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.

Weaning, redux

So, I was on domperidone for like, a million months.  Okay, about 9 months.  About 750 little white pills. That’s a lot of time, and a lot of little white pills.  That’s, particularly, a lot of time on an anti nausea drug that interferes with your dopamine receptors.

The first few days totally off the pills sucked.  I didn’t throw up during my pregnancy* but 36  hours after my last pill I found myself puking up the pain pills I’d taken for the splitting headache I had again woken with.  So nauseous.  And headachy.  And ragey!  Yikes.  It took days to feel better.  I read somewhere on the internet that the drug’s halflife is 70 hours, and it takes 6 halflives to be out of the system.  It’s been a little over a week, so I’m halfway through the detox and really am feeling better.

I am still nursing in the morning though – for increasinly short times, as my milk dries up.  I’m surprised that it didn’t just vanish overnight without the pills, as I was expecting.  I’ve decided that J’s month-a-birthday next week is the last time I’ll nurse the baby – “I nursed for 15 months” has a nice even ring to it, as opposed to a more wordy “I nursed for 14 months and some extra weeks” that the pedantic in me would probably use.  (Er, provided that there’s still milk there in a week.)  It’s funny the way we tell stories to ourselves.

I didn’t intend to nurse for so long.  The year of mat leave and a month of transition was as long as I’d planned, once I was in to the thick of it.  But before I had a kid?  I was very much pro breastfeeding, but when they fed the baby formula while I was still knocked out cold from the c-section, I wasn’t overly concerned.  When I had to supliment with formula for a week after J was born until the “too complicated for the hospital to fix” tongue tie was resolve, I just did it.  The whole routine just about killed me: every three hours I had to feed the baby a bottle of breast milk, then nurse, then feed the baby formula, and then pump.  8 times a day.  But the formula part just … was, emotionally, not a big deal.  I was happy when she weaned off the formula herself – it smelled really gross – but I was never truly opposed to using it.  I mean, after the birth plan fails pretty catastrophically, supplementing with formula for a few days was no big thing in comparison.

But was that birth failure WHY I put myself through 9 months of brain-chemistry-altering pills?  I mean, I did it without a thought, really.  “Kid’s starving, take drugs, skim over 10 page warning pamphlet, feed kid, sleep through the night again.”  The logic was so clearly there, but why the extra time?  How much of my willingness to fuck with my body chemistry was because I wasn’t going to fail at breastfeeding too, goddammit?

I mean.  For a long time I felt like I had failed at birth.  The PPD certainly made me feel like I failed in the first months as a mother.  I felt like I failed when my milk dried up, despite exclusive breastfeeding on demand – something I didn’t even know was physically possible.  Going back to work (as generally pro-me-not-staying-home as I am) and enjoying it makes me feel a bit like I’m a failure compared to the “naturally great at it SAHMs” who surround me  and are able to actively engage their toddlers every day, instead of like, taking J to the mall on my Fridays off as I do.  I felt like I failed at bonding with the baby for quite a while.  I certainly felt I failed, and flailed, during the various weight crashes.

But, dammit, I could NURSE THIS CHILD.  There was something.  Medically assisted or not, I could offer the baby a nipple and she would eat and I would know, KNOW, that I wasn’t failing her at this one thing.

And I guess, as I work this out on my computer screen, that’s not nothing, if that’s the route of why I have nursed for so long.  That in the rough seas of early motherhood, I found myself a touchstone that I could say, with confidence, that Yes I Can Do This.

It’s funny.  I also cloth diaper and made like 98% of the baby’s food, but that doesn’t feel the same to me, despite how the three are often grouped together in  “parenting philosophy”.  I CD because it’s cheap, and cute, and since the introduction of flushable wipes, surprisingly not messy.  I made all her baby food because it was cheap, and easy, and I could make 3 weeks worth of food in an afternoon, and my kitchen produced infinitely more interesting varieties of food than the store, and I like cooking.  I have no ego tied up in them – it’s just, you know, what I did, because I could, and wanted to.

But breastfeeding?  I have ego involved in that, which I’m only realizing now in the final days of my nursing relationship with J.  That’s interesting to me.  I wonder what other choices I’ll look back on later and see more complex reasoning for, tucked behind the stories I tell myself?

*except for that one night of stomach flu, but that wasn’t pregnancy related, so it doesn’t count.

Active little peanut

All children develop at their own speed – we all know this intellectually, yes?  But it’s pretty fascinating to watch it play out in real time.

Baby J is all about physical activity.  (Everyone who told me it’s easier to have girls because they are calmer and aren’t as physical can fuck off, because what a lie.)  She’s bold and fearless and yes, sometimes covered in bruises.  She’s a squirmy little monkey who at 14 months can walk forwards, backwards and sideways, can pull up, stand up, climb up and now down a flight of stairs, connect mega blocks, walk while carrying the half-her-size duplo box, dismount properly off the couch, rock chairs (even non rocking chairs – yikes), climb through tunnels, use a bumbo seat as an obstacle course, climb in to the dishwasher (just that one time when my back was turned, I swear), turn almost anything in to a walking push toy, pull up on a handle and get her feet off the ground, scale the back of the couch on to the desk, self feed, help undress, flip through books, takes apart duplo, pat herself on the chest when she coughs, and so on.  She’s so, so physical.

