Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Adjustment

***Originally posted on 12/12/2012***

For the next few weeks, while I'm finishing school and settling into various other changes in my life, I will be revisiting some older posts that you may or may not have seen in the archives. I hope to be back soon with new content. In the meantime, enjoy! And feel free to find me on Instagram, @kathleenojo.  


Amaliya,

I've written you letters before but none have been typed, or put out there for the Internet to read.  This one is, because to be perfectly honest.... I'm a mess, and I need an outlet. I had everything so together for the first four months of your life.  My hormones were stable, my stress was managed, I felt like a rockstar most of the time for taking care of a you, and your dad, and a house, and training for races, and going to grad school.

Then work happened - 40 hours a week that I have to be away from you.  House guests (your grandparents) arrived at about the same time.  Three classes remained to be completed.  And you, my dear sweet girl, you who were sleeping 8-9 hours at a stretch from your second week on earth, you have stopped sleeping.  Not entirely, of course, but you are waking up every 2-3 hours all night long. My foundation is starting to crack.

I am not taking great care of myself right now, I'll admit.  I'm still running many, many miles each week -  it's not optional, my mental health depends on it -  but I don't have time for the complementary stuff like weights and stretching that enable my body to run long and feel good.  I'm not drinking enough water to compensate for running and breastfeeding, but water consumption cuts into coffee consumption and, sadly, coffee triumphs most of the time.  I either don't eat enough, or I eat way too much of all the wrong things.  I can't nap when you nap, because I'm too anxious about everything that's not being done.

I often find myself angry - inexplicably angry at just about everything. Angry at our financial situation that demands that I have to work a full-time job (and likely always will); Angry that our guests have taken over your room so you have to sleep in the pack and play in our walk-in closet;  Angry that I have to come home from work and make dinner for a bunch of people instead of spending alone time with you; Angry that my breaks at work and rare free moments at home are spent hooked up to a breast pump like a dairy cow;  Angry that I have to take herbal supplements just to be able to produce enough milk to keep up, and they make me feel bloated and nauseous;  Angry that I ran a half marathon two weeks ago but have been too tired and busy taking care of everyone that I can't feel any joy in the accomplishment;  Angry that I have to share you with anyone, even your father and loving grandparents.

Angry that, what was one of the best periods of my life, has become one of the worst seemingly overnight.

Except, of course, that it's not the worst.  Not even close.  I am writing this lying on my side, with you tucked into my right arm, tummy to tummy. You are passed out, milk-drunk, mouth open, gently breathing.  I came home on my lunch break just to have this moment with you, to suck up your love and warmth and baby smell. I try and steal moments like this with you a few times a day.  Sometimes they come at 5am, when you wake up far too early but oh-so-happy, and I bring you into bed with us.  You squeak and squirm until you catch sight of the alarm clock and stare at it - motionless, transfixed - while I doze, until it goes off at 5:42.

Sometimes they come at 3am, when I hear you crying in the closet and go in to pick you up.  You're not really awake, not particularly hungry, but you want to nurse and cuddle and be wrapped up in arms for a while, just because.  It's like you want to be sure I'm still there, and of course I am and always will be.

Sometimes they come when I get home from work, snatch you from your grandma, and retreat to the bedroom to spend a few minutes alone with you.  I hold you up high and walk around so you can see the artwork on the walls.  Occasionally I dance with you and sing you all my favorite Broadway songs with some of the words changed ("Don't Cry For Me, Amaliya").  Lately we lay on our backs, side by side, while I try and convince you to roll over.  You try so hard, and get so frustrated, until you catch my eye and we smile at each other.  Rolling over is important, no doubt, but no need to rush these milestones; they're piling up too fast as it is.

Mothering is hard.  Trying to do it all, be it all, have it all, fulfill multiple conflicting roles without losing myself or a single moment with you is.... impossible?  Maybe.  I guess I want to write you this letter because you might be in a similar position one day.  Feeling despair.  Trying your best and coming up short.  Angry at the world for making your best efforts seem like a waste.  You'll likely be in good company - women have faced this issue for hundreds of years and likely will for hundreds more.  I want you to know that you'll be okay.  I'll be okay too.

And I will try to be less angry, because anger interferes with my overwhelming sense of gratitude for your presence in my life.  When I embrace the gratitude, and dismiss the anger, I am happy that I have a good job to go to.  Proud that I can demonstrate for you that a woman can express herself through a career and other passions without sacrificing her identity as wife and mother.  I'm more than happy to stuff myself with fenugreek and lock myself in a dusty storage room to pump breastmilk for you, because being able to bond with you through breastfeeding is a privilege that I do not take for granted.  I am glad that your grandparents have been able to spend time with you, and that I haven't had to deposit you into the arms of strangers at daycare just yet.  I don't mind at all when my evenings are spent cooking and doing laundry and endlessly ENDLESSLY washing bottles and pumping supplies, because it's all part of keeping our household together and our family strong, and you deserve to grow up in a stable, functional, loving environment.  The night-wakings, the hysterical overtired screams, the soul-crushing exhaustion... it's all fleeting, and none of it matters too much.  Soon these bad times will be in the past, and so will the days of you gnawing on my shoulder and sweetly sleeping on my chest.

I can't be mad that life continues to intrude on our time together.  This IS our life.  It's going to be messy, fractured, full of missed opportunities and lost moments and bittersweet feelings.  What matters is the love that is the reason for our struggles.  Your dad and I love you enough to make any sacrifice necessary; you love us enough to forgive us for all our many failings.  As for the rest, it's all a matter of embracing, adjusting, and moving forward.

Love, Mama

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A weighty issue.

