Tuesday, 18 February 2014

For the Love of My Body

While I am busy thinking about trying for baby number two, I only now realized how grateful I am for my new body. Pregnancy changes us a lot, being a mother brings out a whole new identity, a person we didn't know we were.

I was amazed by how much my body can do. I created, nurtured and birthed a baby. One sperm and one egg met and the building work began. I loved being pregnant and I remember how I used to plan my post baby regime: I knew I will be very active and busy, breastfeeding on top of it. I never worried about weight and diets, I am quite lucky in that sense and years of dancing gave me good body confidence - I know what I can expect from myself. Yet I might have been a little naive. Knowing I will be a stay at home mum, I thought I will have the extra time for more workouts, I never had a problem with individual training or with working out at home. I don't need a gym or a friend, quite the opposite, I even opted for private yoga classes as my luxury while pregnant. In my eyes, I saw days when I will not have to be anywhere at certain time, I knew I can organize the household and I assumed even caring for my baby will allow me some spare time.

How wrong I was. Baby care is more or less 24/7 as I am blessed with a baby who doesn't nap very likely and who breastfed almost non-stop. House work somehow ballooned, it never ends. And I didn't know how tired I will be. So, no, I do not use my fancy workout DVDs 3 times a week and I didn't gain a better body post baby. I also didn't shed all my not so good habits, quite an opposite. I now love my morning coffee (used to be hot lemon in the morning), I survived the first months only thanks to lots of sweet teas and chocolate digestives and I will have occasional glass of wine. I was very health conscious while trying to conceive, I assumed I will only become better. I didn't know I will be merely surviving and in a need of many rewards.

So no, I don't have a six pack yet, but yes, I can pass with a body that is back in its pre-pregnancy shape, healthy and strong. And while I still breastfeed mornings and nights, it is slowly but surely becoming mine again. It was strange not to be my own person after I gave birth. Now I am claiming myself back and I can not help but wonder: how will I cope with intimacy? I am aware of the amazing job my body can do, but I am not aware of any sensuality, only desire to go through the madness of reproduction again.

Few days back, my husband looked at some old photos and commented on my then blond hair, how different I was. Yet I couldn't get an opinion out of him. Did he like me more then or does he like me now? I always thought I did things for me: coloured my hair because I liked it, pierced my belly button because I wanted to, had my facials and massages to care for myself. But did I really do it for me or was it an unconscious calculating behavior adopted in order to attract a partner? And is my recent return to simplicity and natural look coming from me - tired of the dictate of beauty pages and trends, disinterested in the style of my favorite celebrity (I can't even name my favorite celebrity, I couldn't care less about them) and more confident within myself, or am I letting myself go because I secured a partner and had a child - mission completed?

I stopped colouring my hair shortly after my wedding because I simply wanted to see again what colour it actually was. I made less money, so I simplified my beauty regime, I found out what makes me happy and comfortable at the same time, and sometimes after I turned 33 I realized I don't care anymore if I am the prettiest/skinniest/most attractive girl in the room. I actually very happily passed the torch to the next generation once I noticed that they care much more then I do and that I look at them with sympathy and warmth, not with suspicion and competitive spirit. Shopping for clothes annoys me and sucks energy out of me so I only buy what I need. Healthy living and good cleansing routine means I don't need so much pampering anymore - plus I don't have the time or money. I like my hair long and naturally brown and I learned how to cut it myself because it is fairly simple to do on long hair plus when I want to cut 5 centimeters I make sure I cut 5 and nobody is talking me into colouring my hair red after I stated I don't want colour, or pushes me into unnecessary visit in 6 weeks time. Simple life gives me all the freedom - I still have enough clothes, accessories and makeup to play with if I feel like it but I don't worry about simplicity because it doesn't define who I am.

