Wednesday, December 19, 2018


Hello again, reader(s), from the other side. Necessary short version: All is well! Baby is great! Blog will remain my own holdings-forth and will not be about the baby herself, both to preserve her privacy and because there is at this point not a tremendous amount even to overshare if I were so inclined. (Newborns eat, sleep, and go to the euphemistic bathroom. Mine is no exception in this regard.) 

The difference between pregnant and not is hard to overstate, if a whole lot less about physique than I'd have imagined. True, I no longer look nine months pregnant, which is of course a good thing seeing as I'm not, but size-wise my goal is not a bikini, or even jeans, but to fit into my usual winter coat by January, when it will likely become necessary. Mostly, it's about being able to take a shower and not panic that maybe it's too hot for the baby. To eat lox and soft cheeses, but also just to eat a bite of something that tastes a bit off and not think, oh no, food poisoning, which bacteria could it have been?? To walk down an unsteady construction-site ramp into a Krispy Kreme near the doctor's office, knowing that the baby is across the street with my husband, and not inside of me.

And I suppose it's nice to know, principle of the thing, that I could have a drink, even if practically speaking, this is something has to wait until you can be sure your baby can make it two whole hours between feeds. Those Rodenbachs I bought just prior (and made a habit of knocking over in the fridge in search of food over the past many months, so who knows what state they're in) are still there, and I'm sure I'll get to them at some point. 

Oh, and it's amazing not to feel like I'm going to faint every day between breakfast and lunch, no matter how many iron supplements and snacks I'd throw at the problem. To sleep deeply and (sort of) comfortably, even if for limited stretches of time. And all of this after what was, on paper, an easy-enough pregnancy. (No morning sickness - just food aversions - and none of the serious pregnancy complications.)

Of course, there's also childbirth, which is reputed to be painful (even with pain medication), and with good reason. WWPD will not be host to a play-by-play of my own experience, but let it be known, an experience was had. One that, much like pregnancy itself, is tough to categorize as easy or difficult. I have not, shall we say, rejoined my local running group just yet. Recovery... takes a moment, and I write this from somewhere in that moment. Certain basic actions - going on a short walk, or picking something up from the floor - sort of went from being near-impossible for one reason to being similarly challenging for another. But at least things are trending towards easier rather than more difficult.

I've heard plenty about the claustrophobia that can come of feeling tethered to a baby, and, sure? You are tethered! If you breastfeed and are still in the time period where you aren't yet supposed to pump, your baby-less outings are by definition short ones. (Short and mildly nerve-wracking, but possible.) But the version with an actual baby is a whole lot more fun than where it's that what's stopping you from trying the ultra-hip nail salon you've been contemplating for a year is your own dread of the walk from one end of a subway platform alllll the way to the other, or concerns about the fumes, or the (remote but you never know) possibility of infection. That's really the big difference - when you're pregnant, depending your... outlook? belief system? life experience?, a baby feels like a hoped-for outcome you can't quite count on, and could jinx at any time. Whereas once there's a baby, that much is, at least, for sure.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Ready or not

Hello, this time from one day past my due date. This means, I suppose, that the end is in sight. Also that I feel as though I should be offering up either profundities on The Experience, or at the very least, some sort of account, public but basically for myself, of this rather key transitional life moment. But my mind isn't quite up to profound, so random-assortment it is:

-There is no "ready." In some senses everything is flawlessly lined up, and I'm old-but-not-ancient (although I certainly feel ancient), and yes, have been with my husband a long time. I have zero qualms or ambivalences about the change that's to come. But I mean! I have never been a parent before! I have never given birth before! Yes, I took a childbirth class, but that was so abstract! I have no idea what any of this is like, really, having barely been around babies, just on a practical level. I know enough to know it isn't like first getting a puppy, but if we're talking personal experiences I can relate this to, that's all I've got.

-Had thought by this point we'd be living in a two-bedroom but we are not. I want to say that this feels like (to put it in millennial terms) an adulting fail, but then I think about how I'd feel if we'd just spent our every cent on a two-bedroom the same square footage as our 1br rental, and one in a less convenient spot, and am thinking staying put for the time being may have been the way to go.

-I have not batch-cooked anything. The freezer has, like, ice cream, gnocchi, and Korean rice cakes. The car seat... I mean there is a car seat, newly-purchased and Canadian safety standards approved, but it hasn't been installed because there's no car. (Am still not entirely sure I don't want to come home from the hospital via what is, after all, a door-to-door public bus route.) But there are bags with stuff in them from lists and that's a thing you're supposed to have done. I just have to keep reminding myself that the advice online is for people who don't live in urban downtowns.

-It's not so much 'getting my body back' I look forward to as being able to reach things in cabinets. I'd anticipated the not being able to bend over thing (and... you sort of still can, it's just awkward.) But if you're already short and then can't get as close as usual to countertops or the sink or whatever, your options in the getting a glass down department quickly become limited. And fine, I also miss wearing regular pants - even if these are going to be pants in a different dress size than before (as seems inevitable, at least for a while), if they're not sweatpants or leggings, that would be a plus. Along similar lines: I'd imagined no-alcohol for nine months would be at least a bit more noticeable than it was. Meanwhile I've been so much more fixated on what it will be like to again be able to eat absolutely whatever (except romaine lettuce, I suppose, which is off-limits to all), without wondering about pathogens. I don't even mean the usual list (sushi, etc.). I just mean the ability to eat whatever and not have to think about it. OK and I also mean a very specific bagel with lox and salmon roe, sold at an establishment not that far from my apartment.

-Was listening to a BBC Woman's Hour podcast about the immediate postpartum period, which some are now calling the "fourth trimester." The guest was explaining that it's actually not super helpful to tell new mothers that they look great-as-in-healthy, because it puts pressure on them to deny any struggles. Something similar is true, I think, of pregnancy itself. Without going overboard with haranguing acquaintances for innocuous/well-meaning small talk, I'd say that... yeah, it can be frustrating to hear that you look unwell (which if you're as baseline pale as I am, plus your iron levels are so-so, you will hear, often), and to hear from passersby that you're clearly doing well, when... you haven't slept through the night in months, and have had to stop work earlier than anticipated due to almost fainting while administering a midterm. There's a binary to how these things are discussed - an easy or difficult pregnancy - that I don't think quite covers how these actually go. And it is, for obvious reasons, the "easy" bit that's easier to publicly discuss.