Bursting the Bubble

Today is my last day home alone with T before I go back to work on Monday and I am sad. Not because I have to go back to work- honestly, I’m looking forward to using my intellect a little more again- but sad because of what that means.

It’s the same feeling that I’ve gotten after being discharged from the hospital after both boys were born. A sort of mourning knowing that phase is ending, even though I know the next phase will be exciting too. It’s really hard to articulate the feeling, but it’s almost as if the protective bubble around our relationship has been burst.

When I was pregnant, it was just him and I. My belly was literally a bubble around us, protecting our special bond. He only depended on me. When I gave birth, that bubble was replaced by the safety of the hospital. There, he was introduced to the outside world for the first time, and we were safe. It was a very special time, filled with just the love of his family and the caretakers who were so dedicated to keeping him healthy and getting him acclimated to life on the outside. Leaving the hospital thrust us into the world as a new family, never having navigated the terrain of being a family of 4 before. The only thing I know how to do instinctively as the mother in this new family dynamic is to love. So I love, hard.

Since I don’t have the physical bubble of my belly protecting him anymore, I’ve replaced it with an emotional one. For the last 12 weeks, T has only known my love. His days have been filled with the comfort of my breast and the warmth of my arms. When he cries, I appear and, though he still can’t understand why, I make him feel better. Our love is innocent and safe here.

The end of maternity leave means that my baby isn’t just mine anymore. I have to share him. We have to allow other people into the safety of our love, and trust that they won’t misbehave there. This tiny human manifestation of my heart outside of my body has to learn to depend on more than just me for comfort. It’s hard to accept that.  Intellectually, I understand that this is necessary. It’s the beginning of learning social behaviors and it will teach him many important life skills, but emotionally, it hurts. I’m not ready for him to have to trust his heart with anyone else. I’m not sure that I ever will be.

Life needs to move on so my sweet baby can grow, I know this. But for today, I just want to stay right here in the safety of our love bubble, just me and T.

Pee First, Mama

“Mommy street cred” That’s a thing, right?

It turns out that having two kids somehow makes me a trusted source of information on motherhood, which I find hysterical, because its not like I know what the hell I’m doing either. Since I’ve made it a point to forcefully insert myself into the lives of every new mother that I know as a way to help them create the village that they don’t know they need yet, I guess I’ve sort of embraced this responsibility, though.

So that brings us to the inevitable question that every one of these amazing women eventually asks: “What is your best advice for new moms?” I love this question and I love being trusted enough to have this asked of me. My advice? I have so much. Find your village. If you don’t have a village, create one. Be confident. No one knows the right way to raise your child except for you. You’ll get so many opinions whether you want them or not. Accept it all. Process it all. Be informed, then make a decision and own it. If you change your mind down the road, own that too. You don’t have to apologize. Be gentle on yourself. We are all honestly just figuring this out as we go along. Do what you need to do to keep you, your partner, and your child sane, safe, and healthy. Be direct. Tell people what you need. If you’re nursing, tell your partner, your mom, your best friend that you need their unequivocal support. You need them to hold you accountable, but you also need them to not bully you if you decide that your breastfeeding journey is over. Get out of the house. It is hard in the beginning- the logistics are intimidating- but you’ll figure it out. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Go somewhere safe- a new mom meetup, a breastfeeding support group, Babies R Us, the park down the street. Just do it. If you need to sleep, sleep. If you need to cry, cry. If you’re overwhelmed, put the baby in the safety of their crib and step away for a few minutes.

My best advice? Pee first. Yeah, its a funny answer, but it is essentially all of the more long-winded, flowery, fuzzy-feeling advice that I usually give boiled down into two words. Let me explain.

