January 31, 2014

top 10 ways my body has changed two years after giving birth

Okay, it's almost been two years since I gave birth to my son. I'll tell you right now that I'm pretty sure I'm still in a state of denial about my body, but slowly I am coming to accept some things. For example, it's different. Different, even, from a year ago. But that has more to do with beer and pizza than anything else. Also, I'm learning to see myself differently. Which leads me to a short list of the things I've noticed about my body since then.

  1. I could care less if I fit into a size 12 (which I'm only one size away from), but at the same time I do covet the other, smaller half of my wardrobe. Also wondering when I may get up the gumption to join Weight Watchers again (I used to be a lifetime member).
  2. Motherhood has flattened my ego for the most part. I care a bit less about makeup, depending on what's happening that day, and more about which pair of comfy pants I'll wear when I get home from work.
  3. I keep developing these weird skin thingys that I know are harmless but I pick at them anyway.
  4. I have more gray hairs. Pretty sure I'll have twice as many another year from now.
  5. I will still pay just as much to have my hair done well as I did before I had my baby. 
  6. My hips sit higher than they used to. I noticed this last year, but now I'm understanding how it affects my clothes. I'm secretly hoping I can keep my hourglass figure, but kinda doubt it.
  7. JEANS. Not only do they not fit the same way, but I have to try on every pair from every designer when I go shopping now. I'm finding that some of the brands I used to hate now look okay on me, and in some cases the reverse is true. The size is the same, but the higher hips really affect how they fit. And, since I'm almost 5'10", camel toe continues to be my biggest detractor from most brands. Plus, I am finding that I seriously hate low-rise jeans -- I'm getting tired of constantly pulling them up over my love handles. I'm still trying to fall in love with skinny jeans, but my fuller thighs make this a challenge. There are times I've laughed out loud in the dressing room.
  8. Even though my arms are almost Popeye-strong, they look flabbier (probably the excess weight).
  9. I have more wrinkles around my eyes, and a few more dark circles. Fun.
  10. I'm tired enough at night that going to bed at 9:00 feels like a special occasion. 
  11. I try to make myself get up an hour before my son to keep it all together.
Okay, the last one is a bonus and isn't about my body so much as my psyche. But it's still important, like my weekly yoga class - I think I will atrophy and become stiff as a board if I ever give it up. And don't even talk to me about using a DVD at home as opposed to taking a class. Not the same thing.

Motherhood. It's a journey that lasts a lifetime, even if you start it midlife.

January 29, 2014

beware the stairs and other house enemies

I fell on the stairs the other day. Not the stairs in my new house, of course, but my mom's. And all I did was slide onto my bottom where there were plenty of shock absorbers ready to take the hit. My son was already downstairs, so he walked up to me looking concerned, and gave me a hug. Sweet boy!

I want to get him used to the stairs at our house so I don't have to play referee every time he wants to go up and down. Instead, this sweet-but-kinda-lazy boy looks up at me, reaches his arms up, and says "carry you?" It's so cute I can't resist.

I half-jokingly chide him, and then carry him.

The day will come when he wants to do everything on his own, so I steal that bit for myself even while I chide him for being perfectly capable of stepping down the stairs using the handrail and holding my hand.

Now that we're not living in a ground-level condo but a two-story house with a yard, I'm discovering all kinds of stuff to be selectively paranoid about. Stairs, concrete steps, round door handles, the door to the stairs, window ledges, slippery oak floors, dirt and more dirt, dirty snow, small random objects left over from construction... okay, not paranoid. Just more aware. I'm trying to strike a balance between letting him explore and keeping the safety barriers in place (those aren't physical barriers in most cases, unless you count my arms).

He's only tripped on the stairs 2-3 times, fallen over the edge of the concrete patio and flipped over twice, walked into a table or countertop a few times, and accidentally gotten pushed onto his bottom or into a countertop once or twice. He'll survive, I'm sure of it...

January 23, 2014

"he's growing up in the church"

I was talking with my mom recently about how we are making it a priority to be part of our church community, not to mention our neighborhood, especially so that our son is surrounded by friends and not isolated in any way as an only child. She highlighted our dedication to church and how much he loves going there, plus his attendance at a Christ-centered daycare. "He's growing up in the church," she told me. I realized she was right, and what a special gift it is.

I didn't grow up in the church. My great-grandfather was a Lutheran minister, but I wouldn't call ours a faithful family -- not back then, anyway. We were more what some call Creasters -- going to church mainly on Christmas and Easter. It just wasn't a high priority.

That all changed the day my grandmother began a relationship with Jesus more than 30 years ago, however, and the testament of her faith continues to ripple through the extended family. I don't resent my rocky formative years, as they built my character and set me up to eventually seek God for myself as a result of her testimony.

Now, as a follower of Jesus, I have the choice of how to help my son understand who God is from an early age. I consider this a blessing and a privilege, but of course it's also a big responsibility because his first experience with Christianity is watching me live it out every day. Chances are he'll see how imperfect I am, but that's okay. My hope is to see him experience the unfathomable love of God.

January 22, 2014

a good night's sleep (no more hormones, baby!)

I quit the pill. Five days ago, five days into my cycle, I stopped altogether. And guess what? I've been sleeping well ever since. Not amazing, not terrible, but well. And well is wonderful. I'm starting to feel like I'm coming to life instead of managing a state of feeling half dead.

