Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Shape of this mother

When you're pregnant, everyone tells you that your whole life is about to change. I understood that, knew that the tangibles (house/car/job/sleep schedule) and the intangibles (motivations/hopes/dreams) were about to get major revisions, and I was fine with that. What I'm not sure I really *got*, deep down, is that the minute those babies were lifted out of me, I would turn into a different person altogether. Sure, this new me shares a lot with the old me, but right now, it's still easier to see the differences. It's not a bad thing, exactly, but I am still in the process of getting to know this strange new me.

To some extent, I mean that literally, what with the changes in my appearance. For starters, I am no longer blonde, for the first time in nearly 30 years. I was born a strawberry blonde, which turned to white-blonde after a few months, then darkened to golden blonde in later childhood and stayed there throughout my teens. By the time I was 21, it had darkened enough that I decided it was time to add some highlights, and as it kept darkening, I kept coloring it. With the pregnancy, my roots began to get very dark indeed, and I started thinking about just letting it go to its natural color. Three weeks ago, I finally took the plunge, and had it dyed a light brown which we think is more or less what it will grow out to be. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike it -- it's a good color for me, not unflattering at all -- and I love that I won't have to spend time or money maintaining it. But even after three weeks, I still pass by the mirror and wonder where the girl with the long golden hair went.

The new brown-haired me doesn't have quite the same body, either, and this is a change I don't care for. I'm still 7 lbs up from my pre-cycle weight (which itself is 25 lbs up from pre-infertility), a loss of 45+ lbs in the eight weeks since delivery. Some of this loss is water (of which I gained a ton those last few weeks), some is baby/amniotic fluid, but I've lost about 15 lbs of actual fat, thanks to the magic diet plan that is nursing twins. However, my body isn't shaped the same as it was the last time I was at this weight. I have less muscle tone, thanks to a year of no exercise and a couple months of modified bedrest. I have stretch marks on my belly, not as many as some twin moms, but enough to make me sad. I have a thicker waist, with stretched-out ab muscles that don't quite seem to have shrunk back to normal size. I have E-cup boobs, which stretch the bounds of size XL shirts and make me look ridiculously top-heavy. I don't have bigger feet, as so many mothers do, but my finger joints seem to be bigger, and my wedding rings will have to be resized. Diet and exercise will help fix some of these things, but I think some of them are permanent. They're very small things, in the grand scheme, but I'm still not thrilled about them.

Another distressing physical change is my left knee, which I injured in a skiing accident in high school. I tore up the cartilage and partially tore the ACL, and had surgery to clean up the cartilage. With physical therapy, and then the weightlifting I'd been doing in the last couple of years, it was actually in pretty good shape -- looser than the right knee, to be sure, but the strong muscles helped compensate for the ligament laxity. With the pregnancy, though, I noticed that it was feeling awfully weak. I wrote it off to relaxin and weighing as much as a small elephant, but it's actually gotten worse after delivery. I can't comfortably cross my legs, sit indian-style, or draw the leg up toward my body, and there's a noticeable give when the dogs bump into my legs. I'm afraid that the ligament has loosened more again, and that I'm now doing cartilage damage. I've made an ortho appointment for November 20, at which I suspect he will either send me to physical therapy or want to do more surgery. I have to say, as a mother of infant twins, the prospect of knee surgery strikes fear into my heart!

Emotionally, I've changed a lot as well, but these changes I like. I feel so much more relaxed these days, and I really notice the absence of worry. I've spent at least a few minutes of every day for the last year and a half worried about some aspect of fertility and pregnancy. That has gone away, and mothering woes haven't moved in to take its place. I'm not finding things particularly complicated -- the babies only need feeding, diapering, and loving. Some of these things are time-consuming and even painful, but it is very clear what needs doing, and all I have to do is execute to the best of my ability. Mostly because of sheer dumb luck (enough sleep, easy babies, no PPD), I'm able to do that pretty well, and so I feel sure-footed in this mothering gig. It's still tiring, and I haven't particularly liked flying solo all week (G is on deadline and has worked until 2-3 AM all week), but I'm doing the best job I can. All of that translates into confidence, which certainly isn't something I thought I'd find in motherhood, and which feels like such a gift.


Caroline said...

I feel like I could have written that post - I hear you on the body changes and not being able to recognize yourself.

Glad to hear that you are feeling pretty confident on the mom front and enjoying it so much!

Eva said...

thanks so much for a great, thoughtful post. I hear you on so many things. I haven't colored my hair since December and so am two-toned blonde below, brown above -- had been thinking about doing what you've done maybe I will now. Ditto on the weird body shape and missing abs. glad the emotional stuff is feeling so under control!