Wednesday, January 13, 2016

How Flannery O'Connor Helps Me in Pregnancy (and some pregnancy FAQs)

Hello, everyone! I hope that you are having a splendid day. When I first announced my pregnancy, I was bound and determined to not let pregnancy news take over my social media presence...but then I discovered that many people have really been enjoying the pregnancy updates, so if you're one of those people-here you go! (if you're not one of those people, well, I promise that I won't let this turn into a pregnancy blog-I have other posts in the works!) Today, I'd like to reference the beloved Southern author, Flannery O'Connor. She was born in 1925 and died in 1964, so Flannery lived a short life-but made a huge impact. Her novels and short stories continue to be read and discussed by many people, and if you haven't looked into her work, I encourage you to do so. Several months back, I picked up a biography of Flannery in the library and figured that I should read it. I'm not a dedicated, hardcore O'Connor fan, but I enjoy her work, and I think she is a fascinating person (she had peacocks! How cool is that?). Little did I know that Flannery O'Connor-who never married or had children-would provide inspiration on motherhood and help me in my pregnancy. 

For over the last ten years of her life, O'Connor was suffering from lupus, and autoimmune disease. Even though she was dealing with this disease, O'Connor continued to write wonderful things and be a productive person. The biography that I read included an excerpt from The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor (which I'm planning to read eventually) that I think is worth mentioning:
Flanner O'Connor's childhood home in Savannah,
Georgia. I got to visit there in Spring 2012~
"I'm a full-time believer in writing habits, pedestrian as it all may sound. You may be able to do without them if you have genius but most of us only have talent and this is simply something that has to be assisted all the time by physical and mental habits or it dries up and blows away. I see it happen all the time. Of course you have to make your habits in this conform to what you can do. I write only about two hours every day because that's all the energy I have, but I don't let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place. This doesn't mean I produce much out of those two hours. Sometimes I work for months and have to throw everything away, but I don't think any of that was time wasted. Something goes on that makes it easier when it does come well. And the fact is if you don't sit there every day, the day it would come well, you won't be sitting there." 

For the first few months of this pregnancy, I was struck with a huge amount of fatigue. For a "doer" like me, that was one of the hardest parts. There were some days when I could barely leave the couch because of the fatigue and nausea that was hitting me. It wasn't unbearable, (I watched lots of Jane Austen adaptations in this time!) but it was a little irritating and tough to cope with at first. And then one day, Flannery's words came back to me. This woman wrote amazing short stories, even when she was struck with lupus. She may only have been able to write for two hours a day, but she made those two hours count. Keeping this in mind, I decided to use the Flannery Focus during pregnancy and motherhood: There are-and will be-times when I'm exhausted or have lots going on, and instead of becoming overwhelmed at the lost hours and then getting nothing done in the remaining hours, I need to take the few hours I do have, and make that time really count.

I'm huge on "To Do" lists, and prior to pregnancy, my daily "To Do" list would be huge. And I would feel super accomplished after getting a massive amount of housework, writing work, letter-writing, blogging, and praying done each day. Well, with the Flannery Focus, I learned to change my tactic. I still keep a "To Do" list, but instead of being flooded with a massive amount of items, I keep it very simple, down to the basics. If I can get anything extra done, that's great, but all I really try to accomplish is the necessities. On days like today, when I wind up falling asleep for a 1 1/2 hour nap (even though I've gotten a lot of energy back, naps have somehow snuck into the past couple days haha), I try to keep my focus and make at least a couple of the day's remaining hours very fruitful and productive. So far, the Flannery Focus has been very encouraging for me-I still feel like I'm getting things done, and I also don't feel guilty or unsettled about taking rest breaks. It's wonderful, what a little change in focus can do for a person! 

On that note, today is 18 weeks gestation for this pregnancy (so Baby is approximately 16 weeks old), and I thought I'd give a couple updates and answer a couple FAQ's I've gotten about pregnancy!

You're pregnant? You don't look pregnant! 
Last night, after my midwife appointment! 
Right. Because every woman who becomes pregnant suddenly has a huge watermelon-sized belly from Day 1. [insert eye roll] One of the things that I've learned in pregnancy is that each woman, with each pregnancy, is completely different. There are some women who don't even show any kind of bump until they are several months along! There are other women who get really big towards the beginning! It's completely different for everyone. 

