Under Pressure

This is supposed to be a happy time. We are plus/minus 7 weeks away from welcoming the much-wanted, unexpected gift of another baby into our lives. I know exactly how lucky we are to be in this position– I’ve lived the reverse and it was truly the saddest, most challenging few years of my life. I know how fortunate we are to have had this baby come the “easy” way.

But lately, I’ve been sad. Overwhelmed. Anxious. Floundering.

I know I had good reasons for everything I planned for this semester– celebrations to give us happy memories (that I must plan from start to finish basically on my own), weekly meal plans to save us money (that I must coordinate and keep track of), teaching on top of my non-teaching fellowship position in order to prepare for future job prospects and bring in some extra money (and that also sucks up all the time I thought I could devote to my dissertation).

I don’t have weekends, thanks to my Sunday a.m. class. I lose an entire week monthly thanks to unexpected fellowship obligations on campus. I’m writing this post at 4:30 in the morning because I can’t sleep because I’m thinking about everything still to do: the assignment I need to write for the next batch of essays I need to grade; the student e-mails I haven’t answered yet; the clothes that need to be resorted in order to bring the bassinet in that I still haven’t even picked up from the friend who’s lending it to us; the car seats that need to be installed; the calls to insurance I need to make; the dental appointment I need to drag Smudgie into Manhattan for during rush hour; the giant dresser that needs to somehow make it down two flights of stairs to the person who’s buying it from us (and the husband who is basically sh*ting a brick over this); the thank-you notes to write from Smudgie’s birthday party; the meeting with my dissertation committee next week; the OB appointments; the freelance article I owe; the funding applications for next year; the freezer meals to make.

The freaking dissertation that’s not getting written.

Other women manage more than this, but I somehow can’t. I looked at them and I thought I could. But now as I survey the weeks of teaching and work left (the last teaching day I’ve left myself is 5 days before my due date; the last day at my fellowship is 3 days prior– and I gave birth to Smudgie three days before his due date) the fact that I don’t get a break, not at all, not one week to nest and prepare and think about this baby and the change coming weighs on me.

People ask when I’m due and when I tell them, well, first they look pointedly surprised because I’m freaking huge this time (subject for another post, sigh) and then they say, “Oh, you must be so ready for it to be over.”

No! I’m not ready! No! I don’t want the baby to come early! Stop suggesting it might because of how “big” I am!

I want to be able to just breathe and live and be happy and snuggle my little boy and prepare for this new baby. I know the person who is calm and joyful about all this is inside me, but I can’t get to her. My therapist thinks I should stop teaching sooner, but I just don’t see how that’s possible. I’m already going to miss the last two weeks of the semester once the baby arrives.

It’ll be okay. This has just been a rough week and maybe writing it all down will help me see how petty and stupid it is to be bogged down in all this minutiae. I got so used to thinking of myself as a competent, kick-ass sort of person the last two years, the kind of person who could take care of a baby, write dissertation chapters, train for a half-marathon, and bake crumbles with farm-fresh produce all in the same weekend. And now I don’t think I’m the kind of person who can brush my teeth and comb my hair at the same time. But maybe I’ll feel that way about myself again. Maybe.

Eh, enough time spent whining. I should probably get some work done since it’s 5:30 a.m. now and I wouldn’t want to waste any of this valuable alone time I’ve got.

And don’t worry Nu-nu– I know how much I love you. I know that when I get to hold you in my arms it will all be worth it. It’s just going to be a tough few weeks until we get to that point together.

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9 thoughts on “Under Pressure

  1. Yup, yup yup. I’m right there with you. So with you that I *must* a precious 5 minute stretch of my lunch time (there is no lunch BREAK, mind you) commenting. (Note that my blogging time has totally evaporated).

    The pregnancy insomnia SO doesn’t help. Things that seem, well not manageable but at least live-through-able, during daylight hours turn into big hairy anxiety-provoking monsters at 4:30 AM. It sucks.

