There’s no denying it: I am a workaholic. I was raised to understand and appreciate the relationship between hard work and the reward of independence, so I guess technically, I love independence, and I accept that I’m only going to get there through a buttload of work. I remember wishing I could work when I was a kid – like eight years old; I think the initial reason I became interested in the entertainment business was because it was the only area of work I knew minors could do. One full time job isn’t really enough for me (and I’m not talking financially) – I’ve even had four jobs at once. Oh, and that was while eight months pregnant… but more on that later.
Anyway, I live in great fear of being jobless and unable to pay my own bills, and when I don’t have enough work in my life, I tend to get very lethargic and uninterested in everything. My number one concern in these early months of pregnancy was how I would support myself. I know it’s illegal to fire or not hire someone specifically because they are pregnant, but come on… I’m logical enough to realize that people aren’t crazy about hiring someone who will need to go on maternity leave in a couple months, and there are plenty of excuses to give besides the baby bump. I figured my best bet would be to get a job quickly as soon as I got back on land – while I still looked like I had just eaten a big lunch instead of started growing a human.
First though, I had to complete another 18 days at sea. I had grown more complacent about my situation by March, pushing thoughts of it to the back of my mind and once again treating it more like a game than a reality, but I still was pretty sick of ship life. In fact, one of the only perks I could find about being pregnant was that it forced me to cancel my next ship contract and return to land (the other perk being no periods for nine months – I abhor periods). My friend sent me a document that counted down the weeks, days, hours, minutes, and even seconds until I would be signing off the ship for good, and I consulted it daily for a tiny dose of positivity.
That didn’t do much to help with the impending-lack-of-work anxiety. I had decided by this time that I would be moving to Oklahoma for the remainder of my pregnancy (I wanted to be near my sister who lives there and had a wedding coming up), so I started searching for job openings before I left the ship. What I found was not encouraging. The options for a theatre/entertainment position were practically nonexistent in that location. My other work experience is mostly in food and beverage and retail, and I normally have no problem taking on jobs like serving at a restaurant to make ends meet. However, I wanted (make that needed) to be able to work right up until going into labor, and a job with long hours on your feet and a lot of heavy lifting didn’t seem like the safest option for a pregnant woman. When my searches continued to come up empty, I gave up, pushing this problem aside for later. After all, I told myself, I had just finished working for six months straight without a single day off. I deserved to take at least a couple weeks of vacation before diving into a new job on land.
Responsibility was successfully shirked.
At long last, the wonderful day arrived. I debarked with a great amount of relief, but not the grand joy I had expected. Getting back on land didn’t provide an immediate fix for things like stomach problems, appetite loss, lethargy, exhaustion, and relationship issues. The second half of March was a slow trip to improvement, dominated with a lot of sleep. Like, a lot. I got myself a hotel for the first three days and pretty much didn’t come out of it.
Sleep is an amazing relief from your problems, isn’t it? It’s so easy to just curl up in bed, close your eyes, and let everything that’s bothering you slip away. Time magically passes without your awareness… what could be better? But in the end, it doesn’t help. Sleep can’t fix your life. I didn’t really start feeling better until I got up and got on with it. My bestie and I took a road trip to Big Bend National Park (where we stayed in a freaking awesome teepee!), and that did way more good for me than the three days in bed. So basically, when life sucks, wake up, get up, and get busy, because otherwise, nothing’s going to change but the weather. Consider that your dose of encouragement for this post.
One thing definitely did change by the end of the month: although my boyfriend and I had managed to remain a couple until we got off the ship (mostly by just not talking about anything of importance), we had made no solid plans to see each other afterward. I took his lack of interest in visiting as a final sign that it was over between us and let him know that soon after we returned to land. It was clear to me that I would be taking on motherhood without his assistance no matter what my choices would be, so I saw no point in struggling to keep up any semblance of a relationship. I may have still found it difficult to accept that I was pregnant, but I was ready to take on the next eight months on my own.
Thankfully, I was never alone in this journey. The constant support from my sister and my friends, whether near or far, assisted my transition from depression to unexpected happiness in the months that followed. Despite my naturally independent nature, I needed someone to lean on, to talk to, to empathize. I couldn’t be more grateful for the people who helped me through this time.