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.

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?

Back in the saddle, remembering that I like horses

There was one thing I kind of forgot as I was weighing my feelings about going back to work, and it was, in in hindsight, a big one.   It’s that I am very good at my job.  And while it’s not my passion, I really do enjoy it.

I’m going to violate one of the internet’s prime directives and talk about my job, just a little.

I did admin work for the better part of a decade.  I was good at it, and fast, given the amount of spare time I had compared to my peers.  But I never really enjoyed it.  I would put off tasks that I didn’t enjoy, like filing, for months.  I always got everything that needed to be done, done, but my main interest wasn’t the day to day tasks that fill up admin support days.  It was always the special projects. I’ve worked in a variety of different admin jobs, and the special projects varied along with them.  I’ve done everything from organize a trip to New York for 30 people for a week with 30 different schedules, to cold calling people in France using what remains of my childhood french immersion skills to try and find a genealogical-minded distant relative for my boss, to becoming the group expert at a new piece of graphing software, to learning Access to update and QC a giant database.  A huge range of things, and all much more interesting than putting in another stationary order.  Although that doesn’t mean an absence of pens around the office wouldn’t be a problem, so it always got done too.  Just, you know, given the choice to work on a special project or organize someone’s business cards, well… It was always easy for me to prioritize.

When I went on mat leave, I was officially a tech, but I was also still doing all the admin work, just due to the way things shook out in the group.  I had no problems with that, of course.  I’d been doing all the tech work as an admin, and there was no real difference doing all the admin work as a tech.  But now there’s an admin to do all the admin work and she’s great and I don’t have to order stationary anymore.  My entire job, in flux as it is, IS a special project.  The last couple of weeks I’ve been working for an engineer who has been an amazing teacher, and I went from knowing basically nothing about this subset of our industry to being conversant in it.  I’ve learned 601 new things in the last month, and that’s an awesome feeling that I had forgotten – how nice it is to learn something new.   To tackle some new project that at the beginning feels so confusing, so far over your head that you don’t even know how to start, and then a few short weeks later you’re QC’ing someone else’s work as a second pair of eyes.  To be an expert at something – to be the person people come to for help.  To be good at something clear and tangible with immediate results.  It’s nice.  It’s really nice.  And I had forgotten that going back to work didn’t just mean leaving J with someone else all day and getting a paycheck.  It also means that I get to be good at something and get better at other things and to learn.

It also means lunch dates and coffee dates and yes, a paycheck.  It means talking to grown ups all day, every day, and then coming home with my kid and my husband and eating together and playing together and enjoying the whole time we’re together, instead of those days spent simply waiting for naps or a play date.  It means missing out on play dates, and long daily walks and spontaneous trips to Ikea for lunch.  But right now, this very week, I can live with the trade off.  Next year, or another kid later, or a different role at work?  Who knows?  But for right now, things are okay.  Things are good.

It feels like the best deep breath I’ve taken in months.

Feeeeelings

Oh, god.  I just got the package from the daycare, with all the forms, and the handbook.  And I am having SO MANY FEELINGS.

Jess was a disaster at the fitness class today.  Whiny, clingy, randomly inconsolable, before being fine for a while.  (Teething?  Maybe?  She has to get some eventually, right?)  And I’m torn between feeling sad for her, at the struggle she will have to deal with adults who are not me (child got her fear of strangers at 3 months, and it’s lingered) and feeling glad for me, because she will have to get better at letting adults who aren’t me pick her up when she is sad.

I’m reading through the day care handbook, and it really does sound like we’re sending her to a good place.  “Outdoor time is scheduled at minimum twice a day and more often when time and space allows for it.”  “We provide a morning snack, lunch and afternoon snack that is cooked and prepared at our x location.  The menu is reviewed and prepared quarterly by a nutritionist and follows The Canada Food guide recommendations.”  “Televisions are not used in any of our classrooms for watching movies, or television.”  Actually, it sounds in more than a few ways like a more structured, involving, stimulating environment than home.  What, a trip to Ikea isn’t as stimulating as a sand table and twice daily walks outside?

BUT MA BABEEE!  *insert weeping*  Even though we’re in a phase where my whole day is spent waiting for it to be nap time.

I am just so conflicted.  Someone please tell me awesome things about daycare.  I don’t seem to have any friends who are in my situation, and so I turn to you, internet, to tell me the perks of handing over my child to trained experts.  Because as much as I am looking forwards to it (I’m not loving this stage, right this week), I’m also really, really sad.  (And eating my feelings.)

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.

A Merry Christmas Evening

Our work Christmas parties were, same as last year, on the same night in the same building.  Opposite ends of a very large conference centre.  Last year we went to mine and stopped in at his, this year we went to his and stopped in at mine. It worked out really well  – we had a sit down dinner at David’s, sitting with one of his best friends and his lovely wife, and then we eventually ducked over to mine to drink our free drinks, talk to a few people and debate eating from the poutine bar.  (Alas, too full from dinner, but cute concept.)  I also got a job offer, which was great, and sure, my boss has already approved my in-group transfer, so it’s a sure thing, but it’s nice to be wanted no matter what.  Plus, I’ll be reporting directly to a woman I quite like, instead of a nice man who runs meetings in a Dilbertish fashion.  So 4 drinks, a job offer, and a great photo?  Glad we walked over there.

