How My Labour Class Taught Me How to Survive Grad School with a Baby

When I was six months pregnant, I eagerly signed up for a labour class with my partner. I was determined to have a drug free labour (despite the “Don’t be a hero” comments from my friends). The class was an intensive weekend course with an enthusiastic (and amazing!) doula.

Life had different plans – and I ended up with an emergency c-section, and many, many, many, drugs – but atlas! The class was not a waste and I learned a lot of valuable life lessons that I use in my current crazy life.

1. Labour at home as long as possible.

Nothing is cozier than your own home. Both my doula and midwife advised me to labour at home as long as possible- take a bath and *controversially* have a glass of wine. I was induced so my initial stages of labour had a lot more crying and screaming- but the bath and wine idea sounds nice!

I have a 2 hour commute each way to my school’s campus, so I “labour” from home as much as I can. No wasted time commuting, cheaper coffee, and sweat pants- think of the sweat pants!

2. “You ARE doing it.”

I’ve heard Transition is a tough labour phase. I never actually got to that point because I was in the operating room well before I had the chance. (Kudos to those moms who experienced transition and lived to tell the tale). The advice our doula gave us, was when we say/feel like we can’t do it anymore- remember, you ARE doing it. Of course you can do it, you already ARE doing it.

I’m 6 days into my program and I’m absolutely drowning already. “I can’t do this, I can’t do this” echoes in my brain more than once a day. But the reality is: I AM doing. I’m going to class, I’m doing work (maybe not all of it, but I’m doing everything I can), and I’m surviving. I AM doing this.

3. Breathe.

Simple, but so helpful. Breathing grounds you and helps reduce stress. Just breathe.

4. Pain is temporary.

Labour is such a small amount of pain, for such an amazing, incredible, life-long gift. Most, if not all, mothers will tell you that the pain of giving birth is minuscule compared to the joy that a child brings. 

Kate 5-6 years from now owes me big time for this one. I’ve never had so many demands pulling me ten different directions before. But oh man, it’ll be so worth it. A lovely colleague of mine said to me today, “you’ll be the person, who people say ‘you can do it, Kate did it!'” And yes, I will be that mythological creature who was able to survive the course-heavy section of a MA program with a baby/toddler at home. No pain, no gain!

5. Get moving!

If you opt for the drug-free route, you have the advantage of being able to freely move around. Bring a yoga ball to bounce on or roam the hospital halls- do whatever makes you comfortable! I’m pretty sure I was physically pinned down during my labour, so I definitely didn’t get to use this tip- maybe baby #2?

Exercise! It’s still important to take care of yourself and your health. Exercise does wonderful things for our stress levels, short and long term health, and helps us stay focused during the rest of our day. I highly recommend maintaining an active hobby.

What are your survival tips?

  
Kate

Life Changes.

How many life changes are too many? This sounds like a philosophical question. But it’s not. I have a concrete, numerical answer for you. Seven. Seven life changes are too many.

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately. My partner and I are in our early to mid 20’s so we’re going through a lot of common transitional phases in our life. However, we’re also going through the transitional phases with a baby- adding a lot more stress into the mix! Babies/children love stability, and we have so many unknowns in our life that stability seems like such an unrealistic and unattainable goal at this point in time.

Here are the seven life changes I am simultaneously going through. I hope by getting all these thoughts out of my mind and into the universe, my head will feel a little clearer.

1. New baby! This is a big one, of course. There is no bigger life adjustment than adding a child into the mix. Every decision we make from here on out, impacts our child. Life isn’t about me anymore. It’s not even about “us.” It’s about him- baby E.

2. Starting school. I’ll be leaving the workforce (and leaving mat-leave!) behind and heading back to hitting the books. Except graduate school I’ve heard is a lot more work than undergrad.

3. Spouse changing careers. My spouse has been bustin’ his butt trying to get into a new career. He’s be applying in multiple different cities and we’re still unsure of where his job hunt will take us.

4. Moving. Related to point #3, we will eventually be moving. The exact city is TBD adding to the confusion. Will we continue to rent? Will we officially become grown ups and get a mortgage? Where will our new city be!?

5. Physical changes. My body has been through a lot. The most obvious being that I gained 60lbs, had a major operation (c-section) and lost 50lbs. Who’s body is this, and where did mine go? My latest struggle has been transitioning baby E to solids. I was exclusively breastfeeding up until 6 months, and as I introduce more foods into his diet, my hormones are allover the map (re: lots of irrational crying).

sad_face
6. Wedding/marriage. My partner and I are making the leap from common-law to married. I’m not sure exactly how this will change our relationship- I’m thinking very little- but we’ve decided to celebrate with a wedding. Given our hectic lives, we’ve decided this one may wait until 2+ years from now… Although eloping is still on the table and very enticing.

7. Social life. Or rather lack thereof. 99.9% of the plans my friends make are not breastfeeding/cosleeping mom friendly (I need to be home by 9pm). I’m patiently waiting for play dates and birthday parties.
And as a poor student, money woes are creeping around on top of everything else.

giphy
Needless to say, I’m a little stressed out. But life doesn’t give us what we can’t handle, so we’re taking all of these massive changes one day at a time.

Hope you’re all taking care of yourselves,

– K.