Tag Archives: postpartum

The Time Machine

There is an exhibit, an installation, a magic space machine at the Museum of Life & Science in Durham.  It is upstairs  as soon as you get off the elevator.  If there were 20somethings in wrinkled tuxedo shirts offering  plastic glasses of cheap wine I would feel like I had been transported back in time to an art opening at the Muscarelle Museum on campus.   Only I would be wearing black thigh highs and combat boots and chasing boys.

Instead I am wearing a baby.  And chasing six year olds.  This afternoon I watched the “sand” made by shadows in the projected light pile up on my body.  I watched for longer than I have ever watched before.  I have stood in the path of these lights at least a dozen times and never did I see myself like I did today .


My hand on her head.  Her body jutting out from my lower abdomen.  I stood like this for months before I ever got to hold her.  She is asleep.  I can hear her breathing.  We are exactly the same temperature.  She can smell me.

Almost a year ago now I took this picture below.  I wish I’d had the sense to include the rest of me.  I remember snapping more than a few, I couldn’t seem to get an angle that didn’t make me look like the back end of a truck.  Funny the things I worried about.

My pregnancy, Lucy’s beginnings are more than documented, both here and privately.  I imagine I could make a flipbook if I lined up every bathroom belly shot I took.  But it is not enough to just look at these old pictures.  I won’t ever have her back so close again.
My big girl will be in the first grade in three days.  After dinner tonight she climbed in my lap and I pressed my face in to the nape of her neck.  Her fresh, back to school hair cut gives me free access.  I inhaled her.  She is still there.  My first baby.

My little one, I can still hold her close.  I can still breathe her in while she sleeps.  Today as I watched the “sand” pile up on her as she slept against my chest I knew that I would come back again to this exact same spot.  I would take another picture.  First I will see the shadows pile on her back  as she crawls.  Then I will see the shadows pile on her head and her feet as she walks.

And one day we will get off the elevator and I will walk towards the light and she will not follow me.  Instead she will head towards another exhibit, hot on the heels of the big kids.  And I will chase her.  And I will pick her up and smell her and she will be my baby again for a moment.




I’m big on setting goals. Measurable goals. For as much as I pick on MQD and the SCIENCE (imagine I said science with jazz hands and a hint of feigned terror in my voice) I love a good graph.

When I decided I was ready to hop back on the fitness train I returned to Couch to 5K. Couch to 5K is a training program designed to take you from the couch (no way! Me? the couch? I didn’t gain almost sixty pounds with this pregnancy at the gym!) to running a solid thirty minutes without stopping in nine weeks. I have a tendency to overexert myself. A training program is necessary to keep me from deciding to try and run six miles after three leisurely strolls around the block has me thinking I am in tip top shape.

The trouble with the Couch to 5K? It ends. After nine weeks where do I go from there? Without the magical iPhone telling me to Run (which is laughable as my jogging speed has been known to be slower than my walking speed, but whatever!) I am lost.

But something crazy has happened to me. I remember when Em was teeny. She wasn’t big on napping. I decided training for the OBX Marathon was a good idea. The jogging stroller was my idea of a vacation. Every day, no matter what else happened, I had an hour on Bay Drive. If you go to the Outer Banks and you have never driven down Bay Drive and admired the homes and the sunset and the sound side living you are missing out. (Oh, how I miss you, long, deliciously flat Bay Drive…) It is happening again.

I finished the Couch to 5K on June 5th. 20120612-194338.jpg

And then I did it again, every day for the next FIVE days!! I am keeping it up. I am motivated not only by the health benefits and the uninterrupted Me time, I admit. The number on the scale has me a little freaked out. I haven’t ever said that number out loud here. I showed you my stretchmarks, but that number? It is like pooping in front of someone. I don’t do that.

But I am done hiding. I weighed 226 the day before Lucy was born. I’d hit an all time ten year low of 167 before we got married. I weigh a lot, and I am okay with that. I have size 10.5 feet and D cups, they come with a price.