One of the most pivotal days in my motherhood journey so far has been the day that I realized that my kiddos will be just fine if they fuss or cry for a few moments before I can get to them. As long as I’m sure they aren’t sick, hurt, or in danger, they’ll be alright. They’ll be OK if I don’t pick them “UP!” for a few more minutes so I can take a few sips of my coffee while it is still hot. Tantrums can simmer for a bit while I stuff that freshly toasted piece of bread into my face. They can fuss a little in the safety of the pack n play while I take a quick warm shower. If someone wakes up and needs to be fed in the middle of the night, they’re won’t starve if I run to the bathroom and pee first. I am going to be stuck there feeding them for a while, after all.  No, I won’t neglect my screaming child if there is a legitimate, immediate need, but it has to be OK to take care of myself too.

Pee first. Its the essence of self-care. Take care of yourself so that you are well enough to take care of your babies. Take a shower. Take a nap. Accept help. Make peace with the mess.

Pee first. Don’t make yourself sick from being run-down. Don’t allow yourself to be overlooked. Its been all about you for 10 months, and now it is suddenly “not about you at all”. Except it is. It is so much about you.

Pee first, Mama. It’s the least you can do for yourself.

 

Holding On

A few days ago, Teddy reached out for me for the first time. He grabbed my hand  with his tiny little fingers and held on like he was never going to let go.

It was the first time, but it definitely won’t be the last. He will reach for me when he is tired, sad, or sick. When he is lonely or hungry or just needs to cuddle. He will always reach for me and I will always be there, just like I am with his brother. No matter how sad or tired or touched-out I am, I will be there. It is the definition of my job as their mama; to be there. I am their strength and their softness. I am their warmth and their shelter. I am their mama, and no one can love them better than I can. My love will shelter them. My love is enough. It always will be.

A few days ago, Teddy reached out for me for the first time. He grabbed my heart with his giant love and he will never let go.

image

 

An Ode to the Six Week Checkup

For My Husband: On The Eve of My 6 Week Postpartum Visit

My appointment is tomorrow. Should I even let you know?
We’ve been through this recently, not so very long ago.

I know you’ve been real “patient”, since I’ve been off limits for six weeks,
You remind me of this often as I roll my eyes and bite my cheek.

If you could, I’m sure you’d stomp your feet and scream “this isn’t fair!”
But trust me when I tell you, things still just aren’t the same down there

Somehow you think I’m sexy, covered in sweat and sour spit,
And you just can’t get enough of me in this two day old outfit.

So you’ve been counting down the minutes, while I’ve been stocking up on lube
In-between these blurry days of blowout diapers and leaky boobs.

I’m sure you understand that while I love you very much,
I can’t control my current reflex to slap away your every touch.

I love how much you want to love me and I swear eventually I’ll bite,
But you’re gonna need to keep your damn hands to yourself for one more night.

So your BFF Had a Baby… (A Guide To Not Being A Crappy Friend)

I’ve always known that parenthood changes people, but in the past year I’ve learned that it changes a lot more people than just the new parents. I recognize that it is not easy to know what is needed of you as a friend to a new parent when you’ve never had a child yourself. Hell, I’m guilty myself of being a pretty terrible new-parent friend in the past! So I’ve taken the liberty to reflect on the past year and compile a handy guide for everyone with BFFs who recently have, or may someday plan to procreate.

“How To Not Be A Crappy Friend To Your BFFs Who Just Had A Baby.”

1) Before the baby arrives: Find out what you can help with when the time comes. Can you come over to let their dogs out while they are at the hospital? Can you come to the hospital and be in charge of delivery room security to keep unsavory family members or acquaintances at bay? (Bonus points if you volunteer to be the delivery room HD photographer)

2) When they are still in the hospital: Ask what they want from you. Do they want you to come visit? Come visit! Do they want you to stay away and let them have their first few days together as a family alone? Stay the hell away. Do they want you to bring them Thai food for dinner instead of crappy hospital food? Show up with that goddamn Thai food! Remember that right now, and forever more (but especially now) this is not about you.

