The Promised Land was SO WORTH IT!"  I hope I can keep that perspective with all of my trials and afflictions that will come in this lifetime.