Everyday Champions Series: Practicing balance and resilience to have your cake and eat it too (well most of it)

I’m delighted to introduce our next Everyday Champion, Victoria Grainger: manager, wellness guru, small business owner, wife, MBA graduate, and momma. In this post, Victoria openly shares her experience with profound morning sickness that lasted the entirety of her second pregnancy, leaving her bed ridden (I cannot imagine…I would be next level troll status).

Without further ado…

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Managing Pregnancy Sickness, Career, MBA, Husband and Toddler

image4My husband and I were ecstatic about finding out I was pregnant about nine months ago. We have an amazing 2-year-old son and were planning on bringing a sibling into the world since he was about one; we were so thrilled the time had finally come. I had just started a new job, working a typical 9 hour day, commuting 2 hours a day, and studying for my executive MBA early morning and after my son went to bed.  And of course, I had the role of being a wife and mom, making dinners, cleaning, laundry etc. Life was busy, and I was ready for a break. My MBA studies were scheduled to end just before baby #2 would be born – perfect (get it, girl)!

The Honey Moon

The honeymoon period lasted about two weeks until the worst pregnancy sickness I could imagine hit me like a ton of bricks and left me bed-ridden, unable to even muster the energy for a shower. Although I had experienced some morning sickness with my first son, I was able to get to work every day with just a few trips to the bathroom and once it passed, I was running half marathons, working full tilt and travelling across the province. I even went to a spin class the day before I was induced at 42 weeks (as I said, get it, girl).

The Marathon

The morning sickness seemed unbearable to start, but I consoled myself that it would only last 12 to 15 weeks, which, is still a marathon!

During this time, not being productive and unable to play with my 2-year-old son, was a nightmare and a true battle of the mind. My poor little guy did the funniest things to show me he didn’t like what was going on.  For a few days in a row (while I tried to just be with him by laying on the couch or trying to muster the energy to read a book), he would stand in front of me, strip down naked, take off his pull-up and pee on the floor while staring in my eyes. I think that not being there for him was the hardest part.

The mental effort of being stuck in bed about 23 hours a day also made time go by very slowly. I was literally counting the minutes, trying to distract myself with Netflix and staying involved in work with emails while curled up in a ball (because sitting up was just too hard).

By the 12th week I wasn’t any better despite doing what I could to be healthy – forcing myself to eat by plugging my nose and drinking Ensure daily (yes, those drinks for seniors), taking cancer patient medication (to assist with the nausea) and resting….a lot.

As a relentless optimist, I told myself, this is okay – for some people this can last until 16 weeks, but I can make it! When 16 weeks rolled around, I had enough energy to be out of bed for two hours instead of one – success! Then 18 weeks rolled around and I telecommuted from home 15 hours a week, then 20 hours by week 20 with one day in the office while also keeping up with my MBA studies.

The vast majority (as in 90 per cent) of the work I did was reclining in bed.  However, with work, there were a number of tight timelines and stress associated with a new job – something very difficult to manage remotely.  My doctor warned me that going back too quickly can backfire and unfortunately, she was right, I got worse. On doctor’s orders, I reduced my hours again and from then on it didn’t get much better.

Now, I am 39 weeks pregnant, officially done my MBA and counting down the days for my little precious girl to be born and beyond ecstatic to return to my old self (well, once I recover from the sleep deprivation and trauma of giving birth while trying to get re-establish the fitness I have lost over the last 9 months)!

Through this process, I learned a few things about resilience and what it takes to endure a nine-month stomach flu – which I have to say, is WAY harder than any marathon or triathlon I have ever completed!

Resilience Through Pregnancy Sickness

  • Believe in the power of your mind – your attitude makes all the difference in the world. Practice positive affirmations and keep telling yourself YOU ARE STRONG!
  • Swallow your pride and ask for help.
  • Remember that even though this feels never ending, this too shall pass.
  • Listen to your doctor’s orders and take it easy.
  • Be patient with family and friends – this is a marathon for you, but also for those helping you out.
  • When you feel well enough, force yourself to visit and get outside – a bit of sunshine and different scenery can do a world of wonders – even if it means just laying on the grass with a blanket.
  • Remember that your health and your baby’s health is important and if you need to go on maternity leave early to cope – DO IT!

Through this process – I somehow managed to achieve a lot. I finished my MBA with a GPA of 3.8. In my new job, I was able to complete a huge project that included writing (and getting board approval) for a five-year corporate wellness strategy and implementation plan for over 1.7 million clients and other communities in Alberta.

Eat Your Cake and Have It Too (well most of it)

You WILL have to make a sacrifice somewhere. In my case, my husband paid the price and I wish I had the foresight to understand the impact it would have on him. He is strong, and we are doing well, but I regret the time I gave up with him over this pregnancy, and the last two years to accomplish goals. So, if you want to do it all, make sure you do these two things first to understand what you will have to sacrifice:

  1. Prioritize: think carefully about what you are willing to give up and what the consequence of that will be. Write down how you plan to spend time with your husband, kids and yourself before scheduling in time for work, school, hobbies and projects.
  2. Set healthy boundaries: think about the long-term outcome of every task. If it isn’t meaningful – put it on the back-burner or throw it out.

image1 (3)Managing pregnancy sickness, a career, family and MBA is a lot of work but with a little balance and lot of resilience you can eat your cake and have it too – just not all of it!

Victoria

 

 

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My goodness do I know some very impressive mommas and women. Holy bananas, when I’m sick, the last thing I’m able to do is look at the computer, type, talk, or participate in everyday life. I’m bowled over by Victoria’s strength and tenacity to carry on, participate as best she could, and successfully complete a number of astounding goals (goals that are hard enough without being incredibly sick).

Victoria thank you for sharing your story, you are truly an everyday champion.

M

Editor’s note: Victoria welcomed her beautiful baby girl into this world a few short weeks ago. As you can see in the photos, she is in baby bliss. 

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