It’s always been fun to capture the memories of how I’m living year to year, considering I started this journey with a 1-hr commute and a normal diet and then drastically altered what I eat and how I work.
So, what do things look like nowadays when my freelance business is 3-years old and I’m 6 months pregnant?
(& Then let’s talk about how I never in a million years thought that sentence could describe my life?)
Here’s my most recent day in the life:
The first blessing of freelancing: I can typically wake up naturally. First, with JHubbs around 6AM when he showers and I groggily protest, then more organically around 8:25AM. I check my body and see if I’m desperate to sleep more, then I get up, prick my finger, and take thyroid meds.
Pricking my finger is new. I’m tracking blood sugar for a week instead of taking the glucola pregnancy challenge. I decided to do so because of this blog post from The Wellness Mama, but I know everyone has their own choice to make.
It’s been more awful than I thought it would be (so for someone who is not overweight, has no diabetes in the family, and doesn’t suspect carb issues, I completely get taking that test) , but I am also confident it was the best way to go for me. A single test wouldn’t have shown me that certain foods really do spike my blood sugar and carbs really do matter in my diet, so it’s been a critical part of my peace of mind. By the time you’re reading this, I’ll have finished that one week, and then I’ll do it again between weeks 28-30.
For the next hour and a half, I’ll shower, cook breakfast (usually bacon and eggs, if I can stand to eat the whole thing), start the dishes, start the laundry, and clean up the apartment.
If it’s a Monday or a Thursday, I’ll do this until a friend-nurse from church comes to give me my progesterone injection. This is a pregnancy precaution that Catholic NAPRO doctors take when there’s a risk of miscarriage due to low progesterone, which (in addition to thyroid autoimmune issues) created issues for me before we conceived.
I met these two women through my church’s volunteer nurse line and they’ve been nothing short of miracles with footprints. (The shot doesn’t hurt as much as people say it does, but I do have a bad reaction to it every few weeks where it creates a really sore lump on the back of my hip. It could be worse!) Every few Thursdays, the morning is a little more rushed so I can get out the door and get labwork done before the nurse-friend comes at 10AM.
By 10AM, I am settling into my “freelancing chair” (a big arm chair I sit in so I can put my feet up on my desk chair). I only schedule calls in the afternoon, so there’s rarely anything time-sensitive to get to. I’ll check email and organize my first project for the day, typically working until 1PM when I break for lunch. This week, I also have the finger stick 2-HR after each meal, so I’ll pause to do that at the right time (usually around 11:45).
After the morning 2-HR finger stick, I make some lunch. I was on a club sandwich on a grain-free bagel run for a while, but that’s one of the foods that might spike my blood sugar, so sometimes I’ll put those toppings over a salad, make a almond flour tortilla pepperoni pizza, or fry a cut-up chicken breast in butter. Lately I pair this with a green apple and Justin’s chocolate hazelnut almond butter (a snack I was very pleased to find out does not spike my sugar).
Meal planning in general gets a big fat F from our family right now. It seems impossible to think of what I want to eat in the first place, let alone shop for it and cook it for 3 meals a day. I am very much missing the convenience foods of our SAD diet past, which might explain why I turn to so many Paleo versions of those SAD foods: almond flour cheese crackers, cashews and chocolate, boxed soups for JHubbs, etc. He also gets stuck running out for lunch at work a few days a week, which makes me grimace for our food bill but it’s the best way to make sure he gets fed. Everything in phases, right?
After lunch, I’ll follow up on the dishes and laundry, put things away, and sometimes play with the cat (this innocuous looking toy has completely changed her life). I’m usually back to work around 1PM to finish whatever assignment is due that day or the next day. This would be prime time to meal plan and get groceries, since my energy is at a decent level, but I always end up back on the computer.
