So all things considered, I might be one of those women for whom pregnancy is “easy.” Easy, of course, is a relative term. My last go-around was easier than, say, the pregnancies of some of my friends who endured months of crippling nausea and fatigue. An easy pregnancy still seems to be about ten times harder than normal life. I can’t work out like I want. Even having to traverse campus (nicknamed “the Hill”) at a snail’s pace makes me want to cry. My abs are less reliable than I’d like when it comes to reaching for stuff to the side or turning over in bed. Tying my shoes is beginning to make me sad, and I’ve decided to tolerate the itchiness rather than shave my legs more than once every couple weeks. But still, pretty easy.
The one thing that gave me a bit of a hitch last time was preterm contractions. They appear to have fired up again, although like my doc says, there’s nothing to worry about unless there’s pain or leaking fluid. No and no. The uterus, she explains, is a cranky sort of muscle, and it doesn’t like to be irritated. Things that irritate the uterus: a half-full bladder, reaching for stuff to the side, a VERY ACTIVE baby rolling around and tap-dancing 24/7, Mondays. I missed most of work today because–and I’m guessing here–I was too active this weekend (on the trainer for an hour Saturday, 45-minute run on Sunday–first in a while and probably the last) and had very little sleep last night, then this morning went to work where my office chair/desk combo encourages GREAT posture (if you’re not pregnant). Anyway, I came home and spent the rest of the day lying in bed watching depressing documentaries on Egypt since Mubarak and antebellum African-American history. All is well…with me, at least. Egypt is kind of a mess.
Here’s the big difference between this time and last time: I am gainfully employed. I am no longer a graduate student. These are fantastic developments, and yet they introduce these issues that complicate our lives to the nth degree. I have a ton of sick and vacation time saved up, so missing work now isn’t a huge deal…except it is. Because my job, which I love and for which I am grateful, allows only 6 weeks’ unpaid maternity leave. The only way for me to continue to get paid during my luxurious 6 weeks (assuming a normal vaginal delivery) is to use up my accrued vacation and sick leave. I remember how quickly 6 weeks flew by last time. We didn’t relinquish Nuala to the care of a babysitter until she was 3 months old. She went to daycare for the first time at 15 months. Setting aside the whole issue of finding a good daycare, pumping enough to keep breastfeeding for at least a year, and so on, I can’t really get past the quandary of how I’m going to function on as little sleep as I was getting the first time around. Oh, I’ll put my head down and barrel through whatever way I can, but my line of work is often a game of inches. And sleep is the most important determinant of my mental health and cognitive performance. And 6 weeks? It’s barbaric. But hey, I’m a lucky one! At least my employer lets me take 6 weeks unpaid without fear of losing my job.
These are the things I remember when my bright-eyed, bushy-tailed students crow about how the United States is the greatest society the world has ever known. Bless them.