3) The first few days at home: Call mom. Ask her how she is. Remind her of her value as a human and as your friend. It is a harsh reality to be thrust into this world where your only conversations take place while half (or fully!) asleep and are about chapped nipples and colors of baby poop. Gossip with her. Tell her about what she is missing around the office. Remind her that there is life outside of the mombie reality that she is living in right now. Call dad. Ask him if he can come out for a drink. Get him out of the house and remind him that, even though his wife is a hormonal mess and makes him feel worthless most of the time, he is valuable! He has that charm, wit, and sense of humor that all other BFFs envy.

4) The first few weeks at home: With permission, show up with food. Don’t ask what they want- they are tired of making decisions (and thinking in general)- and you know them well enough to bring something they will willingly consume. That will be good enough. Hold their baby and don’t feel jilted when they say “Can you handle this for a little while? GREAT!!!!” then mom disappear into the bathroom for a shower and dad to the den to nap for an hour while you are left with a newborn baby, watching the moving that you brought over without them.

5) The first months (ok, and really forever): Make plans with your BFFs, and more importantly, KEEP plans with your BFFs. If you make plans with your new parent friends which requires them to schedule a babysitterdo not bail on them. It takes a lot to get new parents to leave their baby in the care of someone else. Know that. As much as they crave sanity and a social life, it is difficult to trust another human with your own flesh and blood baby.  If you make plans with your new parent friends that INCLUDE their baby, honor the time frame that THEY set up. I don’t care if you are used to eating dinner at 9pm. If your new parent friends need to make restaurant reservations at 5pm so they can get their baby home for a 7pm bedtime, you do whatever you need to do to be there with fricking bells on. Call it “lunch” amongst yourselves, for all we care. Just be there and love it. Under no circumstances forget or reschedule these plans. Even though they may seem lame to you, you need to realize that this is the only shred of social plans that your BFFs have had all week and they have been looking forward to it as if it were the party of the year. Saying “Oops! I forgot I made other plans at the same time for [super fancy event] at [super not-baby-friendly location]- YOU SHOULD COME!” is not an option for your babtsitterless friends, and is a sure way to cause new mom to angry drink margaritas and talk shit about you all night. BONUS BFF POINTS: If you are looking to not only maintain BFF status, but catapult yourself to the next level of friend-love, volunteer to babysit while mom and dad go out. We had a friend do this for us and, to this day, I tell everyone I know about it. It was truly the most refreshing, generous gift that anyone gave me in the post-partum period (or maybe my life.) Sure, we just grabbed dinner then walked around Target, but the fact that someone loved me enough to put aside their own plans so that my husband and I could reconnect on our first date night in months still speaks volumes to me about that particular friendship.

6) For the rest of eternity: Care.. Or “care”.  Even if you don’t, pretend you do. Your BFFs now live in a poopy, tantrum-infused reality. You are still their BFFs (if you’ve followed the steps above) but BFF means something different now. Be OK with that. More than that, be HAPPY about it. Be invested in their child’s life. Your BFFs don’t care if you go months without seeing them, but they won’t forgive you for going months without seeing their baby. If you want to stay BFFs, you’re now BFFs-by-association with their baby whether you like it or not. Live it. Love it. Own it.

This may all sound horrible now, but I assure you that when the tables have turned and you decide to create some minions of your own, you will regret ever not treating your BFFs as outlined above.

You’re welcome.

The Problem With Being Needed

Its so hard being me.

Ok, its not really. I have a lot of great things going for me- a job that let me change to part-time so that I could focus on making my work-life balance weigh a little more in favor of “life”, a relatively low-maintenance baby, a beautiful home, and a partner that is just that- a partner. Its not actually “me” that is is so hard to be, it is “mom” that is so hard to be. I think this is true no matter who you are. Being a mom is harrowing. It is exhausting. It is beautiful. It is crazy. It is trying. It is fun. There are a lot of adjectives that could be used to describe being a mom, but I am beginning to think that none of them are just right. “Mom” needs to be its own adjective.

