The Mombod – Six Months On

Now that Finn’s hit the six-month mark it seems as good a time as any for some honest reflection.

Here’s a brief rundown of the past six months, according to my mombod:

The Belly

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It’s January and Finn is already a week overdue. I have a friend with a diamond mind and she says the baby just doesn’t want to leave my uterus because it’s a pudding-filled Jacuzzi .

All around me my preggy friends are delivering early, and I feel like a disgusting, sweaty, insomniac meatball. I’m also damn curious to know if it’s a boy or a girl, so the the wait is agonising.

I’m loving my silhouette though 🙂

The Birth

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Egad. I am in no way prepared for the pain. Mom, you lied. Admit it.

From the get-go I’m freaked out, and 8 hours into the tough stuff I opt for the epidural. 4 hours later Finn is born with the help of a vacuum thingie. He wiggles out covered in blood and poop, we discover he’s a boy and he has a nom on my breast.

(I will share my birth story at some point, but this is not that post.)

((You know the whole “throwing a sausage down a hallway” vibe? It’s bollocks))

The Boobs

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Such was the flatness of my chest that, growing up, my brothers called me Surfboard, Mosquito Bites,  Bee stings, and when they were feeling particularly kind: Noombies. Understandably, I’ve been looking forward to having impractically large breasts.

But, when my milk comes in they’re hard as rocks and my hub and I are genuinely concerned that they’ll explode. I do enjoy admiring them from all angles though when I have time to shower. (Shower time is sacrosanct; a post-birth ritual that I totally took for granted before I had a baby)

The Blade

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Alas, my boobal magnificence is short lived. My superhero chesticles are not long for this world. I am doomed to be oddly racked.

 When Finn is a month-and-a-half old I have emergency surgery to remove a gigantic abscess. As a result, I’m left with one weird shrunken Frankenboob, while the other side picks up the slack, turning into Superboob; one boob to rule them all. I am so lopsided that I walk in circles when I don’t concentrate.

On the bright side, I can keep breastfeeding on the super side and my little man gets rounder and squishier every day.

The Bleakness

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Two months in and I’m just worn down. My body feels weak after the birth, the episiotomy and the breast surgery. My emotions are ALL over the place, I miss my mom and I’m not coping. I feel like a failure because I had an epidural, and because I’ve not taken to motherhood like some people do.

Sometimes I think that if Finn dies in his sleep it’ll be for the best.

It’s not a good place to be and I know I need help.

The Bettering

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After seeing a doctor, and then getting a second opinion, I’ve decided to go on a course of SSRIs. This decision in itself is pretty tough because I’ve always been conflicted about anti-depressants. But right now I need to keep it together; I need to take care of this little life.

I am so grateful for the help.

And now that I’m not brought to tears at the sight of my freak-show breasts, now that I can make simple decisions like “Coffee or tea?” without losing it, I’m starting to see how awesome my child is. Damn, he’s so freaking awesome.

Sometimes, at night, the hubber and I joke about going into his room and waking him up just so that we can all hang out together.

 In fact I like him so much I even have a list of my favourite moments:

  • When I check to see that he’s still breathing, and he is
  • When he smiles at his dad
  • When I go to fetch him after a nap and he grins up at me like a gummy Cheshire cat
  • When I pick him up and he latches onto my chin
  • When he’s done feeding and pops off my breast with a happy sigh
  • When he falls asleep in my arms
  • When he giggles
  • When he lies awake making fart noises instead of napping

This list grows every day.

It’s taken me months to get used to being a mom, and now I’m loving it so much that I don’t want to do anything else.

For a while it was difficult to get used to the change in pace. Going from managing a team at a busy marketing agency to stay-at-home momming has been a major shift. But, I tells ya, I get more satisfaction from seeing my boy smile at Incy Wincey Spider than I ever did from nailing a client brief.

In fact, as I type this Finn’s doing pushups and making pterodactyl noises, and I’ve never been more content in my life.

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10 Things

I have actual guilt feelings about not writing anything sooner.

My hub’s been away since the end of October, and I was expecting to write the crap out of my feelings, but mostly I’ve been hiding on the couch after work, watching Downton Abbey*.

The truth is that I’ve been processing the pregnancy thing, and the logistics of childbirth. That last post took it out of me.

Recently though, I’ve managed to come to terms with the inevitable, thanks to the awesome words of moms all around me. It’s been overwhelming to share my fears, and be met with such support and wisdom.

As a result, at 34 weeks, I’ve progressed from worrying about labour pains to binge researching ways of avoiding cracked nipples.

Also, I’ve managed to compile a list of things that I can’t wait to enjoy again:

1: Beer – Those non-alcoholic impostors can go sit in syrup. I want a tall fresh frosty draught. Maybe two.

2: Mouldy cheese – It’s hard to avoid Gorgonzola or Roquerfort when dining out in Cape Town. Seriously, we live in Foodie Central and there are so many fancy freaking burgers I have not been able to devour.

