Surviving Pregnancy with a Toddler
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Lanie Towsley is a wife, mother to her two boys, and has a huge passion for maternal health, nutrition, and fitness.
I loved my pregnancy with Fischer, which many women I talk to still think is so crazy to hear. I honestly didn’t think I would, I mean I had fears..from the irrational (like the one about his fingernails) to the more rational. (I haven’t felt kicks today, is everything okay?!) I wasn’t sure I was ready to give up what was so normal to me like the spontaneous happy hour, and then of course there’s the women that shared their pictures of horribly swollen ankles and feet and complained every step of their way on their social media outlets. I was one of the first of my friend group to venture the pregnancy path and therefore I had no one to tell me, yes, all of that happens…to SOME people.
Turns out; those 40 weeks really weren’t bad at all! I was sick for 14 of them, and then had random bouts here and there of nausea but my weight gain was on track, my activity level never took a serious hit, I found ways to dress the bump and still look and feel cute, and I LOVED every kick and weird popping noise that little boy produced. Even better, I had no problem not being able to throw a couple glasses down the hatch on a random Tuesday evening. I felt clean and healthy..better than ever. (Not being able to eat sushi..that’s a different story.)
HOWEVER, When Doug and I began the discussion of “should we…” I had worries. Not the same ones as with Fischer but brands new ones because of Fischer. How would I deal with being sick for 14 weeks while my son was running around in all his toddler glory? How would I deal with the fatigue? The weight gain? Obviously, plenty of women have multiple pregnancies and make it through just fine, but I didn’t care about how OTHER women did it, I was nervous. A few girlfriends of mine were totally honest “it sucks. you’re going to be dead tired” or “good luck, that’s all I can tell you” and I while I did appreciate the honesty, it just added to the concerns. (I remember when I asked a guy friend how his wife was handling her second pregnancy and their toddler son he responded “well, she doesn’t really have a choice.” great….)
I’m currently 26 weeks in and let me tell you the first 14 were no picnic. As this is my second go-around I’m going to share some ways that I’ve found to “survive” this pregnancy, either through my own trial and error or as suggestions and advice from friends and hopefully they’ll help you too!
Honestly, I believe meal planning should be something every person implements regardless of whether they have children or not, it just makes life so much easier. I’ve been meal planning for a couple years now and tried to keep it up during my first trimester but between being too sick or too tired to cook what I’d bought for the week, therefore wasting food, husband and I decided to just take that time day by day. (I ate cereal most nights anyways..) However, by the beginning of the 2nd trimester I was feeling much more like my old self and spent Sundays creating our meal plan for the week and then shopping thus cutting out any stress or extra time that I DON’T have during the week trying to figure out what my family is going to eat that night! (more time for naps! yes!)
We have two…and yes, I use both of them. One that is small and cooks up just enough servings for dinner and lunch the next day and one that is HUGE (was a wedding gift from a mother who insisted there would come a day that I’d need it to cook a turkey at Thanksgiving..right..) and not only makes enough servings for dinner and lunch but also enough to freeze! THIS MACHINE WILL BECOME YOUR BEST FRIEND. Even during the first trimester when I was feeling so sick I was able to get everything going so that the boys had dinner ready that night. I typically plan to do 2 crock pot meals a week so that if Im feeling really tired I can throw everything in the pot and step away for awhile.
Keep it Exciting!
Toddlers tend to get bored very easily (shocker, I know) so I’ve found a few ways to keep them (and you!) from going stir-crazy.
Check out the dollar store, the dollar aisle at target or even a local kids thrift shop and stock up on little items that will keep your tot entertained. I introduce the bag once or twice a week when either it’s rainy or I am really tired and Fischer is always super excited to see what’s new! I don’t always introduce ALL new items..I think the combination of things he’s seen with things he hasn’t throws him off the scent. Grab bag days keep him entertained for a solid 30-60 minutes during which I either play with him or have time to rest.
Explore somewhere new
Being active will certainly help you feel better (yes, even when you’re nauseous) and it’ll tire out your little one. So, take some time one day to go online and discover new places in your city or town that are suitable for play time. (Options could include nature centers, different parks, libraries, firehouses)
Call on your “Village”
I’ve talked about the importance of the Village before and it’s perhaps at its most important, for me, right now.
Mother’s Day Out
If you’ve found one you trust and you’ve got the funds to do it, MDO programs are so helpful. While your tot runs himself or herself totally bonkers and out of energy, take the time to rest, run errands (without a screaming toddler makes this much more pleasant), get a mani/pedi, read a book, meet a friend for lunch, take an exercise class. See the benefit to a few hours without your shadow?
They have or they will call on you one day and you should never be ashamed to say you need a little help. Ask if you and tiny can hang out for a few hours while the kiddos play. It’ll be nice for you to get some adult interaction and some time where you’re not the sole entertainer. Or, even better, ask if you can drop your little one off for a short play date!
If you’ve got them in town and they’re willing to help (and, let’s be honest, you WANT them to help) call on them freely. I understand feeling a little guilty or uncomfortable with asking a SAHM friend for help but family is family. Not only are they probably totally happy to help you out but you get to foster the important role those people are playing in your little’s life! That’s a win-win in my book.
Lastly, BE KIND TO YOURSELF. There are so many people/sites/memes/shows telling us how we “should” be parenting and what we should or should not feel guilty about. You know what? Screw it. You do what works for you..and sometimes that means turning on a movie so you can just rest while little one sits next to you. Or sometimes that means throwing a bunch of toys on the ground while you lay on the couch counting down the hours until you have someone at home to help you out. I’ve recently found abcmouse.com through PBS kids and have been really happy with how it engages Fischer while still being educational. You’re already feeling tired and stressed about the prospect of adding another little one to the family…the absolute LAST thing you need is to feel guilty about how you’re surviving these tough months!
I hope these ideas have sparked some for you and that you do remember to take some time to enjoy this pregnancy just as much as you enjoyed the last/others. I’m constantly having to remind myself that it’ll be over before I know it and I’ll miss it when it’s gone.