If a pregnancy is physically hard on you, or you are experiencing complications, it can be difficult to stay positive until your baby’s birth day. Is it even possible to stay sane when things aren’t exactly a walk in the park?

I have been pregnant four times, and each one seemed to be more physically difficult than the last. Acid reflux was a companion that manifested with each baby and began earlier every time. Not to mention the aches and pains that seemed to multiply with each gestation too. By the end of my fourth pregnancy, I could barely move. Pregnancy is a beautiful and magical time, to be sure — but when you're feeling horrible, it can be hard to remember that.

A late pregnancy

The doc said to take it easy, which is super easy to do with a part-time job and three children at home — right?

My fourth pregnancy didn't happen until I was 34 years old. That isn't old by any means, but it took three years to get pregnant, so it was definitely later than I'd expected. My last pregnancy was seven years prior, and while I remembered it with happiness, I also knew that there was fatigue and discomfort — normal for pregnancy but inconvenient.

MOnica on a cardio monitor pregnant

This new pregnancy, however, was hard from the get-go. Before I even had a positive pregnancy test I was worried because my heart was pounding like crazy all the time. By five weeks, I was in the doctor's office and being fitted with a 24-hour heart monitor in the cardio lab. The results showed no abnormalities, but an echocardiogram was ordered, to be on the safe side, which was also normal. The doc said to take it easy, which is super easy to do with a part-time job and three children at home — right?

Things went as well as could be expected until, at 17 weeks, I was admitted to the cardiac floor of the hospital with dizziness and palpitations. Again, there were no significant issues detected, but they didn't want to take any chances. I was released the following day after blood tests found me B12 anemic and low on potassium, but with a healthy heart.

Take it easy

I was never given orders to go on bedrest, only to keep stairs to a minimum and keep off my feet as much as I could. I arranged my workspace so I could do as much as possible from a wheeled office chair and shuffled through the day like that, making a goofy fool of myself. However, sometimes even walking around was enough to set off the palpitations and that always had the potential for dizziness, so I had to modify my environment for the benefit of myself and my baby.

Essential strategies and support

I imagined long, lazy days, spent reading and relishing every one of our baby's movements. That thrill faded quickly.

I had supportive co-workers and a supportive husband to keep me going — which Nichole from California also had the benefit of during months of bedrest. She experienced premature labor and was ordered to strict bedrest at 24 weeks of pregnancy. "Initially, I was thrilled," she shared. "I imagined long, lazy days, spent reading and relishing every one of our baby's movements. That thrill faded quickly. Within days, cabin fever set in and I began watching the clock until my husband came home in the evenings."

She said that she was able to stay sane because her husband provided support and entertainment — phoning from work, hanging out with her in the evenings and giving her reading materials. "The hours, days, weeks and months were long," she said. "There's no question about that. But his compassion and care helped get me through what could have been a truly miserable experience."

Rachael, pregnant with her third child and experiencing excruciatingly painful Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, keeps her mind off her pain with some internet therapy. "I stay sane by Googling about baby things, birthing things, breastfeeding things and so on," she said. "And by buying cloth diapers!"

Baby girl Willow after difficult pregnancy

Worth it

Of course, in the end, every scare, ache and miserable pain is worth it once your baby is here. My labor was annoyingly long and I had some complications during her birth, but my daughter Willow has made such a huge difference in everyone's life that she was worth all that and more. Sometimes, you honestly cannot keep sane during a difficult pregnancy, but there is that light — that beautiful, translucent, soft pink baby light — at the end of your journey that can keep you going.

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