Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Is Rusty still in the Navy?

My brother Mike came to visit this past weekend.  It was bizarre because honestly I didn't know he was coming and usually, he tells me and I help coordinate his arrival on surprise days...mostly because I am the best at keeping secrets and I am the most organized at arranging pick ups and drop offs without anyone knowing what I am up to.  For this visit Mike utilized my father.  Amazingly enough, my dad did NOT spill the beans about Mike's pending visit.  Which I know for him, was probably the most difficult secret to keep from our family. 

I was very lucky that I got to spend multiple days hanging out with my younger brother.  It's not often that he and I get to just sit and talk about life, work, love, family, etc...so it was wonderful to be able to have a visit.

O was completely taken by her Uncle Michael and hasn't stopped talking about him since he left.  For her, he has always been just a name, mostly because he lives in the Orlando, FL area and it's hard for us to get down to visit him with kids, work, me completing my M.Ed...in general just life getting in the way.  I have yet to visit him in Florida, which I hope to rectify at some point in 2012.  Even if we could go for a few days, I'd love to see where he lives, see him perform, and just get a glimpse into his life.  O loved playing with him while he was here...I think she might have a career in the arts...apparently she was excellent at improv!

When I was in CA and he was in Chicago, we made it a point to visit each other.  Thanksgivings at each other's houses, random trips to see each other.  I had a wonderful time every time I saw my brother.  I will always be grateful that I got to see him during that time in his life - cheap beer, going out to his local bar with his friends, comedy, improv, football on the street, a dollar bill engagement ring, interesting conversations, the shocker story, turkey covered in bacon on Thanksgiving, an apartment with two kitchens...I feel fortunate that I got to see that part of his life.
My brother is truly an amazing person.  He has lived in Chicago and Orlando and has pursued his dream of bringing entertainment to the people.  He continues to work on developing his craft as an improviser and as an actor.  He has done voice-work, commercial work, hosted Internet based programming and continues to work at Walt Disney World as a cast member of three attractions.  I am proud of him for working toward his dreams and not being afraid to go for the life and career he wants. 
I think it's easy for so many of us to get lost on the way to our actual initial dream/vision.  Looking back at our childhood dreams, my brother wanted to be an actor as long as I can remember.  He even said that the person he admired most in elementary school was the actor Kevin Kline. 

I had many dreams - Astronaut, Solid Gold Dancer, Cardiologist, Singer, Artist, Architect, member of the US Military as a Public Affairs Officer, Radio DJ, Marketing Director, Teacher, Scientist, Meteorologist, Wife and Mother.  Some of my dreams I have reached, others I failed at miserably...but without those failures I would not be the person I am today.  And for the record, my dreaming days are not over...I will still be more things before I'm done.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Rome wasn't built in a day

And I won't lose 40 lbs in a day either.  The one part of having a baby that I find the most frustrating is the physical recovery.  As of today, I am down 25lbs...leaving me with 15lbs to lose before I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight.  Now that weight isn't just fat, it comes along with flabby skin and what I like to call "my overhang" where the residual belly fat actually hangs over my C-Section scar, which is awesome (snicker, cry, laugh on the inside).  

There is a major disconnect in society and in women's minds, that says that we should all be in our pre-pregnancy jeans just days after birth. Between celebrities who have babies and 6 weeks later are seen looking svelt and fit and tv programs that show misleading fictional characters giving birth and then returning to a size 4, it's not a surprise, that many women are a bit off when they think about the recovery time from giving birth. 

Now, don't get me wrong, there are bionic women out there, with fantastic genetics, who 6 weeks after birth look fantastic...but for most of us, the genetically typical, it takes work, dedication and time.  For me, it will take at least 9 months, if not closer to a year, for me to be back to 100% normal physically.  As frustrating as that is, I just keep reminding myself that I am not abnormal if it takes me a longer amount of time to lose weight and get back to my normal self.  It just means my body is healing at it's own pace and in it's own time.  There is nothing wrong with that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A tear in my hand...a baby in the carriage

Euphoric, excited and overwhelmed...the first few weeks of being a new parent, even for the 2nd time, have been full of mixed emotions.  Between late night feedings, constant diaper changes and recovering from a C-Section I've been holed up at home, trying to make heads and tails of becoming a four person family while taking care of myself.

C-Sections, though they may seem minor, are actually major abdominal surgery.  With this type of surgery comes all sorts of risks; infection, bowel or bladder rupture, damage to the uterus, hematomas, bruising, numbness, etc.  It's not an elective day surgery that I think most women would want to have if they really thought about it.  There is this misconception that most women chose a CS (C-Section) out of convenience or vanity or they just want to pick when they have their child...for me, none of those options are true.

With my daughter I had no choice, after 29 hours of labor I was not progressing well, had a fever and my daughter was going into distress.  Though I was "asked" if I wanted a CS, I wasn't really "asked."  It was more out of courtesy that they let me feel like it was my choice.  And even then, it was a complicated CS which led to substantial blood loss, a classical incision and so much fluid pumped into my body that I was swollen for nearly 8 weeks afterward.  The recovery was rough and I was unable to breast feed - leading to months of pumping the milk out to provide it to my daughter.

My son, who was just born, had to be CS.  Due to my classical incision it would be dangerous for me to attempt a VBAC (Vaginal Birth after Cesarean) so my CS was scheduled and that was that.  I knew what to expect, but it didn't make my fear go away.  I spent many nights leading up to my CS thinking about the shaking, the spinal/epidural and the feeling of helplessness as you lay strapped to a table.  Even with my fairly extensive Cardiac history, I still find a CS far more invasive than Open Heart Surgery.  You are so vulnerable as a surgeon removes your child forcefully from your abdomen.  Mostly because for a CS you are there, present in your mind and awake as they operate on you.  It is not something I would elect to do ever again. 

My entire CS lasted about 2 hours.  As I was being wheeled into recovery, I knew that I had a long road ahead.  After five days in the hospital, I was discharged and sent home to recover only to be back in the hospital the following weekend with MRSA in the surgical wound and a 48 hour hospital stay on IV antibiotics.  Even now, still on antibiotics, pumping out breastmilk that is unfit for consumption, I still feel the emotional toll of giving birth. 

I spend most of my day happy and content and then will burst into tears for no apparent reason.  I'll cry and laugh at the same time.  I'm emotional and even the smallest thing with set me off.  Part of it is sleep deprivation, part of it is just hormones but all of it is a real condition.  I think it's easy to assume that all new moms feel great and just accept their duties willingly.  It's easier to look at the beauty of having a new life to love and cherish than it is to look at the depression, feelings of loneliness, despair and denial that can haunt a new mom. 

There is a certain amount of loneliness that comes with the first few weeks of life after having a child.  You are home, inevitably the people around you go back to work and you are there, to spend all day and night with an infant.  And your infant will only communicate with you by crying to let you know they need something.  They don't give you much emotion in response to your love and devotion.  Couple that with the recovery from giving birth, the fact that you stink, your house is a mess and you feel ugly and fat and it's a recipe for waterworks. 

I don't think there is any shame in the emotional let down of having a baby, in fact, I am embracing it.  Sure, I am tired and stinky, but I have this amazing person to show for it.  He is growing strong, healthy and is full of possibilities.  I am excited to get to know him and see what kind of person he is.  If anything, being his mom is a gift.  The fact that I have two amazing children now plus a great family, a job I love and possibilities for personal and professional growth in the future is testament to the fact that you can have it all and more. 

I'll let the waterworks come when they will - it means I'm normal, I'm emotional and most of all, I'm a new mom.