I avoided the scale immediately after Lucy was born. I know my tendency to get antsy about my weight and I knew I needed to be eating well and frequently in order to establish and maintain a milk supply those crucial first six weeks.

My six week post partum visit greeted me with a 197. What the shit? I’d had a baby six weeks ago!! I was horrified. I hit the ground running, literally.


And then shortly after I hit the ground, I hit the store.  I wrote about my new shoes.  But I haven’t mentioned my new found love of the running skirt.  It makes me feel like a cheerleader.  I never was a cheerleader but I imagine this is what it felt like.  “Hey you, my ass is almost showing but it is all in the name of sports!!  Check me out! But don’t talk shit, I’m an athlete, bitches!”  Did I say that out loud?  So help me, I am wearing day glow running skirts and I don’t even know who the hell I am anymore.

This morning I downloaded the “Bridge to 10K” app.  I need to keep going. I have to keep going.  It might take me longer than the six weeks it suggests.  But I’ll get there.  And if you look at the screenshot on the right, in the top corner, it’s a graph!!  A GRAPH!  I am as happy as a pig in shit.  Or a middle aged, 184 pound mom of two in a hot pink running skirt.  And let me tell you from my experience, that is pretty happy.


The one where we buried the placenta…

My husband is a scientist. He labels everything. He once asked me if we could talk about keeping the refrigerator more organized. He volunteered to make labels. Dairy. Vegetables. Condiments. We had only just moved in together so I bit a hole in my lip and smiled and said “if you’d like to take on that project I will try really hard to put things back.”

It was never mentioned again.

That having been said there is  no placenta shelf in our freezer. Just a ziplock bag with the tell tale biohazard bag inside crammed in the back of the freezer.

For four months and nineteen days. Lucy is four months and twenty one days old. The nurse practitioner that stopped at our house to see us when Lucy was two says old brought it to us. We left it on the counter when we headed home four hours after Lucy’s birth.

Some people leave their purse. Or their cell phone charger. We forgot our placenta.

I was lucky. I did not experience post-partum depression after Emily was born. So I elected not to dehydrate and encapsulate my placenta. But I liked the idea of doing something with it.

Different cultures do different things. We decided we would bury it under a plant or shrub (I can’t bring myself to say bush, although the comedic possibility is enticing.)

We decided to plant a gardenia. When we were picking out flowers for our wedding we considered gardenias. I imagine opening my front door next spring and smelling them for the first time of the season. Lucy will be walking by then.

Emily chose a hydrangea for her plant. I am hopeful that our soil will produce blue flowers as that was what helped her make up her mind. The September birth stone is the sapphire and she favors the blue sapphire. Not to be confused with her mother’s favorite gin, Bombay Blue Sapphire.

I’ve said it before. I am smitten with my husband. Married a little over fourteen months and he still makes me smile. He hollers up to me as I stand on the deck out of the rain “get a picture! You’ll never see your home again, Lucy!!”

I hope our plants survive. But the benefit of being a mom the second time around? Our kids will make it. Of this much I am certain.

Word to the Wise: “call before you dig” is no joke. We spent our first weekday of summer without cable television or the Internet. MQD wisely elected to not put the plants or the placenta in the hole until after the cable guy came lest he accidentally dig it back up.

It meant we put our plants in during a gentle rain shower on Monday evening instead of on Sunday afternoon. And MQD looks totally hot in wet blue jeans and a tshirt, I mean… our plants were well hydrated and the rain had some kind of poetic symbolism and…. Yeah.

Lucy and I supervised.  And Emily?  Well, the cable guy came about thirty minutes before MQD got home from work.  She established that a placenta looks like a brain and then she decided she’d had enough.  There was tv to watch.  It’s Summertime.

Thing 1 and Thing 2

They say (and in this instance the “they” I speak of is actually my mother) that no two kids have the same parent. I was thinking about just how true that statement is yesterday afternoon while I was in the shower.