    Anything I don’t manage to get done before the baby arrives will have to get done while I am on maternity leave, and that sounds pretty horrible. So I’m right there with you– praying on my knees for this baby to stay inside until its due date! This time around I’m having wicked braxton-hickes (last time I had NOTHING), so I’m always worried that it’s the start of labor. Full term (38 weeks) commences on Nov 5 for me, a thought that is truly frightening.

    BUT once the baby is here, all of this will melt to the background. Er, I hope.

    Holding hands across academic insanity here– and thinking of you!! I’ll email you soon, too– when I have another 5 minutes! ha!

    p.s. Source of anxiety #578: we still haven’t decided on a name! Further subject for an upcoming email…

  2. Oh I feel you. Especially this “The freaking dissertation that’s not getting written.” Everything I planned I planned for a reason, but I feel like I’m coping and not excelling. It doesn’t help that my adviser threw a couple of unexpected things on me. It’s great that she thinks I’m capable, but all I want to do is organize my life, and play with S on the weekends.
    I’m grateful I will still have a few weeks after the end of the semester, but I fear it will all be given to dissertation catch-up and helping my undergrad finish her thesis before baby comes. It’s hard, but you’re right that once he/she is in your arms it will all be worth it. Good luck. We are all in this together kind of.

  3. Ugh, that’s so hard to not have a minute (or hour or day or week) to just BE and to relax & be able to enjoy the anticipation of this baby coming soon.

    Re: stopping teaching sooner – if you were pregnant a month earlier and due a month earlier, you’d make it work because you’d have to. Maybe this is something you need to look at like that – you need to quit working at least a week or two earlier because you HAVE to – for your sanity and your to-do list. ?

  4. I don’t know if it helps or hurts for me to say that it sounds like you really do have a lot, maybe too much, on your plate. I’ve been there, and sometimes the only way to do it all is to not do it all. I read in your post a very familiar echo of how hard it can be to do what can feel like admitting defeat in asking for help, but I hope that you can find at least a few things you can delegate for the sake of your sanity and health. I also firmly believe that if there’s ever a time to blow money you don’t really have (in my case, on food and cabs), it’s the last trimester of pregnancy. If nothing can be done, I hope the anxiety and overwhelmingness of it all at least waxes and wanes and you have a few days (and nights!) of peace here and there. I’ll be thinking of you and rooting for you!

    • Wow. This is a lot, and it’s all so intense. We like to think of ourselves as über capable all of the time, but sometimes we have to admit defeat. I agree with the previous poster – sometimes you have to ask for help. Everything you are doing is so admirable, but I’m tired just reading this. I hope writing it helped and I hope the support of those who are and have been where you are helps too. This too shall pass! Wishing you the best.

  5. I can so relate to this. I don’t have a baby on the way and I’m not writing a dissertation but the feeling of being stretched too thin and thinking that other women seem to manage this is all too familiar. I am impressed with all you manage, for what it’s worth. Good luck with the next several weeks and enjoy what you can.

  6. you have so much on your plate. This is a lot for anyone and even more for a busy mom with another on the way. things will get done, or pushed to the side, if they have to be and the baby comes early. that’s how life is – it will work itself out. In the meantime, hang in there! I’m sorry it’s so hectic, like you said, it’s so worth it!

  7. That is a lot. I’m in awe. I don’t have nearly as much going on this time as I did during my first pregnancy and I still find myself feeling overwhelmed at how unprepared I feel to welcome another baby into our home. (And yes, what is up with the hugeness the second time around? People who ask me when I’m due can’t hide their shock when I tell them.) But somehow you will get through it, day by day, hour by hour. I do remember feeling so cheated though, my first pregnancy, when I worked at an internship up until the day before I went into labor and then ended up taking my freaking laptop into the hospital to meet a freelance writing deadline. Cheated of what I’m not sure. Getting to really embrace and mentally prepare for the next phase? Lie on the couch and watch more trashy TV? Both of those things and more. This time though is just different because of the toddler in the picture and I don’t have the time to do that anyway (okay I do make time for some guilty TV). So while I understand your therapist’s inclination for you to stop teaching earlier, I also know the anxiety on the other side of the coin feeling like you have to get to a certain point in things before you feel ready for the next phase…

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