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Pregnancy Fantasy Vs. Reality: How Do You Bridge the Gap?

I’m four months along and counting, and, so far, I haven’t exactly been ‘resting up’ during this pregnancy. I’m a busy mama with two part-time jobs – one is a desk job I do mostly from home, and the other is a massage job in which I’m on my feet and super active for hours – and additional freelance work on top of that. While I love my worklife and have arranged it this way so that I can spend most afternoons with Kaspar (I knew from the moment he was born that I’d never be happy in a 9 to 5), juggling all of this -- plus mamahood -- while pregnant has, at times, felt kind of crazy.

You might remember that what finally kicked my second-baby readiness into gear this past winter was Kaspar finally sleeping soundly through the night on the regular. We’d gotten him to a pretty stable place in terms of his health and food allergies, and he seemed to be in a good space developmentally, too; completely potty trained and embracing his budding independence, my boy appeared to be in prime condition for big brotherhood. 

I’ve always known he’d be a great brother. He’s a laid-back little man; we had about one week of terrible twos about a year ago, but they passed as quickly as they came. Little did I know that turning 3 would bring about a major wave of meltdowns the likes of which we’d never seen. (I even called his school to make sure everything was okay; they said Kaspar was behaving totally normally there, but that the ‘terrible threes’ at home are a well known phenomenon. What?! Why did no one tell me this, mom friends?)

Kaspar also regressed a bit on the sleep front, which was mostly my fault; I made the mistake of letting him come snuggle in our bed one morning at six, since I didn’t want to get up yet. He appeared the next morning at five. Then four. Then three. Then threw middle-of-the-night “I want to be with YOOOOUUUU! I don’t want to be ALOOOONE! I don’t like sleeeeeeping!” fits from his room when we brought him back there, for several weeks, until we busted out our construction-paper sleep chart and stickers and bribed him back into sleeping like a normal human again.

Plus: Our Spring Break Baby Moon Photo Album

In the meantime, I showed up at work feeling like the living dead and wondering, looking down at my bump, how in the world I'm going to live through round two of this babymaking business.

During one particularly long day of massaging recently (generally pretty awesome, low-stress work, just a bit more challenging when pregnant), I was hit with my first real pregnancy fantasy.  All of a sudden, all I wanted in the entire world was to be on a beach in Hawaii, doing nothing. Which was definitely not where I was, or what I was doing.

I’ve never even been to Hawaii, but friends who’ve gone have looked remarkably refreshed and renewed upon their return, kind of like I felt after my week-long, do-nothing honeymoon on the coast of Maine three years ago. (I was newly pregnant with Kaspar at the time, and it was rather magical.) Unfortunately, a Hawaiian beach is not in my immediate future. Instead, my busiest work season of the year is coming up, one in which I have to be mostly on-site rather than mostly at-home for the job I usually get to do in my pajamas, at midnight, if I so choose. It will coincide perfectly with Austin’s hottest season of the year, too, to the tune of 105+ degree weather for months on end.

I’m a little scared.

The up-side of this is that my slowest work season will follow immediately thereafter, which means I’ll have a good (if very hot) month of doing (almost) nothing before the baby arrives. I plan to nest, get in the proper headspace for giving birth, and spend lots of quality time with Kaspar-bear before his brother shows up on the scene.

Once baby #2 does arrive, Kas will be back in school during the days, and – unlike my last maternity leave, which I spent launching a freelance writing career and plotting our move to Austin (ah, what a naïve first-time mama I was) – I will embrace my life in babyland. I’ll let my house get messy, admire my baby’s every burp and, most importantly, sleep when the baby sleeps. I’ll go back to work about ten weeks after delivery, but I won’t be facing eight hour days (plus commuting time), five days a week, apart from my family. Instead, I’ll be out of the house doing massage a few mornings or afternoons each week, when hubs will take over at home, and will otherwise tag-team with him – as we do now – so that the rest of our work can get done from our home office (or corner coffee shop, because, well, sometimes you’ve gotta improvise). Most of the year, the pace of things is spot on; I’m so glad I do have these work rhythms – which I didn’t in the 9 to 5 world – and I won’t feel torn when it comes time to re-establish a sane, working mama balance once we’ve got our sea-legs as a family of four.

For now, though, I’ve just found myself feeling unexpectedly spent, between unforeseen sleep deprivation, toddler tantrums, and this lurking dread of the upcoming summer. The distance between my fantasy pregnancy and reality pregnancy is pretty vast at the moment. But I’m reminding myself daily that summer doesn’t have to be brutal; the dread is all in my head. These extra-busy spells are never as difficult as I think they’ll be. I simply address one thing at a time and it all works out fine.

Plus: The Done-With-Kids Blues

I’ve also taken to reminding myself that while I may not be in Hawaii, I can – and should – give myself whatever little doses of pregnancy-induced-decadence I need in order to not only survive, but also enjoy, being pregnant. It’s a special time! I really love being pregnant! (Even if sometimes, this time around, I forget I’m knocked up at all.) I went and received a prenatal massage last week; I felt amazing and uplifted afterward, and those effects lasted for days. I’ve also been taking long, hot showers (sorry, planet) because I love them, and asking Aaron to get up early when Kaspar does so that I can get an extra hour or so of sleep in the mornings. (Yes, I’m playing the pregnancy card, and yes, I deserve to.) I’ve been passing out earlier in the evenings, too, which is surely my body’s way of forcing me to rest more. And I’ve turned down some freelance assignments I’d otherwise take on. Sometimes saying no is the best gift we can give ourselves.

I’m hoping Aaron and I will be able to steal away for a night or two at a bed and breakfast in the Texas hill country or something before the baby arrives; I’ve never spent a night away from Kaspar, believe it or not. Whether or not we manage this, I think it’s important to take some time out, even small pockets of time in the middle of busy days, to do things that make pregnancy feel fun, even when I can’t completely check out of my very full life and totally chill. I’ll make it to Hawaii someday, right?

What little treats did you give yourself while pregnant? Pedicures? Prenatal massages? Ice cream sandwiches? How did you find time to yourself while pregnant with other kids, work obligations and the realities of modern life in the mix? How did your fantasy pregnancy and reality pregnancy measure up? How’d you bridge the gap? Let me know