Sitting in the specialist ob-gyn’s office, there was good news and bad news. The good news was that I could avoid more scary bleeding during my pregnancy if I just followed a few simple guidelines. The bad news was that the guidelines were simple, but they weren’t easy. In particular, I was forbidden from lifting any heavy objects.
Looking at my two-year-old son, I asked the doctor, “Does that mean I can’t pick him up?” The answer? Definitely not. He was little, but still way past my weight limit.
Not being able to lift my toddler while pregnant put a major crimp in my parenting options. Suddenly, a key piece of my toolkit disappeared, affecting everything from how I hugged my son to bedtime routines. Over the course of the months of restrictions, I figured out some strategies to adapt my parenting to these limitations.
Find alternative ways of showing affection
One of my favorite ways to show affection to Sprout is to pick him up and give him a big, tight hug. As that wasn’t an option, I switched to kneeling down and hugging him at his level. Along with being better for my back, coming down to his level also helped me show him more respect. When I was sitting in a couch or chair, I would also invite him to hug me. Despite all that, the first thing I did as soon as the doctor lifted my restrictions was swoop him up into my arms.
Practice your best negotiation techniques
Before the restrictions, I seriously overestimated how much I used my physical size against my son. While we use zero corporal punishment or any threat of it, there’s the simple fact that I’m two feet taller than him. So I can pick him up if I need him to move.
Losing that advantage was surprisingly hard to get used to. With the restrictions, if he was lying the floor and I needed him to wash his hands, I – gasp – had to talk him into it. Anyone who has ever reasoned with a toddler knows how brain-twisting that can be. Since he doesn’t care much about logic, I often threw in some additional motivation. Instead of bribing him with stickers, food, or toys, I offered more non-materialistic joys. He particularly likes “walking on mommy’s feet,” where he stands on my feet while I walk wherever we need to go. I also leveraged singing and squirting his bath toys on him. Other times I reminded him of future pleasures, like eating pasta for dinner or reading whatever book he’s currently obsessed with at bedtime.
Follow their pace
Much of the time, I would pick up Sprout because I needed to speed up. Whether that was because we needed to get home from our walk to watch trains or avoid being late for church, it took less time for me to carry him than for him to walk. Without that option, I was beholden to his pace. I just learned to breath deeper, guide him a bit (there was a lot of hand-holding), and leave a little bit earlier than usual.
Trust in your kid’s abilities and provide support if necessary
One of the standard things I picked Sprout up for was putting him in his car seat. Around this time, he started being able to climb in by himself. I needed to provide a boost, it took ages, and the seat of the car was always caked in dirt, but it meant that I could bring Sprout places by myself instead of relying on Chris. (Like the nature playground at Constitution Gardens Park).
Be willing to ask for help
Unfortunately, there were some tasks that neither Sprout or I could do, such as getting him in his crib. Here, I just had to suck up my pride and call in Chris. He was always willing to help.
Be flexible and creative with routines
The final step of bedtime used to be my and Sprout’s special time together. But because I couldn’t put Sprout in his crib, we needed to include Chris. So he joined the daily discussion about our favorite parts of the day. As it turned out, he added more than just a strong pair of arms – he contributed a key part of the conversation. Around then, we started talking about what Sprout did well that day, which Chris can talk about much better than I can.
Come to terms with what you can’t do and be honest about it with your kid
While I could maneuver around or adapt to most things, one thing I couldn’t compensate for was the inability to put Sprout in the swing at the park. When I came home from work, we’d go over, leaving Chris at the house to make dinner. So I had to tell Sprout that the doctor wouldn’t let me do it. While he got upset a couple of times, he usually just found something else to do on the playground.
These restrictions sucked, no doubt about it. But you know what? We all got through it together and I may have even grown as a parent.
For more on the challenges I faced during my second pregnancy, check out A Few Recommendations for Interacting With me While Pregnant. Be sure to follow our adventures by following us on Facebook!