Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Eudaimonia -- Well-being and The Good Life

I am the first to admit that I have a good life. A beautiful home, a generous and loving partner who is an excellent breadwinner, and a healthy, adorable baby boy. I'm lucky and I know it. Some days, as I'm doing the mundane household chores or consoling a teething baby, I am visited with a sense of the surreal.  Never, in a thousand imaginings of how I wanted my life to be, would I have imagined myself being Susie Homemaker balancing a baby on my hip as I see my man off to work.

Sure, I enjoyed the kept-woman period and did my best to enjoy being freed from a 9-to-5 job even as part of me resented being dependent and without enough income to support myself. My partner assisted me in growing my internet storefront business as best he could during the economic crash, and he was incredibly supportive as my family went through one health crisis after another. But finding out I was pregnant, well, that was a huge life-changer. And now, as the Little Man reaches the 8 month mark, as my body still recovers from the effects of pregnancy and childbirth, the reality of my life as an unintentional mother is both incredibly real, and incredibly surreal.

Little Man's milestone last month was cutting two teeth. This month, it seems to be locomotion. He started off with the military-style forearms and toes crawl at the beginning of the month and this week he's crawling on his hands and knees. And really getting around. I went to brush my teeth and freaked out when he wasn't anywhere near where I left him. He's also figured out how to pull himself up to a standing position. The first two days he fell over whenever I wasn't watching him like a hawk, but today he's stable on those sturdy little legs. He's falling on his face when his arms give out, but the thunks on the hardwood floor aren't quite as alarmingly loud. I'm kissing and rubbing boo-boos, mostly on his head. It's time to take the next step of child-proofing the plugs and adding baby-gates.

The benefit to all his physical exertion is he's finally napping for about an hour twice a day. The drawback is he's gotten very clingy -- perhaps from the pain / discomfort and the scariness of falling. He often cries when I put him down, so I basically wear the baby carrier 16 hours a day and carry him around in it until he pushes at me to let me know he wants out. If I put him down and move too far away, he starts to cry. Finding time for bio-breaks has become a challenge.

Solid foods are hit and miss. There are days when he won't eat cereal or pureed foods at all. Since my milk dried up he's been on formula, so his poops are really stinky, but less frequent. I worry that he's not getting enough calories, but whenever I pick him up he feels very solid. He's not a chubby baby by any stretch of the imagination, but neither is he a skinny one.

It seems like I'm never alone anymore. I am a person who enjoys my solitude. I think that has been the most difficult adjustment. I'm starting back to the gym, though, and my neighbor is coming over twice a week in the morning to give me a chance to workout, so Little Man is going to learn to adjust to not having me around all the time. I hope.

The acid reflux still gets away from me about once a week. I'm managing it with eating a boring diet and medication. I've also had a half-dozen spastic colon episodes. Very painful. Like labor pains. I'm trying to reduce the amount of time Little Man spends on my chest and belly, since his 20-plus pounds pressing into my body seems to aggravate things. I've had the x-rays and CT scan, the upper GI imaging, and over 30 different blood tests and aside from exceptionally large ovaries (courtesy of PCOS) there is nothing unusual. I'm in excellent health, though borderline anemic. I had eliminated all supplements when I noticed that pills weren't resting well on my acidic stomach, but now that it seems to be (mostly) under control, I'm taking them a few times a week. It's not perfect, but it's better than nothing.

At present I'm 75# lighter than I was the day I delivered Little Man. I'd like to drop another 30 this year. We'll see. I think I can manage 3 pounds a month. I'm wearing large women's tops and extra-large bottoms. Right now my excess weight is all below the belly button, courtesy of 10 years of sitting at a desk. I'm looking forward to focusing on my abdomen and thighs at the gym and getting my upper and lower body in better proportion to each other. Given that my mother and sister both were mermaid-shaped, I'm thinking I'm probably going to be bigger on the bottom no matter what I do, but my doc thinks the softness of the muscles in my lower abdomen has something to do with the spastic colon problem, so it's important to get that area of my body back in tone.

Through it all, M has been wonderfully supportive. He knows this isn't the life I'd imagined for myself, and he checks in with me a couple of times a month to make sure I'm doing ok. Believe it or not, the life I was building toward was living in a small house on the coast or in the mountains, alone, with lots of books and paper and time to meditate and garden. I'd imagined my various friends and partners visiting me, but never staying for long. For all my capacity to be a social person, I'm a hermit at heart. He's such an introvert that he considers me an extrovert. Heh.

It's all good though. I'm happy and pretty much healthy. The baby is happy and healthy. So is M. There are things I want to do, and they'll wait. Right now, it's important to be there for the Little Man.

End surreality check :)

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