I just have to say it up front. The unrelenting and undeniable sense of fatigue I feel with this pregnancy is truly staggering. While I keep reminding myself that fatigue symptoms are part of the first trimester woes (among many!), still, I feel shocked. I was not prepared this early on to be passing out at random places into an open mouthed snore, which, of course, has made for some very strange and awkward experiences. Beyond the snoring, nausea ramped up in the last weeks and is a constant positive reminder for many of the matriarchs of our families that I’m clearly pregnant with a girl. I thought it was wishful thinking until the doctor confirmed that women will experience greater than average morning sickness with a girl. Greater than average seems an understatement as I have been experiencing more of a full day malaise that really ramps up in the evening, making every evening meal a soup or juice diet. With all this out there, aired, ranted, cleared…there are some really wonderful things about being pregnant again, which if you’re around me you’ll probably never hear come out of my mouth. One is that I sleep more than ever and as a result actually feel decently well-rested. I am given the leisure to sleep and I feel no guilt in taking it. When I say “decently well-rested” this should be taken to mean that my general appearance has assumed the “glow” so to speak, I look healthy and rested. The actual feel of the day-to-day might play out in 15 or so naps at intervals, but that just adds to the lack of dark circles and drawness that I usually drag around with me with my toddler in tow as a kind of badge of sleepless honour.
As an aspiring PhD, who is one test away from broaching my dissertation, I should probably talk about what it means to be a student, and academic, a mother, partner, and newly pregnant 38-year-old, but my attention span right now is radically reduced. Whereas I may have spent 8 hours working in the past, I can barely convince myself to work 3 hours without either napping or switching streams and modes of work. I’ve worked around this snag by reactivating older scholarly interests that can feed into my current work, yet are guiltily and intensely pleasurable. These sweet treats currently appear in the form of online courses in Italian Renaissance Architecture (through Coursera), a History of Art course on Roman Architecture (through Open Yale), and a variety of podcasts, including my favourite: Entitled Opinions with Robert Harrison. I fall back on these dilletantish pastimes to get me through, but even they have not been enough. It wasn’t until I found Monty Don and his tours through Italian, French, and astoundingly 80 of the best Gardens from around the world, that I really started to be able to soak into an interest. After watching walking tours, interviews with local gardeners, and Don’s own commentary on many French gardens my interest bloomed, so to speak, into the poetry of Cole Swenson.
I’m currently reading her poetry collection Ours as a guilty pleasure read. These diversions allow me to enjoy something other than my main work, but also usually bring me around to coming back to topics that I need to be covering after a sufficient break. My only hope is that they continue generating new avenues of reading, watching, listening, or thinking and allow me to continue to branch out along alternate paths. The last detour that I have lately exhausted was Heideggerian architect Peter Zumthor, architectural theory for architects, and Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. For me, the importance and productivity of these intellectual detours usually leads to some really wonderful reflections that allow me to relate, for instance, to the work I’m doing with Heidegger and the environment, but also recently inspired a 24 page collection of poetry and artwork. So, once again – there is no real guilt as long as my work keeps trudging along in the wake of my related interests and the anxiety never gets to high with regards to deadlines.
Which should be interesting in the coming months, as a bevy of deadlines (so to speak) are on the horizon. First, what would pregnancy be like if it didn’t include at least two moves? We couldn’t fathom, so we have our two moves planned, one out of a downtown condo and into a sunlight-dappled country pastoral RV park called “Golden Pond”. Yes, that’s right, we’re moving into an RV for the summer that is parked in rural south-western Ontario. We wanted the flexibility of taking the summer off, and the RV seemed the best option. We are mere months away from my partners graduation from his professional graduate program, and we are only one summer away from our son’s entering kindergarten. Since I set my own pace and place in my own work, what exactly was keeping us from spending the summer together and moving back to the city come September? Nothing. Well, nothing initially, as we also were not expecting when we hatched this plan, but we’re going to ride it through nonetheless. It seems best to rest the summer away and allow September to be the true chaos that it portends – namely, this final exam that I must take, moving, getting our son into kindergarten and my partner finding work all while I enter the bliss of the third trimester. I can laugh about it now, with no thought about changing my plans in the least, but who knows the weeping in store for the future.
Yet to be written…