If I had to pick one word to describe how being a mom makes me feel the most often, it would have to be: “Needed”. Who doesn’t want to be needed? Let me tell you who: me. Just for a few hours. I love being needed. I love being important. But I also love the thought of, just for a little while, sitting around and doing nothing and it being of no consequence to anyone else. I would like to mindlessly watch crime dramas on TV without having to worry permanently damaging my child’s mental well-being. I would like to use my sick days when I am actually sick, rather than when my baby is sick and has to stay home from daycare. I would like to take a day nap. Who are we kidding, I would like to just get a night’s sleep. A full night’s sleep. Even a half night’s sleep! In my bed with my husband and without a (very adorable) little baby snacking at the all you can eat 24-hour boobie buffet and simultaneously kicking my thighs and picking my nose with his sticky little fingers all night since he refuses to sleep in his own bed.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how I’m feeling at the moment) for me, the neediness of those around me doesn’t end there. I am lusted after by my husband (this isn’t exactly what I would consider a “problem”, but nonetheless). I am constantly on call available to my team at work. I am regularly working on projects for the online shop that I run and periodically working on projects for the board that I voluntarily chair. Someone always needs something from me, and no one, especially the tiniest little boss of them all, seem to realize that I am needed full-time by any of the others at the same time. “You should be grateful” they yell. “Stop complaining” they scream. Listen up- I am grateful. I am SO grateful. And I’m not complaining, I’m venting (there’s a difference). But just give me this moment. Please. I need this moment.

The problem with being needed is that it is exhausting.

The problem with being needed is that I need me too.

The problem with being needed is that it is addicting.

The problem with being needed is that it forces me to focus on those around me before myself

The problem with being needed is that it has turned me into the best version of myself that I have ever known.

Wait, who said there was a problem with being needed?

I’m tired.

How Does She Do It?

One of the most amazing things to me about being a mother is the mysticism and awe surrounding how we get through the day-to-day. Whether we’re a working mom (“How do you do it all!?”) or a stay-at-home mom (“What do you DO all day?!), someone is always looking for us to justify how we are spending our time.

Luckily for me, I have the honor of knowing a virtual garden-variety of mommies- most of whom have kiddos about the same age as mine. This particular group of ladies is amazingly respectful, supportive, apathetic, and eager to share. They were all too happy, then, when I asked for them to share how they spend their days with their 4-6 month old babies. My little jaunt into the enthnography of “Mothers of 4-6 month olds” opened my eyes to the fact that every baby and every family is different. And what’s more- the way that every mother spends time with THEIR child, is right. Also, that Mom-stamina (Can we call it “momina?”) is AMAZING.

I dare you to read these real-life daily schedules and not feel exhausted afterward!

“5:30am-7:15am Wake up, feed baby, pump, dress/change baby, get myself ready, hand baby off to daddy to take to daycare, quick breakfast, feed dogs/take out to potty, load bags & dogs in the car (dogs come to work with me)
7:15am-5:30pm Commute to work, work, pump 4x somewhere in there, commute home, unload bags & dogs
5:30pm-6pm Pick up baby from daycare & bring home
6pm-8:30pm Nurse baby, make dinner, eat once hubby gets home around 6:30, playtime with the little guy, bathe baby, nurse him again, put baby to bed
8:30pm-10:30pm Shower, work on my blog/planning a friend’s bachelorette party/working on projects for a group that I am a chair of
10:30pm- Lose my mind, collapse into bed, wonder how I can go on like this, and pray that baby doesn’t wake too many times to feed overnight
Repeat.”
-Amber K.

“5:30-Wake up, nurse baby to sleep and relax
6:30-Get ready super quiet, get 3 yr old breakfast, iron, have 3 yr old feed dog
7:30 leave for the office
8-5 eat breakfast at work, have way too many meetings, pump 2-3 times, try to sneak in 30 min workout.
5:30-6:30 dinner with family. If class night in class 6-10pm. If not, play with kids.
8 put baby to bed
9 read/homework/remote office work/pay bills/watch documentary with hubby
12Am go to sleep
3 sleep nurse
4 get 3yr old waking up
Repeat.

