Thursday, September 1, 2016

"Cause if we're talkin bodies..."

Opportunities to hold Lewis while he sleeps are few and far between these days as we work on getting him to sleep on his own in his crib. But on the rare occasions it still happens (like today), I soak it up. I know to many he is still a little baby, but to us he seems so much bigger every day! Because when he lays on my chest, I think of how not long ago, he was such a very teeny tiny baby who found such solace from hearing my heart beat. And how not long before that when I was still pregnant, I was all he knew.

As he laid on my chest and I reminisced about how far he has come and how far we have come together, I started to think about bodies. Josh and I have had plenty of conversations about how unfair various aspects of motherhood vs. fatherhood seem, many of which are because they take their toll on a woman's body physically. Pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding...each of these by themselves is not for the faint of heart. But pile them on top of each other one right after another and it has the potential to lead to some difficulties.

I've never really struggled with self-image or body image save a short stint freshman year in college when I thought I was fat thanks to a stupid personal trainer. I worked out a little too much, went on a cabbage soup diet, and then was thankfully saved at Thanksgiving when I remembered how much I love real food. But I've pretty much always worn the same size of clothes and could most of the time walk into a store and find something that I liked on me.

After having Sloane, there were physical aspects that were devastating that I've mentioned previously, but I had the luxury of being able to run as much as I wanted anytime I wanted. This was crucial to my healing and recovery, plus as I worked hard, I was able to get back to my pre-pregnancy size relatively quickly.

With Lewis, while I have this sweet babe to hold in my arms,  I am more limited in how much I can exercise and when I can exercise. Added to that is the cumulative effect that pregnancy and childbirth seem to have on most women--the second time around your body changes even more and it seems a little more permanent.

So I've found myself on a bit of a journey with my body in the past few months. I will always carry with me the emotional and physical scars from the births of my two babies. But I don't mind the C-section scar, and I really don't even mind the stretch marks. The hardest part for me has been having that pile of clothes that I love in the back of my closet that juuuuuust don't quite fit. And walking into a store and not loving everything that I try on, but having to be more strategic about how to dress this strangely new curvier body I now have.

A lot of days, getting dressed, looking in the mirror, and not recognizing the image looking back at me can be frustrating. But then there are those now-rare moments when I get to hold that sweet baby boy while he's napping, and with his head over my heart, our bodies still seem to fit so comfortably together and I know I would do it all again. The heartbreak, the waiting, the tears, and now the bigger clothes and different body...I would do it all again to have this little boy asleep in my arms. I know I won't be able to hold him like this for long. As he learns to crawl and move more on his own that distance between us will grow more and more and our bodies will feel less comfortable together than on their own. So I will work on soaking up that feeling and remembering the great and wonderful things my body has done for me and my babies.


The funny thing about grief is that it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. You'll be walking along in your life dealing with the day-to-day, then all of a sudden, BAM. It hits you like the trauma just happened yesterday, and it is there, and fresh and raw and you have to deal with it. And the difference is that hopefully by now, you've learned to deal with it better than you knew how to at first. Maybe not always, but maybe sometimes you're more equipped. You have more tools in your toolbox to get through this wave.

For me, one of my tools to deal with grief is writing. Writing in my blog, writing letters to Sloane, writing letters to Lewis. My emotions process more easily on paper than they do swirling around in my brain, so I get them down and write people are usually so nice about what I write. That's an added bonus when people actually get something out of what I write.

Today is September 1. Two years ago, this was going to be the month I would meet my baby girl! I was starting my new job as a first year school psychologist, and anxiously awaiting baby girl's arrival. I was due 9/22, but hopeful like most pregnant women to go a little early. So perhaps this is why the grief hits me today. September means the start of fall (in most places besides Mississippi...), and fall means the birth of my little girl. But history shows us that Sloane did not come in September, silly girl waited until October. It seems both of my children are stubborn and have minds of their own, waiting until they wanted to come. So maybe it is because her birthday is just a month and a day away, and I find myself thinking of what we will do this year to remember her and celebrate her birth while still honoring her death. It's hard to celebrate a birthday and a deathday all at once.

Regardless of what brought on the grief, I found myself writing today. Mind you, I am no poet, but sometimes words come out of my head and this time that took the form of a poem. Lewis and I had a rough morning and night, so these words poured out my mind effortlessly.

When my arms grow heavy from carrying you,
I think how grateful I am to hold you.

When my eyes burn and tears fall from lack of sleep,
I think how grateful I am you are here to keep me up.

When all I want is 5 minutes of peace or to take a shower,
I think how grateful I am you demand my attention.

When my ears tire of your cries because you hate falling asleep alone,
I think how grateful I am to have the chance to rock you.

Through the long days and sleepless nights,
I think how grateful I am to hold your warm body and feel your breath on my cheek.
Your very existence is a miracle, and that will never be lost on me.