How This Stay-at-Home Mom Is Balancing A Toddler and Her New Emotions

Lauren Caruso
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Pregnancy Diary

In our new series Pregnancy Diaries, we ask expecting women to jot down every pregnancy-related detail of their lives for a week. (Special thanks to New York mag and Refinery29 for the inspo.) Work-related conundrums, struggles with IVF, and a whole lot of nausea, ahead. For our seventh entry, we have a stay-at-home mom with a one-year-old boy and a mortgage. She and her husband practice natural family planning and conceived the first month they tried, and their second child is due in August. 

Day 1

1 a.m. – One-year-old son cries. I figure he’s probably soaked through his cloth diaper, so I get up and yep, he needs a diaper change. He’s angry over not being able to sleep, and lets me know it. After we’re done I take him to the rocking chair and he instantly snuggles into my neck and falls asleep. Sigh. These are the most beautiful moments of my life, right here. My son is active and doesn’t snuggle too much these days. I am so excited for our little one on the way, to have a little snuggly newborn again. It’s a pretty comfortable reclining rocking chair and I could easily fall asleep here. However, the ever-enlarging baby bump proves to be uncomfortable as my son’s dead weight sits on top. I move him to bed and discover I’m not so lucky. Pregnancy insomnia strikes again.

2:30 a.m. – Watch “Gilmore Girls.” Inspired by their junk food addiction. All that’s in our freezer is my special sugar-free ice-cream and my husband’s mint chocolate chip ice-cream. I technically have to be on the candida diet because I am very prone to infections during pregnancy, so cutting out sugar was a must as soon as I conceived. I’m not in the mood for a sugar-free version, but the taste of mint chocolate chip is the equivalent to chocolate toothpaste. I go with the sugar-free option.

3:30 a.m. – Start to feel fatigued so I head to bed. Snuggle up to my husband under the warm covers. I’m once again so thankful for my husband, who is the most amazing support. Being in his arms is the safest place on this earth for me. Feeling cozy, grateful, and deliciously sleepy.

3:35 a.m. – Moment of terror strikes me as I realize that the church’s potluck is today after church. As a pastor’s wife, I am really not the best candidate to skip bringing something to the potluck. Decide to surrender to sleep and pick something up at the grocery in the morning.

9:08 a.m. – Somehow got my kid in and out of the grocery store and made it to church. On time. Without peeing my pants from walking too fast. BOOM.

11 a.m. – My husband and I like to bring our son to the worship service, and then put him back into the nursery when the preaching portion starts. I try holding him, but standing for 45 minutes with a toddler and a baby bump isn’t easy.

1 p.m. – Try to squeeze past some people at the potluck. Forget that I can’t suck in my belly, and a man has to awkwardly jump out of the way so that I don’t knock him out with my baby bump.

2 p.m. – Someone asks, “When is the baby due?” I reply, “What baby?” The person freezes and I assure them I’m just kidding. I probably shouldn’t do that with strangers. But… it cracks me up every time.

5 p.m. – We go to Bible study at a friend’s house, and I want to throw up from bending over so often to prevent my son from destroying something. Being pregnant with a toddler is a totally different experience than being pregnant without kids.

8:30 p.m. – Get home, put the baby to bed, and crash into bed. Through the busyness of the day, I hardly had time to process that today is my mom’s birthday. She passed away two years ago from cancer. I grieve in the only way my fatigue will allow: closing my eyes, trying to imagine what my pregnancies would be like if she had been here, and praying that God would comfort me in the maternal loneliness without her.

MORE: The First-Time Mom Who’s Pregnant While 3000 Miles Away From Family

Day 2

7:30 a.m. – I wake up to the sun gentle peeking through the blinds of our bedroom. Husband has already left for work. I look at the time… 7:30?! Usually my toddler has woken me up at 6. I lay there for a minute, appreciating the silence, the stillness, the sun.

8 a.m. – Mentally going through reasons why he is still sleeping. I don’t want to check on him because I know that’ll wake him up. But I don’t want to stay here, sipping coffee, while my baby could be unconscious upstairs. No, I tell myself, I am being ridiculous. Was I anxious like this with him as a newborn? I’m doing this with my toddler, how am I going to be with a newborn again? I should just enjoy my coffee and be thankful for the extra time to myself this morning.

8:05 a.m. – I go upstairs and crack open his door. My little man wakes up and squeals with delight to see me. I love being a mom.

