A Gentler Look at Postpartum Bodies

The intimacy I experienced with my body and my developing baby during pregnancy ….became, in a way, a metaphor for how I feel about parenthood—a striking awareness of loss of control, simultaneity of surrendering to change on a moment-to-moment basis while experiencing more joy and more fear than the heart can contain. Pregnancy and parenthood invoke an unprecedented heightening of anxiety—excruciating awareness of vulnerability, altering one’s perspective on the fragility of life, as well as a depth of love that redefines the concept. Why would we erase all of this complexity—the physical and psychological makings and markings of pregnancy and parenthood?

[via Smaller Than Before: The Politics Of Postpartum Bodies | Role Reboot]

Sixteen months postpartum, I thought that I haven’t been driven to “erase all of the complexity” (ie lose 20 pounds, or 60, Spanx up the twin skin belly, and so on) because even before kids, I didn’t have the standard sexy Barbie body.

I didn’t have even a healthy body before.

And I’ve been a radical feminist since forever, and to hell with the male gaze.

And frankly, I’m just too tired to take on the project of improving my projection.

Today I was reminded that while those ARE all reasons, they’re not ALL the reasons. Zucker’s post, quoted above, struck a gentle chord. It reminded me that the body-and-soul pregnancy experience I lived in and through — in and around and with my children’s bodies — was an Experience. Capital E, and it deserves to be remembered and revered as such.

Carrying and birthing the twins truly was the most carnal and sacred Experience of my life. Never before have I participated in a miracle, at once so engineered and so wild, and I never will again. I treasure it.

I’d never let anyone take the Experience away from me, and I sure as hell am not going to be the one to brush it off, minimize it, or forget about it. So yeah.

Classic monuments get chiseled from granite, cast in bronze, erected in steel, encased in glass.

My mama-ment is flesh and blood, muscle and sweat. It wiggles when I walk or laugh or work. It wraps my babies up in hugs, squeezes and shushes and sways. It’s mere mortal meat, an ephemeral expression of one genetic milemarker in human history. It’s just one of the latest in a line of mama-ments stretching back forever, and forward farther than I can fathom.

Erase THAT?!

I don’t share C.S. Lewis faith, but I return again and again to his apt living house metaphor from Mere Christianity:

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. Уоu thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

Monuments are purposely built big, hard to miss, and impossible to forget. Why should mine be any different?  I’ll be proud to rear my children in a “decent little cottage,” but they deserve to remember that they came from a palace.

2013.10.05 EJ at 37 weeks pregnant
37 weeks. Like that’s NOT going to leave a mark?! (For scale, my boobs were H+ cups.)

 

Working it out

Benefits of moving to another county

KK will be able to second-parent-adopt the babies, so they’ll have the two legally-recognized parents that they deserve. That we deserve.

Closer to friends and family

Closer to all my healthcare providers and the hospital we’ll deliver at

Closer to friends and family

Opportunity to find a house/apartment without stairs, so I wouldn’t have to worry so much about my future mobility or lack thereof

Closer to the farmer’s markets

Closer to the airport

Closer to friends and family

Potential for using public transport at least occasionally

Closer to a few bakeries that offer gluten-free goodies

Closer to more alternative families (there are some everywhere, I know, but there’s a greater concentration intown)

Closer to free/lowcost cultural events and field trips

Closer to friends and family

 

Benefits of staying where we are

…uh…

Not having to come up with a $20,000 cash ransom before we’ll be allowed to leave?

We get to continue working on our cooperation skills by sharing a single bathroom sink? Even though KK sticks her elbows out like Peter Pan when she’s brushing her teeth?

 

This makes my head hurt.

How does our garden grow?

We made a dent in the front yard re-landscaping project.

After we learned recently that one of our newest neighbors is a landscape architect, we invited him by for a consult in exchange for a six-pack of beer. Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, he’s taken.

While he was here, he sketched out some improvements and even measured and marked the main points so we could do the planting ourselves.

Ancient history pic, from the ones used to sell the house:

Except by the time we bought it, those crepe myrtles were pretty much covering the second-story windows and the siding was turning green from lack of sun. Over the last few years, we’ve ripped out the wrong-sized myrtles and the scraggly, dying evergreens in the front bed.

Most of this year, the bed was just dirt. And rocks. And weeds. And a few shards of landscape cloth from when KK ran out of it after starting to put it down in an effort to tamp down the weeds and cover up the dirt, in preparation for planting. Eventually.

A few months ago, KK finished the landscape cloth, and we found a company to deliver mulch. It already looked much better than the eclectic “surface-of-the-moon meets vacant lot” look we’d cultivated. Not to brag, but we had had some interest from city planners in Detroit and Afghanistan who were hungry to learn about our innovative “hands off,” no-resource landscaping techniques.

Saturday morning, it was time for a trip to the wholesale-but-open-to-the-public nursery the next town over.

It’s not a Subaru, but it’s close.

Several hours of digging and squatting and pushing dirt later, we had this:

[All those wires are cable co-axes from the TV addicts who used to live here. It’s a 3 bedroom house, and they had 8 TVs in and around the house when we walked through, and every last one of them was turned on. We’re going to have most of them removed and/or replaced with white.]

They’re wee plants yet, but we are dedicated to watering them and watching them start to fill out in the spring.

And I am more convinced than ever that the shutters should be black. Wouldn’t that look more polished than Faded Dreams Burgundy?

I made something I Pinned!

The Inspiration:

Cooking-gloves_300_1

from realsimple.com

My Masterpiece:

Img_0819

It’s hanging just inside the kitchen door, on the long formerly-blank wall. And yes, I’m looking for new oven mitts. I can’t even remember how long I’ve had these cheapy terry cloth ones. They’re functional, but way grungy. And I want green.

If you look closely, you can see where I even worked in a (hastily framed) version of the Inspiration. If you’ll do your own version and put a picture of mine on it, for infinite kitchen shelves, I will explode with happiness.

Bonus fun: I got the $15 shelf essentially for free! KK and I ended up at a new Goodwill’s grand opening weekend, and while I was trying to talk myself into a smaller, cheaper, uglier shelf, I won the hourly drawing for a $25 gift card. Cha-ching!

The goodwill shelf didn’t have any hook-like apparati, so I bought four extras of the knobs we’re using on the cabinets. Easy-peasy coordination! And, since it’s hung just above eye level, I don’t have to worry about losing an eye on a hook if I come around the corner too fast. Because I worry.