Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Time I Got My Body Back

When you peruse the internet for stuff about pregnancy, you're probably going to come across some tips about getting your body back postpartum. Everyone seems really concerned about being able to fit into their clothes, being able to work out, and being able to wear a swimsuit in time for summer. Getting your body back seems to be a big deal to pregnant women. 

I've been lucky (and please don't hate me for sharing this) in that my body so far has seemed to bounce back reasonably quickly as far as being able to wear normal clothes again. I attribute most of this to breastfeeding and the fact that for most of my pregnancies food was a struggle for me. I also think almost anyone who has been 8 months pregnant will tell you that there comes a point in pregnancy where you are positive that your body is never going to move normally again. I go through a period of absolute terror because I just feel so uncomfortable and sore and exhausted that I wonder how on earth I will EVER be able to care for the newborn when she shows up. It's an intensely humbling experience, but I feel like it gives you a little boost of confidence when the baby actually IS born and your huge belly goes away and the round ligament pain goes away and the exhaustion is not because you are hauling around an extra 20 pounds or so anymore, and suddenly you feel like you can do anything, including keeping a little human alive, even at 3 am.

I was really looking forward to this feeling with my second pregnancy, because I remembered it so clearly from my first. Yes, I was a little sore after I delivered my first baby, and it took a week or two to REALLY start feeling like myself again, but overall I felt almost INSTANTLY better. I could bend over! I could stand up without feeling achey! I could SLEEP ON MY STOMACH AGAIN. 

Well, this time it was different. A diagnoses of HELLP syndrome 3 days before my due date led to a series of events that got me an emergency C section. (I'll include a link to my birth story because I am personally a birth story junkie, but I warn you, it was a bit traumatic.) I'm fairly sure I had a pretty stellar recovery as far as C-section recoveries go, but compared to the feeling I was expecting based on my first baby's entrance into the world, it kind of sucked. I still couldn't pick up my toddler (and was frankly a little terrified of her and her exuberant hugs and the way she liked to use me as a pushing off place when she was climbing around on the couch), I still couldn't move very fast, I still hurt when I stood up and changed positions, and I still couldn't sleep on my stomach. By the time I was two or three weeks out and really starting to feel kind of normal again, I was just feeling really grateful for functioning abs. 

And then I had another gallbladder attack. 

Long backstory short, throughout the last couple of months of my pregnancy I had several gallbladder attacks, including one the night my baby was born that was the reason we had been in the hospital in the first place. It might have even been the actual cause of the HELLP syndrome diagnoses (since I didn't ever have the high blood pressure symptom) that set off the maelstrom of events that led to my terrifying C section. But though it had been suggested several times during my several visits to the doctor, no one had really diagnosed me with gallbladder problems for sure, and I'd thought those stomach pains were gone forever once the baby was born. Imagine my joy when 3.5 weeks after my baby was born, just when I was feeling better again, I was back in the hospital having another surgery on my stomach. (I'd just barely started sleeping on it again!) Everything reset AGAIN. I once again couldn't pick up my two year old, walked slowly, had to have my husband stay home for a couple more days to take care of us, etc. 

I'm now a few weeks out from gallbladder surgery and feeling almost normal again. Occasionally my pants rub the wrong way on my many incisions (now that I've finally decided I can't stand wearing elastic waistbands anymore), but overall I'm mostly feeling like my pre-pregnancy self. It's been 10 months since I started having morning sickness, and I finally don't feel sick or sore or huge or cut open, and this time I feel truly grateful. 

One of the things that's nice about being super pregnant and recovering from things is that you do kind of get a free pass to be a little lazy for a few weeks. People brought us dinner, my husband cooked a lot more than I did, I had an excuse for not cleaning my toilet. Now that I finally feel better though, I feel so grateful for my fully functioning body. I actually missed cooking dinner! I missed being able to say yes when my older daughter wanted me to go down the slide with her or jump on the trampoline. And though I'm maybe a little slow getting back in the habit of being a productive member of the family, I feel so much more joy at being able to pick up my toddler when she asks. The first time I did this after weeks of telling her I couldn't, she looked at me with a big smile and said, "Tummy all better!"  And though my stomach is now covered with half healed incisions and scars and stretch marks, I have a huge smile too. 

Yes baby. I finally got my body back. 

No comments: