It is completely unnerving to be told you can’t go about your everyday.
When I was 36 weeks pregnant, my doctor told me she didn’t want me to commute into the city for work for the rest of my pregnancy. It wasn’t the biggest shocker, as it was something she had alluded to twice prior, but I never expected her to actually enforce it. My husband and I now share a car (the Kat Mobile has gone to the great parking lot in the sky), and thus I relied on the commuter rail and Green Line to get to and from work everyday. On a good day, the commute was 65 minutes one way. On most days, the commute was 95 minutes one way. (Thus what happens when you work on Boston’s B Line.)
I was getting to work at 9am and hopefully getting home by 8:15pm. This was far better than my normal, which was work my job at the university from 9am – 5:30pm, then run to my other job at the newspaper and work until 11pm. My voluntary concession to the third trimester would be that I’d give my newspaper shifts up. That alone was enough to drive me up a tree. (Who knew I would miss taking coaches’ phone calls so much?)
Sure, even my amended schedule was tiring me out, but I imagined I just would keep doing this until I had my son. What choice did I have? Isn’t this what everyone does? I would work until five days prior to my due date just like I thought everyone else did.
Instead, I was given a few days notice and told that the day I turned 37 weeks, I was to trade in my commute for working remotely. I obliged, thinking it would last just a few days. I planned to walk into my next doctor’s appointment and say, “See? Nothing happened. This kid isn’t coming for another week or two. Let me go back to my work.”
I went back, and she said the opposite. Well, then.
In the mere six days since I had stopped my commute, I felt aimless and sorry for myself nearly every second of that time. Even though I’ve had my ups and downs with my full-time career path over the last three years (my spirit for the field of student affairs has its ebbs and flows, but I think a lot of those in the field are going through the same lately,) it guts me to not physically be in the student union I’ve called my work home for most of my entire working life. I even miss my little, tiny closet office – something one of my Deans said I can’t complain about until I’ve been in it 10 years, because that’s how long he was stuck in it. (Guess what – June 16 marks ten years of it being my office. I’ll register an honorary complaint on that day, even though I’ve learned to enjoy it.)
This whole situation found me sitting at home on Commencement Sunday feeling immensely left out and horribly depressed. I moped around my apartment, lacking the desire to do anything. I had missed Saturday’s pre-Commencement reception at my boss’ house. I had missed hearing the organ play and shake my entire office floor in the process. I had missed the one day a year I get to dress up in faux doctoral gear to work Commencement field crowd control. I couldn’t live tweet from the office’s Twitter account. You don’t really realize how much those things mean until you are sitting on the sidelines under orders not to be there.
I was miserable. I didn’t even want to write, and I had mounds of it to finish.
But then, at one point, it all clicked. My almost-one year old kitten Marv has a don’t-quit personality that mimics that of his namesake, legendary Buffalo Bills head coach Marv Levy. But instead of his typical spunk, he had followed me around that day with a long face that perfectly represented my mood.
I don’t know what it was, but I looked down at him and realized I couldn’t do this for the next 14 days or however long I have until my son makes his appearance. I only have so many days to be fully present in what I want and need to do until what I want and need to do completely changes. Wasting all of that time in wallow is a horrible, no good use of that time. I was letting down so many by doing so, most importantly myself.
Feeling sorry for yourself is a simple trap to get caught in, pregnant or not. It’s something I’ve let myself do too much over the years. You have to find a way out of it that works for you. Sometimes it just takes looking at your spunky kitten. Sometimes it takes a whole lot more. Whatever you need to do, do it.