Parenting

How I Overestimated My Pregnant Body's Ability to Handle a Toddler

Going into my second pregnancy, I underestimated a lot. I knew that having a toddler while pregnant would be tough. I remembered the intense fatigue from the first time around, the feeling sick or weak, and the heavy belly toward the end. And I knew that dealing with all of that while managing a two-year-old wouldn’t be easy. But I must admit that I didn’t know what I was in for.

What I think I didn’t realize was how incredibly difficult this process would be. When I’m not pregnant, I’m a long distance runner. I am strong, flexible, and have a lot of willpower. And I falsely assumed that all of that strength would make being pregnant with a toddler manageable. But it has proven to test my limits every single day.

When I got pregnant this second time, I assumed I would be more able: more able to keep up with my little man, to handle his tantrums, to deal with his picky eating, to lug him around from one place to another. I didn’t give a second thought to bath time or to picking him up off the floor when he goes flat and limp (mid-tantrum, of course). I didn’t consider how hard it would be to get his wiggling, strong body in and out of the car seat.

On my own end, I didn’t comprehend how tired or weak I might feel from this growing baby inside me. I didn’t think that the aches and pains, common with any pregnancy, would limit me the way that they have. I forgot about the dizzy spells, the waves of sickness from not eating enough (or not eating exactly what my body needs in the moment), or how quickly my body feels strained and drained after a short bout of physical activity.

When I was pregnant with my first son, these issues weren’t issues at all: I just sat down, put my feet up, ate what I needed to eat, or took a nap. My desk job at the time made all of that (nap withstanding) possible.

But my current job as a mother of an extremely active and very opinionated two-year-old is far more difficult. My pregnant body is no match for the emotional and physical challenges of raising a toddler. And I had no idea that this would be the case.

Every day, I ask myself where my strength is. Where is my ability to manage the emotional tyranny that comes with attempting to feed a toddler? Where is my physical strength when it is time to carry him up two flights of stairs?

Perhaps it is my age—maybe this would be easier if I were ten years younger. But maybe not. Maybe this is just how my body reacts to pregnancy.

The hardest part of this whole process has been trying to honor where I am, and to ask for help. I don’t like having rely on my husband to take over meal time or bath time because I am unable to do it. He is incredible, and steps in without so much as a question. And I am grateful for that. But my inability to just let go and not be “Super Mom” has been almost more than I can bear.

I want to be a great mama to my toddler, and I want to have a safe, healthy pregnancy. But it seems that sometimes the two are at odds, and I have to put my body and its current state above all else. And that is so hard to do, and so hard to admit.

I worry for those first few postpartum weeks, when I’m recovering from my C-section and will want desperately to be strong and able for my two little guys. My only hope is that when I am healed, that I can feel like myself again in my body. That my physical and emotional strength will return and that none of us is worse for the wear.