9 a.m. – Arrive at gym to workout. Step into gym and feel too tired to do anything. I spin for 30 minutes and then go home.

10:15 a.m. – Son is down for a nap, which means I have about two hours of time to myself. I do some reading, and then turn on a sermon by John Piper, “If My Words Abide in You,” while I do some work on my laptop. I feel little flutters in my belly. I love that my baby is so safe in my womb, but I also love that I can expose him or her to things like Papa’s voice, music, and sermons. I take a minute to pray over this child.

11 a.m. – Son isn’t sleeping yet, still crying. I realize that he’s probably hungry. I feel frustrated, not at my son but at the disruption of the schedule. I don’t like him missing his naps. I wonder how I’m going to juggle two nap schedules; how do I coordinate them when one will sleep more than the other? I go into his room and the frustration melts, especially when I pick him up and he snuggles into my neck. I fix him a lunch, and then put him back to bed. He is asleep within five minutes. A nap sounds pretty nice too… but I look around the house and know that the satisfaction of a clean house would feel much better than sleep.

1 p.m. – Son wakes, and I start crashing. Should have taken that nap. This is my daily battle, to take a nap or not to take a nap… I feel guilty for napping because I have so much to do. There is a pressure (not from my husband by any means, but a pressure I feel all the same) to have the perfect house. I don’t want my house to be chaotic, because then I feel chaotic. But when I don’t take a nap, I’m a zombie. I guess today I’ll try to survive in zombie-mode.

7 p.m. – Teen bible study at my house. I am tired going into the evening, but when the first teens show up the fatigue leaves. I’m giving my testimony tonight, and usually when I share about my mom’s cancer and her death, I can’t help but cry. But I’m able to share hope in the midst of my sadness. I believe God has purposes in tragedy, and it elates me to share truths with the teens tonight that I learned through suffering.

9 p.m. – Husband works late on Mondays as a counselor for our church, and when he arrives home we talk. I am thankful that he both knew and loved my mother. Even after a very long day of helping others, he still has energy to be there for me. I know I should go to bed to get a head start on the inevitable fatigue battle I will face tomorrow, but I stay up late to be with my husband. We are convinced we are having a girl, but can’t come up with any female names. I’m terrified to have a girl, and I don’t even know why.

I’m exhausted. I want to nap, but choose to fold clothes. Reluctantly.

Day 3

7 a.m. – Toddler slept in again, which means I got an extra hour of sleep! Ahhhh, the sweetest pleasure for a pregnant woman. I make him eggs; it’s the same thing every morning: eggs for my son, and then I gag for the next hour over the smell. Pregnancy has given me the weakest gag reflexes known to man. I can’t even take normal vitamins while pregnant; I have to do the prenatal gummies. Not that I mind…

9 a.m. – Son goes down for a nap. I sit on the couch and look at the pile of clothes that need to be folded. Somehow the effects of both that extra hour of sleep and my morning cup of joe seem to have vanished; I’m exhausted. I want to nap, but choose to fold clothes. Reluctantly.

11 a.m. – Drop son off at fitness childcare, and then enter the gym. I used to be a fitness instructor and loved it. But being pregnant changes everything. Trying to exercise while pregnant is like carrying a belt of kettle bells while having the mental energy of a slug. I start with 30 minutes on the spin bike and do half-hearted 15 minutes of weights. Good enough.

1 p.m. – My husband and I are acting in our church’s Passion Play this year. I hired a babysitter to watch our son while we are practicing a rehearsal. As I leave our son upstairs with the babysitter, I hear shrieking from our son as he loses his temper at being separated from me. Oh boy.

1:15 p.m. – Son is still crying loudly and my husband goes to see what’s going on. Normally I can patiently handle our son. But in moments like this, where I really, really need him to behave but I can’t make that happen… and I’m tired… and I’m hormonal… I’m thankful to have a husband to partner some of the load.

5:30 p.m. – I try to have a hot meal on the table when my husband gets home from work. My Clark Kent doppelganger of a husband walks in and I get a rush of emotion; after five years, I’m still hopelessly in love with him. Unfortunately, I’m still trying to decide what to make, and my mind can’t seem to process options. I hastily throw something together, and my sweet husband loves it. He is way too good for me!

