Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Notes From A House Frau XI

What A Difference A Day Makes

I saw the SFDD today, and what a difference a couple of weeks makes. The meds have been in my system for longer, and the disease is finally, FINALLY starting to respond. My kidney function is still elevated, but that could be damage from the pregnancy and the preeclampsia -- I just have to accept the fact that things will not go back to my "normal." As as my wise, wise RRHB said last night when I was a little teary crying, "I just want to feel like myself again," "But you aren't your old self, you're a mother now, too."

So often, I am concentrating on the things that I've lost -- my health, my brain, my freedom, and not resenting the losses, per se, but learning how to adapt to this new life is taking a bit longer than I'd imagined it would. I've been reading a lot of interesting "mom" articles lately, and for the most part, they infuriate me. Case in point: "And Baby Makes Three..." and here's where it all starts to fall down for me:
It’s nothing short of impressive, the way these new mothers embrace their changing bodies as a home for baby to grow in and feed from. The way that they innately know what their baby needs and can recognize the meaning behind every sound or gesture and can usually provide what’s needed to soothe them.
While this isn't an incorrect observation, what the author fails to realize is the hours spent listening to your child wail, the many different ways of bouncing, rocking, walking, talking, feeding, feeding some more, and feeding some more before a mere piece of the puzzle -- how to separate a "tired" cry from a "hungry" cry -- reveals itself only to change radically the next day as your RRBB's brain changes from, literally one day to the next.

For me, this is just filler content. Why even write this article if you don't have anything remotely remarkable to say? Why capitalize on a cutsie, overdone, cliched head to go on to say how remarkable new moms are? I know I'm being harsh -- but I think this piece would have been a lot more effective had the blogger job shadowed a new mom for an entire 24-hour period versus dropping in via Auntie mode, which, I too, mistakenly thought having a full-time baby would simply be an extension of.

And then I read Katrina Onstad's piece in the Style section about how Spanx now has maternity options and threw up a little in my mouth. Pregnancy ravishes your body enough -- I've gained weight that I can't lose because of the prednisone, have stretch marks that are truly, truly awful, a c-section scar, and a pooch. I can't imagine the damage you're doing by forcing your body to not look pregnant -- how does the baby move around? Hell, you aren't even supposed to wear tight clothing when you're pregnant; it's ridiculously uncomfortable anyway. Shouldn't we be allowed to let it all hang out when we're growing a person inside of us? I mean, it's hard enough to let go of the vanity (I truly did love my trim waist and my smooth, pretty stomach; all that has disappeared for now) after you give birth but to be "fashionable" by squishing down your baby bump? What is the world coming to?

And then we come to the all consuming topic of happiness. My goal in life has never been to "be" happy -- but to understand happiness in relation to the truly tragic aspects of my life. Happiness isn't a goal, it's not something to be achieved for me, it's something to be understood -- it can't be an item on a to do list, it takes hard work to understand yourself, to know what gives you pleasure, to avoid what gives you pain, and to realize that if you put "be happy" as a goal, you are automatically setting yourself up for failure. I was bombarded with "happiness" last week -- Oprah had Goldie Hawn (wha?), a so-called expert, on her show, and it made me think a lot about the years I spent in therapy saying, "but I just want to be happy" without truly understanding that it's as much a philosophical construct as it is a smile on your face. My goal in getting through these first few weeks of parenthood has never been happiness -- my goal, as a good friend says, has been to keep my child alive, maybe, just maybe, have them thrive a little bit. The cult of Oprah's a bit much these days -- from the vegan challenge (been there, done that, um, last year) to the pale attempt to trivialize a very real, and very complex human condition (to Gretchen Rubin it, I'd say), and yet, I just can't stop watching it.

Anyway, what is my point. I must have one. Yes. In my life I have always wanted to have children, whether they were mine or adopted, whether they were my nephews or nieces, I love having them in my life. And just when I had accepted the fact that we weren't going to have any of our own for various reasons -- the main one being the very real toll it could take on my health -- I had actually, for the first time in my life, moved on. And then, surprise! We're pregnant and 36 weeks later, we're parents. And in between I spent three weeks in the hospital fighting for my life cursing the doctors that told me everything would be okay when, seriously, everything was simply not okay. Not okay.

But now, things seem to be coming back in line, and I can take a step back from "coping" with everything that happened to "enjoying" what's going on now. I'm not going to say that articles like "When Baby Makes Three..." don't completely trivialize how drastically and never-endingly parenthood changes your life; instead, I'm just going to giggle a little at their naivety. At my own naivety -- I too once truly believed that being married and having a baby would equal "happiness." That I cried and cried because those things, because of the disease (not the marriage part, natch), were denied to me like so much else in my life (was I ever REALLY going to be a modern dancer, probably not, so it's okay that the disease destroyed my hip). When really, what it's all about is finding a way to a different, newer, you -- like my RRHB said, I'm never going to be the same "me" that I was 17 weeks ago when I went into the hospital, so why feel bad about it? Why worry about it? Why struggle with it? Why not let myself evolve along with the RRBB and see who comes out at the end -- maybe she's happy, maybe not, but one thing I do understand is that it's not as easy as taking a quiz or writing some bland pap about how majestic your "mom" friends are (mine are awesome; don't get me wrong). I am not a "yummy" mommy. I've got grey hair and loads of stretch marks. I have a "moon face" from the meds. But I can still make my RRBB smile like there's no tomorrow -- and there is bliss there, I don't need Oprah to tell me that.

And seriously, we need real dialogue about what happens to us, to our bodies, to our marriages, to our lives, to our health. We don't need a Hollywood fantasy or "perfect" moms or the pressure to do it all "right" or the heavy, heavy weight of "happiness" making it all harder to get through the day-to-day. Sometimes, all we need is an organic lollipop and a cup of tea, maybe a cookie -- a couple of deep breaths, a good book and the time and space to write a few words. See, I'm starting to know this new me, she does look a little like the old me, just turned a couple of degrees to the south.


Zesty said...

What a wonderful post. I found it so inspiring. Sounds like you are achieving a kind of peace with things and really recognizing the so many amazing qualities you possess.

Heather said...

life is different being a parent. There are times I question my sanity, my kids sanity and then there are times I want to go running down the street screaming. I told that to a social worker one time and she was glad that at least I was feeling something. We could work from there.. I still feel like running down the street screaming, but now it is because my son is finally getting there and enjoying his life.

stick in there, I am totally rooting for you and your family.