With a heavy heart, I took the decision today to defer my degree, until next year. Cue much sobbing, wailing and gnashing of teeth.
The reasons are straightforward enough; although I admittedly do procrastinate far too much on the internet, I was finding that the demands of a difficult pregnancy, a family and living out of cardboard boxes was just too much. The problem being that no sooner had I submitted one 5,000 word portfolio, I then had a week to get another 2 essays written and handed in. Although my timetable seems light, 11 hours per week, that entails an extra 29 hours of reading. Under normal circumstances no problem, but with so much to do to get the house in some sort of habitable order (clean clothes and plates being a rare and valuable commodity, nay on miraculous achievement), an iron-deficiency that doesn’t seem to be resolving, a baby with diarrhea and a six-year-old undergoing investigations for some sort of vertigo-related disorder, I needed one of those time-turner gadgets of Hermoine’s in order to be able to achieve anything. Term didn’t start well in that I missed the first week due to the entire family being stricken with gastroenteritis, add in the search for a new house and the logistics of a house move and it all went rather pear-shaped. I then subsequently realised that the new baby is due on April 23, four days before the start of a new term, and though I had romantic notions of taking baby into lectures and seminars in a sling and discreet breast-feeding, the reality would likely be vastly different, given that it seems likely that I’ll need another c-section. I remain optimistic as to a VBAC, but as the consultant succinctly put it – square peg, round hole…
Last time, despite the best of intentions, the recovery took much longer than I had anticipated, I remember volunteering to go to the supermarket 4 days post-birth, managing to stagger across the car-park and get to the entrance , before conceding that perhaps I’d been a little over-ambitious and needed to sit in the cafe, leaving him indoors to navigate the mysteries of the nappy aisle. So juggling a pushchair and new baby in sling on the bus (no driving allowed) into Uni, 4 days post section, walking around an extensive campus and then attempting to sit exams in the first week of June, is probably rather kamikaze.
So: a year to get the house in order, spend some time with the baby before the shock of a new addition hits her, time to get ahead on the reading lists and continue doing some part-time at home work for a text-answering service, beckons. It’s undoubtedly the right thing, I am finding the exhaustion debilitating, but it’s nonetheless disappointing. I can’t help but feel that I am letting everyone down, not least myself, although the current stress and exhaustion cannot be beneficial for the baby.
I won’t go off into a customary rant, actually perhaps I will, but I blame all these prolific superwomen who all manage to effortlessly combine pregnancy, a huge brood of children and a full-time career, whilst smiling cheerfully. It makes lesser mortals like me feel totally inadequate. During my first pregnancy I was working for a Private Equity firm, who made my life incredibly difficult, piling project after project on me, increasing my workload because after all I wasn’t ill, only pregnant, then commenting “you look absolutely dreadful, you definitely need to start maternity leave early” in order to fit in with their agenda. I can’t go into specific detail, given the confidentiality agreement I signed, but suffice to say, every single pregnant woman they employed had similar treatment. I almost ended up in court last year, testifying on behalf of a former colleague, who had an identical story to mine; pregnant women and women with young children were decidedly unwelcome.
I had a similar problem last year, in that due to horrific morning sickness, my employer couldn’t renew my contract. I don’t know what the answer is, but I can’t help feeling that it’s something of a shame that pregnant women feel under so much pressure to perform and be superwomen career-wise, when the reality is, that simply by the act of carrying a child, they are physically heroes already.