Day 4

6 a.m. – Since my husband’s job is time-consuming, we have “Family Time” 6-7 a.m. during the week. This morning my husband warms a bottle of nut milk while I change the diaper. After our son finishes his bottle, we let him play in our bed with us. I love watching my husband be a father. It’s very attractive, and our son is completely captivated by his dad’s attention. I’m excited to experience what it will be like to be a family of four.

8 a.m. – I workout at the gym. Surprisingly, on a day where I don’t sleep in, I have a good amount of energy to hit it hard at the gym. I do 15 minutes on the spin bike and 45 minutes of weights. I love that I can still do weight lifting, even while pregnant!

1 p.m. – Son naps. Mama naps. All is good in the world.

4:15 p.m. – On Wednesdays I volunteer at a neighborhood ministry called the Hartford Hub that my husband helps run. It is located where the highest volume of prostitution, drugs, robberies, sex trafficking, shootings, and sexual predators are located. At this time of the day, our time is focused on tutoring the kids. Being pregnant, I am exhausted within 30 minutes of being there. My husband and I try to do our work by passing the baby back and forth. I wish that I could comfortably babywear our toddler through the pregnancy!

4:40 p.m. – A preteen girl walks in and I inwardly groan. Because I run the tutoring time, she goes out of her way to make it known how much she hates me as her authority. I am annoyed that she is here, and I don’t even feel remorse for that realization; I feel justified. She is immediately disruptive, so I turn my attention to her and we work on multiplication tables by incorporating step moves with memorization. She surprisingly is cooperative, and for the first time in the eight months I’ve known her she smiles. At the end of tutoring time, I tell her, “You are smart. Thank you for being such a hard worker today. I’m proud of you.” She ignores me. Later she comes up to me and says quietly, “I don’t feel very smart.” And then she walked away without another word.

6 p.m. – I buckle my son in the car, and as I head home I begin to cry. Because of my elevated hormones I am more emotional than usual these days, but I know this isn’t hormones. It’s conviction. I get real with my heart before God, thankful for His mercy.

Day 5

2 a.m. – Pregnancy insomnia. Ugh. Awake, craving Beaufort Stew. Decide to go downstairs and do dishes.

5 a.m. – Still not sleepy, so I go to the gym so that I don’t have to pack up my son later in the day to go with me. I thought pregnancy insomnia occurred in third trimester?! This is two months early! My workout energizes me and I feel ready to take on the day.

7 a.m. – I’m ready to crash.

9 a.m. – Son lays down for his first nap, and I get a second wind. I enjoy the luxury of sitting on the couch and doing some online shopping. My family is taking a beach trip this summer and I want to find a flattering, trendy suit. A flattering maternity swimsuit seems like an oxymoron. I’ve been searching for weeks for a cute maternity suit and I’m convinced that the reason there are no cute modest maternity suits is because everyone just lets it all hang out these days, but I try my search anyway. I found a Kortni Jean high-waisted leopard print bottom and a trendy high-neck black halter. Buying it now. SUCCESS.

10 a.m. – Thinking about how I will look in a bathing suit this summer. I just want to look good for my husband! I used to be afraid to get pregnant because of what pregnancy would do to my body. Now that I’m on the other side, and see the blessing of having a child, I know that it’s worthless and selfish to think that way. I see vanity within myself and let it go – I’m pregnant. I’m going to gain weight. So many women can’t get pregnant or have miscarriages. Gaining weight is a tiny price to pay for the precious gift of another child. Plus, the way my husband talks to me, you’d like I was the hottest girl that ever lived. I’m thankful that he finds me beautiful no matter how much I weigh.

1 p.m. – Another Passion Play rehearsal. Our son immediately starts crying as soon as I leave. I feel frustrated and when I get to my husband, I’m fighting back tears. Oh, these hormones! We end up sending the babysitter home and for the next two hours we take turns babysitting our fussy son. I continually fight back tears from exhaustion and from frustration of how challenging my son’s behavior is.

7:30 p.m. – My husband’s sister comes over and the three of us watch a super addictive Netflix show based in Wyoming. I would love to live there some day. For some reason I start trying to think of baby girl names. Start feeling nervous about having a girl again.

10 p.m. – Husband and I settle into bed and I share my thoughts about having a girl. He’s known that I have always wanted a house full of boys, since I grew up with all brothers. As we talk, I begin to realize the real reason I’m afraid. I had a really great relationship with my mom; she was my best friend. I’m scared that if I have a daughter, we won’t have a relationship like that. Stefan prayed over me, and as I fell asleep that night, I found myself finally at peace with whatever God was bringing our way.

