The Women in Housing series is a month-long project featuring the voices, stories, and experiences of women who currently or formerly work in housing and residence life. Today's post was written by Sherry Whetlzer.
Can you adequately prepare for change in your personal or professional life when you don’t know how an event will impact you? I know I didn’t. I observed friends and family be promoted, get married, have babies, juggle all of the above at the same time, but I never thought about how I would do it (all) -- let alone in less than two years.
I’m not saying that my situation is special, but I do think it’s important to talk about what we’ve gone through because there could be someone who needs to know that we’re in this together and you’re not alone in what you’re feeling, dealing with, stressing over, or needing.
My life has been a series of whirlwind changes in the last two years. I left my home of six years on a Saturday morning and drove all day to a state I’d never visited (except for the campus interview) let alone dreamed of living in. After my dad, brother, fiancé and I moved all of the totes, boxes, tables, and a bed into the house, they left on Sunday. I went to work on Monday. Change number one.
My fiancé moved to Iowa in April to work nearby and be the support I desperately needed being far from all of our family and friends, in a quiet house by myself, eating supper alone. Even though my fiancé lived in a different city, it felt better knowing he was only 45 minutes away as opposed to the more than eight hours he was before. Change number two.
My fiancé and I were married in May and we moved the last of his belongings into the house as we slowly settled into the new normal. But, going from never having a roommate (only girl growing up and having a single room during college, grad school, and as professional) was challenging. When there is double the dishes/laundry/etc. who does what? To whose standards are things done? How long do I wait before giving in and just doing it myself? Change number three.
June was a lovely month.
In July, we found out that we were pregnant. Um, wasn’t this supposed to take longer? What can I eat? What shouldn’t I eat? Every decision I made I was fearful that I was going to harm the precious being inside me. Change number four.
August through March flew by with trainings, meetings, midwife appointments, and ultrasounds.
On March 23, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Because I’d only been working for a year and a couple days and I had taken a four day weekend to get married, I could only take two weeks paid time off with my vacation time saved up to that point. I went back to work sleep deprived, pumping three times at work and nursing all evening and often at night, sore and wearing Depends (sexy, right?), worried that something would happen while I wasn’t available, and did I mention it was housing selection time? Change number five.
From April through July, we quickly moved to feeding primarily formula because I couldn’t produce enough milk. We think it was too much stress and not enough time to adjust. I convinced myself that I was a bad mom and wife because I couldn’t nurse, was gone all day and was exhausted every evening. It was hard. Change number six.
July was a shocker. We found out that we’re pregnant again. Bring on the “support”.
Didn’t you learn the first time what causes this?
Were you planning on having them this close?
Your body truly hasn’t healed yet.
Well, at least you know what to expect this time
On top of feeling guilty about not being to provide for my first baby like I always planned, getting to spend only 3 hours with her a day (1/2 hour in the morning before work and a couple of hours after work before her bedtime), and my husband starting classes in August, the stress level in our lives was at an all-time high. Change number seven.
From August through today the theme would have to be exhaustion. My husband is a stay at home daddy, attending classes twice a week, and doing homework during baby’s naps. I’m managing on little sleep due to growing belly, engaging in work that is always changing and demanding, and our baby demands my attention in evenings (swim classes, reading, interactive games, playing in the yard, exploring movement, etc.).
As you go through changes in your own life, I hope you find your silver lining, your blessing in disguise, your calm in the face of the storm. You deserve it. And if you doubt yourself, your abilities, or your strength, don’t forget that you’re not alone. We are right beside you.
Sherry Whetzler is the assistant director of residence life at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. She received her bachelor's in English from Marietta College and her master's in education at Wright State University.