Changing. Forcing myself to make an effort in new directions. Forcing myself to do hard things in order to have the life I want, the body I want, the mind I want. That is what is going on with me.
Emerging from a flabbergasting time. Within the span of 1.5 MONTHS, ALL OF THIS:
Packed, moved homes, unpacked, roadtrip with toddler 11 hours one way and 9 hours the other for DH’s important job interview, got the stomach flu twice (once before roadtrip, once upon returning), more unpacking and settling and very late nights, managed the phone calls, paperwork, and actual going to TEN doctors appointments for S (it’s a long story), went to an all-day surgery with anesthesia for S (he’s totally fine—was harder on me, thank God), planning DH’s 40th birthday celebration in Brooklyn and creating a mix of songs for him by collecting titles (and attached memories, stories) from about fifty friends…
And there’s more, but I’m getting tired of listing. What I want to list now is what I’m doing to feel better in my skin:
—I’ve started going to bed at 9 or 10 and getting up at 5 AM to write and do yoga.
— I’ve started a running program.
—I’ve been gluten/wheat-free again for 20 days and plan to never return to gluten/wheat-land.
—I’ve cut out alcohol altogether, to help with GI stuff, exercise, my new morning schedule, and mood.
—I’ve joined the Unitarian Universalist Church with my little family.
—I am making an effort to cook delicious dinners.
I do feel proud. I do feel adult and badass and able to accomplish anything I set my mind to right now.
I was not feeling okay at all. Getting the stomach flu twice in a row (perhaps it was a resurgence of the same bout of flu) really shook me. It was a terrible stomach flu, with violent retching. DH had just taken a lot of time off to go to PA and his interview, so he could not take time off, and I was managing the retching, fever, aching, shivering, while taking care of S. It was not good. It’s hard for me to even think about that time! My babysitter was not available and we have no backup sitter. And I did not have the wherewithal to figure out how to find another sitter, organize the whole thing—it’s not an easy process when the kid is so little.
I had, thankfully, already babyproofed the entire house, so I could lie on the couch while S ran around, and I knew he was safe. But he needed me and I could not give him all that he needed and that shit is hard. And there was only so much TV he could watch.
DH did manage to come home early eventually…and the next day we had a crazy fight in which I let him know how hurt I was that he had not made me a first priority. He had not been warm toward me and had seemed only inconvenienced by my resurgence of the flu. He was so cold toward me! And I had done so much for the raodtrip, had driven 11 hours straight to PA all by myself (while still recovering from the first bout of flu) so he could sleep and be fresher for his interview the next day. On Monday morning, when I woke up and told him that I’d had a fever again all night, he didn’t even allow me the time to take a hot shower before he went off to work (and S was up). He was under a lot of pressure, having recently asked his work for so much time off, but there is no excuse for the way he treated me. I’ve since forgiven him, as he has recognized what a jerk he was to me. It was seriously hurtful, and I’m still a little weirded out by what happened. I now have a cold and he has been careful to ask me how I am doing and what he can do for me. He is also, in his limited free time, reading a book on creating healthy marriages, so I know that he, too, was shaken by his behavior and how much he hurt me.
This is sometimes really hard. This raising a kid thing while not having much help (other than the universe’s most amazing babysitter—but she’s $12/hour, low prices around here, but expensive for us). Also, DH, who has had the cervical-cancer kind of HPV for decades, has an outbreak so bad right now that he needs to go under anesthesia for minor surgery on his wiener, so there has been no sex for us for a looooooong time (he couldn’t get a surgery date til mid-April!). Add to that the fact that we don’t sleep side-by-side at all because of his intense, chainsaw-like snoring. We used to fall asleep in each other’s arms, but now we don’t, because sleep is precious and neither of us can afford to go through the wake-up that happens when I leave the bed once he begins snoring. Because it can be hard to fall back to sleep. I miss him and his arms. We do it anyway sometimes, but if any amount of insomnia occurs, we don’t do it again for a while.
We did, however, watch an entire movie together (yay!) one night in our living room, and that was really fun. We did hire our beloved babysitter (I feel actual love for this young woman) one night and go to a new couple friends house for an incredible dinner and lively conversation. We have been going to the Unitarian church every Sunday for a month, now, in an effort to do something positive, spiritually uplifting, and community-minded, and with an eye toward raising S with spirituality and community. (Neither of us was raised with Church and have never been churchgoers. It’s a new experience, one that I’m really enjoying. More on this later.)
We do have the sweetest, loveliest evenings and weekends with S, even throughout all of the recent stresses. Almost impossible to capture in words…just last night, the three of us snuggled on a pile of pillows, S squealing with glee and kissing our cheeks. He is a ball of love. S running up to us and hugging us passionately (he loves our family group hugs). The three of us having dance parties that leave my tummy sore from so much laughing.
I decided that I had to do whatever I can do to ward off the following:
illness; gross feelings about my body; sad feelings about my unused adult brain; down feelings about my nearly platonic relationship with DH; isolated feelings re: LI; etc.
…so that we can have as much of the snuggling and dancing as possible, and as little of the stress and sickness as possible.
