Thursday, October 9, 2008

Post Baby Body Image

I feel lame lately that I don't have anything to blog about except my new life with a baby. I have no law school adventures to capture into writing. No interesting insights about the legal profession to post about. And no lessons learned from a legal job. This blog will likely be all baby for the next couple weeks... because, right now, the baby is my job, my education and my life.

Ok, now that I got that confession out of the way...

It's been five weeks since Jacob was born and I'm still getting to know my new body. Parts of it are comfortably familiar and there are other parts that I still have to get accustomed to.

The Big Issue, of course, is weight gain and weight loss. I gained 35 pounds while I was pregnant. That's a whole 10 pounds more than I was aiming for. But the biggest thing I learned about being pregnant is that your body no longer belongs to just you and you have to let go of the things you cannot control. No matter how I watched what I ate, I could not control my weight gain. Some weeks I would gain nothing and eat like a pig. Other weeks I was pretty meticulous and would still gain 5 pounds. I just had to realize that my body knew what it was doing and let baby take over for a couple months.

The good news is that in the first three weeks, I quickly shed 30 of those pounds. Seriously! 30 pounds in three weeks! I was NOT expecting that. I didn't even have to work at it. I think that means that most of my weight gain was baby, placenta, extra blood, and water. And nursing helps as well. As they say nursing burns about 500 calories a day- that means sitting on my butt watching tv is equivalent to running 5 miles! My waistline is pretty close to familiar territory now and I love being able to fit into my old clothes. I'm totally rediscovering my wardrobe, it's like I went on a shopping spree!

The bad news? While I dropped weight like crazy the first three weeks, I still have five pounds to go. And for the past two weeks my bathroom scale has shown no change. I hope these last five pounds start disappearing when I can run again.

The hardest thing to have to get used to is the five inch scar across the bottom of my adbomen. It's not so bad, but it will be a permanent reminder of the dreadfully traumatic night that I was sliced open. When I look at it, I can't help but focus on the things the doctors did to my body- like take out my uterus, move around my organs and then remove some of them before cleaning them up and placing them back inside me like neatly folded laundry in a dresser. I feel like the poor man in the game of Operation. Just thinking about it makes me queezy.

One thing I never anticipated was that the area between my belly button and my incision would be numb. Apparently the numb feeling is the result of the doctors cutting across major nerves in my abdomen and I can expect the numbness to last for a LONG time (some people are permanently numb).

Then there is the stretch marks. I don't have many but I'm pretty bitter about the ones I do have. The way I see it, I got cheated. I didn't get a single stretch mark until AFTER my due date. After then, they slowly crept up on me a little more each day I went over due as if they were mocking or taunting me. So if Jacob would have been born on get the picture.

Another remnant of the whole ordeal is a bruise somewhere in my spine. It hurts when I bend my back in certain ways. No doubt that is a blessing of the HUGE epidural needle.

Finally: Doing The Deed. Hurts. At five weeks post baby I thought it was ok to resume having sex with my husband. And I did have a C-section so I thought I would have it easier than people who had a vaginal delivery. It wasn't necessarily the sex that I missed, it was the intimacy, being physically close, and feeling desirable that I missed. But we didn't get too far. It hurt like the "first time" and I'm pretty sure being nervous didn't help. (Apologizing ahead of time for the TMI) Despite our longings, we're moving slowly and going a little longer each night until everything feels right again. At this rate I hope to hit the five minute mark sometime next week.


PT-LawMom said...

They say it takes a full year to get your body back. In some cases, five... ;) So 5lbs over a year doesn't seem too challenging if you look at it from that perspective! :)

Yeah, there are many joys of post-birth life. Check out my comment to my latest post and the link therein - maybe a little help would make things easier? It got EXCELLENT reviews at Babeland. Although not sure you want anything else in there if it's really hurting like the first time...

As for off-topic posting, well, you know my thoughts on that. Bring it on. LOL.

Anonymous said...

congrats on the killer weightloss! sorry to hear about your scar.

hate to be a debbie downer, but my experience has been - and i've heard it's common - that you can't really lose the last five pounds until you wean. your body basically holds onto it so that, even if there's a famine, you'll have the reserves to be able to nurse the little guy.

lawmom said...

Wow your brave my doctor told us not to have sex until 8 weeks after! My husband was very cranky..

LEO said...

My Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy said that while nursing helps your body burn calories, nursing also demands that your body keep about 5 extra pounds on to help make sure you have enough nutrients to nurse (or whatever...)
I'm sure you look amazing, and eventually, things will feel normal. Everyone I know who has gotten stretch marks says they fade pretty quickly and I am sure the scar will fade as well. A lot of books say to "wear your scars and stretchmarks proudly, like battle wounds." While I'm not sure I could every really think about it that way, it makes sense that you have to just embrace your new body as best you can because it helped bring you Jacob, the same way we have to sort of let go of our neurosis when we're pregnant.
And sorry for this long, drawn out comment, but I have to say ... I'm glad you wrote about sex. I find it less desireable and less comfortable NOW, so I can't imagine how I might feel 5 weeks after birth. I think it's smart to take it slow ... and like you said, your life is jacob right now, so it makes sense that it will take a while for certain parts of your life to return to "normal." Your body will take more than 5 weeks to look like it did pre-baby, so it will take longer than 5 weeks to feel and function that way too!

Portia said...

I know exactly how you feel! (Except the scar thing.) My husband and I didn't try sex until Eden was just over two months old, and it was awful. And it was still awful a week ago, 3 1/2 months postpartum. So I went to the gynecologist, and he said I'm not all the way healed. He said that the lack of estrogen (caused by breastfeeding) makes the tissue "down there" EXTREMELY sensitive, and slow to heal. If it takes too long to stop being painful I'd get it checked out. My doc prescribed estrogen cream (it won't affect milk supply...), and we've been banned from sex for two weeks. Which was fine with me, since it was so crazy anyway.

Anyway, hope this helps!

And I agree with pt-lawmom. Bring it on! I'm with you.

LL said...

I think I was lucky in the body recovery department. I gained almost 50 lbs. with Landon but didn't get stretch marks (I also barely tore, so I think I just have stretchy skin in general), but my friends who have gotten them did say they faded pretty quickly. And even if they're still there, I promise no one is noticing - I've seen pictures of you, you look great!!

We had sex about 4 weeks after Landon was born. I had a vaginal birth and am such a rule-follower that I even called my midwife to ask if it was okay (JP found this funny, but I wanted to make sure!). It was actually really great, but I wasn't breastfeeding and I barely tore during birth, so I think that was why. My friends have said breastfeeding makes you drier and more sensitive (I think it goes back to pre-condom birth control - no having fun sex and getting pregnant when you have such a new little one!), but with lube and time things got much, much better (sorry if that's rather graphic, but I figured this post could handle it :). For me I think a big part of how great post-partum sex was the fact that I had NO sex drive while I was pregnant. Absolutely none. So getting it back after being deprived for so long maybe made up for any of the discomfort or pain that might have been present - we had both been sex-starved for months!

And with the weight loss - I TOTALLY agree that your body just does what it needs and wants to do. Like you, I found that on the weeks I was the most careful, my scale would jump up, and when I ate 15 servings of french fries, it wouldn't budge. I lost all the weight, plus another 8 lbs. or so, within 4 months of having Landon (and without working out). The last 5 did stick around until 3 months out, and my belly is still more jiggly than it ever was before(I've heard that's permanent, but I've convinced myself that if I ever actually worked out, it would go away. Denial maybe, but it gives me hope :). But with your running and the weight you've already lost, I think you'll be very happy with your body once you can work out. You look great now, but as an ex-athlete I understand not feeling totally comfortable with yourself until you're back in the condition you remember. Just know that it takes time and you're already ahead of the curve by not wearing your maternity clothes like I was at this point :)

And thank you for writing about this - I kind of skimmed over the recovery b/c Landon was in the NICU for so long that that dominated my posts. And then I realized my mom was reading my blog so I tend to skip the sex references ;)

Anonymous said...

I found that I had 5 or 10 pounds that hung on for a bit, but as soon as I could really work out (~ 2 months), they went away quickly. I'm nursing and don't find that I'm carrying extra weight -- I'm actually a few pounds under where I was pre pregnancy. The only thing bigger than normal is the boobs!


Trannyhead said...

Yeah - the first 28 lbs disintegrated immediately for me, too. It was the last 7 lbs that stuck around a little longer (after my 6 week checkup). You should be proud of yourself for losing all that so quickly.

As for the post-baby deed? Well - I passed a nine and a half pound baby through my hoo-ha so, obviously, it sucked. But now it's back to normal.

That needle in the spine thing takes a while to heal up as I recall. I'm still bitter about that because the stupid needle went in and then failed to work. *sigh*

Anyway - I recommend buying some Lube. That helped big time getting back into the swing of things when I started getting back on the horse. *pun intended*