I can focus on things I find really important plus I feel I know myself and respect myself. But am I letting the world or my partner down? Am I supposed to be the sexy goddess he felt in love with forever? But was I ever one? Why do we have to define ourselves by the way we look so much? I don't think men care as much as we think. Half time they are unaware of all our efforts or any changes we agonize over anyway and comment on my change was simply that - a comment. With long term relationship and young family comes new sense of comfort - not a lazy one but a practical one. We know each other inside out and we are comfortable around each other all natural. Other people may feel very differently about all that but that is their life and they choose partners who find the same thing crucial. I, for one, don't mind to be settled and makeup free.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Back on Track

Out of nowhere came an urge to dust off electric hair rollers and make up bag, I even found myself considering the possibilities of applying nail polish with an overactive baby around. During the last 10 months my maintenance was pretty simple. I don't see the point to put on makeup for home, I need easy hairstyle that keeps my hair out of reach of grabby little fingers, and when I go out I have to get baby ready and by the time that happens I just throw on something comfortable and head out. I go out to  walk or to the shop anyway, so again, what is the point of makeup and hair styling?

Occasionally, I do find myself planning to make more effort from tomorrow but then baby throws in one of its legendary no sleeping nights and I am happy to brush my hair. I am a housewife. I clean, cook, bake, do laundry and most of all I care for baby. Baby is moving around, I am much busier and have rarely time to do something without assistance. Right now, baby is sitting on my lap. There are toys and some more toys on the floor, but no, not as good as chewing on my pen.

Anyway. I did manage to get the rollers on my hair without my baby trying to eat any of them or grab them. And I did play with drying pot of eyeliner. And then it occurred to me. I may be ovulating.

On my six weeks check (or contraception speech, they might as well send a video link) the doctor explained that while breastfeeding full time my periods may stop and I will not be able to get pregnant until they return. To live without periods during pregnancy was one of the perks, to have not to worry about them for few more months was great. But last month, all of a sudden, there it was again. We are weaning our baby and feeds are less frequent, so I am clearly getting back to normal. Two weeks later, here I am getting all pretty.

My life is slowly returning to me, my body will be mine once my baby is weaned of my breast for good. Baby is a little person now, gaining independence and I find myself discussing baby number two with husband. Then we don't sleep again and wonder why do we want to go through it one more time. But the desire is there, and time is not on our side, if we are meant to have more children, we have to start trying to conceive.

It feels such a long time ago that we went through it with baby and it wasn't easy. We had functional sex for few years - sex with purpose. And I notice that beside trying for baby number two there is no desire whatsoever. We are both tired, too tired to be romantic, to do things just because. I sometimes wonder if he can still see me as a sexual being after being present during the birth (and thanks to prolonged labour and broken bed in the hospital he had to support my leg for a while when I was pushing so unfortunately, he saw the whole deal...). And caring for baby left me feeling different. My breasts are not erotic, they are practical. My body is a tool. Pleasure is a good meal I don't have to cook and a full night sleep. I want to be left alone without anybody climbing on top of me, not to be close to other person... How am I supposed to spark romance in me?? How did I do it before??

Relationships change and evolve and since we settled as partners and friends I noticed how much less importance sex actually has. I think people overvalue it anyway and when I compare my previous relationships, sex was often the only thing that mattered. I didn't have partners before - I had boyfriends or lovers. It was important to be attractive, and when seeing each other only once in a while, sex was often the main thing about the meeting. Living together makes things different. We know each other, see each other in the best and the worst moments, we go through them together. We have future together and are not afraid to talk about it. Values are different and the passion can not last forever. I remember how husband used to stare at me all the time, kept asking me what I do, where did I go, what do I think... I don't think I could stand such intensity for too long.

Having a child means that we are both very busy and tired and we bicker and argue. Sometimes we actually hate each others guts. There were moments when I wondered how can I stay, and my head was trying to plot and escape plan. And then these moments pass and we are together again, a simple smile or a gesture, a touch, can make everything better and something primal deep down inside me reminds me that all is well, that we are meant to be together.

I don't know how it will work out. But I am looking forward to the ride.