Four weeks to go. It feels like this pregnancy flew by but also like I can barely remember what it was like not to be pregnant–what it was like hiking in Alaska without total fatigue or enjoying multiple cups of coffee instead of tricking myself into “two” cups by pouring two, separate half-cups. I haven’t had much to complain about during the majority of this pregnancy, but now the third trimester woes are plaguing me in full force: swollen fingers and feet (my feet are so swollen, they tingle and end in sausage toes); waking to pee once or twice a night, sometimes even three times, and then struggling to get back to sleep, tossing and turning from one sore hip to the other, adjusting blankets and pillows that only ease the ache temporarily; waddling with a heaviness that feels like the weight of the baby will capsize my torso and plummet right through my pelvic floor; dry mouth and nose and unquenchable thirst; a sore low back if I spend too much time on my feet, completing chores and small doses of spring cleaning that I can’t afford to hire out; a resurgence of sleepiness that makes me crave a mid-meeting nap like in the first trimester; and the incessant worry the baby will arrive before I feel prepared in my work, in our home, and in my mind.
Receiving all the baby shower gifts we did put my mind more at ease and reminded me of the goodness, support, and generosity of people in our life. We are fortunate to have wonderful people in our corner even during a pandemic where social distancing has made everyone more carefully consider who they will show up for or log back into a Zoom call for. If only they could tackle all the items that find their way onto my pre-baby to-do list…
This time leading up to delivery is whittled away with to-dos and to-buys, and then I realize my maternity leave will pass just as quickly. My eleven weeks off will disappear in the sleepless blur, and while I’m grateful I have the benefits of sick leave and vacation days, I still can’t believe the unfairness and insensitivity in our country not having paid maternity leave as a standard. What if I didn’t have any paid time off? We wouldn’t have that much to devote out of savings to cover a proper leave, and then we’d all suffer.
Who’s the voice of the moms who can’t afford to take any time off? How will their babies fare without the comfort of their parents in the crucial early days and weeks? What does that do to the formation of secure attachment? It puts those children in a vulnerable, disadvantaged position from the get-go.
We need more women in positions of power and serving in policy-making roles who can advocate for mothers and fathers to be home with their new babies as a necessity. Because it is a necessity. If we want to see secure attachment, trust, and parental sanity, this cannot be a luxury or a condition for only “socialist” countries. The role of the mother should not be degraded to a side-job of true career work, should not be pushed aside as less important, should not be taken for granted.
None of us would be here without our mothers–all that they do, all they give, sacrifice, and offer to provide us a chance at something better than they had. I am no different. I value my own mother deeply and now want to be valued for my parenting efforts. I want the world to take more than Mother’s Day to appreciate all our mothers do and reciprocate even a fraction of that gift.