…honestly I am super thankful to have a stay at home hubby. He cleans the house, cares for the kids all day, takes care of our chickens, trains our puppy, washes the cloth diapers. I wouldnt be able to balance myself without him. Id have to take on much less. Right now I have time to volunteer and be involved in the community. I couldnt do that without him.”
-Lacey B.

“1am breast feed
3-5 am breast feed
7am up daddy gets baby ready so I can wash my face
715 breastfeed and grab a snack
8-10 husband leaves for work and baby and I play for a little bit then naps in my lap (every time I move or leave her side she wakes)
1130-130 (depending on day) get lunch ready laundry dishes
12-2 husband comes home for lunch we will eat and watch baby so I can get dressed and shower.
1-3 husband leaves and I try to get baby to play or we talk a walk or read
3-5 nap and straighten up
5-7 husband comes home and showers. Baby and I cook. Then eat. Spend time with baby and husband read get ready for bed and go to sleep.

During all this add lots of diapers soothing a colic loving baby girl breastfeeding eating when I can.”
-Gabriella M.

“7 am: Half way wake up and kiss my honey as he leaves for work.
8 am: Wake up, feed baby then he falls back asleep not too long after that.
8:30 am until noon: Start laundry, watch tv, maybe eat something…basically just relax.
Noon: Feed baby, a couple hours of playtime/cleaning. Then baby falls asleep.
1pm: I eat lunch and clean some more.
2 pm until 4 pm: Feed baby, clean and playtime.
4 pm: Start dinner.
5 pm: Daddy gets home/feed baby.

The rest of the day is either running around town or hanging out and watching movies, playing with baby, etc.

On the days when there isn’t much to clean I’m extremely bored…lol. Basically I clean and take care of the baby all day.
I wish I could work but I would be working just to pay the daycare costs. It’s so expensive. Going to start watching two children during the day for some extra money and to keep me busy! I admire you workin’ mommas!”
-Chelsey S.

“5:30 – alarm goes off, snooze.
5:45 – pull Benny over to me and feed him
6:00 – 6:15 get in the shower (Benny sits in the bathroom while I shower, helps with congestion and lets his Dad sleep a bit longer.
6:30 – get bottles ready for the day and wash my breast pump. Pack breakfast and lunch. Make coffee.
7:00 – feed Benny again. Change his diaper and get him dressed.
7:15-7:30 – Mike takes benny to daycare. Get ready and dressed for the day (provided I can find something that actually fits, ha!)
8:25 – walk to work (across the street practically)
8:30 – arrive, get my pump room set up for the day. Make my oatmeal.
9:30-10 pump
12 – eat lunch at my desk since I use a lot of time during the day pumping
1:30-2 – pump again
4:45 – leave to get Benny for daycare (Mike and I go together. BEST part of my day!!!)
5:15 feed Benny
6 – watch trashy tv
6:15 – Mike makes dinner (what a doll)
Fall asleep by 8 usually
10 – feed Benny
1:30-3 feed again

Rinse, wash, repeat!!!”
-Kristin J.

“7:30-9 am wake up, take the dogs out to potty, feed Cannon, make breakfast while Cannon plays, and put Cannon down for a nap.
9-10:30 am go back to sleep till Cannon wakes up about 10:30 and then feed him!
10:30-12 pm clean up the house, laundry, make lunch for Dylan and I, watch tv/ play with Cannon and put Cannon down for another nap.
12-4:30 pm Dylan comes home for lunch and we eat, I take the dogs out again, feed Cannon at 1:30, run any errands that are needed, play with Cannon till about 3:30 when he goes down for another nap. Dylan gets home around 4:30 and I feed Cannon again!
5-8 pm make dinner while Dylan has Cannon, hang out with Dylan and then eat and play with Cannon for a bit! Give Cannon a bath at 7! Feed him at 7:30 then read him a book and rock him to sleep!
8-11 pm while cannons asleep me and Dylan watch our shows we have together then I’ll go work out or go for a run. Paint furniture (hobby of mine is to distress furniture). Take the dogs out one last time. Take a shower and get ready for bed!”
-Mackenzie G.

