November 24 – November 30: 23 Weeks 0 Days – 23 Weeks 6 Days.
Since I stopped teaching vinyasa yoga at the end of my first trimester, I haven’t been working as much (more details on this to come—my hypermobility issues have been one of my biggest pregnancy challenges, and, as per the advice of a book I read I read to inform my last memoir-writing project, I’ve been letting those particular emotions age before blogging extensively about them). With Thanksgiving this week, I worked much more than usual filling in for colleagues who were out of town. This had me dropping my Richard off at his shuttle stop in the morning, then whisking Foxy off a friend’s house for the day, sitting with protesting joints in rush hour traffic during my long, rainy commutes, and missing my freedom to snack and rest the way my pregnant body wants to.
Working itself felt wonderful—having a sense of purpose that is my own is important to me, and my body has been cooperative during my second trimester. However, the experience left me wondering if I could maintain that schedule and add in arranging care for a baby, pumping breast milk at work, making a healthy dinner at the end of the day, interacting meaningfully with my family, and still practicing self-care.
I think equally good arguments can be made for providing a child a rich environment at home or immersing her in a social setting at daycare. If I work, I’ll feel bad about missing out on knowing and experiencing my children as much as I can, and if I stay at home I’ll feel bad for letting down womankind and sabotaging my career. Unless I change careers: after childcare, doggy daycare, and the cost of commuting, working would not put me that far ahead financially. Richard makes enough for us to get by and is supportive of me doing whatever I think is best for our family. So the question really comes down to how I want to spend my days. Lately, deliberating over my future work situation has started to feel like this:
Obviously “to work, or not to work?” is a false dichotomy. Work is a multi-dimensional spectrum with varying hours (full-time, part-time, temp, contract, etc.), activities (office job, teaching movement, manual labor, etc.), and location (work-from-work, work-from-home, traveling, etc.). It’s hard to know ahead of time where on the spectrum is best for me. A few pieces of advice I got this week gave me a little clarity:
- I put a dent in reading Baby 411 over the long weekend, and have been enjoying how the authors provide information to help parents make informed decisions without undertones of guilt and shame (My reviews of pregnancy books reflect my distaste for books that purport that there is only one right way to do things). In Baby 411, the authors say that whether you decide to stay at home or work, run with it—you can always reassess down the road. No matter what decision you make there will be people who judge you; it’s probably because they’re insecure about making a different decision than you did, and feel the need to justify it.
- I gave my e-mail to two or three pregnancy-related businesses, and now my inbox in inundated with baby spam. However, when this article about what NOT to worry about during pregnancy popped up in my inbox, I eagerly clicked the link and read it. In support of the sentiments in Baby 411, one of the quotes is: “No matter what decisions you make, someone will always disagree. Try not to let the negative comments upset you, and if you’re really worried about something, talk with your doctor or a nonjudgmental friend.” Who wants to be my go-to nonjudgmental friend?
- Someone I recently met quipped, “People always say they need to work to make money for their kids. Kids don’t understand money, they only understand love. They only want you.” Of course, if kids are going hungry because there isn’t enough money to buy food, they’re going to understand that something is wrong; however, this statement resonated with me with respect to my own situation.
- According to Baby 411 the old adage is true: research shows that quality time is more important than quantity time when is comes to parents and children.
Combining the ideas above, my take-away is to guiltlessly work as much (or as little) as I need to stay connected to my career, stay sane, and make any supplementary income we need to get by, but not so much (or so little) that I’m too drained to spend quality time with my family. Unfortunately this is still a pretty vague statement. How many hours should I work? What type of job? Is it worth missing out of my baby to be stuck in traffic on a long commute? What about a short commute? Should I find a job I can do from home? Should I hire a nanny or use a daycare center? What about the dog? I wish I could end this post with a concrete realization, but I don’t think I’ll get any clear answers until after the baby is in my life (and maybe not even then!). All I can do is start with a work schedule, and refine it as gracefully as possible through trial and error. In the meantime, I’m going work on the “guiltless” part: discovering and accepting what I think is best for my family, regardless of others’ judgments.