As A Mom: My Body Post Pregnancy

Of course, pregnancy was only half the story of my new “mom” body. My delivery and post-delivery have dramatically shaped how I view my physical self, though this is a bit more emotional than my experience while pregnant.

I was a bit hesitant to go into this. In some ways I feel like I can’t properly express all the emotions that went into those first ten days of Jackson’s life. The joy at him being there and okay despite what happened, the tears of missing out on so many of those first moments of his life, the fear of the wires in and around his body. The fullness of that can’t be put in to words. In the end though, he is here and healthy, and we are so grateful for that. We are so lucky when so many aren’t. But the experience still remains in the back of my mind, and it has changed me in so many ways.

I labored for over 30 hours before the nurses called in for an emergency cesarean. I had assumed that this was coming, and actually asked that they just do the cesarean before it became an emergency, but they seemed to think a natural birth could still happened for a while. Eventually though, my labor became too hard on the baby and it was time for plan b. By the time it finally came I had long made peace with the new plan and was more than ready both physically and mentally.

The surgery itself seemed to go by stunningly fast. Jackson was born and emitted by far the angriest cry I’ve ever heard from a child. But something was wrong. He was sent to NICU with Glenn following closely behind. After some time in recovery, I was allowed to visit him for a few minutes. I stared at him, touched him gently, and apologized over and over. This was not the birth I expected, I couldn’t even hold him.

After twenty minutes, the nurse told me I had to go rest, and they wheeled me back to my room until I could “prove myself” the next day (they want to make sure you can walk and won’t faint or bleed, I’m assuming). The prospect of being able to see Jackson again gave me the will to stand up the minute they put me in my room, but unfortunately that didn’t mean they thought I was ready.

Ten hours and a hundred requests later, a nurse came in and asked if I felt up to it. I was standing by the time she finished her sentence.

This act, my body literally standing up to a challenge, is what I leaned on in the following months when I began to blame it for putting Jackson through that experience in the first place. Maybe if my body had gone into labor on its own, maybe if I had been able to deliver him naturally, he wouldn’t have had the pneumothorax. Perhaps the act of being birthed would have spread the mucus coating on the inside of his lungs over the spot left unguarded and he wouldn’t have pierced his lung with that first strong cry. I know it’s incredibly unlikely, but I still question myself and my body now.

At least I know that I saw him as soon as my body was given the opportunity. Moreover, from then on my body continued to function as high as it could. I sat in a hard chair that first day for hours, not even a full day after my body had been cut open and a baby taken out. I sat in many chairs over the next 10 days, spending as much time with my little boy as I could. My body woke in the middle of the night, just two hours after I finally got into bed, to answer the call of his nurse telling me it was time to feed him. It allowed me to walk carefully down the hall to a hungry baby again and again. When I was discharged, but Jackson wasn’t, my body let me wake up at 5am and not go back home until 11 that night. It was the trooper I needed, and it let me do what I had to do. For that, I am so grateful.

Talking with friends later on, long after Jackson came home and he was adorable and chubby, the question would often be what I thought about my post pregnancy body. This is a popular topic at the moment, and it’s amazing to see women come to grips with how their bodies have changed after having children. It is, after all, the physical point of your being, right? I would respond that I thought it was doing magnificently given how poorly I was treating it.

Honestly, once Jackson arrived my body became an afterthought for over a year. At times I think I even purposefully treated it poorly, eating too many things I knew weren’t good for it and not moving it enough. After I emerged from the fog though, I knew I had let it go too long. I began to eat healthier, exercise, and take better care of it in general. It’s rewarded me without grudge, letting go of the weight I had been told it would hold tightly on to.

My body is not the same as it was before Jackson, in some ways it is better and in others it’s a bit squishier. I still have my scar, I don’t know if I will ever lose my pouch, and I’m not always a fan of how it looks visually; but I can say with absolute honesty that I am so grateful for what it has given me. It grew my son, it pushed through when it needed to, and it has been gentle with me even when I didn’t deserve it.

This is the view of myself that I hope to keep for the rest of my life. A body that is more than what it looks like, a body that is strong and up for the challenge.

As A Mom- Singing

At least once a day, I’ll note how I’ve changed since becoming a mother. It could be anything as simple as letting a friend know that any night out must begin before 7pm, regardless of the activity. Or it can be as big as watching my son and husband roughhouse and feeling more love than I ever knew. Some are big, most are small. But I have found that one interesting result of having Jackson is how I sing.

