Academic Leigh Speaking

A professor, four kids, and a crash course in work/life balance

Going Back to Work July 4, 2014

Well, after another bout of prelabor (or false labor), and no baby to show for it, I’ve decided to make some changes. The combination of fatigue and frustration was leading to some really precarious emotional territory, so for me the cure is to get my (huge) self back to campus and work on some writing, syllabi, and other projects (cleaning and decorating my office). Incidentally, the cure is not relax more and hang out, as the fatigue and frustration lead me to doing better coping with myself when I’m by myself. I read the sections on prelabor and slow to start labor in The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin, that my friend loaned me, and it really helped me deal with the idea that the fatigue and frustration are normal, the contractions themselves are normal, and eventually things will happen.

The gaping swaths of time available on the calendar in the next week would feel great if I were home trying to adjust to life with another child; however, right not it just feels boring and unproductive. I really shouldn’t complain, because Patrick has devised activities for the boys that they love. They get on the tandem bike and ride 10-25 miles in the morning. They come back, get ready for swimming, and go. Seamus is diving down to collect sinking toys. (He loves to tell me which of his friends can swim, and place himself competitively in that line-up. The other day I kind of lost it, and told him, “You just took your floaties off. You have no idea if that was the last day Maddie was using her floaties!” to drive it home to him that all of them are making progress and it’s not some kind of competition. This has become a new family catchphrase “It’s not a competition.” Gilbert and I find it particularly useful.) Then they (or we, because I usually go swim too) come home for lunch and nap. Toss in some lego time, dinner, outside play, a bath, and that’s the day. It’s nice, but it feels really weird for me.

I think some of my anxiety stems from the idea that Patrick has to go to Albuquerque in August to get our house ready to sell. Then, in late August, I have to go back to work. I think it will be easier for me if the baby is slightly older, but then I think, well, Patrick will be home. The baby will be well-cared for, even if I’m not the one at home all the time.

Early babies are fine, but they have issues that later babies don’t have. For instance, eating and stomach development is better in a 39/40 week baby than a 38 week baby. Seamus came so early (38 weeks on the nose) that I’ve been ruined thinking that’s a time babies usually show up, but last night I reminded myself that he came early in a very undesirable way. There were (very minor) problems spurring his arrival, and I certainly don’t want to go through those again.

So, back to work with me. I actually do have several projects I’d like to finish. And I worked with both of the other pregnancies. With Seamus, I was still trying to finish up a semester of teaching, and with Gilbert, I was working madly on my dissertation. I can stand to do a little more now.

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