[Warning: This blog post contains personal body related information; not for the squeamish or uninterested.)
I realized yesterday, when I got what seems to be my period, that I used to blog about it every time I got it for over a year. Many, many cycles of trying to conceive were ended with me writing about the onset of my menses. Without looking back, I am sure that each of those posts were full of woe. I remember trying to convince myself that the cramping or spotting was really a result of implantation; despite its recurrence, I'd stay up late pleading with Dr. Google so I could retain the possibility of being pregnant---even one more day---until the real blood flowed.
Now, I feel truly ambivalent. It's been 2 years since my last period, and I don't know how to associate with it anymore. Am I technically post postpartum? I know the period will most likely change over the coming months and when I eventually stop nursing, but the onset has left me befuddled---kind of how I feel about a lot of things these days. The result of continued interrupted sleep? Probably.
Speaking of nursing. I always thought I’d want to nurse as long as my child would want to and let her wean as she lost interest. But lately, the constant whiny demand for “nuh-thEEEng!” has me wanting out. Getting grabbed by the shirt collar and yelled at in the face for something that is actually starting to hurt again (sore nipples) is nothing like the soulful connection Josie and I used to share. Especially now that I have to go back to cramps and bleeding, it seems like we should make a trade. I shed my uterine lining every month and she finds comfort from me in other ways.
One feeling that is mightily clear and present is that of shame. I have not figured out what to do for an income and when and how to do it. I try telling myself that being with Josie every minute of the day and getting household things done is a job, though unpaid. But my older more persistent voice says that I am lazy and entitled and “not enough.” The shame of not being a working mom is surprising to me. I have often thought the hetero-normative working mom gets a raw deal having to work and be main caretaker, cook, maid, etc. So why be so self-punishing for being a stay-at-home mom for now? Added to this shame is guilt for actually yearning to work outside the home if only to get away from Josie sometimes. I fought hard to get her into our lives; how can I now want to be away from her? Many moms have told me to just get some small job, that it’ll be worth it for the separation, yet I’m having a hard time believing that bagging groceries would make sense in the context of my new life with a pre-preschool toddler. On the other hand, the universe has been slow to deliver unto me a new and highly satisfying career idea. The thoughtful present “me” definitely feels like I have my hands full most every second of the day, but the nagging inside my head “me” is apparently a masochist.
Instead of the usual Moment of FoG (Funny or Gross), I thought I’d share some of my GaS (Gross and Sad): If you go back about 9 or 10 months of posts, you’ll see that I had some work done on my anus to relieve the incredible postpartum hemorrhoids no one tells you about. It helped a lot. But something I’m starting to come to grips with (no pun intended) is that certain functions “down there” will never come back online—not the way they were before the birth. In spite of the many months of physical therapy, I have only regained a portion of the feeling in my muscles around the episiotomy and internal (forceps and other) tearing. What this means, combined with a healthy dose of Eastern European IBS, is a constant struggle with shit. Most of the time, I can’t completely eliminate and can’t feel what has come out. The wiping is never ending, and when I try to get it all, I end up with hemorrhoids again! I know people have it a lot worse. People with broken backs who lose all feeling spend much more effort on this every day. But because I am mostly functional and only uncomfortable and inconvenienced, the time it takes from my life, as well as the pain and frustration, do not afford me any kind of disability pay; I just need to suck it up (no pun intended) and get on with life as usual. Bending over to walk Josie pushes on my gut which pushes other things, and I do this all day long. I can’t imagine getting work done in the short time Josie naps when I need that time to clean up around the house and in my caboose! The most frustrating thing for me is that, again, no one talks about this stuff. I know one other person who has similar issues, but I’ve heard of so many more from my health care providers. I wish I knew why women don’t talk about the nasty parts of pregnancy and postpartum life. Is it shame? Do we truly think our bodies are that original that no other woman has experienced something similar? I hope, at least, that sharing my GaS (don’t get me started on gas) will reach some blog reader out there and that she will feel less freaky and alone.