I step through the door to the three-bedroom apartment my husband and I share with my parents while we wait for him to get accepted to and start medical school. I set my squirming toddler on the ground, and he takes off to his room to begin pulling out a myriad of toys he received during Christmas. It’s late afternoon and aside from the clanking of toy tools from my son’s room, the apartment is quiet.
I rub my growing belly and goan as I place my purse on the couch and take a moment to let my head clear. A painful awareness of all of the things I still have to do after a day of working at the daycare hits me. The pile of clean clothes that has been sitting by my bed for a week now desperately needs attention. There is a doctor’s appointment to schedule, food to buy, dishes to be done, and so many more things that stress me out. I sigh again as I shuffle to my room and realize that there will be no time to take a bath tonight or maybe do a little face mask.
When I was pregnant for the first time, I was busy with college and work, but I still managed to find time to care for myself and rest. Afternoons when I would read a book for class turned into spontaneous nap time, and I would allow myself to take the rest I needed knowing I could make up any other work later. On evenings when my feet would swell up, I could soak in an epsom salt bath and then lay on my couch with them elevated while I watched Friends for the millionth time. I wasn’t perfect at self-care, but I sure found it a lot easier to do when I didn’t have a responsibility to care for another little person who wasn’t growing in my tummy.
The picture I painted at the beginning of this post is my daily life, and I’m sure it looks the same for many of you. Working moms, stay-at-home moms, moms going through school, we all have found ourselves at the point of burnout, pregnant and still caring for our beloved children. Sometimes our beloved spouses are able to step in while others might be going at it alone.
In our day and age, self-care is defined as treating-yourself with facemasks, fancy baths, and other primping products, and don’t get me wrong, when you’re pregnant, those feel really nice. But, I think self-care is deeper than just the things we can apply to our skin on the outside. Balancing self-care during pregnancy is about letting yourself rest mentally and physically. I know, there is so much to do, and for me, a lot of the things I had to do weren’t hard, but they left me mentally stressed to the point of not enjoying anything: time with my toddler, my growing belly, the excitement of a new little one, or time with my husband.
Now, I’m not perfect at this, but I can share with you the little bit of insight I’ve gained about caring for myself while still mothering my child.
Blessedly, my son still takes naps, so there are days when I take that mountain of laundry, spread it across my bed, put on one of my favorite shows and turn that burden into a productive but relaxing afternoon. Not everything is that simple, but at the root of it, you are in control of your self-care and how you make it a priority. For me, I need those chores done because they will mentally haunt me until they are done. Sometimes I can ask my sweet husband to do them, and other times, I need dig deep inside me and find the power to do them so I can let myself relax.
There are still days when I know I will walk through the door and sigh despite my best efforts to take care of myself, but I want to look back on this pregnancy and remember that I let myself be important. I put myself first so I could show up for my family and celebrate this special time. Hopefully, this post will get you thinking about ways your can care for yourself this pregnancy. Take time to sit down and reflect on what you really need, whether it is to take a warm bath or shorten your to-do list.
Me? I’m going to make time for that facemask and a bowl of ice cream.
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