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To my surprise, I woke up 15 weeks ago and found myself pregnant for the third time in my teaching career.
After plenty of thought and discussion, my husband and I decided to embrace this surprise blessing. There is a lot to consider when a surprise like this comes up. We already have two beautiful girls, and as two working parents, we have pretty full schedules. Not to mention, I’m in my late thirties. When I think about what the next six months of growing a baby will do to me, I start to hyperventilate. With the morning sickness, the complete exhaustion, and the toll pregnancy takes on you physically and hormonally, it’s no wonder women are the superior gender.
But in all honesty, unless you’re one of those few women who loves being pregnant, you know, the ones who dance and sing and really do 'glow' all throughout her pregnancy, chances are you are going to need help getting through pregnancy while teaching. Since I’ve been through this two and a half times, I’m going to go ahead and consider myself an expert (okay fine- maybe "expert" is a stretch). I’ve put together some tips every pregnant teacher needs to take into consideration to help them get through these tough nine months.
Stick To Your Contract Hours
This is probably the single most important tip I can give expectant mothers. For me, this means I will be at work from 7:30 - 3:00 every day, and I will give my all during those hours. After 3:00, I am not working nor do I feel like I should. If a task needs to get done, it will have to wait until 7:30 the next day. End of discussion. Between the exhaustion I feel by having this growing child inside of me, raising my two kids, doing laundry, fixing dinners, helping with homework help, and helping with baths…something has to give. This includes answering emails or work-related calls after 3:00, and I am okay with that. Trust me, you have to set boundaries, or you will burn out. If you’ve ever felt burnout before, it’s nothing compared to pregnancy burn-out. It’s a whole new level of exhaustion, tears, and just overall despair.
Always Have Snacks. Always.
I recently found out that you are supposed to “feed the baby” every two hours. I was wondering why I was feeling so queasy and tired, then I came across this bit of information from a pregnancy website. When you are pregnant, you will be hungry what seems like all.the.time. Feeding myself is exhausting. I keep crackers in my desk, and always pack a “lunch” that somehow I eat by 10 A.M. Another tip that has helped me is eating foods that are high in protein. Foods like almonds, hard-boiled eggs, and greek yogurt will keep you feeling fuller longer. Also, pack foods that can be eaten quickly, as the life of a teacher is pretty hectic. I pack hummus and veggies or peanut butter and apples; they are easy to sneak bites of in between classes.
Find Your Supportive Community of Mamas
One of the wonderful things about teaching is that it attracts only the best people. Fortunately, it is also a profession that is, according to the National Center For Education Statistics, 76% female (in 2011-2012). Chances are good that someone you work with has gone through what you are going through. Find your group of teachers who will listen to you vent and offer advice, shoulder rubs, and to carry your huge bag. It has helped me tremendously to have women around me who understand that I may need an extra bathroom break or a venti hot tea from Starbucks. The feeling that you are not alone and that you are supported by a community of women who have been through this is amazing. It’s honestly what gets me through every day.
Take Time For Yourself Every Day
Whether it's going for a walk, taking a yoga class, or watching This Is Us while crying alone in your bedroom, you need some “me time” every single day. Think about it. All day long you are growing and nourishing a life, and that can take a toll on your own personal life and sanity. If you don’t take time to do something for yourself every day, you will get angry, resentful, and want to punch your partner. No, I’m joking - but not really. Self-care is always important, but during pregnancy, it is essential to surviving and feeling good. Give yourself permission to get a manicure or have your partner make dinner. You definitely deserve it.