Dear Rachel,

I am in my first trimester of pregnancy, and while I wanted this so much and am so grateful to finally be pregnant, I have been feeling so lousy. I am nauseous and/or vomiting everyday. I even reached the point of dehydration because I couldn’t keep anything down for a while. I am super behind with work and all house-related tasks. I haven’t cooked for my husband or kids in weeks (cereal has been a staple). I feel like I am hardly coping with my life. My husband has been supportive and kind, but I sense that he is beginning to lose patience with me. I don’t want to feel this way; do you have any thoughts to help me through?

Nauseous in Nashville

Dear Nauseous,

The first trimester of pregnancy can be a really difficult time for a lot of women. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to grow a baby inside of you and finding the right balance between resting, eating and simply “maintaining” can be a big challenge. I am sorry you are feeling so overwhelmed. I hope a shift is on its way for you. If you haven’t already, a consult with your doctor or midwife about medical and or other alternatives to help with nausea could be very informative.

There are many theories about why women experience nausea during the early months of pregnancy. I think that having a basic understanding about the “whys” of this phenomena can sometimes help in getting through it. Some ideas about why so many women suffer throughout their first trimester include the body’s natural response to a change and elevation of hormones responsible for maintaining a healthy and viable pregnancy. Another idea defines nausea as a protective mechanism, guarding the developing fetus from possible food toxicity. Other theories link nausea to deficiencies in the body and a potent reminder to replenish what is missing.

Sometimes by reminding ourselves of the complex and intricate adjustments that our bodies undergo in order to produce a healthy baby can in offer a new perceptive about why it can be so hard. Of course that doesn’t remove the difficulty, but it does provide another framework to work from. A Chassidic Rabbi once said, “Your address is where you think.” Sometimes just by changing our mindset and breaking a negative thinking cycle can have a profound effect on the way we actually feel.

Beyond the desire to feel better, it sounds like you are in need of some practical coping techniques. First of all, it is unreasonable to expect that your level of domestic care is going to be on par with your pre-nauseous self. We all have limitations. Right now, I would grant your hydration levels priority to a clean house. Hiring help to come in a few days a week to do laundry and cleaning can provide a tremendous relief. The extra help not only allows for a cleaner home, but a more sane family… and even though it may be costly, ultimately it is an investment in mental health.

Additionally, there are many kosher (and healthy) prepared food products on the market today. Keep food for the family simple. Consider teaching older siblings how to prepare a simple meal (Easy kid-made meals can include a cold salad with tuna or feta cheese, cut veggies to dip in hummus or peanut butter, melted cheese sandwiches, pizza bagels, pasta, instant soup, yogurt with fruit or granola). This baby you are growing is not just your baby, it is the whole family’s baby, so everybody needs to chip in. This is a defining time for your family, every one needs to get in touch with their strengths in the domestic realm and contribute what they can to helping around the house.

Kids also enjoy added responsibility, especially if it means trying something new like doing a load of laundry or watering the lawn by him or herself. It’s not going to get done the way you do it, and it definitely won't be perfect, but right now the house doesn’t need to be perfect it just needs to be maintained.

In terms of your feelings about your husband’s growing impatience, it is important to understand that he likely is feeling over worked and overwhelmed, picking up slack in the areas that are typically in your domain. Communicating about how you are both feeling is essential to maintaining a healthy relationship. Sometimes it is important for a spouse to hear about your desire to feel differently – even though it may seem implicit, just verbalizing the obvious can open up a door for more sensitivity and receptiveness towards each other.

It is important that you understand that although you may not feel like it, you are working very hard. Your body is growing a new life inside of you. Everyday new organs are being developed; everyday your baby is growing bigger and stronger. It takes a lot of energy to allow the miracle of childbirth to unfold. Listen to your body’s cues. Rest when you feel tired, eat and drink what you feel you can keep down. Allow yourself to let go of the reigns a bit, all your work, housework, mothering and wife related responsibilities will wait for you. Maintaining a healthy pregnancy is a very important responsibility. Take it easy and let your body (and your baby) direct you.

And not only are you working every moment of every day, but your are doing the holiest work there is. You are in the process of helping bring a new soul into this world, a new life, and that is some very important work. This is why in Jewish philosophy a pregnant woman is considered like a Torah ark and the baby which is housed within her is compared to the Torah scroll. When things really get tough, just remember that you are the only person in the world who can carry your little baby, so you owe it both to you and to him to do that the best that you can!

I will look forward to hearing good things from you soon, blessings for good health,