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Small Sacrifice

By Lani B. Whitney

CREATION. Creation of little people. Little bodies being formed in the womb. We mammals are interesting creatures; our motherhood astounds me. I am confused amid my early pregnancy as I make the very enlightened discovery that every person I see had to be born to get here. Born? Yes, every human being on earth was inside a mother’s womb and eventually came out into the light. All those people in the grocery store, in the parking lot, all those school children—all of them, born!

During the first few months of pregnancy I am amazed what women go through. The non-stop nausea that permeates every second of my days in those first three months always begins with the same routine. First, I am strong. I am just barely pregnant and I feel great. I’ve gotten in shape physically and mentally and this time, nothing is going to get me down. I am older now, wiser, and just have things in better control. I am in control—me, alone. You’d think I was my own savior, with my organizing and hard-working attitude keeping this family running. Everything is in order; our home seems to be running pretty efficiently. My husband and I have prayed about another baby and we feel good about it. We are excited to share the news of another member of our family with our children. I await the nausea, but it doesn’t come. I am after all, three whole weeks pregnant. The lack of sickness makes me nervous—am I really pregnant? But, yes, the test was positive and there are other signs—I am pregnant. I overconfidently begin to think this time will be different. “I just didn’t eat healthily enough back then,” I say to my family. “This time I’m just not sick—isn’t it great!”

Then, sure enough three or four days later it begins: the nonstop monster of queasiness. It’s hard to open my eyes; it’s hard to close my eyes. My feet and hands are cold. I feel like I’m trapped in my body. No food sounds appealing. The colors around me are too bright, too ugly. The scent of my husband’s deodorant suddenly repulses me. My children’s breath is equally bad. The sky is too low and too dark. When will I learn? This is the fifth pregnancy I’ve had during the winter holidays. Suddenly, almost instantly my jeans are uncomfortable at the waist. “I will not let this get me,” I say over and over. “I am in control.” I beg in my prayers to please have some relief. Then, when it does come, a few minutes here or there, I fear that something must be wrong.

I vow to my husband and friends that this will be the last pregnancy for me. I cannot do it again—EVER. I write this down in my journal for future reference. I must remember how difficult it is—how torturous it is. Isn’t it strange how this overconfident woman in control of all is suddenly a helpless child wondering how and if she will make it through this day, this hour, this minute? I don’t have a choice; I must go through it. As I begin to ponder pain and suffering, I look up all the scriptures I can under these topics, searching to make sense of this. Trying to put my short-term misery in perspective, I think of others who are sick, really sick, for long term. I think of people who are suffering more than I can imagine—children in hospitals suffering with disease in small pale bodies. I think about the Lord’s pain and suffering and of God’s suffering as He watches us. I wonder how and why we must suffer. I am level with the ground. I am thankful for even the smallest kindness, getting choked up when mere acquaintances routinely ask me how I am. As I awake in the morning I lay still, fighting off the moment when I can no longer make the baby wait in her crib. I have to get up. We head to the kitchen for breakfast.

It’s amazing how quickly our diet has gone from health conscious to instant preserved and refined sugar. If it’s frozen, we have it. If it’s canned, we eat it. I give myself kudos for getting something, anything on the table—even if it doesn’t have enough nutrition to support an ant. I am really accomplishing something if I can take a bath or comb my hair. The questions begin to come as our lives are falling down around us. “Why do we have children anyway?” And, “This is the plan of . . . happiness?” Just when it seems it can’t get much worse, something unusual happens; I am not nauseated for two hours one afternoon. Is something wrong? Gradually, I am feeling relief for longer and longer periods of time. I mark the calendar days off in black marker. The first trimester is almost over and relief is coming.

In another week or two I’m on my feet again, already forgetting the seemingly endless misery of the last few months. I am a humbler, better version of myself than the self-sufficient woman of twelve weeks ago. Knowing who my Savior is, I have a refreshed memory of my reliance on Him. I have begged for His grace and help in my affliction, and my soul has a tangible sympathy for others who are suffering. Will I go through this again? Yes! I hope so. Already I can imagine a small head covered in dark hair—a newness of creation who will be arriving. My small sacrifice is worth it to meet this little soul. And now my prayers will not be for relief, but to let this little one stay for a long, long time.

About Lani B. Whitney

LANI WHITNEY lives with her husband Lance and their five children in Twin Falls, Idaho. She earned an English degree from BYU, and is currently a busy and happy full-time mother. She loves waterskiing (between pregnancies!), journal writing, learning about healthy eating, trying to parent better, and walking for exercise.

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