It took having my third child to finally stare a truth in the face: the ways in which I "care" for myself, those pockets of time and attention I give to my own desires, are really just self-medication.
Facebook. YouTube. Blogs. Junk food and diet soda. These top the list for me...actually, they are the list.
Wait, what's that you say? Back up to the baby part? Gladly!
Our little mister came into the world January 16, in the middle of the afternoon--a new and delightful development for the Professor and me after two early morning deliveries (preceded by long, day-and-night labors). In all, it took about twelve hours and, despite some grumblings of "I'm so stupid; I should have gotten the epidural," all went very well.
I'm not quite sure what he'll be known as here, though I'm leaning toward Bubby. He's a beautiful creature to behold, with all manner of dark hair and lashes, long fingers and toes, and a lower lip that sucks way in, a trait from his Papa's side.
Anyway, back to self-care.
An interesting thing happened during labor: I slept through a good chunk at the end. I was getting desperate and the nurse offered Fentanol. It made me loopy in the past, so I was hesitant, but when she offered to give me half a dose, I jumped on it. The greatest consequence? It put me to sleep between contractions.
It felt like I slept in twenty minute chunks, maybe more. Professor later told me that I slept for about 90 seconds, labored for 90, lather, rinse, repeat. Those 90 seconds of rest were exactly what my body needed. When the overly-fresh-faced doc came in to deliver the baby, she barely had time to get her gloves on before Bubby made his grand entrance. I was ready because I was rested.
At home, I don't have a nurse waiting with half a dose of Fentanol. I can't take naps (but if I could go back and tell myself two kids and no at-home job self to sleep more, I would). But I can choose to care for myself, choosing what I need (like the Fentanol) over what I want (an entirely unmedicated birth).
I go for a walk before Professor leaves for work in the morning whenever the weather allows. I fall asleep on the couch for a few hours in the evening instead of endlessly and mindlessly surfing the web. I tweaked my work hours and work load so that I feel less guilty and stressed, even if it slightly dropped my income. If the kids are playing well, I open my Bible or a book or take a much coveted shower.
I am very much imperfect. I hit the chocolate pretty hard today and have managed to plow through two and a half seasons of the Great British Bakeoff (have you seen that business? completely addicting, also I make scones now...) in a pretty short span of time. This blog post has been in draft mode since January and I haven't posted a single thing this year because I still struggle to prioritize my time online. This post isn't polished like I want it to be, but at some point, you just have to get back in the pool, even if you flail a bit. I am a work in progress.
Breaking away from the self-inflicted numbing agents is such a freeing feeling, and my days feel less monotonous and tiring...even though I have three children under five and spend more time than ever on mundane things like laundry and potty training (pray for us, by the by...). Self-medicating might have felt good in the moment, but self-care feels good all the day long. I'll take it.
And I promise I'll try to get back to being funny next time. Trust me, these hooligans have been bringing the funny lately and they are ready to share.