I had a really great relationship with my mom; she was my best friend. I’m scared that if I have a daughter, we won’t have a relationship like that.

Day 6

9 a.m. – Go to a spin class with a friend. Thankful for the energy that the instructor brings, and I actually do more than 30 minutes! I can’t do some of the moves, such as the ones that require standing up and sitting on the bike at a quick pace, but I get a better workout in than I would by myself on the spin bike. I wish I could do this every day.

1 p m. – Son goes down for a nap and I do some light cleaning. About 45 minutes in, I am ready to go to bed and just call it a day. I briefly debate continuing to do little things here and there, but decide to just lay down for a minute so that when my son wakes up I’m not impatient with him. I go upstairs and hear him talking in his room. When I peek in, he’s standing in his crib. I recognize defeat and go to get him; inwardly, I am groaning because Mama needs a nap! I kneel down next to his crib to smile at him, my precious baby, and he grabs my face in his little hands, releasing a stream of words in a language only understood by him. His voice is at a high, delicate pitch as if he’s trying to “baby talk” me. In this moment, I am his precious one.

3 p.m. – Son goes down for a nap “for real” this time. Conveniently, I just received my second wind. I skip my own nap, knowing that I’ll probably crash by the time he wakes up.

5:45 p.m. – Every other Friday I teach an intermediate yoga class in town. I love it. With my first pregnancy I struggled with having to pull back on my personal practice; after I gave birth my core was so weak, and I found myself getting angry at how little I could “accomplish” on my mat. But I’ve learned that gratitude can solve so many internal issues. I am so grateful for God giving me a healthy body that can provide a safe home for an unborn child, for a body that can endure a rigorous birth, and I’ve learned to accept the consequential changes to my body with grace. I am proud to be a woman, and I am thankful for how much my body has accomplished. Even though pregnancy sets limitations for me in my personal practice, I know my body very well and therefore can safely push myself without hurting my little one. Tonight, I light candles and turn up the heat. I hope to give my students a class they won’t forget.

8 p.m. – My husband and I enjoy a “date night in” of Chinese and Netflix. I am usually a very healthy eater, however, when first trimester nausea hits all I want is fried foods. It was the same for both pregnancies. Now that I’m in my second trimester, I am finding myself including fried foods much more frequently than I would have allowed pre-pregnancy. I tell myself I’ll do the Whole30 soon to help me get back on track for health. Yeah, maybe next month. Or the next…

Day 7

6 a.m. – Saturday morning at 6am doesn’t feel natural. But, life with kids means that I won’t be sleeping in for a very, very long time. Especially now that baby #2 is on the way. With one baby, you can nap when the baby naps. With a newborn AND a toddler… yeah, I don’t see that happening. But motherhood is a calling, and I will take these 6am Saturdays over not being a mom any day.

2 p.m. – Husband and I have enjoyed a day of relaxation together. Our son is sleeping, and now we have time alone. I love being married to him. He is such a great dad, and I feel privileged to be on the parenthood adventure by his side.

7 p.m. – Once son is asleep, I meet some girlfriends at a restaurant downtown. It’s my sister-in-law’s birthday, and we are all supposed to dress up. Lately my daily garb consists of a messy topknot, maternity jeans, and a simple tee. Comfort is my priority in clothing options these days. I’m wearing a gray jersey skirt, a Cubs shirt, black jacket, and sparkly jewelry. Thank goodness for bling to dress up an otherwise comfy outfit.

8:15 p.m. – I leave to go back home. Just a quick night out because today is the only day of the week my husband isn’t at work. Therefore, I desire to spend as little time away from him as possible. I leave the restaurant, and as the shocking cold hits me… let’s just say I should have worn a pad. Yikes. After childbirth and another one on the way, my body has definitely changed. Both my Pilates friends and midwife tell me I need to work on my pelvic floor muscles. I decide to make that a priority… tomorrow. I get home and take a relaxing sudsy lavender bath. I invite my husband to join me but he laughs – he is very tall and I have quite the baby bump, so we wouldn’t both fit. But he sits with me in the bathroom, and we talk and laugh together. Perfection.

MORE: The First-Time Mom Who Doesn’t Want To Give Up Sleep

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