So I got serious and looked up a running program online, wrote down the details in my calendar, and told myself that no matter what is going on, I must do what is written on the calendar. For the most part, I have done just that—with some flexibility because of my recent cold.
I have gone running outside with the jogging stroller. Running on the streets of our new neighborhood in all kinds of weather. And I’ve gone running on the treadmill at the gym while the “Kid’s Corner” gym people watch him—not an easy step for me, as it’s two caretakers in there with lots of kids, many of them older and rougher. But I can watch the playroom on a monitor on the treadmill, and they do an excellent job. I’ve just got to let go and trust. Maybe someday I’ll get to the point at which I can even turn off the treadmill monitor.
I eat specific things before running and eat specific things afterward to help with recovery, and I am sure to do at least a little myofascial release with the foam roller afterward. Intense DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) has always been my killer when it comes to running, that and injury, so I am being very careful this time around. I used to run when I lived in Brooklyn and had a body that fit into size Small clothing. It’s very different running with a size Large body that has been through pregnancy and drawn-out recovery…
I am heavier than I’ve ever been and I just cannot stand the way it feels. I don’t like the way I look, but I’m also worried about my heart—my brother had a heart attack at age 43, and my cousin had one at age 46, my uncle at 50. Heart conditions are rampant on both sides of my family.
Plus having had multiple miscarriages puts me at greater risk for heart problems and death due heart conditions.
Being an older mama, I think of S. I want to be around for many, many years and see him go through all the things!
I want to be healthy so that I can enjoy all of it. And enjoy retirement with DH.
The going to bed early, getting up early thing is the most recent addition. Which is why I am here, typing away with my cup of coffee, at 5 a.m. I was tired of hearing myself complain about how I do not have enough time to write. Enough time to use my adult-brain.
I was boring myself.
Stop whining, I told myself, and make drastic changes to have the life you want.
If I stay up until 11 or 12 at night, what do I accomplish? Nothing. I am too tired. But if I get up early and watch the sun rise while at my desk with a cup of coffee, I have so much more energy and focus. I start to feel “like myself” — one of my biggest complaints, not feeling “like myself” because of how adult-mind-numbing caretaking can be.
I also have more energy lately because I have cut out my enemy, gluten/wheat. I can’t believe it took me this long to say farewell again.
So this is what happened: I went gluten-free and on an anti-inflammation diet in order to prepare my body for pregnancy with S. It was part of a huge body/mind makeover. Once S was born, I was like, I cannot do this any longer. I did not have the time, I thought, and it was so difficult, or it felt so difficult, to stay GF when taking care of an infant. No doubt, there were some moments when I absolutely had to get food in my gut and had very few options.
But also, to be real: I was sick and fucking tired of monitoring myself!
The monitoring! Monitoring my diet. Getting monitored at the RE’s. At the OB’s. Again and again. Jabbing myself with Lo.ve.nox twice a day.
And taking vitamins. Before pregnancy, all those months of taking vitamins and supplements, hoping that something would help…aaaaack! I was sick of being sure to take my vitamins. I haven’t taken a regular vitamin in 16 months! I tell myself I’ll just get it from food. But I should probably start taking one again. Also: Folg.ar.d. I should be taking that, since I have MTHFR. And I should probably be taking a daily baby aspirin for my Factor V. But I’m not. Because rebellion. Because too much. But it’s time.
After I cut out the gluten, I began to feel this…difference. A lightness. My stomach was not drawing so much of my attention away from other things. My stomach was pretty much okay! Didn’t need to think about stomach! And I was pooping healthily. I had forgotten how healthily a person can poop! Fewer body aches, more energy, fewer stomach problems, better poops.
Never–you hear me? (Am talking to self. Am schooling self. No, no, no. Be a smart human.)
Cutting out alcohol was not as hard as I thought it was going to be. Making cocktails in the evening with DH was one of our fun, adult-time activities, and we started getting into it, buying the equipment, vintage cocktail books, and so on. But A) It was certainly not helping my current weight problem, and B) I have to admit that it affects me. A lot. Like, way, way more than it does DH. Even if I have just one drink, it can have some effects on GI tract, sleep, mood, and so on. Such a bummer. If I do it carefully, with a meal, a certain amount of time before bed, it’s okay. But for now, I’m just going to cut it out while I’m making all of these changes. Surprisingly, I haven’t missed it yet.
I was also very tired of hearing myself complain about how my cooking has gone downhill. I make great breakfasts for S & me, but my dinners were these thrown-together affairs that I did while feeling rushed, pressured, exhausted, and disgruntled. I made a strong decision to stop the pattern. To give myself a full hour to make dinner. To not shy away from meats that take a long time to cook and require some planning. This week, I made buffalo burgers, beef braciole, elaborate BLTs, nice salads.
Writing all of this out, I realize that I really can accomplish anything I want. If I make the decision and follow through, anything is possible. I hope in a month I can return to this post and take note of the positive changes that have resulted from all of this effort and say that I’m keeping all of it up.
The Force is with me!
But patience you must have, padawan.