Bodies, again

It’s been seven months since I wrote about my postpartum body.  (Insert legitimately felt cliche about time flying.)  4 months back at a desk job, 16 month old baby.  Finally weaned a month ago, a month and a half off the domperidone.  Breasts finally starting to shrinking (F cup and falling…)  and period started to resume a normal cycle.  So, all told, in quite a different place than I was in December.

To use the scale in that post, I’m now at X+2, so, heavier than I’ve been since there was a human being inside of me.  And none of my pants fucking fit, and that makes me cranky.  (Pants shopping is the worst type of shopping.  I don’t know what the fit models people use are shaped like, but it’s sure as hell not anything like I’m shaped like.)  I’ve put on 5 pounds since coming back to work, and while that’s honestly not a big amount, when you don’t quite crack the 5’4″ mark, it’s enough that pants don’t fit.  And I had to buy new pants to come back to work, because even at 5 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight, my actual hips were bigger. I unpacked the box of work clothes in March, and was sad but unsurprised that a grand total of ONE shirt fit over my giant boobs, and all my sweaters were far too short, again due to the chest.  So none of my shirts fit (even still) and now none of my pants fit. Getting dressed every morning is awesome!

In the short term, I’m cutting out snacks and cutting down on food, and upping my fitness classes, at least until my pants fit again.  Calorie restriction is easier than buying new pants.

But.

I don’t know how to feeeel about this.  On the one hand, I could just accept that I’m now in my 30s and I’ve had a kid, and this is what my body looks like, and I should just go out and buy some damn pants, and get over going up another size. Ditto shirts and bras.  After all, this one is my real body.  But is it?  is this just a heavy weight blip as I adjust to the new routine?  And what about the next baby?  We’re planning to start trying before the year’s out, so I don’t want to invest in clothes that might only fit for a few months, and who knows what my body will look like after another pregnancy and birth and mat leave.  I feel, honestly, like this isn’t my real body – that this is just this temporary thing.  Can’t I wait to get back in to shape after I’m done having kids?  Is it really worth sweating my ass off on my lunch breaks if I’m just going to balloon up in a few months anyway?  (Duh, of course it is.  It’s better to be healthy, in general.  But it’s haaaard.)  I feel generally uncomfortable with my body.  I miss the firm lush roundness of pregnancy.  I know I’m getting older, and my genetic destiny will become increasingly harder to fight.  I’m just… tired.  Can’t I postpone this fight until I’m done with the babies thing?

And really, we’re not talking huge differences.  At my average size, I wear a 12.  At my very lightest, usually a 10, and currently at my heaviest, a 14.  We’re not talk huge changes.  Just enough that, you know, none of my clothes fucking fit.And I’m too cheap and or lazy to buy new stuff, especially not knowing if this change is permanent, or if I can swing things back to the middle.  Or if I should even bother trying.

Ugh.  Being a person is hard some times.

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On weaning

Oh, man.  I knew that weaning can be tough.  But I have been SUPER WANTING TO DO so for more than a month, and last night was the first night IN THE BABY’S ENTIRE LIFE that I didn’t nurse her at bed time.  She settled down decently, and went to sleep, and happily nursed this morning.  And I?  Am a weepy, frustrated mess.  Sure, some of that is work related (all jobs, no matter how overall lovely, have less lovely weeks), and some due to a cold I picked up in Toronto.  But not all of it, I’m sure.  I hate times where I have to fuck around with my hormones, which is why I refuse to go on the pill and will only use a hormone free IUD.  (Which I owe you a story about eventually.)  The domperidone pills mess not only mess with my cycle, but also suppresses dopamine.  You know, dopamine, which according to our good friend wikipedia, “has many functions in the brain, including important roles in behavior and cognition, voluntary movement, motivation, punishment and reward, inhibition of prolactin production (involved in lactation and sexual gratification), sleep, dreaming, mood, attention, working memory, and learning.”  So, you know, everything.  And I’ve been on them for like 9 months.

I’ve gone from 8 pills a day in the beginning, then down to 4, and recently been dropping it down to 2, and yesterday I just took 1.

