Arguably, I have a pretty easy job. Soon after I got my degree in 2004, I began teaching at a small university in Ohio, thinking it was a temporary adventure while I waited to move south to be with the Captain. I always assumed I’d do some kind of field research or move on to a PhD. It turned out that I was really good at teaching, and I really enjoyed it. When it was time for me to move south, I cold-called another small university in the city adjacent to where I’d be moving. It happened that one of their adjunct biology faculty members was leaving in the fall semester, and they had an opening. I was practically hired after an initial phone conversation with the department chair. Serendipity.
That was in the summer of 2005, and I am still there.
This semester, I teach four labs there, and I’m also teaching two lecture courses at a local community college this semester as well. It is the most challenging semester I’ve ever had, with a new three-hour long lab that I’ve never taught before, and an anatomy and physiology lecture that is not my field, to say the least (my MS is in aquatic ecology with a concentration on algal ecology…figure that one out!) Add to that a second pregnancy and a toddler at home.
Yesterday and Monday were particularly rough days for my body. On top of the pregnancy’s demands on my body, I’m rather out of shape, so any situations that require me to be on my feet for long periods of time become difficult. Yesterday, I had an hour long lab in the morning, then a three hour lab in the afternoon, then another hour lab later in the day. Then after I came home for the evening, I did about an hour’s worth of work in the kitchen. All told, I was on my feet for a greater proportion of my waking hours than I wasn’t. Add to that the mental exhaustion of having to talk at dozens of other human beings in a way that is engaging, educational, and understandable for most of the day, and I was just about whipped. (Those of you non-educators, if you’ve ever had to lead a meeting or give a presentation…you know how drained you feel after doing that? Multiply that times five or six hours of the same stuff. That’s what it is like. Those of you that teach know exactly what kind of brain-drain I’m talking about, right?)
Last night as I was unloading the sink of dirty dishes into the dishwasher, lamenting how I’m only fifteen weeks pregnant and my back already feels like this, I started thinking about pioneer women and women in tribal communities that sometimes traveled (and still do travel) hundreds of miles on foot during their pregnancies and immediately post-partum. They work(ed) fields and manage(d) livestock, and were also simultaneously the nurses, teachers, social workers, disciplinarians, and managers of dozens, if not hundreds, of other people.
I wondered what they would have to say about me being such a big baby about having to stand on my feet for an afternoon, in my comfortable Nikes, in my climate-controlled environment, where death by stampeding cattle, disease, or predatory animal isn’t imminent every minute of their lives. The worst things I have to deal with are students that wear way too much perfume and/or cologne and the fact that the low-rise jeans that they are so fond of show more buttcracks than would be seen at a plumber’s convention. Otherwise, my job is a dream.
My back was so sore and my body was so exhausted last night that I actually was momentarily worried about the baby. Silly me.
Then I remembered…pregnancy is not an illness, or a “condition”. It does not make us weaker or infirm. It is one of the physical feats that are bodies are built to accomplish. It can handle a rough day at work.