Posts Tagged 'career'

The Post Post Post

[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.

I'm baack!

I’m baack!

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.

We Can Work It Out

Work.

It was bound to come up sooner or later. K started back to work a month ago, and it’s been brutal. We’ve figured out that it takes at least 3 adults to take care of 1 infant. On the days K is gone for 8 hours, I’ve tried to wrangle friends to hang out with me and Josie. Sometimes it’s great; Josie is all smiles and naps. Other times she acts like these friends (sometimes the same ones!) are there to torture her and cries to look at them (which she can’t help doing over and over). I’ve tried going to “groups” but am often more exhausted from wearing and bouncing her the whole time than if we’d stayed home where I could be worn out in private (and cry if I want to).

I recently had the opportunity to take on a small freelance editing job. It was right up my alley. But then I had one of those days with Josie (actually two in a row); I was a wreck physically and emotionally (there’s nothing quite like when a baby finds her angry scream!). I ended up turning it down even though we could for sure use the money and I need to get back to doing what I like for work, rather than what I’ve been doing for 3 years (teaching online). The person said she’d be happy to work with me in the future, when I’m ready. But, of course, I still felt like a failure for turning down one little job and feel like it’s crazy to imagine there will be a time when Josie will “let” me work.

You see, our daughter will not nap, and now she’s gotten to waking up every, I don’t know, half hour to scream until I put I boob in it. If she could find it on her own and I could sleep through, that’d be great. But she can’t and neither can I. It’s constant waking…to the point of sleep deprivation torture. I know it could just be a stage or teething or who knows what. But it soooks! As I say often to K (it’s my postpartum mantra), this is unsustainable!

We’ve talked books and theories and timing and routines and swaddling and dangling from the ceiling, etc., whatever it would take to get her to sleep for longer stretches (even the old 2-hour ones we used to curse!). Nothing works, and I am sick of trying. We resorted to giving her the dreaded formula last night, thinking it would fill her tummy and help her sleep longer. Oh, no. She was on the boob right after. And on and off as usual throughout the night. So much for corn syrup! My mom being here right now is my only saving grace. And thinking that maybe, some month, Josie will change.

One piece of advice I’ve gotten recently that I do appreciate (however fantastical it is) is to do more self care and that this will somehow via magic unicorns and confetti translate to an easier go. So I got a massage last week. And another today. I’ve been in so much pain (just the regular body pain of having a baby, in addition to, of course, the special sliced and diced down-under kind), I have a hard time sleeping even when she is. Sometimes the pain killers help, but mostly I lie there thinking at the pain, “If I was really tired I could sleep through you!” I’m sure that’s it; I just haven’t hit rock bottom yet. Luckily, the massages have felt really good. The one yesterday was a sliding-scale Thai massage where the practitioner makes you into a pretzel and stretches out the tight spots. Hurts so god — a bit like fighting fire with fire.

Today I went to work on rebuilding my pelvic floor muscles and reconnecting my abdominals. I’ve been going once a week for over a month, and my diastasis has improved quite a bit. It’s still three fingers wide around the belly button area, but it’s much shallower all the way from top to bottom. I was expressing a little frustration to the pilates instructor I’m working with who said that as long as I’m nursing Josie, the relaxin in my system will keep things loose and my body won’t be able to “come back together” all the way. It was kind of good and bad to hear that. At first I thought, “Well, what’s all this working out for? How can I, or anyone, take care of a growing baby without certain muscles intact?” Then I thought, “Phew! I don’t have to get it perfect yet.”

Before I sign off, I want to introduce a new blog feature called FOG (Funny or Gross). When Josie was smaller and K and I were new to sleep deprivation, we thought we were the funniest people in the world. We’d make things up or just say (whisper) them on accident and crack up while trying not to disturb the almost-sleeping baby. As Josie is growing and doing more things with her body, I have to wonder: is that funny or gross? For example, Josie has been getting very good with her hands. I was leaning over and kissing her belly area when she hooked my nostrils with two of her fingers, bowling ball style, and pulled my face up to hers so she could eat it (my face). I thought it was hysterical. Later, when I was in bed, I moved my face muscles and felt my skin crack where the entire day’s saliva had dried. Again, I laughed. Am I still suffering from the sleep deprivation sense of humor? More FOG to come…

To Sum Up

The past few days I have felt things/messages sent to my brain from my uterus saying, “Sorry!” once again. It’s hard to explain, and… it sucks. No one believes me because how would I know what’s going on in my body until a pregnancy test tells me?

In any case the blood test isn’t until next week. So while we wait, I thought I’d take a moment to summarize where we’ve been. I feel like I’m at the end of a long chapter, and, at least in textbooks, that’s where the summary goes.

