Thursday, March 11, 2010

So many things to talk about: Part Quattro.

For those that missed the earlier installments: Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

It was awful, laying there beside my husband, in the fragile peace we'd spent all day brokering, knowing what I was about to say would create a whole different set of discord. How to tell the man who had been far more caring of me and my feelings, more patient, more loving and more sensitive than many other husbands would ever dream of being, that despite all that wonderfulness it was, ironically, his innate honesty that was hurting me the most?

Exhausted from what we'd already been through and how late Kiddlywink had stayed up, I ended up involuntarily blurting out, "I HATE my body!" Then I spent the next five minutes dissolving into a puddle of snot. Ever cried so hard you wanted to puke? I cried so hard that when it came time to stop it was like I was a kid all over again, making that horrible "fehFEHfeh" noise when you spasmodically suck your bottom lip into your mouth and take great shuddering breaths.

Me! The advocate of loving your body and being kind to yourself, hated my own body. I loathed it. And unlike fat, which is something you're "s'posed" to be able to do something about if you don't like it, I didn't know if the things I detested would ever be fixed. Me, the great solver of problems had met a problem I couldn't solve.

This is your Too Much Information warning. I'm going to talk, in explicit detail, about the postpartum physical problems my body is going through and my feelings and mental issues on the subject. If you don't wish to continue reading, fair enough, I'll see you on a later post.

The problem with getting enough sleep, is that I could no longer ignore my postpartum trauma. Sure, I'd logically discussed it with many people, I'd even had a sobfest or seven. More importantly though, I hadn't dealt with what had happened, what was continuing to happen, and what may or may not potentially happen in the future. Now I had the energy to deal with it, but not the desire. Funny how something which seems bad at the time ends up being a catalyst for something good? Alaskaboy's elephant had been noticed, and it led us on a merry chase to where I was forced to turn around and confront my own pesky pachyderm.

For those that aren't aware let me try to explain how my body has been affected.
Over the whole area from the bottom of my bra line to the tips of my toes, I have completely altered sensation. Any of you ever worn a wetsuit? Imagine that entire area is coated in a layer of neoprene. Like when wearing a wetsuit, I can feel that something is touching me, but nothing subtler than that. If I concentrate enough I can usually figure out what's happening, but I do have to concentrate...and often it's a guess based on information I'm getting from my other senses.
Add to that the weird, numb sensation you get when a body part is not quite all the way asleep yet. My outer two toes and parts of the soles of my feet are totally numb..which makes walking fun sometimes.
Add to that difficulty differentiating temperature differences and odd sensations caused by this. e.g. Sometimes walking on cool carpet feels like the carpet is wet.
Add to that the usual post c-section stuff. Complete numbness from belly button to bottom of pubic mound, even the labia and clitoral hood are mostly numb. (Thank god the clitoris still works...mostly) Weakened abdominal muscles etc
Add to that the usual postpartum vaginal differences...dryness, thinner skin, weaker pelvic floor etc.
Add to that a ventral hernia.
Add to that loss of muscle tone and weight gain from surgical recovery.
Add to that sacroiliac joint pain and weakness.
Add to that sleep apnea.
Add to that incontinence.

All of this and I'd done everything you're supposed to do in order to have a healthy pregnancy and easy delivery! For god's sake I was in the pool working out two days before delivery! While I was busily dying!

And therein was the crux of the matter. Despite all that I was going through, I felt awful for even thinking of feeling anything other than relieved to have a healthy, happy baby and grateful that I was alive. There were plenty of women/families who had it far worse than me. Who was I to bitch and moan about what was wrong when I had so much to be thankful for?

The problem with that though is it's not only black or white thinking but also Should thinking. And Should is a bad, bad word. Why did my gratefulness and relief have to preclude those other feelings? Why would feeling those things make my gratefulness and relief any less than their true depth? Just like Alaskaboy's problem, failing to talk about it only made the issue far worse by the time we eventually got around to discussing it. He'd betrayed me by not giving me the chance to fix it and failing to be honest about what was truly going on, and I did the same to him.

By caring about what I "should" be doing or feeling, I wasn't completely honest with him the very few times we've had sex since I gave birth. By not being honest I made the situation worse. Sure I was honest about the mechanics of it all; what hurt, what was okay, when we had to stop because I couldn't go any more, what didn't do it for me any longer etc. What I wasn't honest about was how I felt.

How I died a little on the inside when he'd grimace at the taste of the milk that remains in my breasts. A double psychological wound. It's the same face Kiddlywink pulled the last time I breastfed her and my milk had finally given up the ghost. Sure there's not enough there to feed my daughter, but there's enough to make my husband find me less enjoyable. (Poor bugger tried to hid it once he was aware of the problem, but it must be awful stuff because he still reacts in subconscious ways.)
How awful it feels putting weight on my numb knees.
How painful it is to be flat on my back.
How hard it is to hold myself in any position that allows for sex to occur.
How I would have to force myself to relax and how I dreaded the way my hips would cramp in the lead up to, or even during orgasm, because I could no longer tell my muscles were fatigued.
How just about every single part of my body no longer felt his touch the way it had.
How it felt like I was a virgin all over again, every single time, and he was hung like an actual stallion.
How frustrating all of this was because even when all the stars aligned and we had time plus desire to have sex, my body failed me yet again.
How guilty I felt because he'd been so patient and understanding, trying to find ways to solve all of the problems I had told him about.
How I'd cringe on the inside every time he'd muster the courage to ask hopefully if I was in the mood.

All of this and more came pouring out that night. We got hardly any sleep because it took that long for us to sort through it all. The shoe was also on the other foot. He'd known something was wrong, but hadn't been able to get out of me what was going on. Boy, did we both feel foolish after admitting our secrets led to something good and constructive.

By opening up to each other it's allowed us to work together on our issues. It's taken weeks and several more discussions but I'm helping him find solutions to his problems, and he's helping me with mine. (Who knew that we'd find so many other places that give me that delightful shivery feeling!) Our problems aren't one hundred percent solved-- for several reasons, one of which was jealousy that the character was awake and got to see her baby straight away, I sobbed for nearly fifteen minutes because of watching a cesearean delivery on a television show the other night--but we're working on them together as a couple again. Dealing with things takes time and effort, but it's so much more rewarding than the time and energy spent on denying stuff. I wish I could remember that whenever I'm in the middle of it all. But, I guess everything does happen in its own time.

I can honestly say I don't hate my body anymore. I'm often frustrated by it, angry with it, hurt or saddened by it, but I don't hate it. And I'm trying to accept and love it. Part of that has been to find the courage to write about all of this on here. Blogging is such an important part of my recovery. But, I used the excuse that I was writing too much about pregnancy related stuff, when it's a weight loss blog, not a postpartum recovery blog.

Well? I realised this particular part of my weight loss journey does involve post partum recovery. Those that don't want to read about it won't. Just like any other subject I discuss they don't want to read. It's my blog, and I have to write about the issues I need to write about. So, I did. And I will. Am pretty sure we haven't heard the end of this saga yet. ;)

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