Month of business, cont’d…

My experiment for the month of May was developing my personal business – conserving and cataloguing objects, photos, and documents. This mostly consisted of working on a project for my former employer, but I also spent some time researching website hosting services, brainstorming a business plan, etc. I ended the month meeting with an advisor at the Small Business Development Council, which was incredibly helpful and encouraging.

I had planned to have June be my month of zero waste, but I think I’m going to extend my business experiment and push zero waste to July or August. This will give me an opportunity to prioritize establishing my LLC and solidify my business plan.

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A month of walking

The weather is getting nicer, and my body is pretty much healed, so I think it’s a good time to get moving. I started today with an easy one, walking my neighborhood loop – a little under a mile. I’m really glad to have a nice jogging stroller (even though I don’t jog) so I can take Oren with me and not worry about uneven sidewalks or going over curbs. Because I live in the suburbs, there isn’t a whole lot of interesting stuff within walking distance, but there are a few places I can consider destinations. There are a couple of little cafes about 3/4 – 1 mile down the road, and the historical society (where I’ve been meaning to volunteer) is right near there. I could also pop baby and stroller in the car and take a short drive to a nearby reservoir, which has a really nice trail around it. If I’m feeling particularly adventurous some day, I could walk down to the light rail station (+/- a mile away) and take the train downtown for coffee or lunch.

My walking buddy.

Gratitude

My intention was that March would be my month of gratitude. I did a little research on how to incorporate more gratitude into daily life, and apparently even just thinking about what you have to be grateful for can shift your perspective. I’ve tried to bring my awareness toward gratitude throughout the day, mentally noting what I am grateful for, and I made an attempt to start journaling as well. My first entry was March 8th, and I started with “I am grateful for a healthy baby.” Later that evening, Oren developed a high fever and had to be admitted to the NICU at Children’s Hospital. The first few hours were traumatic – because he was so young, not even a month, they had to run several tests including a spinal tap. It was heart wrenching to see my little one in pain, and there were a few hours when I wasn’t sure he would be okay. The first night I cried to our nurse, asking if my baby was going to die. She assured me that he would be just fine, and did her best to put me at ease.

I don’t want to rehash everything again, but I’ll summarize by saying he was diagnosed with a UTI, and he responded well to the IV antibiotics they were pumping into him. We were discharged after four days with a follow-up scheduled with the urologist to determine if he was having urinary reflux. Then it happened again. Two weeks later, we had to make another visit to the ER for another fever due to another UTI. We didn’t have to be admitted, but he had to start another round of antibiotics.

The following Tuesday we had our appointment with the urologist. The results of the VCUG determined that O has urinary reflux due to dilated ureters, and on a scale of 1-5 the severity was a four. The plan we agreed on included having him circumcised, which will reduce his chances of getting another UTI, keeping him on a low dose of antibiotics for at least a year, and reassessing his situation after a year with check ups every few months.

On the surface it can all seem overwhelming, but here’s where gratitude comes in: all of it is treatable. There is a chance that his dilation and reflux will resolve on its own, but even if that doesn’t happen, surgery will fix it without any need for subsequent treatment. I felt strongly about not having him circumcised, but the circumcision will reduce his chances of getting another UTI. And I really don’t like that he has to be on antibiotics for such a long time, but we can be proactive about preserving his gut health, and building up healthy microflora is a process that lasts years – so we have time even after he’s finished his regimen of antibiotics.

I haven’t journaled much since my initial attempt, but I don’t think that matters much. And I have to say, gratitude hasn’t been at the forefront of my mind during the last several weeks. However, it pops up more than it did before, and it has helped me keep this experience in perspective. I think that this experiment has helped me be more mindful of what I have to be grateful for, and I’m going to do my best to stick with it.

Looking back at rest

So it’s the last day of February and the end of my ‘rest’ experiment. I don’t know if I would call it a success, but I did try.

My darling baby came on his due date, February 10th. I delivered Oren Aster Young unmedicated, but because his heart rate was dropping, a suction was needed at the very end to help deliver him more quickly. I knew that birth was going to be difficult, but you really have no way to prepare yourself for the intensity of it without having prior experience. Needless to say, I am glad I never have to do it again.

After the birth, I couldn’t do anything but rest. My body felt like it had been hit by a bus, and my main job was feeding our baby. Prior to Oren’s arrival, I had done as much preparation as possible – buying baby supplies, grocery shopping, cooking and freezing food – so that when we got home we could just take care of him. That worked out really well, and Harley picked up any slack and did all the diaper changes in the first few days. I actually don’t think I changed a diaper until O was five days old.

