I’ve had a couple of things weighing on my mind lately. The first is the number of hours there are in a day versus the amount of stuff I’ve got on my to-do list. The second thing worrying me is… well, my weight.
I’ve written about my workload and my interest in fitness before in this blog, and I know I’ll write about them again. They’re big issues for me, both as a parent and as a woman who likes to wear size 12 jeans. I have a lot of stuff I want to do with my life, including staying fit and trim, but there never seems to be enough time in the day to do everything I want, which makes staying fit and trim a bit of a challenge.
So I yap about these topics a lot. They’re my personal obsessions. But why, you may ask, are these two issues so troublesome right now? That’s easy to explain. I’m pregnant again.
Last September, my husband and I went back to the infertility clinic where we succeeded in conceiving our first child, Cassandra Jane. After weeks of injections and an inter-uterine insemination, we got good news. I had “a bun in the oven.” The baby is due in June. I have to admit I was initially ambivalent about having a second child, especially since it had taken me three years to get my life back together after having the first child. The issues I faced when deciding to have more kids was twofold. First, as much as I like to exercise, I had a hell of a time losing the weight from my first pregnancy. I just couldn’t drop those last five pounds. I was overjoyed when the infertility specialist told me I weighed exactly what I weighed prior to having Cassandra. Then I got depressed as I realized I was about to toss out my girlish figure again in pursuit of child number two. Bummer!
The second problem was time. Before Cassie, I was a free woman, working only for myself, and how I spent my day was entirely up to me. After Cassie, I suddenly had a very short, very cranky boss who kept me hopping twenty-four hours a day with constant demands for breast-feedings and diaper changes. I was lucky if I could find time to sit on the toilet and pee, let alone do anything else.
Now lest anyone get the wrong idea, I really do want to have this second child. I’ve enjoyed my pregnancy so far and I look forward to having another baby to care for and love. Cassie is excited too. She can’t wait to become a big sister and she frequently talks about ‘Baby Sam’ and kisses my rapidly growing belly every chance she gets. I can’t stop worrying though, about what lies ahead.
It took me forever to adjust to having Cassie in my life. Before Cassie, I filled my days with writing, computer graphics, web design, art classes, karate classes, running, and frequent trips to the gym. If I wanted to spend a day goofing off at Barnes and Nobles, I did it. I had the ideal life, doing what I wanted, when I wanted. Then one day I had a baby, and suddenly everything I did revolved around a squiggling, screaming bundle of colicky joy.
I couldn’t go anywhere without taking Cassie with me. And I couldn’t just take Cassie wherever I went – I also had to take fifty pounds of stuff packed into a diaper bag too. The good news was all that lifting and toting turned my upper body into a real powerhouse. For the first two years of Cassie’s life, you could pick out every single muscle in my back and arms. The bad news was, I couldn’t do anything else while I was holding Cass, nor could I seem to get anywhere with all that stuff in tow. Leaving the house required careful, time-consuming preparation. I had to remember to bring bottles of milk, diapers and wipes, toys, a spit up rag, and a change of clothes. That made exercise hard. Going for a jog around the neighborhood wasn’t so bad, as long as I did it between feedings (Cassie nursed every two hours on the dot), but karate class seemed right out. The dojo didn’t provide childcare, and I couldn’t hold her while taking class. Trips to the gym were damn near impossible too. Cassie screamed her head off whenever I took her to the YMCA nursery. And getting there, like getting anywhere else, involved the whole preplanning and packing routine. At one point, I had to allow for three hours in my daily schedule just to fit in 45 minutes of exercise at the Y.
Some folks might point out at this point that I could have just exercised at home during Cassie’s naptime. I suppose so, but I decided to reserve those hours of peace and quiet for my work. I can at least jog with a screaming child. I cannot write with one though. Believe me, I’ve tried. So I set up my daily schedule to let me get my work done when Cass was out cold and do my exercise when she was fired up. During her first eighteen months, that meant I worked from ten to noon and then again from two to four in the afternoon. Not nearly as much time as I had had before, but I was able to get some stuff done. On the exercise front, I pumped a lot of breast milk and arranged with my husband to take karate classes on alternate evenings so we each got at least two classes a week. Then I just struggled to get out to the Y or the jog path as often as I could.
Of course, as Cassie got older, things changed. Eventually, she stopped screaming when I left her in the Y nursery. When she went from two naps to one, I had to give up my morning work hours for a while, but that gave me more time before noon to go exercise. When Cassie got old enough to occupy herself, I switched from evening to afternoon karate classes and let her play quietly on the sidelines as I punched and kicked my way to a slimmer waistline. And when she finally switched from diapers to “big girl” panties, I happily gave up toting two tons of stuff everywhere we went and got out the door a hell of a lot quicker every day.
My life’s still wasn’t as free as easy as it was before I had Cassie, but I eventually adjusted and got back on track. Now though, all that is about to go right out the window. In fact, it already has. The first trimester of my second pregnancy more often found me asleep on the couch during Cassie’s nap than typing at my computer. Plus morning sickness forced me to crawl through the day, going only as fast as my queasy stomach allowed. As a result, I got so far behind on work, exercise and house cleaning that I’ll never catch up, and I know it’s only going to get worse. Having a new baby means sleepless nights, exhausting days, and hours spent breastfeeding in the glider rather than working at my desk. No matter how well Cassie plays on her own, afternoon karate classes probably won’t happen with an infant. And while the Y nursery will take babies six weeks old, I’ve still got to figure out how to get out the door with two kids instead of just one.
I know I’ll survive this. I’m not the first woman to have two children, nor will I be the last. But I can’t help wondering if I’m going to have any sanity left at all when I can’t find time to work and exercise. Remember, I’m obsessed about these things. My mental stability depends on whether or not I feel I’ve had a productive day.
People often say one of the biggest challenges of parenting is going from one to two kids. I hope I’m up to the ordeal.