When my body had to become a home for my baby, I felt like it became a home to me as well. I learned what nutrients would help in each trimester, I worked out with a trainer, and took really good care of my baby and my body. I felt in tune with my body, could identify places of pain, and felt alive most days during pregnancy. It was AWESOME!
When my baby arrived, things were a little different. At first I did continue to eat what I was eating. Some foods were great but I was shocked at how disgusting I thought some meals were postpartum. I put together some spinach and chicken from the freezer (it was an easy meal I was having on the daily at the end of my pregnancy) and I almost vomited at how salty the chicken was. The concoction itself was just bleh. My pregnancy tongue/stomach was very different from my postpartum tongue/stomach.
So heating up items from my freezer didn’t work. I made do with whatever I had. It took weeks before I got up the courage to actually go to the grocery store with my baby. Once I was there, I looked for whatever was as easy as possible. I made steel cut oats with berries – WHEN I had time. Most days I decided between how tired I was and how hungry I was. I ate a lot of wraps with turkey or cheese and lettuce and tomato because, again, I chose things based on how easy it would be to grab. I barely ate carbs while pregnant so that was probably a shock to my system. I don’t know if it was because I was so tired but I did crave the carbs.
When it came to working out, I did want to work out again but I had no idea how. There were other things going on too. I wanted a natural childbirth and I ended up with an emergency c-section. I felt both that I had failed my body and my body had failed me. I am writing these sentences now and almost 2 years postpartum and I still have tears welling up in my eyes. It affected me; it still affects me. I had worked so hard during pregnancy to go through childbirth naturally but it just didn’t happen. My baby didn’t come after 42 weeks, I had to be induced with Pitocin, and when the baby still didn’t come, I had the emergency c-section. In a lot of ways I felt that I had failed. In other ways, I learned how vulnerable you become in a hospital setting where doctors and nurses operate out of habit and go through the process without thinking. I sometimes still wish I had decided to use a midwife and had the baby at home. Sometimes though I tell myself even if I had tried at home, I would have ended up in the hospital. I can’t actually know though. All I have is what happened to me. When I did finally try to work out, I remember I tried to do some sit-ups; I physically could not do them. I tried lifting my legs up while lying on the ground and they would not budge. I used the treadmill a few times in the first few months postpartum, my c-section scar actually hurt. I slowed down until the pain went away. Without much energy and feelings of failure, I put off working out until I felt the courage to pick it up again.
Needless to say, I went into survival mode postpartum. I did what I had to do to survive, to learn how to be a mother, show up for my baby, and make it to the next day. Some women make this transition with grace; I did not. So I continued in survival mode until I felt I could take back pieces of me. When I went back to work, I gained a bit more freedom. Just having the ability to think made a difference for me.
At 4 months postpartum when I was back at work, I started cooking dinners. I had to figure out how to make a dinner in 30 minutes or less that would be somewhat healthy and appealing to my hubby. I started with easy, just like in my first few weeks of postpartum. I found the fastest meals and banged them out when I got home from work. I planned my meals on pieces of paper while at work and cooked based on what I planned.
Then I started experiencing the evening crash. I put my baby to bed and said, “Hello ice cream.” It was pretty awesome though. I was breastfeeding so all the weight that slipped right off when my baby was born, stayed away! Even after shoveling ice cream night after night. The only downside to this was the habit I created.
Eventually I stopped pumping and my habits stayed the same. I was able to, at that point, cook healthier meals in less than 30 minutes or so. The ice cream habit, though, that was the kicker. When I stopped pumping when my little one turned a year and I continued to eat ice cream, I gained 20 pounds right back as fast as I could even realize. All of a sudden a skirt I had been wearing did not fit.
When I realized I had gained so much weight back and my clothes weren’t fitting like before, I also realized how detached I was from my body. When I was pregnant and taking such good care of me, my body had energy. Granted I was so tired at the end of my pregnancy and sciatica practically and literally kicked my ass, I still felt my body was zinging. At 15 months postpartum, I was so far from that connection. My body was not my home. I had to find a way back to my body and a way back to my home.
Spoiler alert: I’m still not there. Here’s the thing, it has been hard. It’s not that I am going back to my body the same way it was. My body is so, SO different. Before I had to create a home for my baby and I happened to create a home for myself too. This time I have to create a home for just me, in the body that has produced a baby. There are the stretch marks, the c-section scar, and the deformation of my stomach muscles. But while I would love rock-hard abs and an ass that only the greatest work-out queens bare, I am really searching for a connectedness to my body and that ‘zinging’ feeling of taking care of myself.
At about 18 months postpartum I found a hot yoga class that I take 1 – 2 times a week. I wanted to find an activity I enjoyed so I did. For my meal plans, I take more time making sure they are healthy and I’ve cut out eating ice cream most nights. I still slip and over indulge on occasion. And I go through phases of doing really well and then doing really bad. I seem to cycle back and forth and eventually get better over time. I am getting closer to feeling at home in my body, though. I’ve even had some days over the past month where I feel the energy again within my body.
I am not where I want to be. I tried on the skirt last week; I even wore it to work. While it fits, it fits tight if you know what I’m saying. I am still working to get to a place of comfort and ease within my body. I believe I will get there. If you want to join me on this “journey home” or have any questions or just want to talk further, feel free to contact me at ChristineGalatis@gmail.com or 781-727-6275.
Lots of love to you mommas!