Category Archives: post partum

forever seeking closure

Okay, that wasn’t supposed to happen at all. Nearly a week has gone by, and I haven’t blogged once. Not so much as a photo post or a meme. And during the month I vowed to blog every day–and then every other day. That’s just pathetic!

After I spent last week fighting a  little cold, it seems that Baby Genius has caught it as well. He started feeling sick on our way home from our visit last weekend. As a result, we had to miss our long-anticipated birth class reunion. I’m still sad about this. I have been communicating with one woman from the class since our babies were born, and this was going to be our chance to meet her son. It was also going to be our opportunity to thank our instructor, not only for the class but for her assistance during labor (she was one of our nurses). And of course, it was our opportunity to see all of the other babies who were making their mamas so uncomfortable last we saw them. Alas, there will be no cute reunion photo, no sharing of birth stories, no comparing of sleep patterns.

For some reason, I have clung to the idea of this reunion for a long time. I thought it would sort of serve as a final bit of closure to the pregnancy. It’s strange that I want that, even when I’ve got a seven-month-old BG clinging to me, trying to sprout his first tooth, but I guess I do and I’m sad not to get it. I don’t miss pregnancy nearly as much as I did after he was first born, but I still find myself missing it a bit. Being around my sister-in-law this weekend gave me a few nostalgic pangs for the kicks I used to feel and for the firm roundness that was my belly. There’s something so very magical about it all. It’s no secret that I loved it.

It’s funny how long the signs of pregnancy, the after-effects, stick around. I don’t think I felt fully healed until six months out. I still have the occasional pubic bone pain, but even that is mostly gone, and I’m starting to get some muscle tone back. My body has slowly been making its way back to normal. I’m even losing my hair. Oh, am I losing my hair. It’s hard to believe how much hair the body hangs onto while pregnant. The hair loss I could do without.

Most of these final stages, I have seen pass with a little wistfulness (one exception being the return of my period at just over two months postpartum–a scarce two weeks after I stopped bleeding; my reaction was less wistful and more  full-blown tantrum). But maybe I’m getting my final closure by way of the return of my body. It’s not quite in its original state. I’m about thirty-five pounds lighter than I was before I got pregnant, a little more stretched out, a lot more fatigued, but I’m just one person again, and there’s something pretty great–even magical–about that too.

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Filed under Baby Genius, birth class, post partum, Pregnancy

a chapter concluded

We have had our first rain storm of the season during the last couple of days, and it is so lovely to finally feel the seasons changing. I think I needed something as strong as a storm to get me out of my flip-flops and into proper shoes and socks. For the last nine years, I have taught in the fall, so the change of seasons is normally marked by stacks of essays and student excuses. Now, every day feels much the same, and I have a hard time remembering what month it is. In so many ways, my life is unrecognizable, and yet it all somehow makes sense. I’m gladly exchanging those stacks of essays for stacks of diapers.

I’m almost six weeks into this being-a-mom gig, and I love it. Is it weird that I don’t even mind the nighttime feedings? Sure there are those nights when he has only slept for two hours, and so have I, and I would really like to keep sleeping, but we manage, and as soon as I see his eyes wide open and his mouth wide open any mild frustration with having to wake up so soon dissolves. Most of the time, he’s really not a high maintenance baby–so far. I always qualify any of these positive comments in this way because I’m waiting for the all-night wailing to sneak up on me. So far, we’re really, really, super-duper lucky–and believe me, we know it.

Today I had my six week postpartum appointment with the midwife. It was quick, and I’m back in working order. It seems my tear has healed (although it still hurts a bit), and I’m free to have baths and swim and go into the hot tub. It was so lovely to see S, the midwife who attended our delivery, and she adored Baby Genius. It really is fun to show him off. I was also weighed for the first time since my pregnancy: I’m down thirty pounds from my top pregnancy weight. I’m down twenty-six pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. I knew I was smaller, but that’s just insane!

What wasn’t so fabulous was that S discovered my right ovary is enlarged. At first she said it was probably just hormones, and we’d check it out at my annual exam in January. But then she called me to tell me that it was bothering her and that she’d like me to have an ultrasound. Now I’m a bit bothered as well. Oh how I hope this is nothing I need to worry about.

I can’t believe that this was my last pregnancy-related appointment. This really was a significant day for me, and part of me was a little scared to see it come and go. Sometimes it is just so hard for me to believe that my pregnancy is finished. It went by so incredibly quickly. I spent a good amount of time mourning it during my first two weeks postpartum, and I still have the occasional pang when I see a big round belly–or photos of mine. I think it had to do with not knowing who I was post-pregnancy. I so easily embraced the identity of a pregnant me, and now I’ve got a new identity to embrace, and for some reason, that transition has been rocky. Lately, it’s making more sense to me, and I’m more easily saying goodbye to those beautiful months I spent gestating. It helps to see my son, in all his cherubic glory, kick-kick-kicking just as I imagined he was doing in the womb. It helps to look at the sweet foot that so frequently stuck out of the top of my belly. It helps all the more to see his big, wide-mouthed grin and to hug him close and to know that I’ve finally got what I have always wanted. Yeah, that helps a lot.

So here I am–T, the mom.

