- 2014 Nov 18
I have been absent from writing on iBelieve for several months as I experienced a difficult pregnancy and continued health issues after giving birth to my son. I am happy to be back - please enjoy this post that I wrote throughout my pregnancy.
Pregnancy is a journey, and quite honestly, something that I never thought I would experience (read more about my story here). It is a miraculous blessing to be able to carry a child and I am so very thankful for our sweet little boy, Micah. My pregnancy presented many challenges, but I will spare you from ALL the details.
Your body goes through mental and physical stages before and during pregnancy; some of which I was not prepared for. Having a baby is a huge life changing experience.
Here is what I’ve learned about the normal changes you go through before and after conception.
The Common Stages of Pregnancy:
Stage 1: You’re body knows it’s time. I can’t explain it, but I can definitely say that my “biological clock” went off like an unexpected time-bomb. Everything inside me said that I was ready to have a baby.
Stage 2: Your husband will look amazing. It’s a weird phenomenon. Suddenly when you’re preparing to create a baby, your husband will seem even more good looking. Maybe this is the way God intended it to be?
Stage 3: Your pregnancy test says positive. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that a small part of me was super freaked out after seeing the + sign on the stick. I had about 10-thousand thoughts go through my brain – what have I done, are we really ready for a baby, am I going to get really fat, will my baby be healthy, why am I not crying? Yep. Despite the fact that this pregnancy was planned, I still had a small moment of dread. Honestly, this is normal. Turns out that I’m not the only woman to experience these ridiculous thoughts. Yes, it gets better. And no, not every woman experiences these thoughts.
Stage 4: Your body changes and it’s weird. Some women might disagree with me on this, but hear me out. With a first pregnancy, it’s a bit unexpected how drastic your body begins to change. Things start to get bigger, hair growth increases EVERYWHERE, your hormones are at the surface (hello adolescent acne!) and your clothes get tighter. No matter what people say, you may not be prepared for how quickly your body changes.
Stage 5: You’re sick, tired and stuffy. Every woman is different. Some women get morning sickness, some women are plagued with extreme fatigue. All the while, your nasal cavity suddenly plugs up and you’re wondering if it’s a cold or pregnancy.
Stage 6: You are feeling cute and pregnant. Finally! Some of your sickness and fatigue has passed as you enter the 2nd trimester. At this stage people can tell that your pregnant without awkwardly staring at your belly and wondering if you just got fat or if you’re expecting. You might be transitioning into maternity clothes now and still maintaining a reasonable weight. Enjoy this stage – it doesn’t last very long.
Stage 7: You are puffy and fat. Instantly you go from feeling super cute to a giant whale with swollen ankles and fingers. Not every woman experiences swelling (and if you didn’t… well good for you!). This is also around the time that people have no question whether or not you’re pregnant and start making comments that aren’t always the most gracious.
Stage 8: Everything hurts. It will start to feel like your body is breaking – you get hemorrhoids, your legs ache, your feet ache, your back aches. Honestly, I’ve endured chronic pain for half of my life and pregnancy pain on top of my normal pain has been quite the challenge. All I can say is – remember that this doesn’t last forever (THANK GOD!) and you will feel well again soon.
Stage 9: You are tired… again! It’s hard work growing a baby and that little person growing inside you is now sucking every ounce of your energy and nutrients. At this point you might start worrying about things that are out of your control or wondering how exactly the whole birthing process will go for you. Have an honest conversation with your doctor! I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that giving birth totally freaked me out. My only advice is to get in your own head about it and stop listening to those around you. Tell your doctor if you have any concerns and then develop a “birth plan“.
Stage 10: Is this ever going to end? You’ll find yourself wondering the answer to this question at least 100 times a day. You will start to feel whiny and less thrilled about being pregnant. People will keep telling you that the pain is worth it and you will resist the urge to yell at them. You may also start to resent certain clothing and do whatever necessary just for the sake of comfort.
Stage 11: Starving yet full. You will reach a point at the end of pregnancy when your bladder and stomach reduce to the frustrating size of an eye dropper. Baby needs to eat, yet you can’t get enough food in your stomach. This is when the experts tell you to eat 6 small meals a day instead of 3 big meals. Oh, and your bladder… you need to drink a ton of water to stay hydrated but this also means you’ll be in the ladies room for what seems like every 20 minutes. No joke.