Lucy was on the floor, right outside the shower. The sound of the shower generally has the same calming effect as the vacuum (and that kid loves a Dyson almost as much as her mama.) I had just put conditioner in my hair when her wiggly sounds went from cheery to filled with rage. Emily’s mother would have leapt from the shower, conditioner still in her hair, soap in her eyes, one armpit shaved and tears in her own eyes to determine what was ailing her sweet baby.

Lucy’s mother poked her head out the curtain and started down the path of insane nonsense singing “Luuucccyyyyy….. Can you not see I am in the shower???!!! I realiiiize this statement has no poooowerrrrr….. you seem not to give a shit, if i have shaved but one armpit!” and so on. I’ll spare you. She is only a fan of my songs about half the time, there is no reason I should subject anyone but family to these tunes. (Now would be a good time to mention that I actually had a Voice teacher in college fire me. Suggest that perhaps my singing training would be over that semester, I had come to the end of the line.  I was hopeless.)

All my songs bring to the table is my witty and charming lyrics. This I come by genetically. My own mother’s top hits I can still recall. A song penned to horrify my brother “Brassierre!!! Let me whisper in your ear, about my favorite brassiere….”

Not all songs were intended to embarrass us. Occasionally they were delightful, as close as we got to positively sinful. A song popular around Thanksgiving, to be sung at full voice to the dogs. A song perhaps my mother regretted the moment it came from her mouth as it was quickly adopted as an all time favorite. I share with you now, my mother’s greatest hit “Poultry.”

“Poultry gives you gaaaas! You blow it out your…” We rarely even got to the “ass” part as the giggles were convulsive by then.

I digress. Kids. They all have different parents, even in the same family. I was more fearful with Em in the beginning. More doting. Lucy gets a better mother, in some respects. I know what I am doing. But does she get the shaft because I don’t leap to her aid in a nanoseccond? I don’t think so.

It was the first time that we were all home alone without Dad. Just me and Em and Lucy Goose. I was making Em a sandwich. I had put Lucy down for the first time all day. And she started to cry. “Hang tight, little mama, your sister needs to eat, too.” In a family of more than one child sometimes we have to wait out turn. Emily was important, too.


So is Mom. I never would have let Em cry for twenty seconds while I finished a shower. But somehow the realization that sometimes Lucy will need to wait a moment so I can care for her sister led me to the understanding that it isn’t wrong to let Lucy wait one moment so I can care for myself. If Emily’s needs are valid, aren’t mine?

It took less than sixty seconds to get a cup of coffee and a glass of water.

As a mother it is unspeakably painful for me to hear my children crying. 60 seconds. I can take it that long and then I crumble and run for them, arms open. But did you know you can eat a hardboiled egg, finish a shower, get fully dressed and brush your hair, make your bed, pee, run a pile of crap up the stairs and put it in the room where it belongs if not actually put it away… you can do any one of those things in only 60 seconds. And when you return, arms wide open, you are forgiven immediately. For taking 60 seconds.

Maybe she forgives me only because the singing stops when I return. You think the one about shaving my armpits is awful, you should hear the one about peeing all alone. Suffice it to say Eponine’s “On my own” from Les Mis was my inspiration.

For the record this message was reviewed and approved by Thing 2. I realize she looks like she is watching a horror show but that is a face of approval.


Everyone tells a new mother “Make sure to take time for you!” and  “Take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your family if you are not taking care of you.” And unlike so much of what “everyone” tells you, it’s not bullshit.  So this go round, I am doing the very best I can to do just that.

Yesterday was a damn near perfect day.  I had my second post-partum trip to the chiropractor.  One more and I am cleared for  take off.  It is hard to believe it was only a year ago I drank the Kool-Aid but I am convinced that my chiropractic care is somewhat to credit for my bouncing back so quickly after this labor and delivery.

In the same building, I had the pleasure of participating in my very first activity that starts with the words “Mommy &.”  And believe it or not, after I got past the initial “I can’t fucking believe I am doing this” feeling it was wonderful.

Mommy & Me Yoga.  Check that off the bucket list.  I had this idea that somehow it would be guided rolling around the floor with my youngin’ which I had trouble wrapping my mind around.  Around the why you’d need someone to show you how to do that and how I was going to get through it without peeing in my pants (not from lack of Kegel exercises during and post pregnancy, but from hysterics.)

Turns out Mommy & Me Yoga is regular yoga where your baby can loll around on a blanket (hopefully sleeping) and if they should wake you can pop out a boob in child’s pose or do the Mommy sway in the back of a room and no one will give you the glare.  The glare that says “really, a baby?  A baby?  How dare you bring  a BABY here!?”

There is one more thing a new mother needs to do.  “Get out of your house!” the well meaning advice givers say.  This is easier said than done for some, but I don’t have any trouble getting out.  I was, after all, at work seven days after Lucy was born. But I was out of the house twice this week, socially.  Much harder for me.  I had lunch with an old friend one day this week.  Not a huge accomplishment for some, but slightly more cause for celebration because I initiated this meet up.  And the second time?  With a new friend.

It makes me nervous to say that.  A new friend.  You may recall that I sought acupuncture treatment towards the very end of my pregnancy.  I have since been back twice.  Because I really like the practitioner.  She’s neat.  And cool. In that “I wonder if I am cool enough to kick it with this girl” way.  Can women that have TWO kids even “kick it” at all?

I did the hard thing.  The hard thing that frequently eludes me.  That I had dared myself to do in November in this upcoming year.  I stuck my neck out and tried to make a friend.  Making friends is awkward under normal circumstances, but when you have bullshitted with a gal  a handful of times and at the end you hand them your Visa card it is especially daunting to say “So, I was thinking maybe we could hang out, and maybe I’d not pay you.  Whatcha think?”   But I did it.  And it paid off.

I had the last of my pre-paid sessions yesterday.  And I am certain I will see her when she gets back from her trip to Austin.  Because she likes me, too, guys.  Even though I have TWO kids and am rapidly heading towards having NO job.    And get this.  She has ZERO kids.  Like maybe we could talk about something besides breeding.  Or breastfeeding or how much sleep we got.  There is a place for all that.  A huge place.  I did just finish mentioning that I secretly LOVED Mommy & Me Yoga afterall… but music and tattoos and books and funny stories from your twenties, this is some good shit that deserves some attention, too.

Quite a few of my friends, friends that have known me since Emily was little and before,  have recently sent me an email or a text message along a common theme.  “How are you doing? Really?” And to each of them I have said the same thing, “I’m good, I think.  I feel really good.”

I am typing this in my “running” clothes.  Clothes that will really be walking with a VERY tiny bit of jogging clothes until I have had one  more visit with the chiropractor and am closer to six weeks postpartum.  It isn’t noteworthy that I am writing and wearing pants with a forgiving waist band.  But these clothes are already sweaty.  (Tell me that is not gross? I  wear exercise clothes more than once unless I wear them to a Bikram Yoga class.  I don’t really care if I already smell if I am heading out the door to sweat.)

Day one of a 5K training program was completed day before yesterday.  And I am headed out the door to do day two as soon as I hit Publish.

So, to answer the question, how am I doing, really?  Awesome.  Really, really good.  I am taking care of myself.  And I drank a Heineken while I cleaned out the fridge after Em told me she did not have a boyfriend.  Yet.  I got this.  It’s gonna be cool.

Marital Relations in Three Easy Steps

Jeans come in a lot of varieties.  Unfortunately for me the only pairs of mine that fit in a manner that will allow for me to both stand up and sit down were first trimester maternity jeans.  Their elastic waist band and relative stretchiness are fantastic for the gal that is not interested in wearing them ten days in a row.  By mid afternoon I can’t keep them up and nothing says “these pants don’t really fit me” like constantly tugging at them.  I can forget all about the second day.  And by day three? They are like clown pants by then.

