Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beyond the fourth trimester

We’ve made it through the fourth trimester and life really does feel distinct.

Willow has passed the extended fetus stage and is developing into more of a person. With smiles and laughs (extended, happy aaahhhhs) and a demonstrated interest in things, such as faces, lights, fans, computer screens, TVs, windows and little animals that hang from play mats or bouncy seats, she makes us feel liked and is beginning to reveal herself to us.

Breastfeeding is no longer painful and I’ve resumed a normal diet. I’m on medication for another two weeks and am crossing my fingers that everything will still be OK once I stop it. Day by day, the supply in the freezer grows. If I keep this up, I should have an adequate backup by the time I go back to work.

I am finally, finally, able to start being reasonable about diet and exercise. I’m walking 7500 steps a day and keeping my calories to 2,770. Yes, I recognize that 2,700 calories is not very low. But it’s currently lower than I would consume if I wasn’t tracking.

It’s increasingly feasible to handle both of the kids. I’ve been able to spend more quality time with River, which makes me feel better about our relationship and I think has reduced the whining. He likes to give me hugs and kisses and I treasure those.

I’m engaged in planning our month-long trip and am enjoying what research says is often the most rewarding part of a vacation – the anticipation.

Things are slowly returning to normal. However, I’m still having severely interrupted sleep. And my confidence level is low, both physically and intellectually. Physically, I’m fat. Not just post-partum heavy, but at the same weight I was around 35-36 weeks pregnant. Wide, flabby, pale and lacking strength, I still dress only in maternity clothes and feel like a dowdy middle-aged lady.

My intellectual confidence is also low. I struggle with Spanish and worry I can’t speak it well enough to keep River engaged. Too often, I come across words I don’t know, so I revert to a simpler way of saying it to River, or I don’t say it at all. I’m removed from current events, having spent the past few months in an insular focus on my family. And while I can handle small, discrete tasks, I’m starting to question my ability to think big, to connect the dots. Is it that I don’t have the time to focus long enough to get deep into a subject, or am I just losing intellectual capacity?

I take faith that I’ll improve physically as I increase exercise, take care with my diet, and eventually get off the medications. I’m hoping that my brain will start to work better with time too, as I gradually am able to get away for longer amounts of time and to focus on larger tasks. This is the price of having children, I tell myself, and looking into their faces during our happy moments, I think it is worth it.

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