“5.30- hubby goes to work and wakeup begins. Feed baby, the other 2 usually end up in bed with me, watch kids tv while trying to get a few more minutes sleep.
6.45-up, kids breakfast, feed baby again, kids dressed, shower, eat, baby sleeps again
8.30-school run to drop off miss7, back home to clean, do horrific amounts of washing, baby feed and sleep again, miss3 fed and entertained, sometimes coffee with friends, sometimes walk, sometimes visit family
1 ish- lunch, groceries, miss3 sleep sometimes, baby fed and play, any appointments etc
3pm- school run, after school activities, feed 3 kids, homework
5pm begin making tea, takes a while sometimes with 3 kids! Husband usually gets home
6pm baby sleep again! Family tea, baths, books, bed
7.30 wake baby, play, feed, watch tv
9pm tidy up kitchen and any other mess from my mini cyclones
10.30 bed

And I’m secretary of parents club and in another volunteer committee so add that in somewhere”
-Melanie V.

“5.30am hubby leaves for work. Owen awake and I bring him into bed to feed.
7 or 8 I get up and shower and dress – O is either still asleep or I put him back in his cradle with some toys, then I feed him again.
8-9 I have brekky and do washing/ cleaning etc while O usually chats to his grandma who has dementia (we live with my inlaws).
9.30 O has a 45 min sleep often in the car on our way to whatever we’re doing, another feed when he wakes up.
What we do next depends. Monday is groceries. Some days we go to a mum’s group, usually I go to a friend’s house or my mother’s place.
12pm another 45min sleep followed by a feed.
Once we’re back home again I’ll either pop him in his pram and walk the dogs for an hour or we’ll do this around 3.30pm after his next sleep/feed cycle
Hubby gets home 3pm. Play/ grizzle until bath at 5pm
Feed, read a book and snuggle until bedtime at 6pm
…we cook/ eat/ watch tv after O’s asleep and go to bed around 9/10pm
Usually wakes up for one feed around 2/3am.
I’m NOT looking forward to going back to full time work in November I love our chilled out days at the moment.”
-Andrea D.


….Are you tired yet????

Vertigo

Last night, I fell asleep at the keyboard during my first attempt to write this post.

A few weeks ago I went to the doctor with aches so bad I thought I had arthritis and was diagnosed, instead, with “being a mom”.

I really wish I was making this shit up.

Motherhood changes you. It broadens you in more ways than just physically. Yes, it gives you the superhuman ability to be fully functional on little to no restful sleep, but it also forces you to fine-tune skills and to create an identity for yourself that you never even knew you wanted.

Life as of late has been one big exercise in the art of balance. How much can I do while maintaining my sanity? Even if I can do it- how much of it do I actually want to do? I feel that my identity as a wife/mother is constantly at odds with my professional identity. If I am succeeding at one, I feel that I am failing at the other. Or, on some days, I just feel like I am failing miserably at them both. Yesterday was a particularly harrowing day for me in my journey to master the art of “balance.” I returned to work from a blissful week’s vacation with my family. Sunday evening, I was feeling at peace with my life. I was feeling successful and confident. Balance. Come Monday morning and I am shuffling through the chaos of having been away from my professional life for a week. I feel off-kilter. I feel unsettled. Unbalanced. I am frantically trying to make the professional “me” feel successful again, and before I know it, I’ve managed to throw the personal “me” off-kilter too. I’ve stayed over an hour late at work, I’ve only managed to collect nourishment for my baby twice all day, and I am literally 2 minutes away from missing the cut off time for picking up my son from daycare. I’m sure that I will be able to find my zen again after a weekend to recover, but its only Tuesday. Until then, my days will continue to be at odds with my nights. My life will be a constant see-saw of balancing the identity I want, and the identity that I must have.

Is there a way for me to successfully balance the two? I don’t know. But since I don’t have any other options right now, I have to figure out how to calibrate, or I will soon find myself so uneven that I will be living my life in circles. And it’s hard to focus on the important things when you’re spinning.