Around 3PM most days, I start to have a hormonal crash. I get really cranky about finishing whatever I work on before JHubbs gets home between 3:30 and 4:30PM, but also simultaneously frustrated I’m still working when I should be planning on some food or a snack. And at the same time I’ll often start a new thing out of a desperation to make the most of the day. Now that I’m writing it out, it seems pretty clear this is the weak point of the day. I bet a little more structure around when I stop working would be good for my mental health!
By 5PM, JHubbs is home, and we’re on the couch playing with the cat while he has a snack. If there’s an important errand, we’ll head out to run it. If JHubbs is going to meet someone for coffee, he’ll be at that. If it’s bible study day (my favorite day of the week), we’re on top of dinner so we can leave the house by 7PM. On our most unstructured nights, we “figure out what we want to eat” around 6PM, JHubbs runs to the store, and we start cooking it around 7PM, and eat around 7:30 or 8:00PM.
For the past few months, dinner always means TV. But with a baby on the way, that’s something we both feel passionate about changing. Ever since my silent retreat earlier this month, I’ve been able to “cut it out at the root” and stop watching TV on weekdays altogether. That means dinners we still eat on the couch, but we spend it talking and listening to music. It’s been awesome. On the weekends, JHubbs really likes to watch TV, so we’ll watch part of a movie. (This change only happened recently, so so far we’ve done it once and watched Angry Birds. I was really surprised to see so much sex in what’s supposedly a kid’s movie!).
To help us prepare for no-TV dinners, I added a bunch of family conversation games to our baby registry. That feels like cheating, because it’s not 100% for the baby (he won’t be able to talk for a few years, right?), but I do think it will be for the baby in the sense that we’ll be practicing talking at dinner for the first few years of his life. I also ran into a family at a restaurant who didn’t stick their kid on a device through the meal, and the mom shared that the secret is to always have a family game on hand. So, that’s the plan!
By 9PM, we’re finished with dinner and cleaning up, or back from bible study. We start the nighttime rituals, me showering first and then reading, then JHubbs joining later. We’re asleep around 10PM to start the day all over again!
Pregnancy-Specific Freelancing Tips
This kind of shows how I’m working through my pregnancy, but I thought I’d also share some notes for how things have evolved for me over time. I was so, so scared of being pregnant (for emotional reasons but also business ones) and I’m really relieved to see how things have turned out. Ever pregnancy for every woman is different, but in general I advise you to proceed with cautious optimism!
- I definitely reduced my hours. During the worst of it, I was down to about 5 hours per week. This was possible for me because I’d already established my business and set a high project rate for the work I do. I was still really stressed about money, but I can see now that those were phases I had to get through. I’m back up to 10-12 hours a week now, rising 1-2 hours every week. For the record, after my first year of freelancing, I made it a priority to earn a full-time income working part-time. It’s not my goal (nor ever shall it be) to work more than 20-25 hours a week, with about 75% of those hours being true, focused “writing time”).
- Some days I couldn’t work. In the first trimester, I was just scared and feeling crappy all the time. I would check email and work on chasing clients (light marketing, basically), but my really good writing wasn’t happening. Again, I just had to get through it.
- Changing my work position helped. It’s hard to remember now, but I used to be a desk person. Now, without a doubt, the most comfortable way to work is in a big arm chair with my feet up on another chair. That’s where I am 95% of the time now, though I might switch to a desk at the end of the day just to shake it up.
- Belly Armour gave me peace of mind. Since I work with my laptop resting on my lap/stomach, I’ve used this blanket to protect the baby from EMFs since day 1. Definitely gives me peace of mind!
- Environment is important. For the first trimester, I was trapped in a house that wasn’t working for us. Working at home all day and staying home all night, that lead to some serious mental health challenges that probably contributed to working less. For someone in a similar situation, I want to encourage you to get out or go somewhere fun during the day to work — that saved me a few times.
- Accepting less work is important. Part-way through the first trimester, I sat down and accepted that I wouldn’t be able to work some days. When I got overwhelmed, I just went to our bedroom and took a nap or laid down to read. Those are some nice and peaceful memories I have, even in the house we didn’t like.