I'm feeling loads better than I did at first, but I still experience waves of positive and negative emotions. I'm often overwhelmed by how much I love this little creature and how anxious I feel to make sure we're creating a positive start to his life. Simultaneously, I find that each day brings new challenges--learning what Marshall needs and how best to respond to those needs; keeping my patience when we have a rough day; trying to remind myself that I can only do my best. Sometimes I feel like I really need a break, some time away, and then immediately I feel guilty or start to miss the little guy. Apparently it's all very normal.
Yesterday we attended a friend's wedding, and a lot of college friends asked about parenthood. I remember being in their shoes and asking new parents how they were doing, and I feel like I remember always hearing positive answers: "We're doing great!" "He brings us such joy!" "We just love him so much." While all those phrases are probably true for all new parents (and for us too!), I feel like I rarely heard people say what I wanted to say. So I said it.
We're trying our best, and it's very, very hard.
We have a lot of fun, but it's a new kind of fun. The kind where you high-five each other about the fact that your baby put himself back to sleep instead of being rocked.
The Hardest Part
A few times since Marshall's birth, people have asked me what the hardest part is. Interestingly, I read a LOT about pregnancy, birth, and parenting, but I don't think I've read very much--if anything--about how people get through the first few months. So I'm happy to answer when people ask, and I'm not afraid to be honest.
I'm sure this answer will vary a lot throughout parenthood, but over the last seven weeks I think my answer is this: While of course I knew having a child would be a huge responsibility, I'm in awe of the weight of being a mother. There's a heaviness to it, and it's constant. I feel the ever-present pressure of the fact that I now have an infant son. Naturally, I worry about him all the time, but it's a little deeper than that. I'm acutely aware of the permanence of my new role, of the fact that from now on (at least for the foreseeable future), anytime I need to run an errand or want to go on a date with my husband or even have to walk into a different room, I will ask myself, "Will the baby be okay?" Selfishness is not an option. And while I accept that role and truly appreciate the fact that I get the privilege of bearing that burden, it sometimes overwhelms me. This little boy needs me right now, more than he needs anyone else (I mean, I am his food source), and I take that responsibility very seriously.
(WOW! First week home vs. seven weeks--we've got a growing boy on our hands!)
So again I have to say how grateful I am to have such a wonderful husband who gladly bears this responsibility with me and who helps ease my anxiety about doing everything "right." We have also been blessed with two families who are eager to help us and lots of friends who are supporting us.
Okay, enough of that. More updates...
Getting Back to Normal
We're still getting lots of help--mostly from family providing us with groceries, meals, mental health breaks, and diapers--but we're also slowly starting to get back to our normal routines. Terry has been back at work for three weeks, and Marshall and I look forward to his return every evening. We've started meal planning again, and we haven't resorted to eating out much at all. We're also getting pretty good about a routine of chores. Terry usually takes care of laundry (we don't have laundry in our unit, so we have to wait until both of us are home to go downstairs for a wash). I do my best to wash dishes throughout the day. I'm back to cooking most of our meals, usually after Terry gets home and can hang out with Marshall while I cook. Everything takes twice as long as it used to, but thankfully neither of us is terribly concerned if the apartment gets a little messy. Luckily, Scout is adjusting pretty well now.
This week, I went to the doctor and got clearance to start working out again! Hooray! He said I can tackle whatever exercises I want to do, but I definitely plan to ease back in. I've been walking since right after Marshall's birth (building up from painful, slow walks around the hospital hallways to 3.5 mile treks around our hilly neighborhood). Other than that, I have completely refrained from any sort of exercise for the last seven weeks.
Weight-wise, I'm five pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight, but I feel far from "normal" still. Also, I've never based my health on my weight, so while the doctor was happy, I am more eager to fit into my old clothes again. I'm still wearing maternity pants, mostly because A) my incision and stomach are still pretty tender from my C-section (buttoning up skinny jeans does NOT sound fun) and B) honestly, I haven't even tried on any of my old pants. Luckily summer means sundresses are totally acceptable, because those are working out great right now. And I did have to breathe a sigh of relief when I finally got around to trying on a dress for the wedding we attended this weekend. Thank goodness it fit!
As for exercise, I'm most excited about running and strength training. Terry is currently working on the 100 Push Up Challenge, so I decided to join him. After months of avoiding core exercises, push ups are no joke! Luckily my increasingly heavy child (we think maybe 13 pounds) has kept my upper body a little bit in shape. The challenge is great because it's a quick way to squeeze in some minor toning, and we have no excuse at the end of the day if we haven't done it. It truly takes about seven minutes daily, so we have to get 'er done.
On Thursday we attempted our first very brief jog/walk. We brought Marshall along in the stroller (walking) and took turns running out and back for two miles. My body protested loudly at first but ultimately relaxed into it by the end. Still, it's going to be a long road ahead to get back in shape.
But timing aside, here's my plan:
- Start with a few miles at a time, alternating one or two minutes of running with one or two minutes of walking
- Gradually increase the running intervals and build to two or three miles of just running
- Within a month or two, start incorporating some more high intensity intervals and HIIT workouts
- Once we get the go-ahead from our pediatrician to use the jogging stroller, sign up for a local race!
I think a 10K would be a great motivator for Terry and me to get back into the swing of things. We have always loved evening or weekend walks or jogs, but we're both pretty exhausted in the evenings now. I'm hoping that as Marshall gets a little bit older and more predictable (maybe?), we can use training for a race as motivation to get outside once or twice a week in the evenings instead of just doing laundry and then collapsing on the couch.
I'm excited to start up my favorite boot camp style workouts and yoga, too, but I want to take things slowly. Once I get a sense of how running feels, I'll reassess what I want to do for more variety. For now, I think three days per week of running and/or walking plus one or two days of strength training is more than enough! (And we'll see if I'm even able to manage that with this little rascal taking up all my attention.)
I think we're starting to get the hang of things. This update obviously focused on me, but next week when Marshall has his two month appointment I plan to write a more detailed post about him, his routines, and his growth. For the most part Terry and I are just trying to enjoy and appreciate this time. Snuggling with that little guy is the greatest feeling, and I know the day will come all too quickly when he won't want to cuddle with his mama.