Give those girls a medal – or at the very least a massage…

May 27, 2010 at 8:47 am (Uncategorized)

I’ve just been hit by a vast wave of tiredness… and that’s my chief experience of being pregnant right there. So far, so sleepy. I can understand the exhaustion – it sounds like my body is being very industrious. I can’t really feel all the effort it’s going to, except for how tired I feel, but from what I’ve read, it’s a hive of activity in there. We’re getting these weekly updates from a very handy site called Pregnancy Centre that are blowing my mind, like this one, for Week 10. Fingernails? Seriously – fingernails? All quite amazing – and no wonder I am beat.

I seem to have completely dodged the morning sickness bullet, and the only tears I’ll be shedding over that are soaked in gratitude. I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, and I do feel so incredibly fortunate while all this is going on that I work from home, and I think it’s in no small way contributing to my general physical wellness. I have a new and overwhelming respect for the women whose first trimester coincides with an unchanged, high-pressure, no-relief corporate career. Long hours, commuting, battery hen open-plan offices full of everyone’s winter mucus – ugh – I do not know how they do it, and no wonder some women get really sick.

Because here’s the thing I didn’t know would happen: I’m sleeping really badly. I’d blithely assumed that all this enforced clean living would result in 9 months of blissful slumber, and that I’d be able to store up sleep stamps for that notoriously sleepless event of a baby coming home to stay. Well. Forget about it. What a joke. No one told me I wouldn’t be able to sleep the whole way through, but now I’ve started indignantly canvassing people about this grave omission, the knowing nods are coming in thick and fast. So that’s the first thing high-powered career women have to deal with: the shattered expectation and necessity of a decent night’s sleep. It’s the extra toilet trips, sure, but it’s not just that. I just think this factory’s open all hours, working overtime to meet demand, lights blazing, muzak blaring, strained workers grumbling about conditions.

Then there’s the food thing. I eat whenever I want to. Literally the second I want to. There’s no one standing by my desk talking about last night’s Master Chef, there’s no one calling me into their office for an urgent meeting, there’s no one waiting for me to conduct that big presentation across town, there’s no queue at the sandwich counter down in the foyer. There’s just the very nifty open door policy I have going with my refrigerator. We have an understanding. So I don’t skip a single meal or a single snack or even have to wait until some socially acceptable lunch hour to rip into today’s treat – I can just suit myself, and believe me, I do. It’s like the sleeping. If I’m awake between 2:30 and 6 am, which is what happened the other night, I go back to sleep, and I don’t get up until I wake up, usually around 10 am on the back of these insomnia events. And if it’s 11 am, who the fuck cares? I need sleep. I’m building a person, apparently, and it seems to be quite a big job. This, I tell myself, is me doing that job.

How women take the level of exhaustion I’m feeling and incorporate it into an office job in the CBD, I’ll never know. What Trojans. What legends. Also, most people keep their first trimester a secret because of the risk of miscarriage and all the normality testing that only takes place around Week 12, so can you imagine the pressure of that, added to these other ingredients? Nausea? Pass me a bucket! The stress must be killing, and they must internalise it because they feel they can’t let it show. Oh, ladies. I salute you. I really do.



  1. charlotteotter said,

    Feeling very saluted here! Thanks, Di, and I salute you right back and hope that sleep sorts itself out.

    • doctordi said,

      Good, Charlotte, because you deserve it!

      Actually I slept REALLY well over the weekend. Two to three toilet trips, but no trouble getting back to la la land, which made a very nice change.

  2. Lilian Nattel said,

    A big job indeed. If we lived in a society that did more than pay lip service to caring about kids and moms, then there would be good paid leave, a bouquet of flowers, and “look forward to seeing you back” instead of the expectation that women carry a double burden and be paratroopers if they expect soldier’s pay.

    • doctordi said,

      And the other thing I’ve seen happen, Lilian, is that when these mums *do* return to the workforce, often it’s for an extremely hard-won three days that sees them having to do nothing less than a full-time job in three-fifths of the time and for three-fifths of the money.

  3. Pete said,

    I’d also envisioned your pregnancy as a time for putting your feet up, reading and writing, having a lot of naps and eating to your heart’s content. Apparently not! Hope the sleep thing gets better. And salutes to you too, lady. You might be amused to hear that soldiers in the SA military are supposed to salute pregnant women! Quite sweet I suppose (but weird).