DSC_0562 rotated

Because they were free, we had our picture taken everywhere.  (Including three photobooth&costume photo sets, because I am powerless to not wear a viking hat if there is one one offer.)  And re: the last post, maybe there’s something to be said for just figuring out my angles and finding what’s flattering.  Instead of staring unhappily at pictures of myself, I just need to find better pictures, better poses?  Not that the family portraits we had done with Jess were bad!  They were great.  But they were in full daylight and in jeans.  Maybe the secret is in a short sassy little black dress and flattering poses.  Because, damn, do I like this photo.

work christmas

I think I look great.  (David always looks great in a suit.  Yum.)  Open mouth laughter suits me, and the set’s great, and it totally avoids showing the areas of my body I’m self conscious about.  (We’ll pretend the photo where I’m sitting on his lap didn’t happen, because that one is terribly unflattering.)

Okay, a great photo or two may not cure my body angst, but it sure doesn’t hurt – how can I feel too bad about myself, when I can look at that picture and be all, “YES”?  I can’t.  I felt great, in a short black dress that flattered the hell out of my curves.  I’d had a few (ahem) drinks and had a handsome man and the pictures look great.  Done.

On Guilt

On Monday we went to a mommy and baby fitness class at the pool.  It’s pretty great – I wear a deep water running belt and Jess sits in a tethered boat floating behind me.  So as I do laps of the deep end, she follows along, kicking her feet and chewing on bath toys.  I never feel that I’m working that hard (10 years of competitive swimming means that if doesn’t start with 5×100 meter set, it doesn’t count as exercise), but I’m always beat afterwards.  Plus, Jess often has epic naps afterwards.  It’s a great class.

After the class, I sat in the baby pool with two of the other mothers and chatted for almost an hour. I’ve talked to these ladies before – in fact, have even been in classes with them before.  (Strollercize with one, and library class with the other.)  We’ve been doing this for the past month, and despite the fact I cannot remember their names, I know a good deal about them, and their parenting style, and their babies.  This time, we ended up talking about going back to work.  (We live in Canada, where year long mat leave is the norm.  I’ve only heard of a few women, generally self employed, who don’t take at least most of a year.  Most people take the full 52 weeks, and corporate life hasn’t fallen apart.  1 year contracts for temps are super common.)  The other two ladies were so totally uncomplicated about their choices, and it made me feel deep envy.

One works in a high pressure group at a large corporation and is not going back.  Her work is very family unfriendly, she feels if she works she can’t give 100% in either role, and she loves spending the days playing and snuggling with her daughter.  The other works as a coordinator for a major charitable organization – a job that is much more family friendly and also is very rewarding.  She is going back to work, and seems very un-conflicted about it.

I’m going back to work, in large part, because the last 8 months has shown us that I am, in fact, not very good at being a stay at home mother.  And that makes me feel like shit.

Look.  I love STAYING HOME, but I don’t love STAYING HOME WITH THE BABY, if you can parse out the differences.  I love sleeping in, and spending the day puttering around the kitchen, and going to lunch with friends, and long walks around the reservoir, fitness classes, and surfing the internet for hours,  and puttering around the house.  I like being able to take care of chores during the day so our evenings are clear for hanging out.  I like getting to read a lot, and being able to shrug off insomnia nights and make up for it later with naps.  I like the lifestyle of being at home (a Lady Who Lunches), but I am well aware right now it’s totally dependent on a baby who is rarely awake for more than 2 hours in a stretch, has 3 naps a day and isn’t yet mobile.  I find it hard enough to entertain the kid for 2 hours at a stretch, and she spends a good deal of time (delightedly, but still) in the exersauser /on the playmat / in the stroller as we run errands.  That’s not exactly the reading/playing/snuggling bliss that I genuinely believe some people love to do.  I don’t.  I try, but I can only try to read at a kid who spends her whole time trying to eat the book while ignoring my words utterly before I just hand her the book and watch her chew on it.  I just don’t have the patience now, and this age sounds a fuckload easier than having a toddler, who needs entertainment and attention all the time.

And yet, I don’t feel like a failure as a mother.  I breastfeed.  I make baby food.  I cloth diaper.  I know my baby well: I have identified two different legitimate medical problems that the doctors didn’t (the second tongue tie and the weight loss/sleep/milk issue, although I didn’t know exactly what the problem was, I was able to get them to help me find the solution.)  I feel capable at the daily tasks of raising this tiny baby of mine.  I just don’t feel as up to the daily task of entertaining her, and that makes me feel like shit too.

I think it would be easier if I was going back to work at something I was passionate about. I like my job, and I’m proud of the promotion I got before I went on mat leave, but I don’t love it.  It doesn’t complete me, or is my passion, or anything like that. It’s a good job, that pays well, that challenges me in good ways, and allows me to live the life I love and to travel.  My work isn’t as meaninful as working with sick kids, for example, or creative like running websites, or involved in any way with my undefinied passions.  (I don’t think fraccing is anyone’s passion.  It’s a good job that needs to be done, and that’s it.  For all of us at work, I think.)

I feel like shit about going back to work. (Giving up all the time with my baby!  Giving up the nice relaxed lifestyle I’m enjoying!)  I feel like shit at the through of having to stay at home for years.  (Failing at being the kind of stay at home mom I coulda/shoulda/woulda be!)  I feel like I’ve set myself up for being unable to win.  I also feel like this is entirely in my own head, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

Linked are three unrelated posts that were all very helpful in helping me pull my thoughts in to some for of order.   Meghan about not being guiltyLiz on staying at home with her sonJill about making parenting less stressful.