Truth, Lies, and The Postpartum Body or “If You’re Saggy & You Know It, Clap Your Boobs”

The funny thing about pregnancy is that it is allowably selfish. I came to realize this early on. The well-being of my baby depended on my own, so all of my focus was 100% on “me”. MY body. How am I feeling this week? How big is MY belly? How much longer do I have to be pregnant for? I spent countless hours googling questions about how MY body was reacting to the pregnancy. Appointments with the midwife were all about MY uterus and how good of a job I was doing at growing this baby. I took prenatal yoga to make sure that MY body was healthy. His lifeline was braided together with mine. It was a huge adjustment for me then, after MY body did its job and pushed a new life into the world. All of the sudden, we were two separate beings. He was still 100% dependent on me, but in a much more active sense. He required all of my attention, which I gladly gave. The point of all of this, after all, was to have a new baby to care for- right?

In the weeks following his delivery, I devoted myself tirelessly to my Little Man. Everything I did was for him. I ate because he needed me to have nutrients to pass on to him. I slept because he needed me to be awake enough to care for him. I showered because I didn’t want my poor baby to smell my B.O. when I cradled him. In the midst of this milk-drunken self sacrifice, I (gladly) lost my sense of self. Once we settled into our routine, however, I started to try to focus some more on “me” again. I had spent 10 months being pampered and so in touch with my body, then 2 months of suddenly neglecting myself. Once I faced the realization that I had gone from feeling like a self-realized goddess to feeling like a stranger in my own skin, I started to pay attention to my body again. I was amused by my observations.

I miss my pregnant belly. There, I said it. There was a stretch of time not so long ago when I never could have imagined myself uttering those words, but they’re the truth. I felt very “woman” while I was pregnant, and to feel woman is to feel sexy. To boot, there was always this wonderful thought in my mind: “I’m not fat, I’m just pregnant.” Though I was 40 pounds heavier than I had ever been, I felt so proud of my beautiful body. Now, even after shedding the a quick 20 lbs of baby/fluids, I am stuck facing the reality that is the new landscape of my body. Here is the very real breakdown:

Face: I look like a mom. I can’t put my finger on it, but something about my face (maybe the bags under my eyes?) says: “that lady has seen life come out of her hoo-ha”

Flexibility: After the acrobatic act of birthing a baby, you would think that I would be more flexible. After all, my body basically ripped in half to produce a child, right? Wrong! I think my body has PTSD. At the slightest suggestion of stretching or bending, it goes on strike and says “Nope, there’s no way that’s happening again!”

Boobs:I love breastfeeding. It gives me a closeness that I could have never have expected with my son. That being said- WHY, GOD WHY?! I’ll never forget the feeling of that first latch- truly magical….and shocking! My nipples used to always hurt at first while we were both getting used to nursing, now they feel nothing. And I mean nothing. Behind those numb nipples are two massive pains in my arse. E cup. I didn’t even know they made bras in that letter of the alphabet. Men always talk about wanting a woman with giant knockers, but if they ever saw boobs in real life, they would know this is not ideal. Big = heavy, and heavy = saggy. On top of this, one boob is always dripping, that leaky bastard. Through my nursing pad, through my bra, through my shirt, and out on display for the world to see. A milk duct is getting clogged every week or so. I’ve figured out how to remedy that, but it always ends in milk literally shooting out of my nipple. Last, but definitely not least, they’re lopsided. Not “Oh, no one else will notice that” lopsided, but more like “Holy crap, did you frankenstein a boob off of another body onto your own” lopsided. My boobs belong in a carnival freakshow.

Stretch Marks: I was lucky enough to escape my pregnancy with not a single stretch mark on my belly, so I let my guard down. Bad move. In comes milk, out come the boobie stretch marks. I didn’t even realize that those were a thing. I now look like I am wearing a purple tiger-striped bra at all times.

