I'm tempted to say that I'd like to devote more time to this space, to writing, to telling my stories... but I won't, because it's just not going to happen. When I had Amaliya, there was still some wiggle room in my life that allowed priorities to come and go and shift around. That second baby sure is a game changer, though. Since Asha came along, my life has been streamlined and simplified. My priorities in my non-working hours are, in order: 1) taking care of my family, 2) spending quality time with my family, 3) working out, 4) reading for pleasure. That's literally ALL I have time for, and reading gets cut out quite often.
It's been a relief, actually. Instead of trying desperately to fit in time to work on a painting or craft project, I packed up all my supplies and stored them in a closet. There will be time for that later, but not now, during this season of my life. I still love to write, but my oversharing is now done mostly in short bursts on Instagram, because I can post from my phone with one hand while rocking a baby with the other. I will still be doing milestone posts and letters to my kids now and then, because I'm committed to documenting their childhoods for them (which they will either love me for, or drag me to therapy over. We shall see), but they won't be my finest writing, proofread and revised.
I'm heading back to work full time in a week and a half. I really want to get it over with - I hate dreading unpleasant things, and would much prefer to just leap in and get it over with. The transition back is what I'm dreading, not the actual being-at-work part. My job is fine. It's the unsettled feeling I have over sending a tiny baby to daycare. It's knowing that I'm going to come home exhausted in the evenings, with one screaming, tired baby and one sass-mouthed, hungry, obstinate preschooler, and somehow still get dinner on the table and wash a zillion bottles and breast pump parts. It's knowing that my kids, who deserve the best of me, almost always get the worst of me on evenings like that. I'm anxious to plunge in, get over the adjustment period, and settle into a new routine.... though I also anticipate that routine will weigh on me heavily. A routine doesn't eliminate stress, it just keeps the stress at a constant low hum so that it eventually fades into the background of your life, and you don't realize that you're actually suffering from constant stress until you have a few months to shake it off and finally BREATHE.
Ah, maternity leave. Just when I hit my stride being home all day, it ends, and back to work I go.
I don't mean to paint a dismal picture here though. I am happy. Truly, deeply, surprisingly happy, satisfied with my life in a way that I never knew I could be. My marriage is strong, and a constant source of peace and pride for me. Amaliya amazes me daily with the person she is becoming, and though my relationship with her is definitely the most volatile one in my life right now (almost-4-year-olds feel ALL the feelings ALL the time, and I am not the most empathetic of souls) she is and will always be my greatest companion in this life. Asha is a dream baby, a trick baby, the kind of baby that makes you want to have a dozen more babies. I am so in love with her it makes me spontaneously weep, of all the ridiculous things, but you mamas get it. Watching my family grow is pure joy.
As for me, well, I'm transitioning too of course. My hair started falling out this week, right on schedule. I still weigh about 20lbs more than I'm comfortable with, and though I'm not having any sort of crisis of confidence (my self-esteem and body image are, for the most part, impenetrable), the extra weight poses some difficulties. For one, I don't fit into ANY of my old work clothes. I am also having a much harder time running now. I'm heavy, I'm slow, my feet hurt, I FELL tonight for the first time in years because I wasn't picking up my feet enough (scraped up a hand, knee and shoulder but I'm otherwise fine). I have totally lost my sweet tooth since Asha was born, which is weird. I've been all about chocolate since birth, practically, but it rarely sounds good right now. I don't have any cravings, actually, and I'm in the unique-to-me position of struggling to take in enough calories to fuel breastfeeding/pumping and exercise (which still staying in a slight deficit so I can slowly take the weight off). It's a tough balancing act, but I'm listening to my body and slowly figuring things out.
Despite having pumped and stored well over 400oz of breastmilk, I'm still worried about keeping up with Asha when she goes to daycare. I'm worried about daycare in general. Will she sleep? Will the caregiver get frustrated with her? What if she won't take a bottle for her? Worries aside, I am having MUCH less postpartum anxiety this time around. I didn't realize what a shadow that cast over my first postpartum experience until now, when I'm enjoying my baby outside of the shadow cast by insomnia and intrusive thoughts and random surges of adrenaline. Aside from having some trouble getting physically back to normal (which, to be fair, is my own fault for gaining 60lbs while pregnant. And I regret nothing, because I ate a lot of amazing cake), everything has been so, so easy this time around. I am grateful for that.
I am grateful for so many things. And that's where I'm at right now.