Off Balance

Monday, December 28th, 2009 • 3 Comments on Off Balance

One of the persistent themes I’ve blogged about over the past five years is finding balance.  Balance is everything,  at least for me.  When my life is out of balance, it’s hard—sometimes impossible—for me to be creative.  I have found myself more off balance this year than I have ever been in my life.  When the writing has come, which has been rare in 2009, it has not come easy.  And now Patrick is here and the concept of balance has gone completely out the window. 

Granted, I know that’s how it’s supposed to be right now and in some ways I don’t mind at all.  I’m only three weeks into motherhood and it’s been an incredible learning experience already.  Not all of it good.  We went on our first mother/son outing to Starbucks yesterday and something that seemed so simple a month ago was suddenly a production.  I wasn’t surprised by that—I may have little experience with babies, but I do know how much work they are and I was/am at least mentally prepared for that, even if I was never prepared to do it alone.  I know it’ll get easier as I gain experience and get my strength back, but I’m just so impatient for that to be now.

Thankfully, in addition to being devastatingly handsome, Patrick is a pretty easy baby.  Of course, I have no basis for comparison to know what an “easy baby” is, but so far he rarely cries except when he’s hungry or gassy.  That’s pretty easy, right?  He does get fussy sometimes—flailing his arms and getting red in the face without ever really breaking into crying.  Sometimes in the afternoon and evening it’s hard to get him to nap after he eats, but even then he’s not really hard to calm.  Of course, I’m constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop as everyone warns me it can change in a heartbeat. God, I hope not.

But as beautiful and easy as Patrick is, I’m acutely aware of the lack of balance in my life.  Technically, I’m still recovering physically and I’m trying to cut myself some slack when I get frustrated over the fact that I’m not charging full speed ahead.  I should be writing, I tell myself.  I should be working on ideas for my next anthology.  Planning events and promo for Fairy Tale Lust.  Etcetera. I can’t do too much physically yet, but I’m anxious to get the baby weight off.  (Yay for Wii in the winter months!)  Even in that I’m trying not to be too impatient.  As someone pointed out, it took nine months for my stomach to get that big (lord, was it big!) and it’ll take at least that long for it to go away.  But even though I wasn’t a size 6 when I got pregnant, I’m anxious to have my body back.  I’m able to wear some of my jeans already, which is a good feeling.  It’s a start.  Baby steps.  Ha.

I am profoundly grateful for this beautiful, healthy baby.  I don’t need to say that, do I?  I’ll say it anyway—taking care of a baby might be new to me, but I feel like I was born with mommy guilt.  I am grateful and I’m looking forward to so many things with this little boy.  But right now—in the midst of the feeding, diapering, cuddling, attempting to sleep before I start it all again routine—it’s hard to sit on the ground on one end of the see-saw when I feel like I’m never going to get airborne again—at least not for several months.  I was talking to my neighbor yesterday about traveling—he and his wife are going to Vegas next month—and he said my “wings have been clipped” now. At the time, I was sitting in the truck with Patrick on our way to Starbucks, mentally calculating how long I could stay out before he would wake up and need to be fed, so I suppose my wings have been clipped.  But I bristled at the comment—stumbled over my words and said not at all, we plan on traveling with Patrick (and I plan on traveling alone, too, but I didn’t even think to say that)—and it stuck with me.  Clipped wings.  Grounded. Shudder.

I keep reminding myself that I don’t do things like other people.  I never have.  I have proven people wrong, I have gone against expectations and norms and I have made people cock their heads as they try to figure me out.  Beneath the fatigue, the circles under my eyes, the baby spit up on my T-shirt and the lack of a decent meal despite a freezer full of food because I haven’t had much of an appetite in nearly a week, I’m still that same person.  I know that and I don’t have to prove it.  Except to myself.

Posted by Kristina in Baby, Life, Pregnancy and Baby
  • Jo says:

    Um. Yes. But. It’s good to give in to the newness and groundedness a little bit too. For a while. Because if you fight that too hard, you can end up with exhaustion, and mastitis and PND and those sorts of nasties that remind you you’re meant to be putting your feet up. It sounds like someone should come in and defrost something for you, before the adrenaline wears off and you crash! Eat! Please!

    Travelling with babies is easier than with small kids, alright, esp if you’re breastfeeding. And small kids is good too, I think.

  • My heart goes out to you Kristina.  From an outside perspective, it’s a shock when people you know well become parents and suddenly their whole personalities are submerged in the Mummy personna. It feels like you’ve lost them. (In fact I had one good friend who disappeared into the Daddy personna about 6 years ago and has never re-emerged). For some it’s what they’ve always wanted to do and they welcome it. Other friends admit though that they are struggling, sometimes raging, against this change, and they fight to remain – and to remain identified – as themselves.

    I wish you luck, and joy in the baby moments whenever you find it, and strength – which I’m sure you have in abundance. And after all, babyhood doesn’t last long. And clipped wings do grow back.

  • Kristina says:

    Thanks so much for your empathy and encouragement, Janine!

    Jo, I’m trying to accept the groundedness for now. The eating is another issue—taking care of a newborn alone makes for the crucial decision of eating or sleeping when baby sleeps, and I usually choose sleeping (or laundry or pet care or… )

    Unfortunately, I was only able to exclusively breastfeed for the first week. My milk never really came in, despite all attempts to increase it, and Patrick lost over 10% of his birth weight. We’ve gone almost entirely to formula now, though I’m still attempting to nurse him because I still have some milk. I don’t know if it was the trauma of the induction, the C-section, the fact that they didn’t bring him to me for 4 hours and we didn’t really get to nurse until the next morning because he was so sleepy or something else entirely. Hugely disappointing, on top of the Cesarean.

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