I Shouldn’t Say It, But I Will Anyways: I Care Less About Work When I’m Pregnant
If you are a first-time pregnant mama, let me just preface the following with a disclaimer: you are about to hear from a very tired, very pregnant mother of soon-to-be five kids, so let's be clear that our situations could be vastly, vastly different, OK? You should take what I am about to say through the lens of a woman who is probably not as energetic or youthful as you.
Now, that being said, this is what I want to say: people will tell you that pregnancy shouldn't “slow you down,” or that pregnant women can still rock their careers and their exercise life and their romantic life and their social lives and whatever other lives that they may happen to have.
And they can, they totally can. But–and this is a big but, no pun intended–you may also notice that pregnancy changes the way that you feel about your work for a bit. And if that happens to be the case for you, let me assure you that 1) it's totally normal 2) it won't last forever and 3) it doesn't mean you're not a kick-butt pregnant feminist woman who can rock modern-day motherhood.
On the contrary, it means you're human and pregnant and are smart enough to recognize that growing another person can redirect your energy. Who knew, right?
I wish I could tell you that pregnancy won't “slow you down” at all, but the truth is, pregnancy is so different for everyone. I personally have found that, for me, my motivation and ambition for pursuing my career is not as strong when I am pregnant. I still love what I do as a writer and editor, but in many ways, it almost feels like I'm going through the motions rather than really feeling fired up with creative energy and passion.
In the past, that might have worried me–I might have felt like I let down my foremothers, who worked so hard to ensure that pregnant women weren't fired just for gestating, or fought for maternity leave and affordable childcare. But now, I know that my temporary lapse in work ethic is just that–temporary.
In fact, I have found that, for me, personally, the immediate postpartum period after I have a baby is a particularly creative time for me. I had some of the best highlights of my career only weeks after giving birth. There was just something about that post-birth time when the endorphins were firing, I felt blissfully content with my newborn, and I just had so much creativity flowing. It was a happy surprise for me, and one that I don't feel like a lot of people talk about. We assume that pregnancy is the “easy” part and that caring for the baby is when work-wise, things get difficult.
And while that's true in a lot of ways, I think it's worth speaking to the other side of things and recognizing that not everyone has the same experience. For me, pregnancy tends to be the most taxing and grueling time, and I struggle with, well, everything. When it's miserable to exist in your own uncomfortable body, life in general feels difficult. It takes all of my energy just to get through the day, and that means that there's not a lot of energy left for creative work or brainstorming for my business or feeling that passion flow for new ideas.
But after the baby is born, something shifts for me. It's like new life is literally breathed into both of us, and I am able to feel more passionate and focused on the things that I once loved, in a whole new way. Instead of wanting to avoid work, I look forward to getting my adult brain engaged in work again, and getting a break from the rigors of taking care of a new baby. It feels refreshing to direct my energies outward again, as opposed to the inward focus that my body naturally develops during pregnancy.
That's my truth, my fellow pregnant mamas, and I wanted to share it with you in the hopes that if you are a pregnant mom-to-be feeling the same way I am and wondering if you will ever get your passion for your career back, let me assure you that you will. What you are experiencing is totally normal and natural and dare I say, even healthy. During pregnancy, it makes sense that our bodies would want us to focus less on the external aspects of our lives, and more to hunker inward and prepare for the big change about to happen. But after we give birth, our lives–and our passions, motivations, and creativity–are free to take on entirely new shapes and directions.
What about you? Do you find your attitude towards work has changed with pregnancy?