mom dispatch: 21 months plus 1 day

Photo on 2-7-18 at 4.30 PM #3.jpg

Photo on 2-7-18 at 4.29 PM #3.jpg

Photo on 2-7-18 at 4.30 PM.jpg

Yesterday was Giles’ 21 month birthday and for the first time in his whole life I forgot to mark this monthly occurrence. Today I realized the date and maybe also realized I don’t need to count by months anymore? When people ask how old he is do I just say, “almost 2”?

But when he turns 22 months I of course want to make an instagram post using lyrics from Taylor Swift’s “22.”

Giles speaks in two and three word sentences now. “Daddy shower.” “Daddy work.” “I see ya!” “Hair up Mommy.” “Thank you Mommy.” “What in there?” “No poops!” This verbal development is my favorite thing so far. I love hearing what’s going on in his head as he plays, or which phrases he chooses to repeat. Seeing his face as he understands how a word fits with a thing– it’s amazing.

He’s also really fun. And throws tantrums. And beams me in the head with a metal Ernie in a bathtub car toy thing from my own 1980s childhood. And now there’s a bump on my head. And I worry about what this aggression means and how to stop it. And about a thousand other things. But he is also sweet and loving and tender– “Hugs, Mommy,” he says. And, “I sorry.” He pats my head, kisses my belly, rests his own little head on my shoulder.

21 months postpartum isn’t how I imagined it would be. I sort of wish I knew what my weight is, but I don’t own a scale and really I’m kind of glad. I keep reminding myself that my body will never be what it was before, and that it’s okay. I feel good and strong, especially since returning from our trip to Chile to visit Phoebe about a month ago. I’m taking Zumba, adult jazz dance, yoga, and I think I’m a vegetarian now? I’m ready to start the journey of making another human person inside my body again. Hormones still go up and down, but less dramatically. My soft belly, which Giles is so interested in lately (“mommy belly!”) is maybe a bit smaller, arms strong from lifting a 30 pound toddler, mind a bit more centered, identity more defined and sure, art time more regular and productive. Viewings of Moana have increased tenfold.

Now that I feel pretty good, pretty much like myself, why would I mess it all up to have another baby?

There are huge moments of fear and doubt and anxiety. Fear of being pregnant while taking care of a toddler. Of giving birth again. Of having a miscarriage. Of losing myself. Of losing my body. My mind. My identity outside of “mom.” How did my mom do this? How did she decide to have another kid? What did she feel as she and my dad made the decision? How did they know what to name her? What was it like taking care of two-year-old me while carrying baby Phoebe in her belly?

I had a moment, though. In yoga class, during shavasanah. Hands resting on my belly, I felt my body make room for the next baby. For my number two. For my “Phoebe,” so to speak.

My mom had a distinct relationship with each of us, my sister and me. Each special in its own way, but very different. Thinking about my mom and Phoebe together, I really look forward to my relationship with my number two, and how it will be just as big, deep, and full as that I have with Giles. But different. My “Phoebe.”

(Calm down, Gramma. I’m not pregnant yet.)

 

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my body, 4.5 months

Four and a half months postpartum, my body feels strong but in a completely different way than I’ve ever felt strong Before. Arms and legs. Baby lifting above my head, squatting to feed the cats while holding that squirmy fifteen pounds against my chest. Pushing the stroller uphill. My breasts heavy with milk. A kind of heavy I couldn’t have understood Before. Before is my old country. Where I lived with a flat stomach and no stretch marks and only my own life in my own body.

My belly squishy and soft and proof that a baby grew in there. The linea negra a bit lighter now but still very much present. My hips back together but still a bit wider than Before, perhaps forever. My feet longer. My face more tired. My face more beautiful.

My hair is falling out, all the extra pregnancy hair collecting in the shower drain and on the bathroom sink and the pillows and sticking to my shoulders and everywhere else too. I get cramps in my lower abdomen, my period coming back already? I don’t know. Phantom contractions? Everything in my lower region feels just slightly different.

