Sweet Surrender

A lot of my blogs are about things in parenthood, or life, that are hard, or things that I’m currently struggling with. I’ve always written about those topics, because I think it’s important not to sugar coat things, especially something as raw and real as having a baby. I’ve also written a lot about my insecurities, about the parts of me and my life that I’m not happy with. But there are so many amazing, beautiful, wonderful things that I don’t write about much (except via Facebook status, because it’s easy to jot a quick “here’s what’s awesome right now” on Facebook).

It’s harder for me to write about all the great things that happen with James, because when I was pregnant, I was cautioned not to rub my happiness in other peoples’ faces. And I took that information to heart. I know so many people who desperately want children, who for whatever reason don’t have them, and I know that me broadcasting my joy might cause them pain, and I never want to do that. But in the spirit of being honest, I DO want to share my joys. I hope I can do so without causing you or someone you care for pain.

I named my blog “Sweet Surrender” because to be a mother, you have to surrender your old life to your new life. You’re no longer just an individual. You now are an individual whose whole being, whole world, is wrapped around this tiny little human. And while surrendering is hard, and sometimes unpleasant, because you’re surrendering to this little, perfect being, it’s also sweet. It’s the choice to surrender your life to this person and to do so, even when it’s tough, gladly.

To honor that act of surrender, and to show anyone who’s pregnant or thinking of having a baby that it’s not all hard, I want to share some milestones that my son has reached so far.

In the last month, James has started rolling over! My tiny, squishy baby is now a big, strong big-boy-baby! When I lay him on a blanket, he rolls all around–on his sides, his belly, his back. He rubs his sweet face into the blanket and looks up at me with a spit-covered smile. On his back, he grabs his feet and shoves his sweet toes in his mouth. He can also sit up now! Sort of. He face plants a lot, but we practice on the bed, and he’s doing such an amazing job learning how to control and maneuver his body.

He has two teeth that have popped through his lower gums, and aside from a few nights where he was up every hour, he’s been such a trooper. He wakes up once or twice a night to eat, and that’s it (right now, anyway). Part of me is heartbroken that he’ll never be toothless again, and part of me cannot WAIT to see his toothy smile. With those two new teeth, he’s started eating cereals! We started with rice and have now transitioned to oatmeal, and he loves them both.

James laughs and smiles most of the day, and it’s such a joy, such an absolute joy, to see him get excited whenever he sees me walk into a room. He’s funny, too (if a 6 month old can be funny). When he sees our dog, Juno, he starts babbling and laughing. He loves her so much. If she walks by, he loses it! And when we change his diaper, and put that cold wipe on him, he laughs and laughs and laughs. Everything he does, he does with joy (except get hungry–he gets hangry instead, just like his mom). He’s also started making this sound where he buzzes his lips, kind of like he’s blowing a raspberry, and he sounds like a very loud baby elephant. He’s such a little weirdo, and I love everything about him.

When I dreamed of having babies (and I’ve dreamed of that for YEARS–if you’ve known a while, you know that) I never dreamed that my son would be so joyful. He reminds me to be joyful every day. He’s our tiny man, our big boy, our sweet, wonderful beedoh.

So, the next time I write a blog about one of the many struggles that go along with parenting (of which there are many), I hope I remember to include on of the joys, too, because while the struggles are numerous, the joys, even the small ones, outnumber them by a long shot.

6monthsold eating lyingdown

The Postpartum Weight Gain Blues

Three months ago I wrote about how my new, post-baby body was affecting me–how it was hard to have a new body that was hormonally and physically different. Now, three months later, it’s affecting me in different ways, but it’s still a very real, very palpable struggle.

Now, before you tell me that my stretch marks are badges of honor and that I should think of my baby first and myself last, let me say this: I don’t mind my stretch marks. I was lucky enough not to have very many, anyway, but they don’t bother me in the least. And of COURSE James comes first. I would do it all again, 1,000 times over, to have him. However, just because I put my sweet, perfect baby first, and just because I would do it all again to have him, doesn’t mean I don’t have some issues with myself, and my body

Growing up, I had a poor self image. I thought of myself as ugly, fat, undesirable. For years I was convinced no one would ever have me, ever marry me. So, I dated whoever would date me and made more than a few terrible choices. Then I met Vince, and my life (and my opinion of myself) changed. He made me feel loved for the person I was inside. Don’t get me wrong, it was a struggle. There were fights, tears, a lot of denial, but I stopped focusing (as much) on the way I looked and the fact that I didn’t like it.

Then, we decided to have a baby. And let me tell you, being pregnant (thought difficult) made me feel good. I gained weight. A lot of weight. But still, I felt good. I was growing my boy, and that felt awesome. Again, I had bad days. The first day my feet swelled, I bawled because my feet were the only part of my body I ever really liked. When I noticed I had noticeable rolls of fat on my back, I started trying to actively hide them, because I was ashamed, but it still wasn’t anything compared to the way I used to feel. And I thought, “Weight gain doesn’t matter as long as my son is healthy.” And he was.

But then, I gave birth. I went home. I still looked six months pregnant. But I was expecting that. After a month or so, my belly started to go down. None of my clothes fit, but I knew that would happen, too. I was going to give myself a few months, anyway. I was on track and doing fine both physically and emotionally.

Well, it’s been six months now. Six beautiful, long, tiring, love-filled, perfect months. Six months was sort of the timeline I’d given myself for being back in my old clothes, closer to my old body. And guess what? That hasn’t happened. I’ve seen other women who gave birth two or three months ago, and they look like they’re back to normal. But not me. And while I’d do it all again, without hesitation, I’m starting to feel the weight of that, the pressure.

As a woman who’s struggled with a positive self image her entire life, this is the hardest part of having a baby for me (other than the lack of sleep and socialization, but that’s a different blog for a different day). I want to look like myself again. I want to feel like myself. I want to wear my clothes and feel confident, instead of walking into a room and thinking, “Everyone is thinking about how big I am.” (Disclaimer: I’m not self absorbed enough to actually think this happens, but it makes my point nicely.) I just want my body back–not the way it was, but at least the size it was. I’m tired of feeling self conscious. I’m tired of brushing my teeth at night next to my husband, and wanting to leave the room because I can see how big I am next to him in the mirror. I’m tired of thinking if he’s disgusted every time he hugs me or has to look at me. I’m tired of looking at fit girls and hating myself for not looking like them. I’m tired of feeling sad and defeated and just plain icky. This has been my biggest mom-struggle, (At least, that’s how I feel today. It could change tomorrow. Thanks, postpartum hormones!) and I don’t know how to fix it, except to diet (and try to keep my milk up) and exercise (because I have so much time to exercise).

Normally, I try to end my blogs with a positive spin, something to work toward, or something that says, “Don’t worry, everything is going to be ok.” And I do believe that even if I never lose a pound, everything will be ok. But I don’t want to end this blog this way.

Because if you’re a new mom, and you’re feeling this way, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. I’ve been told thinking this way means I’m not thinking of my child first, but all it means is that I still realize I’m an individual< a human being, and even though I brought a precious, perfect life into this world, I still have a right to my feelings. I still have wants and needs, and it’s ok to acknowledge that. And if you’re in the same boat as me, it’s OK for you to acknowledge that, too.

Pre-baby, heavier even than when I was at my most fit, but feeling great.Post-baby weight gain (but man, isn't my baby the cutest?).