If there’s one thing that bothers me about the first trimester of pregnancy, it’s the emotional highs and lows. Mostly the lows.
Feeling sick or tired is pretty clear cut. I feel like this because there’s a baby growing inside me.
But crankiness? impatience? frustration? a sharp tongue? I mean honestly, when was the last time you were like, “Oh, I’m flaming mad at my husband for being late because there’s a baby growing inside me.” No problem. I can just cut that emotion off right there.
It never feels that way. All the things around us that we perceive seem so real! Surely everyone in the world doesn’t turn into an inconsiderate mob the minute our hormones kick in; but it feels like the problem is with everyone else. Surely not us.
I was just a few weeks into realizing I was pregnant when I began to notice that the days were getting much harder. All of the sudden, the childishness of the girls began to get under my skin. I heard the words coming out of my mouth as harsh and unkind, not loving and patient.
At night, I would talk to Paul. “It’s so hard! I’m not any less accountable to be patient and kind, but the temptation to speak and act harshly is so much greater!” Every single minute is a battle. Every conversation. The days where you “do well” just mean you literally were fighting your flesh every five minutes and just barely surviving. At the end of the day, you are emotionally and spiritually exhausted. And there’s the days where you don’t feel like you win at all. At the end of those days you just feel really, really low.
I was sitting in church about a month ago, when I remembered a fragment of verse.
It had been one of those mornings. I had felt upset at everything and everyone. I had gotten really close to letting my feelings fly out of my mouth. Thankfully, through the schedule and rush of the morning I hadn’t had a chance. I sat in the service thinking through the morning. Slowly, my feelings subsided. I realized that it had just been a very normal morning. In fact, better than most. There were a few things good that had happened that didn’t usually.
The only real problem was me. Everything came from my perception of the circumstances, and those perceptions were being filtered by my heightened emotions.
Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3
If there was ever a time I needed to pray that verse, this was it.
So that became my verse for those weeks of my life. I can’t say I worked on memorizing it or even remembered it during hard times. The basic concept in my mind was, Don’t say anything when you feel like it. Give it some time and see if you feel differently after the initial emotions have worn off. Nine times out of ten I realized that it was really nothing. And if it was something, time gives you a much better perspective.
As I said with my napping light bulb moment, why did it have to take me until the fifth pregnancy to realize this? I wish it hadn’t; but at least now it’s helping. The crazy dramatic feelings have been less since about week thirteen, but pregnancy still has a way of getting to you.
I need to be praying even more for help to stay calm and kind. Homeschooling, potty training starting soon, busy schedules… temptation to lose it won’t be far.
Certainly there is grace and help to match the times of pregnant need.