3: Sushi – Cooked prawn and veg substitutes can only tide one over for so long.

4: Denims – It’s been months since I wore a pair of jeans. The mere thought of anything with a waistband makes me twitch like a junkie, and I WILL NOT go the route of the maternity jean pant.

5: Sleeping through the night – Rumour has it that in about three years I’ll enjoy this particular boon once more – I guess until then I’ll have to settle for not having to stumble to the loo every time I finally get comfortable.

6: Finally getting comfortable.

7: An aerial view of my southern hemisphere – I know it exists, but I can’t interact with it.

8: Wearing my high tops – Picture a praying mantis trying to ride a tricycle and you have a pretty good idea of what I look like putting on lace-ups.

9: Gravity – While I know that this is what makes life on our planet liveable, it’s really pissing me off at the mo’. Right now, anything that falls on the floor is dead to me. I guess the upside is that I’ve become pretty damn adept at catching things with my feet – a skill I would have killed for when I was at college and all about those hacky sack boys.

10: My brain – Just last night I left my car unlocked, on a dodgy street in Plumstead, for two hours, WITH THE KEYS IN THE IGNITION.

I think that all in all, the third trimester has given me a newfound respect for the humble robot mech. When you see them on the big screen, you’re all about the mech operator – uhh yeaaah boooi. But I know – and so do all the preggies and moms out there – that when you have a melon-sized critter cavorting in your torso, you call very few of the shots.

My gut-commander isn’t that bad though. Its demands are reasonable. Right now for example, it needs a grilled cheese sandwich.

I’m powerless… to… resist…

*that storyline kills off characters like it’s related to George R R Martin.

Labour of Love

This is a serious one.

For the first time in my pregnancy I’m scared. Scratch that – I’m petrified. Up until now my emotions have been even-keeled, and I’ve managed to maintain my sense of humour, but something’s switched around and I’m all over the place. I think I’ve just been on a preggy hormone high, but what goes up must come down – right?

We’ve been going to antenatal classes, and the first one was awesome. We learnt so much cool stuff, like what my pelvis is capable of, and how lying on your back makes it pretty difficult to give birth. The process is by no means graceful; it’s primal. And I’m OK with that. My hubby’s eyes were like saucers at the end and I thought that was hilarious.

This week though, we went to our second class, and it was my turn to be all wide-eyed. The midwife discussed the various stages of labour, using very tasteful visual aids to show what happens to your body as you progress. And cartoons that show what your facial expression looks like: from smiley, to serious, to grim, to dying a thousand deaths at once, to peaceful. No gory stuff, which I was grateful for.

Only thing is, she threw around words like “thrashing contractions”.

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Let me give you some time to process that.

Thrashing. Contractions.

Thrashing.

It was at that point that something in my mind switched. All the images I had of a peaceful labour just vanished, and I began to seriously doubt my ability to give birth naturally, without the assistance of drugs.

I react badly to pain and helplessness. For example, I remember needing to be held down to get an injection when I was about 10-years old. And then, on my 22nd birthday, I apparently attacked some helpful paramedics who were trying to get me out of my car after I’d had an accident.

Somehow I hadn’t considered this aspect of my personality in relation to childbirth. Then when she said “thrashing”, it all came crashing in.

So now, I have 9 weeks to get my head together and stop freaking out. In my mind I know that the baby has to come out, and that logistically this can be tricky, but I also know that us women have been doing this for years.

Unfortunately, this rationale is all only in my mind. In my heart I’m unsettled. I’m not proud to admit it, but every time I hear something dumb like “Save the beaver; have a Caesar” or “Why go through the basement if you can go through the penthouse?” I recoil inside and question my decision to go natural.

I think what I’m really afraid of is being in the moment, and not being able to cope. If I’m 100% honest with myself, I’m not 100% sure I can do this.

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Ground Zero

I never expected to be 33, bulbous with child and happy about it. But here I am, glowing and gassy, due Jan 3 2015.

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By trade, I’m a writer – if you can even call that a trade – but in my heart I’m still a reckless 20-year old looking for animals in the clouds. Sound familiar? Meh, we’re legion.

Thing is, I somehow survived my 20s, and now that I’m all high on pregnancy hormones, I’m looking forward to a new adventure that I never thought would be part of my plan.

It’s not that I never wanted to have children, it’s just that I wasn’t particularly broody. When people went nuts over baby photos I wasn’t interested. But then slowly, and completely without my permission, by body started to soften me up to the idea. It wasn’t so much an upholstery-clad Marissa Tomei stamping her foot at Vinny, but more of a gradual realigning to all things maternal.

I’m still not much of a baby cooer, but I’m so excited to meet this little one I get all teared up sometimes. I mean look: it’s a real human. Fist bumping even!

Thumper

I guess this blog will be a place for me to talk about my feels, and the stuff that goes through my mind. Like dogs, and beards, and food.