Heart full. A new heart, on top of the old one. More tears. More farts. More love. Deeper intimacy. More cracks. More light.

unnamed

 

singing to you, the song my mom sang to me. in a sports bra and your dad’s sweat pants, in our bedroom, late at night. 

this is our life. us and you. “hello best friend” your dad says when he gets home from work and takes you in his arms.

my arms are full, so is my mind, so is my heart and all the secret tucked away places of my body that carried you and moved my organs all around and held more blood and more bones and where those extra cells of yours will live inside me forever.

 

this body, this moment

Trying to love the body that made my baby and pushed him out. In some moments succeeding. In others feeling strange and not myself, so so far away from myself. Last summer I finally found a bathing suit I really liked and this summer it doesn’t fit. I also found the best jeans last year (a constant struggle for one with long, wide hips) and now they are useless to me. oh how i finally felt in those jeans. I am cutting up and trying to fix clothes so they will fit this body now. I am cutting in fits of hormones and making mistakes.

My body grew a human being and push him out and I love him more than anything on this whole planet.

My body is everything right now. It is food for the baby, comfort for the baby, a body to lie on, a body to be held by. My body is a kind of machine. A marvel of nature. Resilient. Healing. Consumed by hormones. did i mention hormones?

But where am I in this body? What is my relationship to it now that I cannot do things like crunches or leg lifts or anything involving lower abdominals? not that i was like huge into leg lifts but like, i could do them, you know? Now that I cannot fit into my clothes. Now that my once proud belly is a totally different belly that I don’t know how I feel about showing off to the world. I want to. I want to, I want to wear my crop tops and be a shining light for all the postpartum women’s bodies that are squishy and zebra-lined with stretch marks and breasts that are not the same breasts we once had breasts we can barely hold up the weight of in un-sexy nursing bras! seriously though can someone design better nursing bras, better nursing and postpartum clothes, better so many things.

My body does not feel like mine. Sometimes it feels more mine than ever after doing such a strong and crazy hard and scary and beautiful thing as giving birth. That was MY pain. MY story. MY blood and shit and pee and sweat and muscles and pushing. But also this body belongs to the new human being that I am responsible for keeping alive. My body is two bodies. The one that is me feels like a shadow.

 

my body now, part 2

self portrait with bunself portrait in watercolor, January 2016

My face doesn’t look that different, even though my body is 6 months pregnant and looks (and FEELS) quite different. Sometimes my face looks really tired. Sometimes my skin is blotchy, or pale, or has tiny bumps on it, and my hair is weird because I’m in the process of growing it out (again). Some days I feel so beautiful, more beautiful than I’ve ever felt. Greg tells me often that I am a gorgeous pregnant woman. But some days I feel huge and nothing fits right and my boobs hurt and my back hurts…it’s a new body every day, constantly changing.

I want to talk to my mom about all this body stuff. We used to talk about these things a lot: relating about how clothes make us feel, society’s insistence on bras and underwear, the way our bodies change as we get older and why, how we can redefine beauty at every age and even during cancer. I want to know what clothes she wore during pregnancy, how she felt, was she frustrated, how did her body change? I want her to go bra shopping with me. I want her to help me find shoes that are comfortable but also cute on my slightly swollen pregnant feet.

Today I feel good because I’m wearing my cute new overalls and a bra that actually fits (more on the maternity bra shopping experience later), and my hair is just the right amount of messy.

love this body (self-portrait with pink hair)

self-portrait with pink hairSometimes I forget. I think everyone forgets to love their body, but it’s the thing that connects us with the world, with other people, and food and weather and light.

Dancing reminds me what I am capable of– how strong and beautiful I am and what I can handle. I forget the strong part especially, and lately. When my sister took me rock climbing for the first time a few years ago, I was up there on the rock and scared and didn’t think I could reach the next foot hold. Phoebe said, “Use those dancer legs.” Amazingly, my leg was long enough and I pulled myself further up.

We’re all stronger than we think.