My daughter, A, loves to draw and color. She recently learned to draw circles and has been using her new skill to draw balloons (she is terrified of balloons, but she loves to draw them for some reason). A few days ago I was walking up the stairs and noticed one of her characteristic balloons drawn ON THE WALL. WITH TURQUOISE CRAYON!!! "A," I yelled, "Did you draw this balloon on the wall?" To which she replied in her sweetest voice, "Yes Mommy, I drew it for you." Now tell me, how am I supposed to respond to that?
Now that my daughters are almost 3 years old, and I can fit back into most of my pre-baby clothes, its time for me to gain back some of my baby weight. Not weight as we usually think of it measured in pounds and ounces. I’m talking about mass in a more abstract sense. I used to be a bigger person, metaphorically speaking. I used to spend my free time sewing, making quilts, doing cross-stitch projects, reading novels (sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, you name it), gardening, making jam, baking bread, cooking complicated foods, canoeing, hiking, camping, going to the beach, building houses with Habitat for Humanity, hanging out with friends, going to see movies. You get the picture. And when combined with 40-80 hours of course/lab work per week (depending on the time of the semester and/or looming deadlines), I had a big, full life. Today I feel like my life is a lot smaller than it used to be. I’ve lost a lot of “weight” and I’m not as big a person as I used to be. And I miss being a larger person.
I started loosing weight when I found out I was pregnant (well actually, I gained about 20 lbs during the first month of pregnancy, but again we aren’t talking about actual real pounds here). I was less than a year away from completing my PhD, so I dropped all extra activities (except sitting on a Federal Grand Jury, which was not my decision and which is another post for another day) in order to complete my research before Baby was born. I dropped some more weight when I was put on bed rest about half way through my pregnancy. My doctor told me I need to lie around like a lazy dog, so no more research for me. And no more writing or even reading research related material for that matter. Baby B was so high up against my lungs that I could barely breathe. And sitting up for more than abut 10 minutes at a time – even in a recliner – was really uncomfortable. Plus, the preeclampsia made me very tired and foggy headed so I couldn’t concentrate on significant (i.e. science) reading long enough for it to make sense. The general discomfort also meant I couldn’t/didn’t want to spend any time cooking, quilting or sewing for my babies either. Hanging out with friends wasn’t really in the cards either. Everyone I had previously spent time with had just moved out of our hot, swampy city. I was reduced to reading mindless books, watching endless hours of bad TV (thank goodness for netflix), and going to see my OB twice a week. I felt really small, empty, and alone. I have the utmost sympathy for anyone who is put on bed rest during pregnancy (but that’s a post for another day, so back to the topic).
I started gaining some “weight” when the twins were finally born. I had two new beautiful precious people in my life who added to it in ways I’d never imagined. But two newborns are demanding (to say the least) There were days when I didn’t have time to take a shower or brush my teeth, let alone pursue any type of hobbies or get any work done. When the girls were ~ 6 months old, I started to get back part of my pre-baby life. I started teaching an introductory biology class for non-majors, and I was able to get a little research done. A year and some change later, I finished my degree and started a postdoc. And now I feel like I can really start putting some effort into combining my old life with my new life. The girls are big enough to take on picnics and short hikes. We plan to take them on their first canoe trip soon and camping will probably start in the fall. Some day I might even get back to the quilt I was making. My life is gaining weight. Now I just have to figure out how to balance it.