And I’m weepy and sore and my sinuses hurt and I didn’t take a pill this morning so my breasts are empty and I know that without the drugs, there is no milk, and without the milk, there is no nursing, and 2 weeks ago that sounded like a blessing and today that just makes me sad.  No more little monkey lapbaby cuddles while she eats.  No more easy nutrition.  No more easily filling in any gaps in her diet.  (That one is a huge, huge thing.)  No more quiet easy intimacy and bonding – the kind I personally only really found in nursing.  (Not that there’s not all kinds of other bonding and cuddles and loving!  They’re just so much more active.  Baby’s not a huge cuddle-er right now – too much to see and do.)

I’ve breast fed for 14 months.  I’ve required medical assistance for 9 of them.  The baby’s back on track for weight and growth.  I’ve done fine, this is fine. The next step is a good thing, not a bad thing.  I know these things, I keep telling myself these things.  I’m just, you know, hormonal as fuck in the mean time.

Babies be stressful

It’s always something, you know?  Just this weekend J fell off the couch while cruising, and while I caught her halfway down, there was an unfortunately placed toddler chair that caught her temple, leaving her with a surprisingly-pretty purple black eye.  (And of course, the panicked call to the nurse line, and the half hour wake-up-the-baby concussion checks, and did I mention this was on the same day as her 12 months shots?)  Despite the scare, and the swelling, she’s totally fine, and I’m sure this won’t be the last injury she sustains.  The kid is physically ambitious, and fearless.  At a playdate this weekend, she went straight for the toddler sized rocking chair, climbed up on the seat, stood up, grabbed the back and started rocking it, all gleeful.  Given a chance, she’ll scale the back of the leather couch and try to climb across the computer desk.  She thinks desk chairs are the best walking toys, but that they’re even better if you put her in the seat and spin her until she’s dizzy. So I expect that she’ll be hurt again, and I’ll worry, but I also have faith in the strength of the baby skull and her resilience in bouncing back.

But other things are harder to deal with.  Things with less clear cause and effect.  (Fall = scary = bruise.  No mystery there!)  J’s weight has been an issue since birth – it’s been all over the map, and often not for clear reasons, and it’s really scary. She’s now 13 months old, and we’re just climbing out of the 3rd weight crisis of her short life.  She lost 11% of her weight post-birth, and it took two separate tongue tie snips to correct her latch and another couple of weeks to get her weight on track.  The next she was around 5 months old, where, unbeknownst to me, my milk had mostly dried up, and she was starving.  This was only discovered when she’d dropped from 75th percentile to 30th percentile in weight, and I talked to my doctor about the PPD returning due to the sleep deprivation from comforting what turned out to be a screamingly hungry baby all night long.  I was put on Domperindone (the same drug my father took for chemo side effects!) and within a week she was plumping back up and only waking once at night to feed.  Then, at a year, I went back to work (thanks, Canada!) and she started daycare and her first teeth actually arrived and she became totally mobile, all at the same time.  She dropped to the 5st percentile in weight, and then went on an illness caused hunger-strike, and dropped down to the 1st percentile.  She adjusted to daycare and got over that round of colds, and is back up to 15th percentile, but she’s still a tiny peanut.  In a year, she’s gone from the 90th percentile (incorrectly) to the 1st (scarily).

And I want to wean SO BADLY that it’s making me weepy.  But I can’t, the doctor says, at least until she gets back on a healthy growth curve.  I’ve been breastfeeding for 13.5 months, quasi on demand, quasi on schedule, because she’s never hunger cued very well.  I’ve been on the pills for 8 months.  I’m tired of them.  I’m tired of them decimating my libido, and making my hair fall out.  I’m tired being too cheap to buy the 36H cup bra I need, because I keep thinking I’ll be able to wean soon, and of none of my work clothes fitting my chest.  I’m tired of waking every night to feed her, after months of her sleeping through the night.  I’m so very tired, and then stay up all night worrying about her.  But I can’t not feed the baby, and I don’t know if I want to try feeding her like, muffins or fruit packs at 3 am.  So nursing it is.

She’s a great eater.  J’ll eat almost anything off my plate, from chickpea curry to broccoli to sashimi.  I worked diligently to introduce her to fruits and veg, but may have neglected to give her enough fats or whole grains in the 10-12 month period, and therefore kind of blame myself for the weight issues.  But I didn’t know!  I was so smug about my green bean and aged cheese devouring baby that maybe I wasn’t pushing enough rich food on her?  Or my anti-refined sugar stance?  I was kind of relying on breastfeeding to fill any nutritional gaps?  And it didn’t work, and here I have this amazing eater with no detectible medical problems (we’ve done blood tests, which was awful) who, during the day, does not give off any real hunger or satiety cues.

