happy family
Prioritisation is key when it comes to a happy family. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: I’ve got a bun in the oven. But there’s also a fruit bun running around the house – my three-and-a-half year old ball of energy. And while it can be tricky managing just these two commitments – that of a pregnancy and a toddler – I also have a full-time job in a newsroom, which comes with its own demands.

So … how am I coping, you ask? Let’s just say ‘keeping it together’ is all I’m looking to do. And honestly, that’s no mean feat.

When you know you are going to be dealing with fluctuating energy levels, regular doctor’s appointments and your centre of gravity literally shifting with each month, it is important to have a realisitic understanding of yourself as well as your priorities.

This is why, when we found out that we were going to have another child, it was important for me to cut out the noise and prioritise myself. Because, let’s face it – if I am not in a healthy place, physically and mentally, I’m not really going to be the best mother, wife or employee. So, out went the social commitments, over-packed schedules or late-night drives. My day is already quite full with the essentials – the toddler going to pre-school in the morning, getting ready for work, spending the day in the office, then navigating the evening traffic to get back home. Once at home, I usually have a solid three hours within which I need to have dinner and spend some quality time with my daughter and husband, before hitting the bed. So, Step 1 was to dedicate weekends to myself and the one thing that I need most in life – good sleep.

It was important for me to cut out the noise and prioritise myself. Because, let’s face it – if I am not in a healthy place, physically and mentally, I’m not really going to be the best mother, wife or employee.

- Huda Tabrez, Living in UAE Editor

Importance of sleep

Sleep … that’s my Achilles’ heel. Don’t give me food and I’ll be fine, but deprive me of sleep and I will be unable to function as a human being. However, even for people who are not so easily knocked off by the effects of sleep deprivation, pregnancy can really take a toll on your regular sleep cycle. With your body turning into a life-support system for the baby, sleeping well can be a challenge. Let’s start with how you should ideally be sleeping only to your left. Then, you also tend to go for more frequent bathroom breaks during the night. Add to that the most random, fun syndrome – called the Restless Leg Syndrome – which many women can go through during pregnancy, and getting a good night’s sleep can be a serious challenge.

Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is a condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs, usually because of an uncomfortable sensation. It typically happens in the evening or nighttime hours when you're sitting or lying down. Moving eases the unpleasant feeling temporarily.
Source: Mayo Clinic
The arithmetic of lying to your left
Why should you sleep on your left when pregnant? It’s the position doctors recommend, especially during the second and third trimester. Sleeping on your back means you would be resting the entire weight of the growing uterus and baby on your back, your intestines and your vena cava, the main vein that carries blood back to the heart from your lower body. Sleeping on your belly is not an option either, for obvious reasons. Lying to your right? That means the uterus is going to press on your liver, which is also not ideal. So, lying on your left, it is! This position improves circulation, giving nutrient-packed blood an easier route from your heart to the placenta to nourish your baby. But really … do that straight for months on end and it is going to make you a little edgy, to say the least.

Not getting enough sleep can also have serious health consequences, for the mother and the baby. So, what helps is having a consistent sleep routine. For me, it means having dinner on time so that I don’t have any late night cravings, no gadgets at least half an hour before bed, and giving the toddler her night-time massage, which usually means she sleeps better, too. Also, buying a pregnancy pillow can make a big difference!

pregnancy pillow
Pregnancy pillows or maternity pillows come in various forms – with a noodle shape, c-shape or u-shape pillow. The idea, however, is the same - to provide extra support and cushioning in all the places most affected by your changing body. I chose to go with a U-shaped pillow, which provides some support to the belly as well as your back, while also adding cushioning in between your legs. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Priority #2 – the toddler

So, with weekends dedicated to rest and recovery, I knew I would feel guilty for not taking the time out to take my daughter to the beach or the zoo or the latest attraction for children in the city, which is what weekends were usually all about. So, I decided to make the most out of the time I did get with my daughter.

If I could squeeze in a swimming class or a fireworks show during the Dubai Shopping Festival, or I had the time to make shadow puppets during a work break for a little Jungle Book musical later that night, sure, I would grab on the opportunity. But mostly, all I tried to do was be present for her. No props or event management needed. So, our time was spent more on talking to her about what happened at school that day, or getting excited about a new word she had added to the vocabulary, or just long tickle sessions.

It’s not that I don’t feel guilty now for not having enough energy to do everything I can to help her grow and enjoy new experiences. I just balance that feeling of guilt with the knowledge that when I do get time to spend with her, it is focussed on her alone.

Find your support system

Also, you could be the best at time management and prioritising tasks, but if you don’t have a good support system in place, it can make juggling things all the more hard.

So, while I do all I can to ‘keep it together’, the truth is that I would fail to do even that much if I didn’t have a partner who was equally pulling the weight of managing a home or being a parent. Or a sister who steps in whenever I need her (which is often), to be the ‘third parent’. Or a nanny, who has been a blessing for our family considering the way she takes care of our daughter’s every need. So, if you find yourself in a similar position, with a bun in the oven and another running around, just remember to breathe, take care of yourself, and ask for help whenever you need it.

Tell us about your journey to motherhood - write to us at parenting@gulfnews.com