Stage 12: When will this baby arrive? Believe me, I get it. I was 36 weeks pregnant with a 7-1/2 pound baby and no end in sight. You’re beyond uncomfortable, tired of sitting on the toilet, feeling hot, hungry and ready to be done. If you’re one of the lucky ones that is still mobile, take advantage. If you’re like me and experiencing difficult back pain, take it easy… read a book, find a TV series on Netflix, and enjoy the quiet before your baby puts an end to that.
Stage 13: Oh, the anxiety! Right at the end, I began to feel a ton of different emotions after the baby officially dropped into my pelvis. I knew the end was near. Nervous, excited, happy, scared. What if he screams a lot? What if I don’t know what to do? Will my baby be okay? Will I be okay? All of these feelings are normal and will melt away the instant your child enters the world.
Stage 14: Congrats! You’re a new mom. Enjoy every precious moment and thank God every day for your little miracle.
… Pregnancy is a journey. My sister calls it a state of wellness, but I disagree. It is a long journey that seems to last forever, yet goes so fast all at the same time. You’ll learn more about yourself in 9 short months and discover strength you never knew you had – which continues into parenthood. In the end you’ll look back and forget all the bad stuff… because all that matters is the little bundle of joy in your arms…finally!
God’s blessings to you on this miraculous journey. Remember He will never give you more than you can handle.
On a side note, I pray for those that have experienced a difficult loss or pregnancy. May God bless you and comfort you!
- 2014 Feb 06
Your life changes when you receive a medical diagnosis. Since everyone processes things differently, here is what I’ve learned over the last 15 years of dealing with chronic pain and finally finding the answers.
3 weeks prior to marrying my best friend, I opted to have exploratory surgery. The result was Endometriosis (read more here). At first, I was thankful to feel better and have an answer to ALL the pain! But looking back, there are a lot of steps or tips that would have been helpful in my new journey with a life-long, frustrating disease.
So for anyone newly diagnosed with Endometriosis or similar conditions – here is what I’ve learned.
- You have an answer. Now what? Take the time to be thankful… you have an answer! No matter how long it took you to get to this point… you now understand what is going on in your body. This is good news and doctors can treat it appropriately. Be thankful.
- Process your new reality. Okay, yes you have an answer, but what does this mean? Being diagnosed may require a bit of the “grieving process”. Endometriosis can be painful, but it can also come with a lot of extra frustrating symptoms. Try to remain as positive as possible. Do not let it defeat you.
- Do your research and find support. Honestly, when I was diagnosed there weren’t people around me that understood what I was going through. My recommendation is to research and find online communities that share in your pain – literally. Understand your diagnosis inside and out. For instance, having Endo may require you to change some of your eating habits or diet. There are certain food ingredients that are important to avoid – especially wheat and soy. It takes a lot of effort, but it definitely helps reduce inflammation associated with those pesky little adhesion’s.
- Don’t play the “what if” game. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of asking yourself “what if” questions. Believe me, I’ve done it too. “What if I can’t have kids” – is the biggest one. “What if I need more surgeries” or “what if I never get relief from this pain”. Don’t allow the disease to win by asking these questions. Chances are that if you have a great doctor that specializes in Endo, your surgeries will be minimal and fertility will be preserved. We don’t know the future – so why worry? Take it one day at time!
- Allow yourself one pity day. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes the pain can cut straight to my spirit and ruin my mood. Yes, it is definitely hard to live with chronic pain – which is why I allow myself one day infrequently to feel sad about it. After that, it’s time to carry on with life and keep my head up.
- Take it easy and know when to say no. Endometriosis can bring on a lot of unwelcomed symptoms and fatigue is one of them. If you’re a social butterfly or have a busy lifestyle, it can be hard to miss out on activities and events. But sometimes attending an event can contribute more to your fatigue and pain. I’ve had to learn when to say no and actually miss out on some rather cool events. It’s disappointing, but I know when my body needs rest.
- Stay positive and LIVE! It would be easy to spend all day, every day in bed. But where would that get me? Despite the fact that Endo takes a huge toll on our bodies – it’s important to keep moving and stay reasonably active. This will help your mood, energy levels and attitude. Remember that your disease can be frustrating but it doesn’t define you!
- Stay away from negative websites. Some websites can really be full of doom and gloom. The last thing we need is to worry more about our bodies. If you are concerned about something going on in your body, definitely contact your doctor or healthcare provider instead of searching online.
- See an Endo Specialist. Unfortunately, there are a lot of doctors out there that don’t understand Endo and don’t know how to treat it. As a woman with ANY reproductive issue, I recommend seeing a specialist that knows how to treat it. This is important for your body AND for the future of creating a family.