So, I was left with two options.  Squeeze in to my pre-pregnancy “fat jeans” (the jeans I wear right before I get my period, to events that require heavy eating or when I am planning on napping in my clothes) or buy a new pair in a larger size than I care to admit.

I chose option two.  I’d rather wear large, unattractive jeans than feel like a sausage.    The dreaded Mom jean, capable of making your perfectly round ass look completely flat or  the “boyfriend jean” a fancy way to say completely unflattering on everyone that is not 85 pounds or has any hips whatsofuckingever were on sale the day that I decided I’d take the plunge.  I was not, I repeat, not paying full price for jeans I only planned on wearing for a short time.

The Mom Jeans won.  I thought I’d be fine.  So what if they made my ass look like the broad side of a truck?  Stacy London has informed me that  Lee Riders will be instantly slimming, and that it will be “easy to look and feel my best.”  And they’re cheap.  Less than twenty bucks cheap.

Four days.  My Lee Riders and their slimming tummy control.  We made it for four days before I decided that when you have no abs whatsoever and you wear a nursing bra or  a shelf bra tank top that smashes your girls in to pancakes, albeit gigantic pancakes that give you armpit boob and cleavage all at once it is not wise to wear jeans that come up to said armpits and completely disguise your ass.  My ass is is the only place that twenty extra pounds comes in handy.  What was I thinking?  I needed ass-friendly cheap jeans.  STAT.

Old Navy coupon – you and me.  It was on.  It took six pairs of jeans.  One friend.  One dressing room.  Zero cocktails or tears.  And The Diva Skinny Jeans and I have made friends.  I intend to wear them every day for at least the next month.  And at thirty bucks that is still only a dollar a day.

And when you have two more weeks before you get, ahem, back in the saddle (post partum six week check up and a brand new IUD on February 28th, hollaaa!   Leap year will be memorable this year!) it is important to start early.  Prepping yourself mentally.  For the Big Event known as “resuming marital relations.”

Here’s my guide.  Three easy steps.

Step 1.  Get a pair of jeans that make you feel like a girl.  A regular, good looking, “might some day retire the ginormous full coverage cotton panties in favor of the fancy grown up lady knickers” girl.

Step 2.  Start trying to be less critical.  See yourself as others see you.  Not as your slightly Body Dysmorphic Disorder-ish self views you.  Step 2 is easy if you have a little loverboy living across the street.  This weekend Em’s buddy, Kellan, breezed through the living room and stopped dead in his tracks.  “HOW DID YOU GET SO SKINNY SO FAST??”  and he hugged me.  He said I was cute.  He’s six.  But I don’t care. I told MQD if he ever comes home to a Dear John letter explaining that I need to feel beautiful, go find Kellan.  I’ll be with him.

*source unknown

Step 3.  Make peace with the “tiger stripes.”   Last week MQD sent me this image.  He had seen it on a clever how to be a good dad blog.  I’ve since seen it in several places around the internetz.  It would be a hell of a lot easier to make friends with my “tiger stripes” if I had abs of ummm… not even steel.  What is a slightly less strong metal?  Abs of brass?  Shit, I’d settle for abs of cottage cheese if I could just have a visible waist.  I digress.

Step 3 ain’t easy.  But then neither is pimpin’.  And neither is just getting the fuck over yourself I have discovered.  But it seems the most direct path towards acceptance for me is to spill it. The truth.  My big deep, dark secrets spilled out in front of everyone.  A couple of weeks ago I posted a picture of my post-partum self.  I received a lot of kind comments and emails.  But it still sucked.
And it still sucks today.  But I am making progress.  Because if I have to be totally honest with myself I am more inclined to want to photoshop out the toothpaste on my bathroom mirror than the armpit boob or the stretch marks.  Now I can’t guarantee that is forward progress.  But it has to count for something.


Post Cards from the Edge

PostPartum Missives, maybe is a better title.  Only because Postcards From the Edge has already been taken.