***Originally published May 02, 2012***

For the next few weeks, while I'm finishing school and settling into various other changes in my life, I will be revisiting some older posts that you may or may not have seen in the archives. I hope to be back soon with new content. In the meantime, enjoy! And feel free to find me on Instagram, @kathleenojo. 



One of the most interesting, yet frustrating, aspects of pregnancy so far has been how my body has changed - and with it, my body image and confidence.  Before getting pregnant, I always thought I would be this super confident glowing pregnant goddess who proudly displayed my bump for all to see.  Naive much?

Reality is... it's been an adjustment.  I love myself and have a fairly healthy body image, but that hasn't always been the case.  My level of comfort in my own skin has grown gradually over the last 7 years as I've watched the scale numbers go down, muscles tone up, and learned to harness my energy and emotions through physical activity.  I learned that, not only are eating well and challenging myself physically good for my body, but they are essential to my sanity and peace of mind.  When life gets chaotic and nothing seems to go my way, I can always throw some shoes on and go for a run;  I can be proud of myself for completing an exceptionally heavy clean-and-press;  I can take comfort in the fact that I am filling my body with the best and most nutritious foods possible.

And then I got pregnant.  Food hasn't been much of an issue (not counting that couple weeks in the first trimester when I lived on hummus-and-egg sandwiches).  I'm eating only slightly more than before, mostly whole and healthy foods, and I've actually cut way back on meat consumption.  I'm trying to stay active - Body Pump once or twice a week, yoga at least once, and I walk anywhere between 5-8 miles weekly.  All my labs have shown that my nutrition is spot-on, no deficiencies (which I was worried about, especially with Celiac disease).  I feel great - well hydrated, not much back pain, absolutely no swelling, skin is clear.  I'm the picture of perfect pregnant health.

EXCEPT when I visit the stupid pregnancy websites with their stupid pregnancy weight gain calculators.  Exhibit A:


Sorry for the poor quality picture.  So that line at the bottom is the minimum amount of weight I should gain.  The line at the top is the maximum.  And that green dot waaaaaay up at the top there?  That's me!  I've hit my pregnancy weight gain ceiling, a full 12 weeks early.  Sad face.

But after feeling bad about this fact for a few weeks, I put on my big girl panties and got over it.  The reality is, the scale may tell me I'm doing something wrong, but I KNOW instinctively that I'm not.  I'm not gaining weight at a rapid rate.  I have put on about a pound a week (a little less lately, actually), I've just been putting on that weight since the beginning of my pregnancy.  Some people get nauseous, can't eat, and end up losing weight during the first trimester. I, on the other hand, felt my appetite increase twofold and absolutely had to eat every two hours to avoid feeling dizzy/sick/exhausted.  My body told me what it needed, and I listened.

I have my glucose tolerance test this Tuesday to rule out gestational diabetes, and I plan to talk to my midwife about the weight issue then.  Frankly, as long as I don't have GD and continue to feel good and am able to stay active, I am prepared to ignore the scale for the rest of this pregnancy.  I will NOT let some generic medical guidelines determine what is best for my body.  Pregnancy sits differently on every woman, and really, we're all just doing the best we can in the moment to take care of ourselves, our babies, and prepare for a massive life-changing event.  So eff you, medical establishment.  I run this body, and I will not steep myself in guilt because my "numbers" aren't "ideal."


*steps off soapbox*


Friday, August 8, 2014

Let it go.

If you burst into song when you read this post title, well, you probably have kids and must understand me on a deep, primal level.

You will understand, then, why I need to back away from this space for a little while.



When I set out my goals for 2014, I decided to be humble.  Conservative.  I spent the previous year aiming high and heaping the pressure on myself, only to end up constantly disappointed.  This year I made a conscious decision to relax, stop stressing about all that I "need to be," and enjoy a steady, slow-paced year.

HA.



Somewhere along the way, I also decided to stop worrying about what others think, stop doubting myself, and start acting without over-thinking.  I decided to do the things that scare me.  Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised, but.... when I started taking charge of my life, instead of letting life happen to me... things started happening.  In a big way.



Training for a half-marathon, my most ambitious running goal of the year, was amazing.  Not to be cliche, but I learned so much about myself through those training runs - how I love the discipline of a plan, how I can do whatever it takes to pursue a goal if I am intrinsically motivated to do so, that I am never more at peace when I am alone with my thoughts in the hills of South Redlands.  I ran the half marathon, but I couldn't stop there.  I couldn't stand the thought of not going harder, longer, pushing myself further than I reasonably think I can go.  In June, I started a marathon training plan.



Earlier in the year, I did one of the most impulsive and brave things of my life.  I went up to a near-stranger and told him, "I want to work for you.  How can I make that happen?"  This began a process that culminated last week, when I started a new job.  A "big-girl" job.  A corporate-charge-card-holding, checking-emails-at-8pm, getting-on-the-occasional-airplane kind of job.  Any change,  even good, exciting change, can be overwhelming.  I am happy.  I am loving what I do.  I also feel like I'm struggling to keep my head above water.

Add to this the fact that I'm in the middle of my last semester of grad school, we are hoping to move to a new apartment in the next 6 weeks, and the daily ups and downs of family life with an likewise ambitious husband and stubborn two-year-old, and well.... something has to give.



This space has meant so much to me over the years.  It has been my haven, the place where I sort my thoughts and record some of the most important moments in my life.  I will be back in October, hopefully writing weekly updates on the crazy/mundane (crundane?) happenings in my life.  For now, though, I need to step back.  For a little while at least, I am letting this go.

I'll have some recycled posts up to fill the space until I return.  Until then, friends, stay well and keep in touch - I'll be present as ever on my other social media outlets.



Love,  Kathleen