She doesn’t like drinking milk (cow or goat) or juice.  She eats the highest fat yogurt I can find, and cheese, and the occasional ice cream, now that I’ve broken my no-refined-sugar stance.  We’ve never had any real food issues, other than that one week of illness, and the few foods she rejects (peaches, millet, berries about half the time) are done politely, and don’t interfere with her eating the rest of the meal. I read a pretty helpful book that was highly recommend, and it was great for hopefully setting up healthy boundaries about food, but didn’t quite answer what to do if your kid is failing to thrive despite enjoying all the food.  Because of the illness, we’ve fallen out of my previous 4 meals and 2-4 breastfeeding sessions a day routine, and now feed her from basically dinner time to bedtime in the hope that she’ll sleep through the night.  (It never works.)  I don’t know if I should be cutting off snacking, or allow her to keep eating dried berries in the hour between dinner and bedtime, or what.  I just don’t know.

I know, like all the other mini crisises, that this will pass and I’ll look back with relief that we got through another one, but it doesn’t make it any less stressful to live through.  There are no right answers, or at least, none than anyone can give me.We just keep muddling through, and offering the baby green Thai coconut curry with chicken and peas, and marveling that she’ll eat it, while hoping that it’s enough.  While hoping that I can wean soon.  That she’ll start sleeping through the night again.  That sleeping through the night again will happen before I need a caffeine IV to get through the work day…

Feeling the fever

So everyone is pregnant, as far as I can tell.  Everyone!  But, uh, not me.  Not trying, even.  Due to the pills I’m on, probably couldn’t be even if I tried.  I just, like, have eyes and can’t help but notice that everyone is pregnant.

I’m sure it’s hyperbole, but today, for example, I went through the +15 to the next building to grab some lunch, and saw, I swear, 7 very pregnant ladies.  Two were standing in front of me in line.  Walking from my office to J’s daycare?  It’s a 10 minute walk though the +15s, and I have never seen less than 4 pregnant women.  (Okay, sure, they could be the same ones everyday, but I still see them.)  I work in a group of 30 people, 13 of whom are female (not bad for a STEM field), and 2 of them are pregnant.  I’m back downtown, working in a very corporate world, and I’m surrounded by lush, fertile women who are gloriously, roundly pregnant.

And I’m so jealous I’m practically salivating.

I’ve said it before, I was never really baby hungry before I  had Baby J.  It was a cerebral decision, more than anything.  I never had baby fever, or heard a ticking clock, or whatever other cliche that can be used to describe the longing for a baby.  But now?  Holy fuck, you guys.  WANT.  NEEEED.  It’s the strangest feeling.  It feels like a walking cliche, to be so eager, but here we are.

And while we are totally planning a second, not yet.  I’d rather have them +2 years instead of -2 years apart .  I *just* got back to work, and I owe it to myself to give this a serious go.  I’m still on the domperidone, and that’s done insane things to my cycle.  It’s not fair to J to do anything until we figure out what’s wrong with her.  (She’s down to 17 pounds – 1 pound over her 5 month weight.)  I refuse to wean until she stops losing weight or at the very least starts drinking any form of calorie, and I want to have my body to myself for a few months before I get pregnant again.  I’m simply not ready to try again yet, and neither is David.  Mentally, I get it.  In fact, mentally, I have no desire to start trying right now.

But viscerally?  WANT SO MUCH.

At the end of the day, we’re all just animals, right?  It’s stuff like this – this crazy longing – that really brings that home to me.

34 weeks along, looking like I ate the world.  Why do I miss this so much?

34 weeks along, looking like I ate the world. Why do I miss this so much?

On not bonding with strangers

I do a couple of fitness classes avec baby a week – mainly for the exercise, but the chatting after class is nice too.  After one of the land-based classes, I was talking to another mother, whose son was the only other baby in the class who had learned to crawl.  (Which, by the way, make these classes much more disruptive than what my baby just lay or sat on the mat.)  After class, I went over and asked how old her son was – ten and a half months at that point.  I said that Jess too was that age!  And then we compared birthdays, and the babies were born on the same day!  And at the same hospital, as it turned out!  What a coincidence!  I said that Jess had been born around 4 in the morning, and turns out that her son was born right before midnight.