It has taken me years to fully comprehend this diagonosis and there is still a lot to learn. I have the strength to continue on and persevere through difficult pain days with the help of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Though it has been a difficult road, God will never leave me alone and I am thankful beyond measure for that.
If you ever need someone to listen, please don’t hesitate to email me. I might take a couple days to respond but I’m always happy to listen or provide encouragement where needed. Remember that you are not alone – we can get through this together! Email me any time – firstname.lastname@example.org .
Please find some resources below for Endometriosis organizations and support.
- Endo Warriors – a support group full of resources and stories to inspire and encourage you. Like them on Facebook!
- Endometriosis Association – an organization that provides resources and assistance.
- Endo Foundation of America – online resources
- Endo Global Forum – support groups around the world
Read more at WordsByMara.com
- 2014 Jan 09
Editor's Note: This article first appeared at Words By Mara. Used with permission. All rights reserved
When it comes to phone interviews, they can be tricky. You’re not actually face-to-face with someone, but it’s the most
important CRUCIAL step in marketing yourself to the company.
I remember my very first phone interview. I had applied to large companies in the Milwaukee area years ago and most of them were conducting phone interviews as initial steps in finding a candidate.
My phone rang one afternoon as I was preparing for a different, SCHEDULED phone interview. It was a woman from HR at a large corporation where I had applied for a copywriter position.
“Hello Mara? Yes, we are calling around to some of our applicants for the copywriter position. Would you have a few moments to speak with me?”
Okay, okay… little did I know that this was actually a phone interview. She never called it that and also never scheduled it. So I was thrown completely off-guard and had no time to prepare. None.
As I fumbled my way through question after question, I already knew that I wasn’t going to get a call back. It was horrible and being unprepared was the problem.
Afterwards, I jumped in the shower and got ready for my next phone interview. I was prepared for this interview and looking forward to speaking with the hiring manager – whom I had a mutual connection with from a previous job.
The second interview went well. I was dressed in professional attire, had a list of questions and answers in front of me and had done some research on the company. These are all important pieces when preparing for an interview over the phone.
Technically, phone interviews are no different than in-person interviews. Yet, the same rules don’t always apply.
Remember when the HR rep called from the other company and did an impromptu phone interview? This happens all the time! Heck, I’ve even had an impromptu phone interview while walking out the door from an in-person interview. The only piece of advice I can give you in a situation like this is… have prepared answers and KNOW the company or position where you applied!
Tips for the best phone interview:
- Dress professionally. I know what you’re thinking… no one can actually see you so why does it matter? It helps to get your mind focused and promotes a professional demeanor. You’d be surprised by the difference this can make in how you conduct yourself over the phone.
- Stay in a quiet place and remain seated. I’ll admit that I’m “walk and talker” – I’d prefer to be up and moving while talking on the phone. Do NOT move or walk around during a phone interview. Sit at a desk or table. Conduct yourself in the same manner you would at an in-person interview.
- Do not pump gas or order food during a phone interview. Appalling, right? I’ve been told by a few hiring managers that they are just shocked when the candidate is doing anything other than concentrating on the task at hand. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with #2, so treat the phone interview the same as in-person!
- Take your time to answer the question. Some people are afraid of awkward silence over the phone, but there is nothing wrong with taking a few moments to collect your thoughts.
- Smile. Yes, I know they can’t see you but they can hear it in your voice. Speak with eloquence, enthusiasm, excitement and poise!
- Give examples and back it up with an action. What does this mean? After several phone interviews, I wasn’t getting call backs and did not understand why – so I asked one of the companies for feedback and it has changed the way that I interview. My advice… go into complete, thorough details when it comes to work experience and examples. You’re old positions and tasks make sense to you but they need to be explained to the person interviewing you. Come up with examples during your preparation and use examples from different positions in your history (if you have few employers then give examples from college courses, volunteer experiences or internships).
- Graciously request timelines. Typically if the interviewer is interested in moving quickly with you – they will ask if you’re interviewing with anyone else and will offer to bring you in for an interview right away. This doesn’t always apply though. If the interviewer doesn’t offer a date for when you’ll get a call back, simply ask and do not demand anything. If HR is conducting the interview, they may need to correspond with the hiring manager before calling you back. If you don’t hear anything within 5 days, they’ve probably moved on.
- Be yourself. Don’t lie or try to be someone other than yourself. The interviewer wants to know if you’re a good fit. Don’t force it.
- Read my “Basic Interview Tips“ for more helpful hints on nailing an interview.
Please feel free to email me for any other tips. If I can’t offer the advice your looking for, the least I can do is pray. Write to me at - email@example.com