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Filed under Baby Genius, midwife, post partum, Pregnancy

emerging from the cave

…just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of the brightest and best of being, or in other words, of the good.      –from Plato’s The Allegory of the Cave

I seem to be making my way out into the light these days. I spent so much time last week writing the birth story that I neglected to write what was happening in the moment. There was a lot of good, but I have been having a hard time with the dreaded baby blues. A few days after we came home, it started. I had these crying jags throughout the day. Anxiety would set in after I got up in the morning and would revisit me a few times each day. I couldn’t laugh, could hardly smile, and I was getting scared.

Some of this has been linked to missing my pregnancy–mourning it even. I loved being pregnant, even when it got hard. It was the best I’ve felt in my life, as though I had finally found the right skin. Then, suddenly, I was no longer pregnant, and even though I had the fruits of that pregnancy in my arms, I no longer felt like I was in that right skin. Hell, I didn’t recognize my body at all. It doesn’t resemble the body I had before I was pregnant because I’m much thinner, and it certainly doesn’t resemble my pregnant body. It just felt foreign. I found myself touching my belly only to burst into tears because my big, taut, pregnant belly was no longer there. It was sad. I worried my wife. I worried myself. Was I becoming obsessive? Probably.

I’m finally finding the other side of that though. We have had visitors this week, and we’ve had some outings, and I’m beginning to feel a little more controlled, even, and normal–and I don’t cry when I think about my pregnancy. I think I became transfixed with the act of becoming. I was becoming a mother. The wee one inside of me was becoming a person, but like the poor prisoners in Plato’s cave, I was only seeing shadows of what was to be. After Baby Genius’ birth, I was suddenly thrust into that glaring sunlight. I went from becoming a mother to being a mother, and I wanted to go back. But as we all know, there is no placing a baby back into one’s belly as much as we wish we could. Once they’re on the outside, they’re there to stay, and coping with the reality of that can be more than a little overwhelming. I’m giving myself a break now, and I’m accepting that while this being business is a lot harder than I ever thought it would be, it’s also pretty damn rewarding in itself. It is a skin that can fit me just as well.

Life with a Baby Genius is, in a word, beautiful. We have certainly had our challenges, but he really has been a great baby thus far. After our first few painful days of breastfeeding, he’s now a pro at latching on, and we’ve managed to engage in some pretty advanced breastfeeding maneuvers, like walking while feeding, nursing in public, and more. We’re even starting to get the hang of the side-lying hold. He eats with such vigor and enthusiasm, and he sometimes makes this little growling noise as he latches on. When he’s finished, he pops off, coos, and then throws his arms behind his head and basks in his milk-drunkedness with a half smile on his face. Sometimes I expect him to pat his belly. I love nursing this baby, and even though there are moments when I wish I could eat dinner uninterrupted or sleep a few more hours or finish typing with two hands, I find myself looking forward to our nursing sessions and getting to stare at his cherubic little face.

We’re also beginning to work out some semblance of a nighttime routine. BG usually wakes up twice to be fed, and while he feeds for a good long time, he also tends to give me a good stretch of sleep in between. We just stay in bed and nurse. J fetches diapers so that we can change him, feed him, reswaddle him, and put him back in his basket. Last night was an exception though. He wanted to eat every hour and a half. I hope this doesn’t become the new normal, but if it does, we’ll cope.

Figuring things out does help with feeling more normal, as does doing a few grownup things. My parents came to visit yesterday, and they treated us to lunch–by ourselves. J and I got to go on a lunch date while the grandparents watched the baby. It was wonderful. We took ourselves to our favorite pub where I was able to have a Guinness for the first time in, well, ten months. We held hands and talked about the future, and we both felt like we were seeing the world with new eyes. I suppose we are.

We also had a dear, dear friend come to visit the other day. She’s been out of the country for six years, and we haven’t seen her in four, so to have a visit with her and to be able to introduce her to our son was just lovely. Because we still have only a couple of friends in this town, we haven’t had the stream of visitors that many do upon having a baby. In fact, it’s been downright lonely at times. Having someone here who has known J and I for so long, who knew how badly we wanted a baby even eight or nine years ago, was such good medicine. We went to a winery and our favorite farm, and then we had a picnic–BG’s first! Our friend cried as she held Baby Genius; she photographed him copiously; she celebrated this new existence we have. It was so special. We need a lot more of that.

All of these little things are helping me come out of those murky shadows I was living amongst for the last couple of weeks, and I’m relieved to be returning to the world. I’m recovering physically (although my poor girly bits still smart from time to time), and I’m starting to see that I’ve got a new body to work on firming up. That’s going to be fun. Tomorrow, I return to work, which simply means I spend a few hours a day on the computer here at home, but it also means mental stimulus, a bit more routine, a bit more normal.

I always knew that having a newborn was going to be hard. I guess I just didn’t know which parts would be the hardest. Surprisingly, it’s not the caring for him or the lack of sleep; it’s not even learning to be a family of three instead of a couple. No, I think I’ve been the obstacle, the hurdle to clear, and that is something for which no book or class can prepare oneself. Now that I’ve figured this out, I’m ready to go on with enjoying my baby, my beautiful little family. I’m ready to emerge as a mom.

After signing C's birth certificate.

After signing C's birth certificate.

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Filed under Baby Genius, blogtherapy, post partum