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  • 'My Dilemma: I Have to Take Care of My Firstborn, But I Also Have to Take of Myself'

    A mom shares how she's dealing with a new pregnancy journey after seven years.
    by Ana Carina K. Morales .
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    Parenting can be a lonely job. What helps is having a community who cheers and listens without judgment. And that's what our "Real Parenting" section is for: a space where parents can share the joys, pain and the mess that is parenthood.
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    Over the summer, something life-changing happened to me: I became pregnant with our second child.

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    The last time I was pregnant was seven years ago, so my body seemed to be adjusting from the surge of hormones. At six weeks, I was always sleepy, but I’m thankful that this was all that I was feeling.

    However, when I hit my eighth week, that’s when I felt nauseous and an unsettling queasiness settled in my tummy. It’s the kind where I feel like throwing up, but not really.

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    I detested the smell of hot cooking oil, cooked meat, and the smell of my husband’s deodorant. It’s not morning sickness but an all-day sickness that only stopped making its presence felt whenever I drifted off to sleep.

    Sleep is another challenge — I constantly wake up at midnight and then every hour after to go pee. The smell of food is revolting that I can only eat bland vegetable soup and fried fish.

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    I do not crave anything, but I like to eat fruits to avoid constipation. But in my ninth week, I went overboard and ate a bowl full of pineapples. After two hours, I was crying to my husband to take me to the emergency room because my tummy was aching so bad. It felt like a huge wave of at least a hundred fists were punching me without mercy. I couldn’t walk straight. It turns out I had my first taste of hyperacidity, something I was unfamiliar with because I had no problems with pineapples during my first pregnancy.

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    To say that pregnancy is difficult is an understatement. When your hormones go haywire, aches and pains follow. It affects you emotionally and physically. The things that never bothered me before now bothers me big time.

    Nauseous feeling aside, life must go on. I’m still a mom. 

    Physically, there is no change yet, but I feel exhausted. My exhaustion is comparable to doing cardio exercises the whole day. My six-year-old depends on me to take her to her summer class, even if all I want to do is sleep to make the queasiness go away because the summer heat only makes nausea worse. I depend on my ginger candy — extra strong — and peppermint and lemon essential oils for temporary relief. Plus, I still have to do chores at home such as cleaning, cooking, and laundry.

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    I sometimes wish I have someone I can depend on besides myself. As much as my husband would like to help, he works far from home and the earliest he’s with us is at 6:30 p.m. Often, he comes home even later than that.

    Just as I was easing off my morning sickness, school opened on the second week of June. I woke up every morning at 4 a.m. to make sure that everything is ready before my daughter wakes up. I cook her breakfast and prepare her things for school. I bathe and help her change into her school uniform. I haul her bag from our house to the gate — it’s as heavy as a half kilo of rice! And then, I drop her off to school.

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    You would think that I get to relax the whole day because my kid is in school but no, chores are waiting for me. Even if I’m sitting or lying down, my body never stops nurturing and developing the child inside of me, which in itself is a taxing process.

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    Even when I’m feeling drowsy in the late afternoon, I fetch my daughter from school, prepare her snack, help her with homework, and then eat dinner with her. At six p.m., I feel so depleted that all I can think about is to lay down and sleep and wish that nights can be longer than days.

    Now that I’m on my 20th week of pregnancy, nausea finally bade goodbye and was replaced by constant backaches and the occasional dull pain in my lower abdomen. I can see that my hips are starting to get wider. My bones are definitely moving. Back and hip muscles are sore from sleeping on my left side. Some days are good, some days I’m just not feeling well.

    My neck starts to darken. At this point, my tummy feels so heavy that standing is a challenge in itself. At 5 months, I sometimes feel that my tummy will explode because it’s so huge. My firstborn was a big baby, so I must not be surprised.

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    My second pregnancy is an answer to our most fervent prayer. I have mentally prepared myself for all the aches and pains that I might encounter. I’ve done it before — I can easily breeze through another nine months. However, what makes this second pregnancy difficult is that I have another kid to take care of.

    My dilemma is that I have to take care of my firstborn, but I also have to take care of myself.

    In moments of exhaustion, I feel that I’m left alone to fend for myself. I’d like to ask for help to make my pregnancy a bit easier, but even if I can barely keep my eyes open, and my back is killing me, I have no choice but to get up. I constantly worry that when December rolls in, I won’t find someone to help me temporarily take care of my firstborn and run errands on my behalf while I recover from my CS operation. My husband’s paternity leave is just a measly seven days and after that, I’m left on my own.

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    All worries and exhaustion aside, I realized that I’m stronger than I was before. Sure, I’m exhausted, I may cry from the stress and it may seem like I’m giving up any second, but there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for my children. My love for my children is stronger than my aches and pains. I’m not a perfect mother — at times I lose my temper, I cry when I feel lost, I sometimes temporarily give in to my weakness. But, these imperfections do not make me less of a mother.

    Soon, I will have two little munchkins prancing around the house. I know it will be more difficult than my situation now, but I know that life would be happier, messier, and more fulfilling than it ever was.

    This piece was submitted by SmartParenting.com.ph reader Ana Carina K. Morales and first appeared on her blog, "Mommy Rhapsody." Edits have been made by Smart Parenting editors. An AB Literature graduate, Ana is a former software technical writer turned work-at-home mom. A daydreamer, Ana believes that fiction is better than real life. She is a soon-to-be mom of two and wife to Norbert. 

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