I’ve always wanted to have a children, meaning, I used to think I wanted three (one girl and two boys, specifically). But as I grew up a little, I realized I just very much wanted the female human experience of making a baby and then raising it. I became an aunt at 10 and have loved me many a baby since. Once K and I were together, I knew she’d be the one I would do this with, but she was only 20 (I was 26). We would, of course, wait until we’d been together longer and she was ready to be a mom. After she became a massage therapist and we moved to Portland, we felt ready emotionally, but decided we should have a house first. So, we got our first home. Then we felt unprepared financially and had roommate drama to deal with. After a year or so, I got a job with health benefits and a salary. If I could wait to have a baby after my two-year anniversary at this company, I would get a lot more maternity leave. So we waited. In the meantime, I began charting and we began looking at sperm banks. Like all well-laid plans… About a year after I started this job, my dad’s health began declining pretty suddenly and confusingly. None of us knew the right thing to do, and so there was a lot of anxiety. About a month into this, K almost died. I spent a full month by her hospital bed while doctors (and our loved ones’ prayers) worked really hard and saved her. I spent the next year (and still) worrying about her and supporting her as she recovered and returned to her routine. During this time, my father got worse (with a lot of mini ups and downs). I traveled home a lot, often thinking it would be the last time I’d see him. A friend offered his services on the sperm front, and we got to try a couple of times. But six months after K came home, she had another, related health scare that just threw me over the edge. My systems shut down from all of the anxiety, and we put off trying again until after my dad passed away. At that point (early 2010), we needed to find a new donor. Once we did, we squeezed the hell out of him, thinking it was bound to work one of these times. I kept thinking there might be something wrong with his sperm, so we asked him to make changes and kept retesting him. It turns out that, all along, the problem was me. Here’s the cautionary tale part of this summary: ladies, if you’re thinking of trying to get pregnant, get your estradiol level tested, not just your FSH. For some reason that makes me so crazy mad I can’t think of it for too long, I had always had my FSH level tested, but it wasn’t until we’d given up on the “old fashioned” way and went to the fertility clinic that anyone mentioned estradiol. What we discovered is that I had a rapidly declining supply of good and/or healthy eggs. If I had known this at any point earlier, I would have done IVF then. But, as my dad said soon before he left, “What is is right.” And here we are. IVF (and the hormone injections that come with it) has turned out, for me, to be more physically, emotionally, and financially draining than I thought it would be. This is why I feel a chapter wrapping up; I don’t think I can do it again. Everyone likes to tell me that we can get a kid another way. I know this. But I am losing something if I cannot look into my baby’s face and pinpoint my father’s features. It’s this loss that will be the hardest to bear.

As I said, we find out next week. The following day is our 9-year anniversary. I made some plans for us to leave town the next day because, I figured, we can celebrate good news anywhere, but I can’t imagine all that devastation and disappointment ever coming out of our rugs, furniture and drapes if the news is bad. I want to be with K far away from things and people we know. I am hoping that, if it’s negative, we can scrub me of the horrible feelings many miles away and then bring me back a shell of my former self but one that won’t ruin our home or our friendships.

I know you’re rooting for us, and we appreciate it so much. I want you to know that I won’t be posting again for a while. I’m hoping to post sooner than later with good news, but it will still be some time. Thanks for your support and patience.

A Mother’s Work…

I grew up with the assumption that I would have a career and be a working-away-from-home mother. It was a given, just like getting married and having children. The fact that my childhood goal of a hetero marriage and a first child by age 24 didn’t happen should have prepared me for other plan changes.

For instance, I took as my first career working in the publishing industry. When I didn’t feel a passion for it, I decided to go to grad school for poetry (how romantic!) and sign away my future child’s college funds to Sallie Mae. Luckily, I got a wife out of that deal, but the air in the tires of this poetess has been let out (who knew there is no career in poeting?) After stints as a reporter and working in the environmental nonprofit world, I thought, “Wow, I really don’t like people!” The inevitable conclusion? A career in plants, of course. Well, my foray into the community college landscape design program came to a halt with my father’s passing, and now—though I still love me some plants—all I want to do is make a baby and be a mom.

My BFF (with her son in a kid's playroom at a local cafe) has a full-time job and career as an online high school English teacher. She is passionate about her work and her son. It's a beautiful thing.

A year ago I got a part-time job working for an online university teaching English composition. It brings in some money, and the best part (besides having no “boss”) is that I can do it at any time of the day from anywhere there’s internet. Yes, that means in my PJs on the couch or at my favorite tea house listening to awesome music. It is a job I want to hold on to because it seems ideal for a new mother (or even a morning-sick pregnant gal). When I’m not working, I actually enjoy doing some shopping, cooking, and other housewifey things.

The downside (because there always is with Debbie Downer over here): Besides the stress of not bringing in enough dough, I have the guilt of 1) not having a passion for this work either, 2) not having a career like I was supposed to—coming out of my particular educational background, and 3) not knowing what my passion is so I could at least pursue something for a career.

Is it enough to want to be a part-time, work-from-home mom? Have I lost my street cred as a “modern woman”?


(Disclaimer: No men were harmed in the making of this blog.)

The Family

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