I’ve never been much of a singer. I grew up surrounded by people with beautiful voices- a cousin who practiced opera, my first boyfriend who was in choir his entire life (to this day), many, many friends, and so forth. And I tried, on several occasions, to follow in these footsteps.

Let me get to the point and say that it never turned out well. I will never forget the look on my sweet first boyfriend’s face as he tried to think of a kind way to tell me the bad news.

So I resigned to singing alone in my car with the windows up and the radio blaring. When I pulled up to a stop light, I would stop so none of the other passengers would be able to see (or worse, hear) me.

As my husband, Glenn has absolutely heard me sing the most- but I have to admit I still feel a ping of embarrassment when I try to hit a note that I have no business trying to hit. He’s a sweetheart though and never mentions it.

But something changed when I became pregnant. All of a sudden, it became absolutely imperative that I find a song for my baby that they would have for the rest of their lives. More than a lullaby, I wanted something that could randomly show up and remind them just how much I love them and how much they mean to their father and I.

We didn’t know at the time whether Jackson would be a boy or a girl, but I knew it was especially important to find the right song for a son. It seems that nowadays, songs about men are generally quite demeaning- either emphasizing the guy being an idiot, or expressing how horrible he is to women. That wouldn’t do for my sweet baby, if he were a boy I wanted him to know just how loved and special he was.

I decided on the Carpenters, “Close to you.”

An odd choice, I imagine, for anyone that didn’t grow up with my mom. But it echoed the sentiment I wanted my son to feel.

Why do birds suddenly appear
Every time you are near?
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you

Why do stars fall down from the sky
Every time you walk by?
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you

On the day that you were born the angels got together
And decided to create a dream come true
So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair
Of golden starlight in your eyes of blue

Over my pregnancy, I would practice this song over and over and over. Not only did I hope my little one would hear it and remember it once he was born, but I honestly also hoped to get better at singing it.

I don’t remember the first time I sang it to him after he was born. It seems odd that I don’t, since it had become so important in my mind. It was likely once we got home, though it’s possible I had sung it to him once we got out of the more intensive sections of NICU, where there was a little more privacy. Nevertheless, it’s the song that I still sing almost nightly.

In the year and a half that I’ve been singing to Jack, I can honestly say several things. One, I’ve gotten significantly better at singing it (though I’m no Karen, let me tell you). Two, while babies love listening to you sing in their first year of life, later on it means they’re going to bed and they are no longer as happy to hear it. And third, I know without a doubt that someday he will love hearing it again.

When I reflect back now, I remember how much I would love hearing my mom sing when we were younger. I always thought she sounded beautiful and always wanted to hear her sing more. Never once did I judge her voice, it made me feel safe and loved. And I hope that’s what Jackson feels when he hears me singing.

I will never join a choir, I will never sing loudly in a room full of people (I’m not sure when this would ever happen, but I wouldn’t do it nonetheless), and I still sing in my car with the windows up and the radio blasting.

But I do feel much more comfortable with my voice. It’s not perfect, but it brings my baby comfort (when he’s not screaming that he doesn’t want to go to bed), and that’s more than enough for me.

I’ve already decided what the next baby’s song will be. A little preemptive, but once you know, you know.

Wise men say only fools rush in
But I can’t help falling in love with you
Shall I stay
Would it be a sin
If I can’t help falling in love with you

Like a river flows so surely to the sea
Oh my darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
So take my hand, and take my whole life too
‘Cause I can’t help falling in love with you

Like a river flows so surely to the sea
Oh my darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be
So won’t you please just take my hand, and take my whole life too
‘Cause I can’t help falling in love, in love with you
‘Cause I can’t help falling in love, falling in love,
I keep falling in love with you

Ingrid Michaelson, “Can’t Help Falling In Love”

All the Lovely Things: Giant Paper Flowers and Popsicles

Oh man, if I had the time to make this

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DIY Giant Paper Flowers

Note to self- purchase Popsicle molds

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Peach-Melba Popsicles

Have you ever wondered about the history of margarine? Nope, me neither. But it turns out it’s pretty interesting. More than what you’d expect at least, I mean there aren’t any flying cows or anything but it’s still pretty cool.

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Butter v. Margarine

How millenniums are changing travel. Beware, this may inspire wanderlust.

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How Millennials Are Changing Travel