Friday, August 7, 2009

My Body: The Aftermath

For some reason that I can't really explain, I don't seem to have any of the body image issues most women seem to have. Every now and then over the years, I look into the mirror and think, "Huh. That's how I look at 25/30/after having a kid/after having my second kid/etc." The first time I found a gray hair, I thought it was neat. I check out my little wrinkles and find them interesting.

I'm not saying that I'm perfect or that I think I'm perfect. In fact, I've always been self-conscious about my skin, which has been prone to breakouts since I was in 5th grade. But in general, I just accept how I look without feeling horrible about it. When I've been out of shape (and able to), I work out and/or eat better. But I don't have unrealistic expectations, either. I know I will never have the same body I had at 17 or 21. Overall, I'm okay with that, although I do remember it fondly (ah, the body I had at 21...).

And now, I look at my body after all it's been through and am amazed. After 6 fertility cycles, 3 conceptions, 2 pregnancies, 2 labor and deliveries, 20 total months so far of breastfeeding, and 33 years of life, this is my body. It's done so much, been to many parts of the world and through so much. It's been in shape, out of shape, huge with a baby inside, slender with youth, curvy with breast and hips. It's been through skydiving, scuba diving, regular yoga, gymnastics, swimming, golf and many other sports and activities.

Today, my body feels older than it is. I had my 6 week postpartum checkup last week. The doctor says I look good, that my body is healing well. The incision is healing up, and the stitches have all but dissolved (just some at the edge on the outside still hanging around). My abdomen is still sore all around the incision, but the incision itself is starting to itch a bit--although annoying, it is a sign of healing. I won't be able to wear bikini underwear for more than a year, maybe longer, but I can deal with that.

Speaking of underwear, because of the incision and how sore my abdomen around that area was after having the Pookie, I had to wear the largest grannie panties I'd ever seen in real life. They. Are. Huge! Apparently, I am no longer a bikini and thong underwear girl. This does make me a bit sad. Luckily, now that I'm less sore and my size has gone down a bit more, I am able to wear some underwear in between those two extremes. But I miss all my cute little panties that I have stored in a drawer in my closet. Cute bras, too, as opposed to the tired, worn out nursing bras I'm currently wearing that I've had since the Pumpkin was nursing. (I will go to the specialty lingerie store for new nursing bras as soon as I've settled into a postpartum size.)

In addition to the healing incision and underwear woes, my back and joints feel like they are falling apart. My back is sore from holding the baby, wearing the baby (in a sling) and leaning over when nursing without a Boppy. But what's even worse are my knees. I have always had one bad knee; while I was pregnant, my good knee went bad too. I don't know if it was all the weight gain and sudden weight loss or the hormones still running rampant through my body or what, but my knees have been so bad it is often hard for me to go up and down the stairs. I usually have to walk down the stairs like my toddler--both feet on one step before moving to the next. Thank goodness for the new knee brace I bought.

Finally, my hands. When my allergies act up or my hands are really dry, I get eczema on my fingers and hands. Well, with all the constant hand washing that comes with a new baby, my hands are incredibly dry. This causes the skin on my fingers to literally crack and scaly. When I had the Pumpkin, I used those waterless gels and my hands were awful! This time, I tried to be careful by using soap and water instead of the gel (which has always been easier on my hands) and constantly using lotion on my hands (especially the excellent organic Dream Cream by Lush, which I highly recommend to deal with dry, itchy skin and used on my pregnant belly with great success). Still, they are now going from the raw-red look to starting to form crack lines. My hands didn't start getting truly better until 20 months after the Pumpkin was born. I am really trying to keep them from getting that bad this time.

It's a lot for the body to go through. The pregnancies, the postpartum recoveries, the 33 years of wear and tear, the different health issues I have to deal with. And my body is not perfect, in health or appearance. But wow. Just wow. What my body can do! Overall, I think it's holding up pretty well. I'm seven and a half weeks postpartum, and I spend hours shopping at the outlets yesterday (I got great fall clothes for the Pumpkin to start pre-school and some really cute onesies for the Pookie!). Though sore, I did well and was able to handle a pretty full day.

My body may not be what it was when I was 21, but I think it's even more amazing. I'm proud of it, scars and all. And even though I'm sure I'm crazy for even thinking it, I keep thinking about having a third. My body could handle that too! But whether could I handle it mentally, that's another story.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My Friends and Family Rock!

I had so much fun this past weekend. I've gotten to spend time with friends and family, which I always enjoy.

At the DC area meet up, I got to spend time with friends and their kids. I thought the train and the playground at Cabin John Park was fantastic, but it definitely had us all running in different directions after the kids. I'm hoping we can do another meet up in maybe mid or late September--this time adults only so we can sit around and chat.

My BIL got to visit over the weekend and meet the Pookie. He was great with the toddler and baby, as always. We had fun hanging out, and he was extremely helpful at the park (when Londo and I were running on 3 to 4 hours of sleep, courtesy of the Pumpkin).

And this week, my good friend MommyEm has left her daughter home with her husband and come to spend the week visiting and helping me! It's her first trip away from her daughter, who is 2.5 years old. And it's just been great to have her here. Last time I saw her, I was visiting her and helping her pack--over a year ago. Not only is it so great to hang out with her, but she has been an incredible help already. She's entertained the toddler a ton, held and changed the baby a bunch, done dishes, cooked and fixed food, done a million little things that have helped enormously, and provided me with important adult conversation and time spent with a good friend. Plus, we are going shopping at the outlets tomorrow, something I don't think I could do without her help and company. She's leaving Friday, and I wish she could stay longer. In fact, I wish she lived a few doors away, as she once did when we lived in Georgia.

These special get togethers and visits with friends and family are so great, and I haven't even taken into account all the great support and visits we get from our local family and friends! For example, my SIL (the one with 3 year old twins and a 14 year old) has come over a few times in the last few weeks and spent 5+ hours just helping in whatever way was needed. I am truly blessed, and I hope you all have friends and family that are as fun and great.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Question of the Week - Games for Infants

First, I wanted to say how much I like you guys. Whenever I think I must be crazy for doing something or not doing something because no one else is or isn't, some wonderful people on the interwebs tell me that they do it or don't do it also! I feel such relief that I'm not the only one! Last week, I was really glad to hear that I'm not the only one who's daughter never had her hair cut. (I also can't believe how many people have never once smoked! Good for you guys!)

So, my friends in the computer, I'm hoping you can help me out with this one. You see, I love the toddler/pre-schooler stage, even with the frustration of the Twos that we deal with regularly. Because I'm good at playing and coming up with activities for that age. I'm good at communicating with kids that age. And I find playing and communicating with them fun.

But the baby stage? The infant stage? Once we are beyond the baby just eating, sleeping and pooping (which I don't exactly enjoy but can handle), I'm kind of lost.

The Pookie is spending more and more time in those "quiet alert" and "active alert" stages. He's also in a fussy phase, so I would love to be able to distract him and help him feel better even when it's not due to hunger. So I need something up my sleeve besides breasts for nursing, arms for holding and hands for changing him.

This week's question of the week is:

How did you entertain or play with your infant?

So far, the best entertainment I've found for him is basically staring at him and making big expressions (usually big smiles, the "oh" surprise face and exaggerated "hi"s work best). Londo has found that rattling keys interests him for a while. Of course, there are the ceiling fans slowly rotating after getting a push. All of this does not hold us parents' attention for long.

Did you find any good game or interaction for your infant? Something that really soothed or entertained the infant? Anything that you actually found fun? Please share!