Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gains and Losses

I thought I had avoided the dreaded post-partum hair loss. Supposedly you only lose hair that you gained while pregnant; my hair had not gotten much thicker while pregnant, so I figured the hair loss wouldn't be very noticeable.

Hah. My hair is falling out. A lot of it and all at once. I can't believe how dramatic the hair loss is. I assumed it would happen right after birth, but it seems to have started this week, nearly 3 months post partum. My other mom friends have had similar delayed-hair-loss experience.

While taking a shower this morning (and pulling out handful after handful of hair), I started thinking about what I've gained and what I've lost from being pregnant and having a child. Here is what I came up with.

Gained a baby and the confidence that I can take care of him. This one is obvious!

Lost some independence. For at least a little while longer, I can't do what I want to do when I want to do it.

Gained strength in my marriage and love for my partner. Greg and I were a domestic pair from the start. Our relationship began over our dogs and progressed through a year of do-it-yourself home renovations. Having a baby to take care of makes both of us exceedingly happy; so far, it has enhanced our relationship, and I wouldn't go back for a minute.

Lost our couple time. I wouldn't quite say the spark has been lost, but I would say that 90% of our conversation is still about the baby. Gotta' be careful not to let that go on for too long, but we decided it would be OK to indulge ourselves in this mutual obsession for just a little while longer.

Gained an appreciation for women and mothers everywhere. Women, you are amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Lost my sense of wonder and mystery about it all. I used to think of birth as an empowering experience. Now that I've gone through it, I would not describe it that way. Everybody's birth experience is different, however, so don't let me get you down.

Gained many terrible stretch marks. At least 4 dozen, by my count. They're bad. Really bad.

Lost several pounds of fat. I was shocked to find myself significantly below my pre-pregnancy weight within days of giving birth, and it's stayed that way. (To be clear, I ate very well and Jack was a healthy 8lb). You know when you lose that last pound or two and feel really really good about how you look? Well I lost quite a bit more than the pound or two but my shape got worse. Too bad. Long live the muffin-top.

Gained and lost several inches on my hips. It was awesome while it lasted... I've always wanted wider hips. (Seriously).

Gained several inches on my waistline. Bummer. I used to like my waist. I'd like to think my shape will return, but I suspect it won't...see ref on stretch marks (above) and abs (below)

Lost the connective tissue that keeps my abdominal muscles together. Double bummer. Lots of core exercises have made it better, but I'll always have to be careful not to cause further damage to my midsection.

Gained quite a bit of muscle elsewhere. Babies are heavy, man, and they want to be held all the time!

Lost my general impatience with the world. So long as we're healthy and happy, I can handle that annoyingly slow car in front of me or the dog puke on the rug. I'm a little more appreciative of other peoples' lives -- you never know what their day has been like

Gained the ability to bounce and dance with a baby for an hour or more. I'll do anything to help this kid get to sleep.

Lost the ability to consume alcohol. (In significant quantities, at least)

Gained the ability to lactate. Excellent! I love learning new skills.

Lost time to do my hair, makeup, or pick out clothes. Perhaps one day you'll see me without a ponytail and a headband.

Gained spit up and drool on almost every outfit I own. Good thing the gross-factor goes away when it's your own baby!

Lost the ability to think about myself and only myself. I miss it just a little.

Gained many happy thoughts that I can return to any time I want. When I'm not with Jack, I enjoy daydreaming about him, and those are special memories.

Lost interest in world events. . Sorry, world, I'm just so focused on this little guy.

Gained absurdly random scientific knowledge about babycare. I try not to bore you with that stuff here.

Lost pretty much everything else that used to fill my head. I hope to god my cognitive function returns once I go back to work!

Gained a measure of happiness. Having a family makes me feel complete. I have some certainty that my career is going to work out and faith that the rest of life will be OK. I'm sure I'll fluctuate back to uncertainty at times, but I think, on the whole, this feeling of confidence will be permanent.

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