Are you going to find out what you're having?? 
If Baby cooperates during the ultrasound, we will be finding out! For most of my life, I thought people were weird for wanting to find out ahead of time. Then, when one of my husband's aunts (shout out to Jen!) talked with me a few years ago about getting to bond with the baby in a special way once you know the gender, I started to think about things differently. Then, I realized that when we have an ultrasound done, I want to see and understand what everything is that I'm seeing! My husband has some reasons of his own for wanting to find out, so yes, we will (hopefully) find out soon! 

So what do you want? 
Ummm...a baby? I'm honestly just excited about Baby, regardless of whether Baby is a boy or a girl. I'll be pumped either way! 

So what doctor are you seeing? 
No doctor!  I'm not anti-doctor or anti-medicine, but I really, really like how midwives have successfully been delivering babies for pretty much forever. I think the whole women-helping-women thing is beautiful, and I also really like taking a more natural approach to healthcare. Since we've never had a baby before, Jacob and I both wanted to have a childbirth option that would have everything close and ready at hand, in case of emergency-so that ruled out homebirth (though I would love to learn more about possibly doing a homebirth someday!). The local birthing center (which looks amazing), doesn't accept insurance, so I was looking around for another option. From a random comment off of a random forum on the internet, I discovered OU Physicians, and now I have an awesome Certified Nurse Midwife with OU Physicians-Nurse Midwives.  The Midwives deliver in the hospital, but they work hard to ensure the parent's wishes are done as much as possible. They also work closely with a group of very "natural childbirth friendly" physicians, in case of emergency. I am very pleased and excited. I'm actually really pumped up for labor, and I've been reading lots of great books (though I must confess that Spiritual Midwifery has gotten a little too weird-hippie for this Catholic hippie...) and researching into the different local childbirth classes. It'll be awesome! 

How are you feeling? 
I'm feeling quite grand! I've had very tame sickness this pregnancy; mainly nausea, fatigue, and I've thrown up a handful of times. I still get nausea and fatigue on and off, though it's been less lately. It's really not that big of a deal. And no, I'm not being some kind of heroic soul for saying this-I just subscribe to the "suck it up" philosophy. In fact, the other week, I threw up in the kitchen, and my husband-who was just a few yards away in the living room-had no clue about it until I mentioned it later that day. That made me really happy. I don't need to moan and groan and get everyone's attention every time I barf; I just throw up, drink water, and move on with my life. No biggie. Not every woman is this way temperament-wise (furthermore, we all need consolation sometimes! Even us "suck it up" kind of girls!), but there are some women who operate best when we don't get  floods of constant sympathy from other people about a tiny bit of puking here or there. 

Are you taking your prenatals?
See, I really don't visit the doctor or take vitamins or medicine, so I honestly didn't ask about prenatals at my first appointment-the thought didn't even cross my mind! After a few different women asked me about prenatals, I decided to bring it up to my midwife at my appointment yesterday. She told me to take prenatals, but didn't care what kind or anything (my midwife seems pretty chill about stuff, which is cool), so I'm just taking a random brand of vitamins-works with me! 

When are you due? 
I'm not going to rant about the highly inaccurate, antiquated way that due dates are often calculated (it assumes that each woman's cycle is 28 days long, which is not true for most women), but my "due date" based on that is June 15. I have a whole slew of friends and family who have significant dates (birthdays, wedding anniversaries, etc.) in June, so pretty much any day that Baby comes will be ultra-exciting. But, I have a particular day that stands out to me: June 24 is the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist-and how cool would it be to give birth on the birthday of Jesus' cousin???? CRAZY EPIC!!!! So, I really want Baby to be born on June 24. I don't think that's too much to ask, and my midwife's practice won't induce labor until a woman is in her 42nd week, so it would be perfectly acceptable. We'll just have to wait and see what God and Baby do, but I'm planning on Baby to come in the middle or end of June (though I have heard weird stories of women giving birth to their first babies before the due date!). 

I hope you all enjoyed my little pregnancy update and reflection on the great Flannery O'Connor! Have a wonderful day!!!


  1. *blessings* A new baby is a joyful event to be anticipated, to be sure!

  2. You make me smile. I know how hugely miserable I am at the very end of the pregnancy. More power to you for wanting to hold out for an awesome feast day. You're a better woman than I!

    1. :) And that may be me eventually, too! Right now, perky "I love feast days" me wants to go overdue, but people keep telling me that once I'm huge and it's the beginning of the Oklahoma summer, I'm going to want Baby out ASAP. So, while I desperately want to hold out for the feast day, I'm trying to remind myself that I may not be feeling the same way once it hits June :P I'll let you know how that goes!