Aroma: The gas. I can’t even, with this gas. Luckily, I have a few oblivious scapegoats in the baby and the dogs, but I know the truth. Also, blame the hormones, but the B.O. is out of control. I fear that when my son grows up, the scent of body odor will bring back fond photographic memories of feeding at his mother’s breast as a baby.

Nether-regions: Of course there was bleeding. Every mother has to deal with that. The bleeding was what it was, but it was the padding that I couldn’t handle. I was so uncomfortable. I think that the lessons in self-diapering from the nurse in my recovery room bathroom were more intensive than my baby diapering lessons in childbirth class. After my long labor (see labor epitaph in previous post), I also ended up with a torn labia and a dislocated and/or fractured tailbone. Those things I could deal with, too. A few stitches and some pain meds and I was good to go. What I was NOT prepared for was the sensation that my insides were going to fall out of my lady hole for the first few weeks after giving birth. I was also not physically or mentally prepared for the horror that was my first post-delivery sneeze. I vow to my dying day to warn every pregnant lady that I meet to physically hold her nether-regions and clench once she feels that first sneeze coming on.

‘The 6-week appointment’: Once things began to feel back to normal down there (I’ve come to terms with the fact that nothing will ever feel the same up top ever again) it is finally time for the all-mighty 6 week postpartum check up. Partners everywhere, rejoice! Getting the green flag from my midwife meant that I was approved for physical activity again. ALL physical activity. My feelings on the “go-ahead” went quickly from elation to “well, shit”. This meant that using the excuse “I’m not allowed to”, wasn’t going to cut it anymore. For anything. I was going to have to face the reality that I needed to start figuring out how my new body worked. Now, I am a very confident woman, but let me tell you, the first time those clothes come off, whether it was in front of a mirror realizing that I no longer had an excuse to not tone up that tummy, or in front of my hubby realizing that he hasn’t seen any parts of me uncovered since before I changed transformer-style from a kangaroo to a normal human being again, I didn’t feel too great. Luckily for me, my husband thinks that I am amazing, perfect, and beautiful so it had very little effect on him. It was, however, very emotional for me to realize that I didn’t feel great about my body like I always have. There was also a very strange little voice constantly in my head trying to convince me that I’d given my body to my child and that it is no longer acceptable to be sharing it with anyone else. That voice is a pesky little bastard, but I’ve learned that I can drown it out with some smooth moves from my hubby and a glass of wine (or four).

I’m learning that pregnancy didn’t just change my body for 40 weeks. It is a transformative process and now that I’ve traveled through this part of my journey, my body will never be the same again. My body tells of my stops on this journey and I am learning to be proud of it. Now, let’s hit the beach!

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Finding Your Feet Again

The first time I saw my toes after months with a bulbous belly in the way, I started ironically humming a song that I have always loved  “…this is what it’s like, finding your feet again.

A few days ago, the song popped into my head again, and it was hard to stifle a chuckle when I realized how different those words now felt to me. This is the newest stop on my motherhood journey- finding my feet again. Figuring out who I am. Gradually, I am starting to feel like “myself” again, however I am realizing that “myself” is different than I remember. “Myself” is so much more than it was before.

Before bringing my little man earthside, before bearing witness to my body’s own goddess strength, I was a different version of myself. The question “Why don’t you tell me about yourself?” was immediately met with a description of my possessions, my career. Those were the feet I stood on- weak & unstable- those of a child.

It has been incredible seeing my life and priorities evolve in such a short amount of time. Just as in labor, there has been a moment of transition- a short time where I was on the cusp of my new self, but afraid to embrace it. The uncertainty made me shakey, nauseous. Just as in labor, however, I came through this transition ready to push. Ready to push myself into a new, better version of me. And, just like in labor, I have pushed enough to produce a new life- my own. Now, “Why don’t you tell you about yourself?” is met with this:

I am a Wife & I am a Mother. These are the two feet that I stand on-the feet of a Woman. These are feet that acknowledge that my life is only as beautiful as those whom I share it with. These are the feet that will carry me safely, sturdily, on this journey.

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