Yesterday I had my 6 week postpartum check up. The truth is that I was excited to start exercising. In fact, when I was scheduling the appointment a few weeks ago the receptionist kept trying to give me a date in June and I kept looking at the calendar and telling her that I was pretty sure it should actually be in May. I had to finally explain to her that there are all of these things you can’t do until after your 6 week check up, so it is pretty important to get the date right. Afterward I realized that it was kind of crazy that I was trying to push up the appointment as much as possible so that I can start exercising. I am not sure what is different this time, because last time I was definitely not looking forward to working out. Actually, last time I didn’t exercise at all. That could be why when I went back to work 4 and a half months later (still wearing maternity clothes) a 7th grader looked at me quizzically and said “I thought you already had the baby.” Ouch. Well, anyway, I am hoping that this time around I will not still look 7 months pregnant 4 and half months after that baby was born.
The truth is that while I am certainly inspired by the thought of being on the beach in a bathing suit to get my body back in shape quickly, a large part of my desire to work out was just to feel some control over my body again. In the last 3 and a half years I have been pregnant, nursing, pregnant and now nursing again. These are beautiful times in my life and came about because of intentional choices I made, but that does not change the fact it can be frustrating that your body is not entirely yours during these times. In fact, it starts to feel that it is not at all yours.
Well, things did not turn out exactly the way I had hoped. I really thought that exercising would give me a sense of control over my own body for 30 minutes each day, at the very least. Yesterday, I got through the first 20 minutes okay because Carlitos was having fun doing the moves, too (I did one of those exercise segments on On Demand). However, the last ten minutes involved him grabbing my legs, sitting on me, pulling at me, whining, oh, and clocking me in the head with a 3 pound dumbbell (accidentally). It created a two-fold feeling in me: 1. I apparently can’t have my own body to myself for even 30 minutes a day. 2. Even though I spend all day, every day making meals, snacks, doing arts and crafts, reading children’s books, going to the zoo, going to the aquarium, going to the playground, watching Caillou and Team Umizoomi (Please just shoot me if I have to hear about the ‘belly, belly BELLYSCREEN!’ one more time.), and playing ‘cars,’ I am not allowed to do something that interests me for even 30 minutes.
Granted, as I already said, I chose to have children. I get it. However, before you become a mother, especially a stay at home mom (I can compare both sides, since I was a working mom, too), I don’t think you can fathom that the ‘do for others:do for myself’ equation will basically be 100:0. And with no breaks, to boot. I don’t get alone time while going to and from my ‘job.’ I don’t get lunch breaks. I can’t surf the web when I want. I don’t really interact with other adults. It is 12 interrupted hours of focusing on these little people that need you. I actually love, love, love being a mom and doing all of these things, but sometimes it all just hits you and you need a break and some serious “me time.”
Well, unfortunately, hitting this wall came at the same time as this feeling that I have no ownership over my own body. It’s funny, because for some reason I distinctly remember being single and child-free and hearing women say that they have to tell their family that they are “not a jungle gym.” I recall thinking that those women should be happy and thankful that their children want to hug them and hang on them. How judgmental of me! Now, I see exactly what they meant. It is not that you don’t ever want your children to hug you, or your husband to be near you, it is that it sometimes feels like everyone is just touching you all the time. If you’re not nursing, it’s your two-year-old literally hanging from you, or it’s your husband and then you’re nursing again and then the hug-hug-hugging and then… you get the picture. Suddenly there are NO physical boundaries. Like, please, can I just have my body to myself with nobody touching me for two seconds?!? Please.
I am sorry that this is basically a bit of a rant, but I needed to get it out. I am also wondering how many (any?) women have felt these same things. If you have felt this, I am hoping that seeing that you aren’t the only one makes you feel a little better. Please comment on here so that I can know if it helped anyone. Oh, who am I kidding? Please comment on here if you have felt this way because I want to know that I am not alone in this. Oh, and I did manage to get in a workout today because a friend came over to watch the boys for an hour! I have to say, it did make me feel so much better. Maybe I can balance being a mommy, wife and my own human being. Hmmm…and maybe I can get into that bikini by Labor Day, too!