Thursday, November 20, 2008

Getting closer to my previous self

I am now back in the world of menstruating women, just over 11 months after River’s birth. I was expecting this to come at some point in the near future. River has been eating solids since he was four months old and has received 2-3 bottles of formula a day since six months or so. I was also feeling rumblings of activity going on down there.

I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s nice to be moving more definitely beyond the new mother stage. I’m losing weight, I’m breastfeeding less, I’m menstruating again, I’m becoming closer to the person I was before becoming pregnant. On the other hand, there is a slight sorrow that River no longer needs the milk in the same way. Both he and I are moving beyond this stage. Of course, I’m glad for him to grow and develop, but it’s also sad to know the early baby days can never be retrieved.

I was waiting to go on birth control until I resumed my periods. One reason was due to breastfeeding (though I know there are options out there that are OK to use while breastfeeding). Another was that I was truly curious about how my body was going to respond. The entire experience of conception, pregnancy, childbirth and the past year has taught me so much about myself and my body. I wanted to see how in tune my body is with my mind – at what point it would allow me to conceive again.

The result is that it wouldn’t have let me have another child any earlier than 20 months after River’s birth. I think that is wonderful. Any less and I either wouldn’t have wanted it or would have found it very overwhelming.

When River was just a few months old, I had a dream in which I was pregnant again. In the dream, I was very distressed. My body wasn’t ready to take on that challenge again. I couldn’t deal with two infants at once. More than anything, and what made me decide in my dream that I needed to get an abortion, was that I didn’t want to deny River the one-on-one care and the breastmilk I thought he deserved during his first year.

Somewhere around ten months, I realized that even though I’d prefer a larger spacing between children, if I did somehow become pregnant, I would keep it. And voila, a few weeks later my body ovulates.

The cycle was short (3 days) and pretty uneventful, as it used to be. However, especially in the first day or so, I felt minor cramps or pains that suddenly brought back the feelings of childbirth. Though I never thought I’d get there, I’m now at the stage of thinking – yeah, that was pretty awful, but it’s a distant event now and River is so worth it and billions of women go through it. It’s hard to recreate the memories of exactly what it felt like (except the extreme pain in the last hour or two, which hasn’t yet faded). But these cramps brought back a faint reminder of the contractions and the memory that yeah, it really did hurt down there, and holy crap, I really passed a large head through my legs!

River is just a bundle of happiness and joy and being a parent right now feels easy and rewarding. I’d like to cut down our hours with our babysitter, but am hesitant to do so because I’m looking for a job and am guessing that as soon as we cut the hours, I’ll find a job and need her more. So we’re hanging on for now and swallowing the large expense.

His intellectual development took a giant leap a week or so again and he went from constant pointing to what really seems to be two-way communication. Now he points specifically at what he wants. And though his main word is dah, he uses it with emphasis and seriousness that make me think he really knows what he wants to communicate, he just doesn’t know the words for it yet.

Physically, he’s also taken a big leap, learning how to walk along a surface, and then to walk while pushing something in front of him. It seemed just recently that we wondered if he’d ever move with confidence. Now we feel like he could take his first independent steps any day now. It’s thrilling to watch.

And not to leave any development out, socially he’s also branching out further on his own. Yesterday I took him to story hour at the library. Up until yesterday, he always sat on my lap and either listened or looked around or ate or drank. This time he immediately squirmed out of my arms and began to crawl around. He didn’t bother anybody and I never had to go retrieve him. He didn’t return to me during the entire half hour. What surprised me the most was that he never even made eye contact with me. He didn’t need any assurance of my presence. I could have left and he wouldn’t have noticed or cared.

“Yes, he’s an independent boy,” Mark said, when I told him about it. Both Mark and I have strong independent streaks, so it’s not surprising that River would get some of that. But to see it so clearly at only 11 months is surprising. Along with his independence he has confidence and a sunny disposition, which I think will serve him well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My period returned 3 months after my daughter was born even though she was exclusively breastfed then. I had big dreams of it not returning for a long time but that just didn't happen. Right now I am in the midst of the weirdest period ever even though I am on cycle 5 since getting my period back. I guess my body is still trying to get back to normal. I have mixed feelings about all of this too.

*melanie from