The first time my two-year-old got me very sick, I was four months pregnant. He barely had the sniffles for about two days, but when he passed his toddler germs onto me, it became an Adult Sickness (Pregnant Ladies’ Edition)—ten times worse than whatever his bright, shiny new immune system had easily tackled.
That night, I had to put him to bed, despite being weak from the virus raging inside my body and the relentless morning sickness that refused to be upstaged by a mere cold. My husband was in a virtual law school class, and no babysitter would dare come over on account of the Adult Sickness. So there I was, lying helplessly on my toddler’s floor, trying to pull on his pajama pants from a corpse pose while he bounced over top of me and threw stuffed animals at my barely functioning body. This is how I die, I thought. With my head on a copy of The Jolly Postman, covered in Beanie Babies.
I did not die, though. Instead, I continued living and continued getting sick for the entirety of my pregnancy. Because when you are pregnant with a toddler, everything is ten times harder than being pregnant not with a toddler. Here are some of the most challenging things about this particular mix.
I didn’t get sick one time when I was pregnant with my now-two-year-old. Not once! But when you have a toddler who attends preschool or daycare (a.k.a. germ factories where you send your children so you can work for a few hours), you never again have the luxury of not being mildly sick at all times. Add in a suppressed pregnant immune system, and it’s a wonder I have gotten out of bed at all since September.
Sleep? What’s that?
With my first, I had some mild pregnancy insomnia. But no worries! I could just go to bed early and sleep in if I needed to. And if I couldn’t get enough sleep during the week, well, at least there was the weekend to catch up.
There is no catching up on sleep when you have a two-year-old, especially one like mine who thinks morning begins at 5:13 a.m. every day, weekends included. Between nighttime wake-ups, early mornings, and no time for naps during the day, you will definitely not be getting the recommended nine hours of sleep for pregnant people unless you book yourself into a hotel for nine months.
Picking stuff up off the floor
Picking stuff up off the floor while pregnant is difficult whether you have a toddler or not; the difference is that there is just so much more to pick up when you have a toddler. LEGOs, Hot Wheels, tiny pieces of dollhouse furniture, Teddy Graham crumbs. The possibilities are endless, but the support of your lower back muscles is not.
I had morning sickness with both pregnancies, but only during one of them did a small person burst into the bathroom while I was throwing up to ask for blueberries. Toddlers don’t care if you have your head in the toilet. They need a snack. They may also see your hunched-over state as the perfect opportunity to climb onto your back for a piggyback ride. You are helpless to stop them.
Lifting heavy objects
You’re not supposed to lift heavy things during pregnancy. This is fairly easy to accomplish the first time around, but the next time, there is a heavy thing that lives in your house and requires quite a bit of lifting all the time. Sometimes while screaming and kicking and yelling “but I don’t WANT to leave the park.”
I never minded taking my toddler to the park before I was pregnant. But there is literally nothing worse than standing in the sun pushing your kid on a swing trying not to barf in front of the other kids at the playground. That is, until the toddler demands you go down the slide, too. I spend most of my time at the park trying to convince my toddler how fun it is to simply lie down in the sandbox and eat Goldfish. It does not work.
Emotions as big as your toddlers’
It’s hard to teach your toddler how to manage their big feelings when you also want to cry, yell, or scream every time you find out you are out of ice cream. Yesterday my toddler wouldn’t stop crying because his foot fell asleep while he was napping, and later in the night, I couldn’t stop crying because a baby lives inside my body and was, apparently, using my intestines like the pull cord on a city bus. (At least that’s what it felt like.) And we still didn’t have ice cream.
Having to go places and do stuff
Toddlers famously love going places and doing stuff. My toddler demands we leave the house several times a day, even, to do things. As a pregnant person who can barely walk two blocks without gasping for air, this does not suit me. And yet, we must go Out. We must go to the zoo or to the museum or to the park.
Toddlers are not big fans of what I spent most of my first pregnancy doing: lying on the couch and watching The Crown. My toddler doesn’t even know what the British monarchy is. You can lie on the couch and watch TV with a toddler when you are pregnant, but it’s going to be something with talking animals and/or cars and you are not going to enjoy it. Unless you can convince them to watch Bluey.
One benefit: you and your toddler will likely have the same diet
Mac and cheese, french fries, or pizza for every meal? You and your toddler will likely agree this is the perfect way to eat. Every once in a while, you will remember you should be eating vegetables and you and your toddler can mutually agree to nibble on a carrot. And then have some ice cream.
Being pregnant with a toddler is definitely no picnic. Although you may need to attend a picnic and it will be full of other toddlers and they will probably get you sick. But at least you know after nine months, it will all be over, and you’ll finally get to relax. You’ll just have a newborn and a toddler, which is probably much easier.