Survive! – Homeschooling the First Trimester

Surviving the first trimester.

This is part one of a 3-part series on Pregnancy and Home Education. Click here for part two.

Around this time last year (Dec 2020), we found out that we were expecting our fourth baby, due in August of 2021. I was deep into homeschooling at the time, having just started our first year and we were also in our first year of Classical Conversations. Life was joyfully hectic: we were trying to navigate how to keep ourselves sane with the kids being at home, my husband was working from home full time, and all this was in the midst of the Covid-19 hullabaloo. Then pregnancy came and along with it the dreaded aftermath (for the first three months at least): morning sickness. We were elated to be expecting another baby, the fourth child into our house. We always wanted to have a big family and soon Lord willing, we were going to be a family of six. It was exciting and frightening at the same time.

I wondered whether we could cope with so many new challenges: being in a new country was challenging enough, we had only recently started to homeschool our three young kids and now months later, we were expecting another addition to our family. How could we possibly manage it all?

Biscuits and candy to the rescue.

Morning sickness usually hits me fast and hard. When it came, I started to feel overwhelmed. My usual disposition, when faced with a challenge, is to roll up my sleeves (think “gird up your loins”!) and rise up to that which is before me. But morning sickness is another cup of tea altogether.  It makes me miserable and emotional and cranky. The slightest trigger can set it off and months afterwards I still have PTSD-like reactions to these triggers. My world literally comes grinding to a halt. I can’t eat any normal food (except for candy, chocolate milk, lemon tea and some other obscure foods like pickles). I spend most of my time either sleeping or regurgitating and I long for the day when I can eat normal food and feel normal again. My emotions and hormones are wild, and I withdraw into myself. Everything stops functioning: no meals are prepared, the laundry basket and kitchen sink overflow, the dishwasher doesn’t get emptied, the house is an absolute mess, the homeschool is non-existent and no one has clean underwear.

Another one of my favourites from the local corner shop

I spent the first three months or so just surviving. What this looked like daily was waking up in the morning only to position my body horizontally back onto the living room sofa until the end of the day. I rested there with a blanket while the kids ran the home and my husband was upstairs in his home office. In the beginning, I tried to do the bare minimum (Maths and Reading) with the children but eventually, even this had to stop. The TV that had been taken out of our living room only a few months ago came back down to babysit and entertain the kids once again. Much to my chagrin, the kids who were doing well in their homeschool without the distraction of media were spending their days devoid of any schooling, watching back-to-back episodes and films on Netflix and Prime video! To top it off, the husband took over meal planning, grocery shopping and meal preparation which meant that our daily diet rotated between hot dogs, chicken nuggets and frozen supermarket pizza…and repeat!

It was a tough couple of months. It was hard to feel encouraged, even at the thought of a tiny human growing inside me. I had been through these times before…three times precisely but it still felt hard and impossible. I knew my body needed time and resources to grow the baby and that in three months it would go away, as it did the three times before. But the constant fear in my head was that perhaps this pregnancy would be that one pregnancy where the nausea would remain right until I gave birth to the baby! It was a horrific thought.

As I was drowning in a sea of nausea and self-pity, I found it hard to pray and focus on the Lord. I stopped feeling guilty about the kids not homeschooling – it helped that the nation went into lockdown again with schools being shut down too! I couldn’t do my regular house cleaning and meal preparation, but I was so glad for a husband who stepped up and did what was necessary to tide us over. He encouraged me daily saying everything was fine, the kids were doing ok, the mess at home was manageable, hot dogs again for the next meal wouldn’t do us any harm. We would soon be over this phase, and we would all be ok.

I did what I do when I’m faced with what seems to be a long, laborious journey: I count the days and watch the clock.

And I tell myself, “This too will pass”.

A nice visual that can be used as a fun calendar with the kids

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