Yup, I’m Paying a Housekeeper to Get Through My Summer Pregnancy
Last week, my husband and I herded our four children out of the house and headed out to breakfast. The destination? A small restaurant that our kids love for their giant pancakes and iced cinnamon toast and we love for their affordable prices. The reason? None other than that, at that very moment, I was paying for a housekeeper to clean my house.
And as privileged and guilty as it makes me feel to admit that, at the same time, it also is such a relief. Because you know what? It's taken me 11 years as a mom to get to this point–financially, emotionally, realistically–and I'm done feeling bad about it.
For most of my pregnancy this time around (it's my 5th baby and 7th pregnancy), I have had a once-a-month housecleaning crew come in to deep clean my house. I had a horrible, horrible first trimester and basically didn't lift my head out of bed, while simultaneously feeling like the world's worst mother and wife for doing so. I regained some energy in the second trimester, so I skipped a few months because I felt like I could tackle it on my own, but come the third trimester, huge, swollen feet + soaring temperatures, I caved in yet again and practically begged them to come back.
Every month, I make a list of what I'd like the housekeeper to tackle, which is nice because I can alternate what needs to be done based on what I was able to clean that month. With a baby coming, for instance, I've wanted to make sure I keep on the deep-cleaning and the floors, which is so difficult for me right now being so pregnant. Each visit costs me around $200, which I budget for carefully in the month and am able to pay with the time I save cleaning because it frees me up to take on additional work tasks, so it feels like a win-win. But honestly, even if I wasn't able to make up that money, I can't say that I wouldn't say it still wasn't worth it — because right now, it feels so very worth it.
A younger version of myself would have probably fought to prove that pregnancy wouldn't “slow” me down in any way; I carted kids to Disney at 8 months pregnant because I was determined to be the “fun” mom, went camping when I was miserable, painted an entire house, worked night shift, and in general, went overboard to prove that I could still do it all, even while pregnant.
But this time around? Older and wiser me is saying, screw that. I'm exhausted and I'm finally done trying to appear to be anything but. This year, knowing that it is, in all likelihood, my last pregnancy, I have been 100% honest with how I am feeling and what I need to get through this pregnancy. It is such a short time and it is freaking hard–why do we have to pretend it's not? I skipped out the annual 4th of July parade this year, letting my husband take the kids while I stayed home and put my feet up; I have without shame asked for help in ways I normally never do, like the time I asked my mom to drive me somewhere last week because for some reason, driving gives me contractions, and I've simply taken a seat after dinner and let the rest of the family clean up without making a fanfare of it.
The truth is, from hiring a housekeeper to just being OK with doing less this summer, I feel like I'm being honest with myself for the first time. Everyone experiences pregnancy differently, of course, but for the most part, it's not absurd to think that some concessions could be made when you're physically growing a human being.
I think part of me used to believe that admitting that pregnancy slowed me down–from work to home to having fun–meant admitting that women were somehow “less than” men because growing and having a child could impact their lives in such a drastic way, but now I know better: being honest and truthful about how hard it can be is not only beneficial to everyone, but it's the key to achieving equality. If we're just silently slaving away, being miserable because we think pregnancy shouldn't affect anyone else, how will anything change? For me, it has started with getting some help with cleaning through this summer pregnancy, and right now, I'm pretty proud of that.