    • doctordi said,

      Oh Pete, I am definitely doing all those things – except the naps… I just can’t nap. I’ve never been able to. Once I’m up, I’m up. I’ve tried a couple of times recently for obvious reasons but with no real success. But yes, everything else is happening pretty much as per your list!

      I *love* that endearing quirk of the SA military – how charming!

  4. litlove said,

    I was quite different – felt very sick, slept just fine, but was also working from home, doing my MPhil at that point. You’re quite right to put your body’s needs first, though. Just do whatever feels right to you.

    • doctordi said,

      Yes, it’s endlessly fascinating to me, LL, just how different everyone’s experience is… at the moment it’s quite hard to believe it’s even happening because there’s no really obvious thing to pin it on. The extreme exhaustion is really the only indication that anything unusual is happening, and that’s something that could happen to anyone given the right mix of circumstances. In fact, I’ve needed professional reassurance that it’s not a BAD sign that I don’t feel horribly unwell.

      Oh, and the wee. There’s a lot of peeing.

  5. bookgazing said,

    I always think women deserve more recognition for just going to work than they get (ha but then I would say that wouldn’t I). Throughout our lives we go from ‘Oh God must go to work despite bleeding from genitals’ to ‘Oh God must go to work despite throwing up’ to ‘Oh God must go to work despite being kept awake by a small crying person’ (although in theory men can share that particular trouble) and no one says a damn word of congratulations.

    I don’t mind saying that there are days when I feel simply dreadful at work because of my period and I desperately need to sleep/cry/eat every second, but there is no chance of it. We all go well beyond what men are expected to do every month (can you imagine them rolling up to work if they were losing so much blood their energy levels were way, way down) and we’re expected to do it without ever snapping ‘unprofessionally’, while being called the weaker sex and while looking professional. Then most of us go off and go so far beyond what men are expected to do we’re in a totally different universe, by working while pregnant and still the weaker sex comments, the complaints about women taking time off to have children, argh it’s enough to make you scream. We should have our own day of recognition with parades and big chocolate donuts, never mind medals.

    Anyway I seem to have gone off on a bit of a rant here – must be the little woman’s time of the month 😉

    • doctordi said,

      Yeah, Bookgazing, the ‘weaker sex’ tag is particularly repellent to me. It really doesn’t make any sense given women are the only ones around here capable of pushing out people.

  6. jactaylor said,

    Last night’s conversation:
    Dad: Honey, you can’t keep working Sundays as well. You need to stop that.
    Pregnant sister: (panic rising in her voice) But it’s not as if there’ll be less WORK if I do that – it’ll still be there on Monday, not done.

    She’s 18 weeks along, and although she’d like the priorities to shift… it’s too early to tell the company or she’d probably be out of a job.

    She did go for a “pregnancy massage” last week to try to relax a bit – but apparently all that means is it’s all very weakarse and about the energy rather than actually working tired muscles, and she ended up wanting to slap the girl into doing it properly.

    This all sounds very hard. Keep up the good work, person-building! I’m imagining tiny oompa loompahs in there, working away at the scaffolding. xx

    • doctordi said,

      Welcome home, darlink! I think it is really hard for these women like your sister, her situation is exactly the one I’m talking about, but I hope I didn’t make it sound like I think it’s really hard for me – I think I am having a pretty swell time of it, all things considered!

      Oh yes, the pregnancy-themed rip-offs, let the games begin…

  7. Norwichrocks said,

    Good lord, yes, I can’t imagine trying to work (in the CBD or from home) if I haven’t had 8 hours sleep. I slept through my alarm on Friday as it was (woke up at 9.27 am… work starts at 9am. Ooops) and my body isn’t even in the process of making a whole new person.

    Oh, and I’ve just been looking at a series of illustrations we commissioned a couple of years ago showing a growing fetus/baby at the various week stages – would you like me to email low res jpgs of them to you? Might be interesting!

    I say, keep up the regular fridge raids and keep a good book by the bed for the sleepless hours and let yourself lie in when you need to, to catch up. And go little internal body-builders!!!!

    • doctordi said,

      Thanks, NR, I think that’s pretty much what Baby Centre sends – I am getting their weekly illustrations of development – fascinating, huh??

  8. David said,

    Any woman who makes a human person is a special kind of hero, and those who do it while still working 9-5 deserve some kind of extra combat medal. I can’t imagine it either. I don’t know how anyone works in an office even when they’re not pregnant. The horror. The horror.

  9. doctordi said,

    David, I do look back on my years in that environment with a dull kind of horror, it’s true.

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