I said something along the lines of “maybe I saw you there – we were in the hospital for a couple of days.”  She looked down her nose at me and stated flatly.  “I had a midwife.  We were out of the hospital very fast.”  I sputtered slightly, and said something about how after 55 hours of labour, I’d had a c-section.  I swear that she looked at me and sniffed disapprovingly.  I muttered something about being pretty sure that it wouldn’t have mattered what kind of assistance I had, that J wouldn’t have come out any other way.  She sniffed again, and I slunk away from her and her placid, stolid baby.

You guys, it’s been 11 months and I’m still defensive as fuck about my birth experience.  And you know why?  It’s because PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY JUDGING ME TO MY FACE ABOUT IT.  Sure, not people I like, or people who matter, but it’s true – there is shaming out there for c-sections.  I get it!  I desperately, frantically didn’t want one.  I laboured for two and a half days because of how much I didn’t want one.

But I didn’t have a choice.

I mean, I made every choice possible to have a natural birth.  I did my readings, I hired a doula, I gave birth in a natural-birth friendly hospital with nurses who were fully supportive of my intentions, I went as long as I could without the drugs (pitocin contractions are not the same as normal ones – they are way, way more painful).  When the doctors announced that I needed a c-section, I refused and got another hour to try and make things progress.  It didn’t work.  The baby was unable to come out the normal way, and that sucked.

But I didn’t have a choice.

And yet, I still feel so judged for it.  By virtual strangers who have no idea.  And that sucks.

Having the section sucked.  The fact that the morphine didn’t work sucked.  The fact that my feelings of failure fed my PPD sucked.  The fact that 11 months later I still have abdominal pain sucks.

But the fact that my baby was born healthy and alive and that I am healthy and alive?  Does not suck.  Sure, it was less than ideal, but the end result was positive, so good enough.  Fuck the haters, and all.

 

As you can imagine, this woman and I have NOT become friends.

Weighty Issues

Jess got her 2 month shots recently, and while we were at the public health nurse, they also weighed and measured and assessed all sorts of things.  (See, me crying in a medical office while discussing my feelings, AGAIN, ugh.)  She took her shots like a champ.  There were three of them in quick succession (and having got my own booster shot 1 minute earlier, I was extra sympathetic about how much they hurt).  Jess was screaming away as I tried to latch her on the boob, but she was screaming too much to focus.  So the nurse rang a bell, loudly and constantly.  I actually laughed at my poor baby who was so entranced by the sound of the bell that she stopped crying completely and then latched on.  (She ate for 2 minutes, then fell right asleep, and slept for most of the rest of the afternoon.)  The nurse told me that the bell doesn’t normally work on 2 month old babies – usually not until they are older.  I was like, yup, my baby is amazing!

However.  They also, as I said, weigh and measure the baby.  Her head was in the 97th percentile (might explain that c-section…).  Her length was about 55th percentile.  And her weight?  97th percentile.  Which on the weight to height chart put her right off of it, in the what the hell range.  Sure, if your baby is at the top range for weight AND height, that you clearly just have a big healthy baby.  But 55th and 97th?  That’s, well, that said to me that my baby is short and fat and oh god what I am doing wrong to have cause my little girl to be so out of proportionality oversized already panic flail guilt.

Then we had a doctor’s appointment 5 days later, and they weighed her WITHOUT a damp cloth diaper and got her age in weeks correct, and she went to 55th percentile in length and 70th percentile in weight – a much more normal proportion for a little baby.

And I was relieved.

And then I felt kind of shitty, both at my reaction and more so about my relief.

I mean, I’m short and heavy myself.  And I’m pretty okay with that.  I mean, I’ve been this height since like 14, so I’ve had time to get used to the fact that I’m the shortest in all of my extended family.  (My sister is 6 inches taller than me, and my cousins are mostly taller than her.)    My weight’s been pretty stable since I started working 8 years ago.  My natural weight range is small.  Hell, compare my lowest weight in high school while I was on the cabbage soup diet (UGH) and my highest weight pre-pregnancy is only 23 pounds. It’s very hard for me to move outside that range, compared to my sister or cousin whose ranges are much bigger (30 and 50 pounds, respectively).  I have long made my peace with my weight, as much is probably possible in our media driven world.  I know that I would rather lift weights than run, and that my body muscles easily and holds on to my belly fat, and than it would be so very, very difficult for me to move and then stay bellow my natural range.  (Hey, if healthy eating and swimming competitively at least 6 times a week as a teenager didn’t make me slim, there’s not much I can do now at 30 to change that.)  Sure, I can be healthier and I do prefer to stay near the low middle of my range instead of the top, but still, I’m okay with my body and myself.  (Although one post pregnancy note – c-sections are terrible on your endurance and stomach.  I tried crunches yesterday, and managed a measly TEN without even managing to lift my shoulder blades off the ground.  And it hurt.  My fitness classes a few months ago would often have at least 10 minutes of serious ab work, and now I can’t do 30 seconds of weak work.  Sigh.  THAT upsets me, and I will be working hard to get my core strength back.)

