Monday, February 2, 2015

The Second Takes Longer Than the First

Prepare yourselves:  for the first time, I am writing a personal blog.  No medical information here.

I am now in the final stretches of growing my second child.  In the beginning of this pregnancy, I kept wondering why this one was so much harder than the first.  I was so, so much more fatigued - utterly exhausted actually.  It was all I could do to get out of bed with my toddler in the morning and feed us both.  After that, I was out.  On the couch until lunch.  Fortunately, my toddler is really good at entertaining himself!  Even more fortunate for us, he never managed to hurt himself while I dozed and he played.  I was also so much more nauseated.  I had nausea with the first, but this was a whole new league of nausea for me.  It still wasn't as bad as I hear some women have it.  I never threw up.  I could still eat, although just barely.  I certainly could not cook.

One day it dawned on me.  It wasn't so much that the pregnancy was harder.  It was that I had a toddler in my life.  Duh.  Toddlers are, well, toddlers.  They are exhausting, demanding, and of course, lovely.  And my goodness they make a pregnancy hard.

Why am I sharing all of this with you?  It's not to complain, and it's not to ask for sympathy.  I'm sharing my experience because it has given me a new-found respect for women, and of course for the partners and children who support us.  I can honestly say, after medical school, residency, one year living at poverty level as an Americorps worker in Arkansas, and three weeks living in dung huts and eating chicken feet in Kenya, I've never done anything harder than growing a baby while taking care of one.
Credit Raul Hernandez Gonzalez; Flickr; no amendments

We can all debate what's hardest of course - being a stay at home mom or working full time, having a second versus a third or fourth child, and on and on.  The bottom line is that we women work hard, perhaps too hard.  How many of us sacrifice our own health, and therefore that of our unborn children, trying to keep up with it all?  The chores, the feeding of ourselves and our families, the work, the quality time with the family, keeping the romance between the parents; does the list ever end?  And of course there's the endless doctor visits, the preparations for the new baby, and the exercise I'm supposed to be doing.  Ahem, exercise?  The last time I actually exercised was just about eight months ago, before I was pregnant.  I do of course consider chasing a toddler to be exercise.  But I don't think my doctor does.  Too bad for her, I have just never been able to find the time and the energy at the same time.

So, what's my point?  Well, I don't know exactly what it would look like it the context of our fast paced, task driven, women as "equals" society, but I can't help wondering, in the fight to make ourselves "equals" (I use quotes here since we are still paid less than our male counterparts and in other ways still have not achieved true equality), have we just made things harder for ourselves?  Please don't misunderstand me - I love working part time, and I know lots of women love working full time.  I am by no means suggesting we take that away from ourselves.  But somehow I would like to see us retain our ability to work as we wish (or have to), but gain more freedom, flexibility, and support for ourselves.  Too tired to go to work?  Stay home for a couple of days and recuperate.  Too sick to cook?  Call on one of your many support people to come over and cook dinner for your family.  Too impatient and grumpy to play with your toddler?  Again, call on one of your many support people to come over and entertain him until he goes to bed.  These are options I believe every pregnant woman should have available to her, GUILT FREE.  I'd like to cultivate this culture of "it takes a village."  And I'd like to lose the pressure we women feel to always DO IT ALL, gracefully, backwards, and in heels.  In the meantime, to my fellow pregnant mamas, HANG IN THERE!  Before we know it, we'll be worrying about prom dates and driving.

Oh, and I will be taking a break from blogging for a few months to finish growing this baby, and then to get adjusted to life with two!  I promise to come back.