She doesn’t talk.

Like, at all.  Well.  Okay, she says a few words: no, oh oh, oh no, hi, and a two syllable inquisitive noise that means “what’s that?” Mama and dada, but we haven’t quite figured out what she’s talking about yet – it’s certainly not us.  For a while, we were pretty sure she thought her name was dada…  She listens, she understands words and requests and is again sleeping thought the night, this time after the doctor told her that she wasn’t going to be fed at night anymore.  She’ll bring you items on request and knows that when we say NO we mean it.  (Which sometimes starts this hilarious little temper tantrum I work very hard at not laughing at.)  She babbles noises and sounds.  I’ve had her hearing tested twice, and all signs point to fulling functioning ears.  She just … doesn’t have anything to say yet, or something.

I’m not worried.  She’s an effective communicator, for a baby, and makes it very clear what she does and doesn’t want.  (Not that, obviously, she always gets her way.)  She has a sense of humour. She likes to blow raspberries on my belly and play the Squish With Love game (she crawls, I chase after her, and when I catch her, I cover her in kisses until she collapses on the floor giggling.)

When my friends post videos of their similar age kids talking I can simply marvel at their babies without feeling doubt.  My kid will get there.  My kid is fine.  No, my kid is more than fine.  My kid is an active little peanut who is too busy with all the places to go and things to see to be bothered talking about it.  She’ll get there, and it will be adorable, and until then, I’ll just focus on trying to keep her from using the toilet as a water toy and teaching her how to properly dismount furniture taller than she is.

Places to go, things to see

Places to go, things to see

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.

I don’t think work-cation is a word

The child slept through the night, for the first time in longer than I can actually recall!  (She slept through for about 3 months there, and the regression happened around time of the weight plunge, but I’m very tired most of the time and no longer use the baby tracking app and simply don’t remember any more.)

Which is especially good news, as I’m planning going to site for work in the next month or so, and 2 nights is the shortest trip I can swing and get any value out of the trip.  (And there aren’t a ton of flight options in to the wilds of northern BC.)  I’m like, really really excited by this.  Not that I think sitting in an Atco trailer all day sounds like amazing, but on the other hand, sitting and watching a frac actually sounds pretty interesting, given that frac data is a huge part of my job.  And flying in tiny planes!  Am I the only person who wants to fly in a airplane with only a handful of seats and no bathrooms?  (Probably.)  And because they’re private planes, the security is giving your name to the guy with a clipboard.  And helicopters!  Helicopters are cool. And camp food! Camp food is good, you guys. All of our camps are dry (ie no booze or drugs) and so use generous portions of good food to keep people happy.  And I’m tying my trip in with at least one of my favourite coworkers, so we can hang out and that’ll be nice.  And hey, my ego can probably use getting hit on by dozens of men.  (Sad, but true.)  Hell, most of my vacations (which I love) revolved around food (which I love), planes (which I love), expensive hotel rooms (which I love, though usually expensive because they are nice, not because they’re super remote), hanging out with people I like (which I love) and doing something nerdy (which I love).  So if you can just, like, overlook the fact that I’ll be going practically to the Arctic Circle for work, this sounds like not a bad couple of days, to me.

Oh, right, yes, the leaving of the baby thing.  Well.  Please don’t revoke my mom card, but I’m kind of looking forwards to it.  I love my kid, obviously.  I like my kid.  But I’m finding that this toddler phase is, perhaps, not so much my forte.  And stepping out for a little work-cation sounds nice.  I’m sure I’ll miss her like crazy, and will of course have the daycare cam set up on a laptop.  But two days of grown up time, free from nursing and clinging and diapers? Right this day, that doesn’t sound like the worst week ever.

Another thing that is true

I wrote a few months ago about how many of the messages I was told about parenting were lies, but a few were true, like the amount of mental space occupied by poop.  I have realized another one, lately.

I’ve gone from a latte a week and a couple of daily cups of tea, prepregnancy, to a latte or two a day, plus tea, plus the occaisional black coffee.  I got an Nespresso espresso machine for my birthday, and now make a coffee for our commute in to work.  I go for coffee with coworkers regularly, sometimes for my beloved Starbucks lactaid lattes, and sometime for the better free coffee found in our cafeteria.  I drink a lot of tea.  I sometimes have a diet coke in the afternoon.

And I’m still tired, a lot of the time.  I totally am using caffeine as a crutch, because the baby’s still waking once a night to eat, and on bad nights, another time because she’s soaked through the cloth diaper.  (I’m going to experiment with a disposable at night, to see if that can last for 12 hours.)

But in the mean time, I keep sucking back the tasty black stuff and acknowledge that this part of parenting I’d been warn about is true.*

* For me.  David refuses to drink hot beverages.  He does drink a lot of pop though, but he’s always done that, so who knows.

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…