When I’m pregnant, like many women I visit various websites to find advice on how to deal with pregnancy-related issues. There are a few sites I learned to trust when I was pregnant with my first baby 4 years ago. During my most-recent pregnancy, as a stay-at-home mom, I often looked at their advice and thought, how am I supposed to do that? I would look at my two toddlers, shake my head with a smile, and suffer through my problem as well as I could. It wasn’t until I went into labor that I found the “first-time mother” perspective frustrating. (I blame nerves and hormones for any irrationality in my reaction.) I would probably have had to click through pages and pages of search results to find a useful blog post written by a seasoned mother to find the advice I needed, but that was the last thing I wanted to do while suffering through contractions. If I felt I had the right amount of experience, I would write that post myself. Instead, I’ll simply vent my frustrations and hope that other mothers can relate and see that they aren’t alone.
If you have a migraine during pregnancy, lie down in a cool, dark room with a cold washcloth on the back of your neck and a warm washcloth on your face. For a first-time mom, this isn’t too hard—as long as you aren’t working or can use sick time. But stay-at-home moms don’t get sick time. Toddlers don’t understand headaches. Even when trying to escape the room for a few minutes I could still hear them arguing and picking on each other. At the beginning of my pregnancy I simply took acetaminophen and drank a Coke. After a few weeks, though, my taste buds changed and Coke tasted disgusting to me. Great for overcoming a caffeine addiction, not so great for migraines. From then on, all I could do was pray that migraines would hit when my husband had a day off.
When you’re tired, take a nap. This was actually easier than you might think—as long as I didn’t mind using the TV as a distraction while I napped on the couch. I’m not proud of the fact that my children’s screen-time gradually increased to a level I would never admit to their pediatrician as my pregnancy progressed. I also needed to be prepared to wake up to children jumping on me or shouting three inches from my face.
And then I woke up with contractions. When labor begins, take a shower, do some light housework, and record the time between contractions and their duration. After trying to do just some of this for a few minutes, I wanted to cry. Our children are still learning to be patient. A contraction would begin, I would start my timer, and then I would hear, “Mom, I need a drink,” or, “Mom, I want a snack,” or, “Mom, watch this!” When I asked them to wait a minute, they only asked louder. How do moms know if it’s time to go to the hospital when their older kids need attention, too? Even the prospect of getting a little brother didn’t help them to understand my need for rest. The excitement only made them want my attention more. Finally, I had to ask Brett to go into work late so that I could lie down for an hour to time contractions. With him home, I was able to determine that the contractions were 4 minutes apart and 45 to 60 seconds long. Instead of going to work, Brett went with me to the hospital.
The experience of being the pregnant mother of two toddlers has ended now and the next challenge has begun. With knowledgeable family members, friends, and numerous parenting blogs about raising more than one child, I don’t have to look far for advice, or even just a listening, understanding ear. My job now is to protect a baby from being smothered by hugs, kisses, and an overabundance of toddler love.