I'm really hoping this is the beginning of the end of my walk through insomniac hell. I don't suppose I can or should go back to my nearly 3-cup-per-day coffee habit -- decaf after my first cup will have to do. But I'm feeling less paranoid about going to sleep in the first place, which I'm sure is half the battle.

The next decision is what to do in the meantime. I'll be 45 this year, so the prospect of having another seems downright foolhardy (not to mention that our incredibly active and energetic toddler kind of makes up for it). Something permanent? Something temporary? Eh, just one more thing to work out.

Meanwhile, we finally have an offer on the condo. We won't celebrate until closing, which is more than a month away, but I'm choosing optimism in the meantime.

January 17, 2014

anxiety and the search for peace: part 4 (hormones, baby!)

In my continuing effort to find out what it takes to get my sleep patterns back to non-dependence-on-drugs, I checked with my doc. Sure enough, she agreed that the week-long increase in progesterone could easily be a source for insomnia. So she switched me to a mono-phasic cycle (the same level for 3 weeks).

I started it last Sunday. I'm giving it up altogether today.

I'm so tired of being tired and wondering whether I'll have another hellish sleepless night every time I hit the pillow. It's ruining me bit by bit.

So, I will try going pill-free to see if this is what I need to do. I'm also doing so prayerfully, asking God to guide me through this.

The search for peace goes on.

forgive and move on

I mentioned last time that our would-be condo buyers backed out. I did not mention that we decided not to let them have their earnest money back. Why? Because they cost us thousands of dollars in extra mortgage payments, not to mention the few hundred we spent completing unnecessary repairs that they asked for as conditions of the sale. Later we found out that recent laws have tilted the real estate game almost completely in favor of the buyers. Short story is, we had no legal way to keep it. We could, however, deny sending it back right away until it is returned automatically after 120 days.

Time passed. They threatened mitigation, to which we scoffed that they may as well since they get to pay for it. Then we asked if they'd at least pay for the items we completed, and at first they agreed only to flip-flop later and deny it. I was hurt and angry and I wanted them to suffer a little for the grief their carelessness has caused us (and in case I seem narrow-minded about that, consider the fact that their realtor has refused to keep working with them and fired them as his client). I was unforgiving, and eventually started to wonder what God would have me do.

Then early this week, I talked with my husband about it. I said "Maybe it's a test." I wondered if we won't be able to sell until we just decide to forgive them and send back the money.

So we did.

And what do you know, the next day I went to an interview and got a job offer the day after that. Not just any job, but one that (unadvertised) is 20 hours a week to start and is ideally suited to me right now, and the commute puts my son's daycare right in my path so I can drop him off easily on the way in while having enough time to be a mommy in the afternoons and Fridays just like before I was laid off. In other words, perfect.

Did God orchestrate the timing of all this just to prove a point? It's hard not to think so -- it's exactly the way I've seen God work in my life before. I'm seriously grateful no matter what.

Haven't gotten another offer on the condo yet, but we still haven't reached our informal deadline either. I'm just gonna be patient and wait it out.

January 4, 2014

anxiety and the search for peace: part 3 (hormones, baby!)

Somewhere in the last few months it occurred to me that there was a pattern to my insomnia and I started paying attention. This is a bit easier to do since I've been on the same pill formula since I stopped breastfeeding when my son was 8 weeks old. Sure enough, the second week of my cycle is when I can't sleep and I must rely on a number of sleep aids to get me through. So I put a call in to my doc to see what she thinks I should do.

Is it the pill? Is it my post-pregnancy body and one of its many new quirks? Is it because I'm in my mid-forties and starting to experience the many pleasures of peri-menopause? These all sound completely wonderful, but I need to know what to do. I'm dead sick of having insomnia for about a week every month.

Naturally, she's on vacation until the middle of next week. Soon I will begin the hormone experiment in my ongoing quest for better sleep.

January 3, 2014

sometimes the rug gets pulled out from under you

The week before closing on the sale of our condo and buying our house, we heard that our condo buyers might back out. The next morning they confirmed it. There's no good reason -- we've bent over backward and spent hundreds on barely necessary items to appease them as part of the concessions. As it turns out, the buyers are on shaky ground mentally and have other issues.

We were faced with a really crappy situation, but we pushed on with buying the house. That was the last thing I was gonna let happen. The good news is, because of our good credit and low debt-to-income ratio (plus our retirement funds), our lender let us close and assume both mortgages. We moved in with the help of several friends and relatives the weekend before Christmas and did our level best not to completely bypass the anniversary of Jesus' birth. It's been a huge two weeks of transitions, hard labor, and stopping to observe the holidays.

There are a few who are urging us to rent out the condo and become landlords, but we're having a hard time with this as we now have next to no savings. So that decision is going to become the line in the sand this month as we wait for an offer on the condo. If it doesn't sell in time, we'll rent it out.

Meanwhile, I'm adjusting my senses to living in a house after 11 years in a condo. No noise from the neighbors! No dog crap on the lawn! (yet) No pressure to do laundry during the day or keep the stereo down at night! No cramped feeling from packing our belongings into a place we were ready to move out of 7 years ago.

That's the fun adjustment. We also have to adjust to having double the mortgage when I'm still unemployed -- a situation I hope to remedy as I send out hopeful resumes. Yep, it's time for me to get back to full-time working, which will be another adjustment.

Lord, guide me through these currents of change.