I forgot a hundred things about being a new mom in the last six years. But I remembered one.  New moms put hormonal teenagers to shame.  I am out of my fucking mind.  Carrie Fisher style.  Crazy.  But lucid enough to know it. Carrie Fisher crazy without the booze.

But this time it has not taken me by surprise.  Four days.  I made it four days on virtually no sleep before I asked MQD to just sit by me.  He held my hand and I  wept.  First quiet, reverent, emotionally charged tears.  And then big, fat sobby, snot running down my face in to my mouth tears.  “What’s wrong, babe?”

“I have no idea.  I am pretty sure nothing.  I just started to cry and now I can’t stop. ”  MQD handed me some tissues and he sat back down next to me.

He sat back down.  And he held my hand.  And I smiled.  Because he sat back down.

Aside from a general state of crazy… the last few days have been unbelievable.  Eventually the weepy “I am so in love with this baby and my family is complete now” post will come.  But I haven’t had a chance to process all that yet.  Next week, after my family leaves, before MQD’s arrives, while Emily is in school and I can get my “stare at Lucy and contemplate my love for her” on it will come… but today all I have is some observations regarding my postpartum self.

Since my post regarding grooming was such a hit I figured I’d share this.  If you’ve ever ordered a draft beer  in a cheap pizza place then you will know what I am talking about.  The big mug arrives.  Oh, a frosty mug of beer.  Delightful.  And you pick it up to raise it to your lips and HOLY SHIT, you almost zing beer over your shoulder on to the backs of the people sitting in the booth behind you because it is so much lighter than you’d anticipated.

I climb in the shower yesterday, hair washed, face washed.  Listen for Lucy.  I hear quiet from the bedroom.  I picture MQD snuggling with our sweet girl in bed.  Drip, drip, drip go the boobs, no harm no foul.  We are in the shower.   I have five more minutes to shave my legs.  And I grab my razor, lift my foot up to the corner of the shower (where I propped my foot before I could only reach the side of the tub) and HOLY SHIT if I was a cheap plastic mug of beer I’d have been ass over head on my back in the shower.  Without the giant stomach to stop me,  body still hopped up on relaxin, the hormone that makes your joints limber for an easier labor….  I can damn near put my foot behind my ear from a standing position.  Stretch marks, stitches and a total absence of abdominal muscles makes this a much less appealing visual than it might have been at nineteen…but nonetheless, I had a smile as I imagined my post-pregnancy body… not too different from a cheap plastic mug of beer.  It’s no frosty pint glass.  But at least it’s beer.

Feeling rather full of myself I jumped out of the shower.  And took the first long look in the mirror. At 29, after Em was born I had high hopes.  Aspirations of bouncing right back to my pre-baby body.  This time, I know better.

Yesterday I pulled all of the super pregnant third trimester maternity pants out of my closet.    And I replaced them.  With the super comfortable elastic waist band pants of early pregnancy.  Elastic waistbands, we’re thick as thieves, you and me.

I’m not going to turn my back on you just yet.  We can’t stay friends like this forever. But for now… please take good care of my belly.  Do what you can to not let it fold over your elasticy goodness.  No one needs to see that.  And I promise to keep you covered with a tank top as often as possible, choosing to pull my boobs out the top of my shirt instead of lifting up my shirt to expose myself as an elastic pants wearer.

In the meantime, I will try to see past the stretch marks and the belly and the big black circles under my eyes.  And I will try to remember the wondrous thing my  body did for me less than a week ago.   You gave me my Lucy Quinn, body.   So I will give you a couple of months of elastic pants.  But just a couple.

A couple of years after Em was born  I had the pleasure of stumbling in to this website – The Shape of  a Mother.   I struggled with posting this picture today and then was reminded of the brave women that came before me, telling their stories.  Stories of birth and rebirth, of love and fear and shame and pride and all the emotions in between.

I have been honest about so much of this journey.  And this is where I am today.  Six days post-partum.  Weepy.  Joyful.  Falling in love a hundred times a day.