Pregnancy Over 35: Learning How to Let Go

By Kathy Zucker

For most women between 35 and 45, we are at the peak of our careers. Meetings, work deadlines, parent-teacher conferences, six-month dental cleanings, FSA and income tax paperwork, our minds are constantly abuzz as we run the treadmill of our daily lives.

And then all that came careening to a halt when elevated blood pressure readings in the third trimester of pregnancy bought me a trip to the hospital for the better part of a week and forced me into early maternity leave.

It took me a day and a half in the hospital to turn off my brain. I hadn’t realized how deeply I was plugged into my daily routine until I was taken completely out of it. No laptop, no kids, no household routine or chores. Just me, my smartphone and a hospital bed with an hourly automatic blood pressure reading. And meals that showed up regularly as clockwork starting at 8 a.m. I was so thrilled to not have to prepare my own food that the menus could have been mediocre and I still would have been delighted. But the NYU hospital menu has a lot of fresh fruit, steamed vegetables and roast chicken; definitely more than I would prepare for myself.

I had to relearn how to relax. Seems like a fundamental life skill, right? At first I had to husband my smartphone battery life, which restricted my checking email and twitter. And then my internet surfing was limited by all those mobile sites that only offer 10 articles at a pop. Also, it’s really easy to accidentally click the wrong link in tiny font on the touch screen.

After two days in the hospital, my heartrate slowed and I stopped leaping up every hour to check my blood pressure reads. Amazingly, once I stopped caring, my pressure stabilized so the readings taken when I was awake and sitting up in bed were about the same as when I was lying down (thank you, labetalol!) I learned what makes my blood pressure go up (checking email and following live tweets about the New York Knicks) and what made it go down (reading a book and saying good night to my kids).

At the end of the day, it’s all about priorities. My company can survive without me. I didn’t realize how much I was doing until I had to stop cold turkey. And even after I got home and was able to get on email and the company website, I forced myself to keep my hands off the reins and let my superb management team keep running the show. My number one priority was to get this baby to term, and preferably a week or two beyond that since that makes a huge difference in terms of ease of feeding, sleeping and overall health. With two older siblings in school bringing home every bug on the planet, this kid is going to need a cast-iron immune system.

Getting sent to the hospital for monitoring was something I never wanted to experience, but it turned out to be exactly what I needed to step outside my life and see what really matters.

Kathy Zucker, serial entrepreneur and mother of two toddlers, writes about juggling career and family in an urban setting. See what Kathy is up to at her blog and on Twitter.


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