I think part of the reason this pregnancy has whizzed by so quickly thus far is due to my intense school schedule. I’ve been a full-time student since the beginning of this year, and haven’t had a week off of from my studies since then. My courses are all distance-learning which requires a lot of time, planning, and motivation. Semesters are only 12 weeks long, making the courses quite a bit accelerated. I was planning on taking two classes this August, which would end 2.5 weeks before our daughter’s estimated due date.
I’m a really, truly, obsessed student. I hold a 4.0 GPA and have nightmares about my grades, constantly. I’m one of those horrendously annoying people who get a 93 on a written assignment and beg the professor for the opportunity to rewrite it, in hopes of a higher grade. Pregnancy hormones have taken over my dreams, and at least once a week I wake up in the middle of the night not to pee, but in a cold sweat from a nightmare involving a failed Social Psychology exam. I’ve developed test anxiety in recent years and midterms and finals now send me into pseudo-panics. Another annoying trait is that I actually enjoy learning, and so do all the required reading, plus spend hours each day taking vigorous notes, trying to absorb every last morsel of information I’m lucky enough to have access to, when I could easily do only the work necessary to pass tests.
It’s really gotten out of hand.
At my midwife appointment last week, we spoke in great length about school, and my midwife encouraged me to consider maybe not taking any more classes for a while. At first I eagerly agreed with her. YES! Not taking classes this August would eliminate the stress of finishing before the baby arrives. It meant I would have actual time to nest, cook, take walks, visit family and friends, paint the baby’s room. I could really hunker down and spend the time needed to finish working with my doula partner and craft our curriculums for the myriad classes we have planned for next year. I could focus on the baby and really, truly connect, and then start up courses again next year after the baby was a few months old and I was ready to return to academia.
When I brought up these thoughts to Steve, I fully expected him to be a little bit skeptical; I’ve had a very clear academic schedule set for myself for the next two years, and taking a few months off now would throw everything off kilter. I was shocked when he said, in a gentle but firm tone, “Yeah. The midwife is right, honey. It would be really good for you to take some time off.” I was even more shocked by my reaction, which was a tiny flood of tears and me yelping “But I CAN’T not be in school! It’s the one thing I have!”
As soon as I said it, I felt instant relief. It was one of those moments where I didn’t even know I felt that way until I stated it out loud. Further reflection and talking to Steve/myself led to the following conclusions:
- Since getting pregnant I have felt, on and off, that my life is no longer within my control.
- My schoolwork is something I can directly (most of the time) control.
- I have deep seated fears that once I give birth, I will never be “me” again, only some motherly form of me. I fear I will become the mother formerly known as Val.
- If I’m not spending 5-8 hours per weekday focused on school, I might actually have the space and time to fully realize I’m pregnant. The longer I stay in school, the longer I can live in sort-of-denial of the huge changes that are coming our way.
So this is my last week of school, with a few finals and a few final projects due. After this Friday, I am a free woman. With a hiatus from physical birthwork PLUS time away from academics, I’ll have… time. Me and Baby Bean time. Time to CLEAN. And practice with my Calm Birth cd. And write, and breathe, and lower my blood pressure. We just bought a shop vac a few weekends ago, that should keep my insane nesting instincts satiated for at least a few days.
I’m nervous and excited to really, truly connect with the baby, to spend time reading to her each day and gasp in amazement at how strong her kicks are getting. (We can now SEE THEM!). We use a Bébé Sounds prenatal listening thing to listen in on her activity in the womb, and last night not only did she directly kick the monitor, bouncing it right off of my belly, but Steve was able to hear her heartbeat with it for the first time! Pregnancy apps tell me that she’s going to be doubling in weight over the next few weeks. She’s already a pound and has a daily rhythm- already she is growing up so fast.
So now, as last night’s Bachelorette drones on in the background (I’d like to call it a guilty pleasure but at this point it’s just a bad habit), it’s time to get out my textbooks, write my study guides and finish up my final papers. After this Friday, it’s on.
What barriers to connecting with your baby exist in your daily life?