As my body began to heal, I found myself wanting to do simple chores like tidying and folding laundry. I wanted to to move gently, and these felt like good ways to do that. Now that I’m two and a half weeks out, I’ve ramped it up a little, but I still spend most of my day sitting on the couch. It does help me to get up occasionally to move around, and I typically pick something up or put something away before I come back to the couch. I’ve also made a point to shower every morning, which keeps me feeling like a real human.

Harley was able to take the first week off of work, and my parents came for the following week. My mom stayed until yesterday, which was a tremendous help. For the month of March, Harley will be able to work from home three days per week, so that will give me a good transitional period for figuring out how to be at home alone with O for the next couple of months. I definitely will need to continue to incorporate rest into my day to day, and I’ll need to be creative about finding ways to make that work.

Rest

Today is the first day of experiment number two: rest.

I’ve done a pretty good job of planning for what rest will look like once the baby arrives – staying in bed in the first week, limiting physical activity, letting people care for me – but I don’t know exactly what to do for rest until then. Fortunately, I’ve done most of the preparation I wanted to do, so I don’t really have anything hanging over me. But because I’m not working, I struggle to maintain a sort of structure to my day. For me, structure usually entails chores, work – productivity in general. I don’t think I want to abandon productivity all-together, but I think I can be more mindful of what it looks like.

This morning I woke up and showered, but I opted to stay in my robe while I drank my tea and ate my cereal. I stripped the bed and washed all the bedding, but I’m not going to re-make it until my husband gets home and can do most of the work. Even simple things like stretching a fitted sheet over a mattress are difficult these days with a big belly and all that relaxin surging through my body. I also decided to finish a book I’ve been reading for pleasure instead of reading a baby book or spending time on the internet. I can now check book number three of Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos off the list (it’s really good, btw). I’m also leaving a few areas of the house “untidy” for the time being. Maybe I’ll ask Harley to help out when he gets home later.

In addition to rest, I’m still maintaining my hydration experiment, at least until the baby comes. I’ve found it comforting to have something concrete to do that will benefit both me and baby, and it adds a helpful bit of structure to these long days of waiting.

First day falling short

I didn’t drink all my water yesterday (about 20 oz. left) because I didn’t want to damnit! I’m so tired of getting up to pee a million times per night, so I thought I’d see if cutting back a little would help – it didn’t. I’m 37 weeks today – officially full-term – so not too much longer and I’ll have most of my abdominal capacity back.

I’m also starting to get really bored. I have baked three casseroles, made duck broth, cooked blueberry yoghurt pancakes, and frozen all of them for after baby arrives. I also made cinnamon rolls and veggie chili (to freeze) yesterday and have watched almost two full seasons of “Call the Midwife.” My body is uncomfortable most of the time, so I’m limited to what physical activity I can do. Each time I do yoga I tend to experience more discomfort in the following hours, so I’m trying to be extra gentle with myself.

I know I’ll probably long for boredom once the baby gets here, but for right now – UGH.


Thinking about experiment #2

I’d tentatively designated February as the month of gratitude, but after hearing from a couple of other mothers and starting the book The Fourth Trimester, I’m pretty sure I’m going to change my focus to “rest.”

I have a hard time with rest. I’m a great napper, but I typically use it as a tool to improve my productivity. I’m addicted to productivity. My mom told me that as a young child I would walk outside in the morning, hands on hips, looking as though I was taking account of what plans I had in store for the day. Now, if I feel like I’ve wasted time or let the day slip by without getting something accomplished, I feel uneasy. Once baby comes, that just isn’t going to work.

I’ve been reading about the designated period of rest that new mothers are expected to take in cultures across the world – so different from our culture where decent maternity leave is hard to come by, and new mothers are rewarded for “bouncing back” quickly.

My post-birth situation will definitely have its pros and cons. I just completed a temporary work position, so I am currently unemployed and will have no source of income. My husband will continue to work (no leave), but his employer is allowing him to work from home most days for an as yet undetermined amount of time. We are fortunate to be getting financial help from my family during the time that I am not working. This means no (outside) pressure to go back to work until I am ready, even though I know I’ll start to put pressure on myself after a while.

So my goal for February will be to listen to my body and rest.

I will use this time to bond with my husband and our son. I will move when it feels right to move. I will be still when it feels right to be still. I will try not to worry about what comes next. I will rest and enjoy my family.