Even mama’s who planned their pregnancies [and tried for months to conceive their precious bundle of joy] can agree with other pregnant mama’s on one thing: pregnancy is maybe the one thing in life that can ruin your plans like nothing else. Let’s face it, even the best of us are selfish at heart, we tend to want what we want when we want it. Pregnancy doesn’t change that in the blink of an eye, or rather, the appearance of a line on a stick.

For me, pregnancy ruined my plans of getting my pre-baby, pre-hashimotos body back. It ruined my plans to run my first half marathon in the fall [blood pressure that’s been slowly creeping up says that might not be a good idea]. Since getting my health back has been the focus of a lot of my attention for the better part of 16 months, it hasn’t been easy to come to terms with the fact that for the next 40 or so weeks weight loss has to go on the back burner to be replaced by simply maintaining a healthy body weight during pregnancy. Anyone who has been trying to lose more than 20 pounds will tell you that this isn’t an easy thing to cope with. And anyone who’s experienced morning sickness, aka all day sickness, will tell you that even the yummiest salad has the amazing potential to make you toss your cookies multiple times.

Needless to say, there are plenty of things that get put on hold for the duration of your pregnancy. Some are easy to live without, others are pretty hard to give up. So how do we pregnant mama’s who are already sacrificing so much of our time, sleep, food, privacy, and personal space, gear up for another 40+ weeks of sacrifice without letting feelings of bitterness creep in and steal our joy? As joyful as feeling those fluttering kicks and slow rolls can be, it is also kinda uncomfortable to grow a human being from the inside out. How do we hold on to the awe of the miracle taking place inside of our bodies without growing weary of the aches and pains that accompany even the easiest pregnancy?

It certainly isn’t an easy thing, to conquer bitterness, selfishness, and general discomfort, all while caring for a husband, working, maintaining a household, and keeping toddlers from destroying your home. But in spite of all of this, even though easy probably isn’t a word that will appear in your vocabulary very frequently in the future, even the surprise pregnancy can bring enough joy to block out everything else. If we let it that is.

You see, the key to maintaining joy throughout your pregnancy, in spite of all you may have to give up, is to focus more on the blessings you’re gaining than the things you think you’re losing. God has given us the perfect cure for grief, bitterness, and frustration; it’s known as Gratefulness.

Gratefulness, along with prayer, are perhaps the only two things that can chase away our negativity like nothing else. It’s not always easy, but if we focus on everything we have to be thankful for; the perfectly fitting shirt or dress that doesn’t make you look more chubby than pregnant, a cute pair of shoes that don’t make your feet swell, a kitchen cleaned by your husband, a line drawing your toddler put all of her effort into creating for you, those precious kicks and rolls that make you smile and place your hand on your swelling belly in spite of your discomfort. These are all things that can add up during the days and weeks of your pregnancy and make it easier for joy to fill your heart instead of bitterness.

There are plenty of days, days when my previous plans seem a lot harder to let go of than I’d like, that my joy meter is running perilously close to zero. If I choose to count the things I am grateful for, to add up even the smallest of blessings, the level of joy will inevitably start creeping back up and crowding everything else out. Thankfully, the mixture of hormones that make pregnant ladies cry at the drop of a hat also make it easier for us to smile at the smallest of things and laugh out loud at things only we think are funny.

Is there a lot that pregnancy takes away from us? Yes. But there is also more that pregnancy gives to us. Innumerable blessings that can bring immeasurable joy and make all of our sacrifices seem quite small in retrospect. If we let them.