So, back to the baby.  I’m okay with my body and my short and heavy proportions.  Why on earth would this cause me to react so strongly about my baby?  My breastfed on demand baby?  Babies cannot eat more than they are hungry for – their stomach can’t expand and if they eat too much it comes back out.  You can’t overfeed a breastfed on demand baby, I’m told by the doctor, the nurse, the internet.  And yet, I felt like I was already failing her.

Clearly, I have work to do.  My mother had a ton of body issues that she projected on me, and she’s already starting on Jess.  (She accused me of letting a 9 week old baby of eating from boredom, not hunger, “like we both do, right?”.  Thanks mom.)   And I want to break that pattern.  I don’t know how yet, but I will work on it.  I’ll also tell my daughter that she’s beautiful more often than my mother did to me.  (Which is easy.  We’ve already surpasses the number zero.)  But look that that smile and those chubbly wubbly cheeks.

Smiles

How can I not want to protect my little girl from my issues?  I owe it to her to get over my reaction to the initial news, even if it was incorrect.  Because there is a good chance that she will to grow up to be built like the women in my family – short and chesty and muscular and chubby.  I owe it to her to make her feel like I always have her back, yes?  To make her believe that someone will always find her beautiful and smart and strong.  Growing up with that security is something I never had, and really want to be able to give to my baby.  So that’s my work, I think.

Cute AND smart

Repeating Cycles

They must have done grade wide hearing tests when I was in kindergarten, maybe grade 1.  We’ll say, for argument’s sake, that I was 5 when it was discovered that I am partially deaf in one ear.  Not just a little deaf – fully deaf above a certain frequencies – say, a young girl’s voice, or a flute.  I can hear it on the right, but the left ear registers nothing.  I was 5, and they had no idea why this happened, or any indication before the test that there was a problem.  Of course, as soon as this was discovered there were more tests to be done.  Years more tests.  In fact, every several years, or after a string of bad ear infections, I still go in to be tested.  Most of the tests were performed at a local school that had the city’s deaf program.  They had a full sound booth testing facility there and once a year I’d get a half day off school to go sit in a metal bank vault, basically, and hit the button when I could hear the noise, and other such fun tests.

But one test stands out in my mind.

It was one of the first tests, and I had to go to the Children’s Hospital.  I remember a darkened room, and electrodes glued to my head.  (I also remember picking the glue out of my hairline later that afternoon, while playing in the backyard.)  I remember the doctor’s telling me what a good girl I was, and how grown up, and how nice it was to work with me, because how they usually worked on 2 month (year?) old babies.  I remember the toy – the Roly Poly Chime Ball – and talking about how I had one of those when I was a baby, with all the superiority of a 5 year old.  But the memory of being a big girl and not a baby and how much the nice doctors liked me lingered, long after the rest.

Roly Poly Chime Ball

Which made it a bit funny for me, on Monday, as I walked my two month old daughter in to the same hospital.  Sure, it’s no longer the city’s children’s hospital, now just a variety of specialist clinics, but it’s still the same building.  And the same darkened rooms, and the same kind doctors.  Only, this time, there were no toys, and it was my baby getting electrodes taped to her head.  (Adhesives now, not glue.)

Baby science experiment

She was a champ, falling asleep part way through the testing after only a little fussing.  She has, as far as they can tell from the brain activity, not inherited any of hearing loss.  Which is excellent news.  We knew she wasn’t deaf – she responds to loud noises – but as she still doesn’t react much to voices, there was still a little doubt.  Plus, unless I told you, you would have no idea that my hearing loss is severe enough that I had access to all sorts of disability support through school.  (I only ever used two – speech therapy in elementary school, and the ability to write my departmental exams on the computer for my grade 12 classes.  Why not?  My spelling and handwriting are terrible – given the chance to have spell check on my big exams was worth it.)

But walking in to that building again, to take my baby for the same tests I recall myself?  I can feel the cycles…