I was the woman who was never having children. At least, that was the general consensus if you were on the outside looking in at the “me” of just a year ago. Back then, you would have seen a fiercely independent, ambitious, hardworking, career-oriented woman; an attorney and writer/editor working two full-time careers in an attempt to pay off law school loans as quickly as possible, buy and renovate our first home (a total fixer-upper), and generally get to a place wherein my husband and I could relax a little financially.
Because relaxing is something that doesn’t come very easily to me. I am sure there are many women out there who can relate to the feeling of being on a treadmill that never seems to slow down. There’s always one more chore, one more task, one more obligation that absolutely must be completed today by me alone or else the world will obviously come to an end. In the best case scenario, things won’t be done “right” unless I do them myself.
So at this point in my pregnancy, the end of my first trimester, that’s the biggest lesson I’ve had to learn thus far: Let it go!
I can just imagine how many times I’ll hear that song in the background as Disney’s Frozen plays on a loop for my son or daughter to be in the years to come. And although I don’t think I could ever tire of hearing Idina Menzel singing anything, the song will be welcome for a very different reason. Simply hearing the words “let it go” over and over again will remind me of what’s really important.
It’s simply not in my personality—or training as a lawyer—to let things go. Or it wasn’t until I had to make room for another little person who has already made it abundantly clear that it’s not just about me (or me and my husband) anymore.
I’m a very organized, logical, rational person and in my professional endeavors, these orderly Type A characteristics have served me well. But as a mommy-to-be, I often feel as if the ability to implement all of those personality traits has flown right out the window. Or they’ve called out sick for three months.
Speaking of being sick: Yes, it is possible to feel hungover for two months straight. Unfortunately, you don’t get the pleasure of a few fruity cocktails beforehand — but there will be no shortage of fresh produce associations coming your way over the next several months. At three months, I’m apparently growing a lime. Fantastic.
Yes, there is a remedy to ease some of the symptoms of said hangover but it isn’t necessarily what one is accustomed to taking. Anytime I’ve felt soggy or foggy in the past, I reach for my handy bottle of Advil. No more: Advil is ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is bad for baby. Tylenol is acetaminophen, which is acceptable for baby in moderation.
Apparently my headaches haven’t gotten the memo that moderation is key. Like clockwork, every day for the last four weeks or so, the headaches set in by mid-late afternoon and don’t go away until I am able to turn in for the night. Which means that for the second half of the day I’m pretty much useless. I hear that they should be subsiding any day now…I’m still waiting.
And those are just some of the daytime issues. The night brings on a whole new set of delights, starting with the trips to the bathroom about six times in as many hours. Each time I get up it takes a few minutes (or 45) to fall back asleep and that time is super well spent with worrying about all the things I didn’t get done that day; all the things I need to do the next day; and myriad other concerns related to work, the baby, and my husband’s and my ability to be great providers and parents.
Which brings me right back to pregnancy lesson #1—my only option is to let things go.
I’ve learned that kitchen will not crumble if the dishwasher isn’t loaded (or loaded properly) at the end of the night. A few extra days in between bathroom cleanings isn’t a big deal. My dear sweet husband knows how to iron his own shirts (allegedly) so even though they may not be as crisp as if I did them, he will still have a job despite his slightly wrinkly cuffs.
I’ve had to let things go at work. It can be difficult working with clients and co-workers who seem to find fault with every little thing. The old me would have spent half a day stressing about each issue and compiling detailed evidence to make my case. But I’ve learned (already) that it’s just not worth it anymore. Making sure my baby doesn’t suffer from the unnecessary stress is far more important than being right about something that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
I’ve had to let things go personally. As working women, we tend to put excessive amounts of pressure on ourselves to do and be everything to everyone. It’s okay to ask for help and even more okay to accept it when it’s offered.
The truth is that at this point in my life, I’m performing the greatest natural job on the planet: Growing and nurturing another human being. The only way I can do that well is by taking care of myself until he or she arrives because then I’ll have a whole new host of things of which I’ll have to let go in order to put my child first.
And I couldn’t be more excited at the challenge.
Williams is an attorney-turned-writer and DIYer in Charleston, South Carolina. She writes about her projects at www.rheneywilliams.com
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