Wednesday, April 3, 2013

From cheerfully childless to mindful mommy

I'd be lying if I said that the transition from being cheerfully childless to motherhood has been a smooth one. My life is so radically different that is almost as if I woke up in an alternate universe.

I really loved the life I had before. I loved being able to pick up and go somewhere on a moment's notice. Loved the freedom to take a course or sit and write or stay up all night hanging out with friends. I had a few lovers, each unique and wonderful, each aware of each other and my love of them all. Even with death and dying in my family, such heavy subjects, I felt a lightness of being. I felt free from all the constraints I'd placed on myself over the years. I'd finally grown up and become fully me. And then my female best friend goaded me into recognizing that I'd fallen in love with M and accepting his invitation to move in with him. He supported me after my grandfather's death. We traveled. I supported him through a grueling start-up. We bought a house. And then I got pregnant out of the blue.

Yes, I miss my old life. I'm giving myself permission to miss it, and to come to terms with the changes and the challenges.

The loss of my independence has been the most difficult to adapt to. It would probably be easier if M and I had family closer by, or if I had more friends in the area, because I could call on them to spot me for things like doctor appointments or haircuts or shopping. As it is, I have to pack the Little Man up and bring him everywhere I go. It can be an ordeal even if it's just to go weed outside.  I find it damned inconvenient that I can't just climb up onto a ladder to clear the gutters or empty the dishwasher or take a shower without having to make some sort of provision for my son, especially now that he is crawling around and has figured out how to open cabinets and drawers. And really, there's nothing relaxing about showering listening to a baby howl with displeasure because he's trapped in a walker or a bouncer or otherwise restricted in movement. At best, I get to shower every other day. Any longer than that and the smell of baby puke and sour milk and my own body gets to me.

I miss being able to focus on myself. Before I got pregnant, I was determined to get down to a normal weight range and I made good progress. In having a baby at my age I made a further commitment to being healthy and fit. I'm down 100 pounds in the past 2.5 years. I really want to drop another 30 pounds but I've hit a plateau and my visits to the gym are too infrequent. I try working out at home but the Little Man either wants to participate or wander off. It's rather difficult to monitor him while tying to make sure I don't pull a muscle or otherwise injure myself due to inattentiveness. My doctor says I've done amazingly well and I should focus on maintenance more than further weight loss. He says he's concerned that my focus on dropping more weight will become sabotaging if I get too discouraged. Meanwhile, I'm fighting this near-constant "I'm hungry" feeling that the doc says to feed with warm water. I'm almost chronically under-hydrated since I started breast-feeding, and even after my milk dried up I still struggle to drink enough water -- I'm just too busy playing mommy.

The changes that pregnancy and childbirth have wrought on my body have mostly been awful. My body still doesn't feel like it belongs to me. I often find myself walking funny because there is a cramp in my pelvic area, usually the hip-flexor muscle, I think. My ass aches when I get up after sitting for a while. My lower abdominal muscles, while never particularly strong, seem to resist my efforts to tone them up--from the waist down I feel gelatinous. I'm ok with the changes to my breasts and nipples. I actually like them more, with the weightloss and the changes from pregnancy and lactation -- they are less lumpy than they used to be, and I'm fortunate that I didn't experience mastitis or thrush. The acid reflux and the intestinal spasms have been agonizing.  Since I'm not lactating anymore I switched from Tagamet to Prilosec and it's made a world of difference. Now there is occasional discomfort rather than a constant mid-level discomfort that ramped up to must-go-vomit-stomach-acid-now a few times a week, often a few times a day.

But before I sound too much like some whiny, ungrateful, unfit mother, I should say that I love my new life, too. I love the home I've made for the three of us. I'm happy here, even if I do miss my friends. I've got my patch of dirt to dig in and grow things. I am grateful that M's brilliant mind, which is what initially attracted me to him, is also attractive to so many companies here in Silicon Valley. He makes a good living and we try to live modestly on his income so we can still put money aside. Yes, I'm itching to take some courses and get myself marketable again so I can feel less dependent, but that will have to wait another year or so. I really enjoy his company and he enjoys mine. We talk to each other often, we snuggle when the baby's needs allow, and we both agree that having a baby together has made our bond deeper.

And our son! Wow, what an amazing little guy. Yes, he's teething right now and I really want to run screaming from the house after his nth meltdown, but he's got this wonderful smile and even when he's crying he tries to smile for me sometimes. He's developing so fast and he's becoming his own little person and even as I struggle not to create habits in him I'll regret later, I can't help but scoop him up and love on him. He has so much joy in him and I'm loving experiencing the world from his perspective. I'm experiencing an aspect of life that I'd never thought I would (parenthood) and while it's definitely a mixed bag, I've no regrets. I'm trying to be mindful of what I feed him, trying to keep his chemical-load to a minimum. I'm thinking about what stories I read him and what television programs he sees so I'm aware of what social and cultural norms are being passed on to him. I'm trying to create a safe space for him to grow into the person he wants to be --whatever that looks like. And seeing what a fine job some of my friends have done with their own children, I've got some good role-models and sources of of moral support.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'm not sure how good the Blogger spam comment filter is, so I'm moderating all comments for now.