I am halfway through this pregnancy.

The halfway point

Insert happy dance here!

It's been a challenging four-and-a-half months, for sure. I've never felt this sick ever in my entire life. At one point I remember calling Nate and dramatically moaning, “I'm definitely dying. Actually, really, truly dying.” In a dehydrated and delirious state I mumbled my goodbyes to the world and ironically recalled the time I dismissed Kate Middleton's hyperemesis gravidarum as her being a “big giant crybaby princess.”

Sorry, Kate. I totally get it now.

The halfway point

On top of that, little dude here has been teething up a storm and…well…general life happenings continued to go on, marching right past me as I lay in a big puddle on the couch.

I'm finally better, and feeling a little reflective. Looking back now I see that every difficult phase I've ever had in life, I've learned something extremely valuable. I learned from a rough childhood that I shouldn't let people railroad me. From college, I learned that there is nothing more important than the ones you love. While helplessly watching baby Minion struggle for air in the hospital, I learned compassion. As it turns out, you never know what someone else is going through.

From this phase, I learned that optimism is always the best course. I learned to smile through the pain.

The halfway point

I'm not going to say it came naturally. Nah, I bitched and moaned for awhile and managed to rather successfully drag every adjacent person down with me. The result was an unhappy husband and kids who quickly regressed in their sleep habits and started fighting at school.

Not only was I tired and in pain, but I was also surrounded by miserable people. Mission accomplished?

Fortunately, that was relatively short-lived as I learned the key lesson that this phase was meant to teach me.

Smile in the mirror, every morning... quote

I learned to smile.

I laughed and grinned – begrudgingly at first – and eventually saw my whole family rally with me. My boys returned to their normal cheerful selves, lighting up as they eagerly shared their stories and their own infectious joy. I saw my own simple smile, as weak and faint as it sometimes was, making a difference in their lives. I saw them making an impact on others. I saw change.

The “grin and bear it” theory, it turns out, is pretty spot on!

The halfway point

Not only am I halfway through my pregnancy, but I'm halfway through treatment with my sponsor Invisalign, too! They want to share the gift of a confident smile to help turn someone else's life around, just as they've helped with mine. I know firsthand that if something is holding you back from smiling, it can hold back your entire world.

Now through August 14, 2016, go to invisalign.com/smilegrants and share what you would accomplish with a confident new smile for a chance to win one of five Invisalign Smile Grants for a free Invisalign treatment! Can changing your smile change everything? There's only one way to find out.

How could a smile change your life?