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The aches, joys, and round-the-clock routines of a doubly expectant mom-and-dad duo.
By Samantha Steele
I am very pregnant. Heavily, clumsily, rotundly pregnant, with a beach ball stomach that extends over my toes.
With just a few weeks left to gestate, and the twins currently over 2kgs each, lumbering from the bed to the bathroom is my exercise and just getting up (and sitting down, and getting up again … I have a two-year-old, you see) requires serious concentration and commitment to the cause.
Feeling inept, tired, and with an aching back, I wonder how single moms do it.
Because as much as pregnancy is a solo exercise (you’re growing those babies alone, anyway), parenting certainly isn’t.
And when one is heavily pregnant with twins and has a two-year-old underfoot, any smidgen of assistance is as valuable as salt in Ancient Rome.
Except, well — a smidgen isn’t enough. It’s been hard for me to admit. I shifted to part-time work to be more mom and less worker bee.
But from debilitating exhaustion to ligament pain and now, carrying over 5kgs of baby and placenta around, it feels like I’ve been letting my portion of the parenting load down.
I’ve needed my husband and co-parent to step up, hard. My live-in nanny has shifted her priorities from housework to becoming my toddler’s BFF — she’s had to be the fun one while mommy ekes out a very fatigued existence on the couch (and stays available for snuggles).
Here’s how divvying up the parenting load looks in my household:
I still carry the mental load. Part of my and my co-parent’s unofficial deal when I shifted to part-time work and took a salary cut — paired with breastfeeding — is that I would take on the role of primary caregiver.
I read all the books, find educational classes, plan all the meals, keep our calendar up to date, keep track of clothing and doctor’s appointments, find schools, and label our toddler’s things.
This is hardly a unique arrangement — and often the mental load is both unacknowledged and a never-ending minimum requirement of being a mom.
But practically, I have the time and the lack of decision fatigue to do this life admin.
We’ve roughly divided the load into night and day. This really started during the breastfeeding days (oh, the precedents you set in those early months!) and it stuck, because I’m naturally a night owl and my partner a morning lark.
Anything that happens at night is in my court (with exceptions for sick, screaming children and emergencies), and anything after 5am is my co-parent’s responsibility.
Now, with my toddler sleeping through the night, we’ve started to alternate who’s up at 5am (and some mornings, I wake up at 5am and only rouse my husband at 6am, then head back to bed for a catnap).
Let me tell you, those days when heartburn and foetal kicks have kept me up until 2am, my husband stepping in when the sun cracks over the horizon, and my feisty two-year-old is raring to go with a bottle of milky rooibos tea and Peppa Pig, it feels like he’s more than a lifesaver — he’s a sanity saver.
We do bedtime together: My husband comes home around the time I’m feeding my toddler supper, and then we divvy up the bedtime routine.
He baths her while I read my book, I read her a story before she falls asleep.
Wrestling a wriggly and reluctant two-year-old into pyjamas has transitioned to becoming my husband’s job, while I get comfy on the bed with my Kindle.
We give each other down-time: On the weekends, we try hard to give each other some ‘child-free’ time to be alone with our thoughts and pursue hobbies and interests, or even just mooch around and watch a rubbish TV show.
We pay our village: It takes a village, but that village isn’t always free.
With family far away, we rely heavily on our excellent nanny to fill the gaps that would normally be filled by grandparents or extended family.
She is not only amazing with our toddler, she also is intuitive and perceptive, and I would not have survived this pregnancy without her.
The golden thread that runs through this is being kind, and being cognisant of your partner’s experience.
If I’m having a rough day, my husband will pick up more parenting duties. If I know he’s had a bad night, I’ll take two mornings in a row.
In the end, we don’t stick to our arrangement like robots. We try to take care of each other, as much as we take care of our children.
- This article first appeared on the Change Exchange, an online platform by BrightRock, provider of the first-ever life insurance that changes as your life changes. The opinions expressed in this piece are the writer’s own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BrightRock.
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