Why I Love Morning Sickness
This article comes from St. George's Burlington, one of our churches in Ontario. It was written by Emily Hunt, the wife of their worship and media pastor.
"You are never too broken for God to put you back together."
As most of you have heard, Bryan and I are expecting our third child in the early fall of this year. As with both of my previous pregnancies, I am very sick. Not just nausea, but all day vomiting, and along with that comes extreme fatigue and dehydration. I am currently on the maximum dose of Diclectin, a pregnancy-safe medication that combats the nausea and vomiting, and yet I still run to the bathroom at least once a day.
For the last month I have spent the majority of my days in bed watching Netflix on my phone. Sounds like a nice little vacation for a busy mom of two. But not so fun when I could barely eat or drink and just felt horrible all the time. Around the second week of this all-day-in-bed, I started to feel useless and a bit depressed. It felt like I was never going to get better, and hated not being the one to take care of our kids. Bryan would encourage and remind me that a whole new person was being created inside me and that it takes a lot of work. Ezra would come up to our bedroom for little visits and pray for me to feel better. Finally my negative perspective on being sick and useless changed when Bryan reminded me that extreme morning sickness indescribably changed my life.
“Extreme morning sickness indescribably changed my life.”
A Living Hell
When I became pregnant for the first time (and therefore extremely sick) I was struggling with a severe eating disorder – anorexia, binge eating and over-exercising. It made my life feel like I was living in hell. To most people that sounds quite extreme, but I can tell you that is truly how I felt.
Unlike most eating disorders, mine started from loneliness. I had just moved to Toronto for college and I didn’t have many friends near by. I was in school for baking and pastry and the majority of my classes didn’t have homework, so I had a lot of free time on my hands. I was at the top end of a healthy weight for my height and I thought it would be nice to lose five pounds so I started going to the school gym. I enjoyed the way my body looked and felt when I lost weight so after 5 pounds I decided to lose more. I knew that if I ate less and exercised more then I would lose the weight faster. I started to eat as little as possible and exercise frequently. I was happy when I woke up in the night hungry because I knew that meant I was losing weight, which had now become an addiction.
This pattern of eating very little and exercising a lot worked for a little while and the weight dropped off. Then the binge eating started. When I say binge eat, I don’t mean I just over ate and felt stuffed. Binge eating is done in a way that you have no control over. All of a sudden you can’t stop yourself from eating everything and anything. You don’t stop until you literally can’t fit any more food in. Your entire body aches from storing all of the extra calories and from stretching your stomach to the size of a basketball. Most often it is done in secret because you feel so ashamed of yourself. I remember hiding in the fridge eating leftover cranberry sauce with my hands. WITH. MY. HANDS. CRANBERRY SAUCE! I hope that helps you understand a bit of what it is to binge eat.
I became moody, extremely irritable, judgmental, and depressed. I would eat in secret and count every calorie I burned and consumed. For 10 months I was in denial of having a problem until I started trying to force myself to throw up after a binge. I knew something was really wrong. Yes, I could admit I had a problem but I was in no way ready to give up being skinny and losing weight. I worshipped the scale and would sometimes weigh myself ten times a day. If the number was above where I expected it I hated myself. If it was lower than I expected then I was so happy and proud of myself. I loved losing weight no matter what the cost!
Around this time Bryan and I got married. He knew about my eating disorder early on in our relationship and was a person who I could totally confide in and was actually able to help. Marriage came with new problems for my food frenzied self. Bryan could eat anything without gaining an ounce while I was trying to work off the weight I had gained before the wedding.
After we were married I got a new job at a cupcake shop. Along with this job came an endless supply of scraps and taste testing. Within 3 months I had gained 25 pounds and was in a place of self-hatred that no one should ever feel. Most mornings I hoped I would die in a car accident on my way to work. I would come home in the evenings and lock myself in the bathroom crying. I prayed so much that I was sick of praying. I just didn’t want to pray anymore because it clearly wasn’t working the way I wanted it to. I remember telling Bryan, “I just feel broken inside and I don’t think I can be fixed.” We eventually both decided that I needed to quit my job.
“I just feel broken inside and I don’t think I can be fixed.”
The day after I finished working, we found out I was pregnant! With the joy and shock of becoming a parent, unplanned by us but most certainly planned by God, came an overwhelming number of other emotions. How in the world would l be able to take care of a baby when I couldn’t even take care of myself? I was really scared. A few days later came the new problem that changed my life: morning sickness. Most days I would be throwing up 5-6 times without keeping much down. I lost weight, felt horrible, and the only things that I could stomach were junk foods that normally I would never allow myself to eat (unless I was bingeing)! For nine weeks this continued. But then something miraculous happened. Being extremely sick for nine weeks somehow seemed to reset my body’s eating habits. Having this little baby inside of me forced me to be less self-focused. I no longer binged and was happy to eat a regular amount of any kind of food. God began to heal the broken way I thought about myself, and gave me a sense of self-worth in Him. I gained a healthy 35-40 pregnancy pounds and found a new joy in being a mom.
“God began to heal the broken way I thought about myself, and gave me a sense of self-worth in Him.”
Though it still took a while for my mind to be okay with no longer being super skinny, my problems with eating never came back. Slowly I started reading my bible more often and God showed me that our ultimate purpose in life is to glorify Him. Reading His word and coming to understand God more helped me to let go of being skinny and help me to look back and see how selfish and wrong I had been. When our baby was born we named him “Ezra”, which means “Help” or “God is my help”. Truly God used this child, even before he was born, to unimaginably help me.
I don’t regret having had my eating disorders, they strengthened my trust in God and helped me to understand the way He works just a little bit more. God uses the least likely things for our good and for His glory. The idea of getting pregnant while in the midst of a severe eating disorder sounds like an awful idea. But God’s ways are higher than our ways. He makes all things beautiful in its time (Ecc 3:11).
I now have much more compassion for people who are struggling with body issues, depression, and many other life struggles. Most importantly I have hope, “that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” Romans 8:21.
“Most importantly I have hope, ‘that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God'” Romans 8:21.
So even though I didn’t keep my breakfast down for more than two minutes today, I can rejoice in the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord. He truly works in mysterious ways and truly does work all things for the good of those who love Him. Morning sickness doesn’t seem like a good thing, but God meant it for good and used it miraculously for my healing. I encourage any of you who are struggling with a difficult area in your life to pray about it, even if you are sick of praying. I never thought that I could be set free from my eating-disorder, but God is stronger than even our biggest problems. I still have struggles in my life, but now I know that I have a Saviour who can overcome anything. So, hold fast to the Lord because His plans for you are good, even on your worst day. You are never too broken for God to put you back together.
Emily Hunt is a member of St. George's Burlington and wife to their worship and media pastor. She lives in Hamilton, Ontario, with Bryan and their three children.