Making my body mine again.

I am one week away from equilibrium. Nine months in, nine months out. Having a kid is hard work – physically, mentally, emotionally – and progress is incremental. Not slow exactly, but plodding. Some days I can see gains, some days I cannot, both for myself and squidger. Shoot, she’s changing more every day than I am, though maybe I’m a bit harsh on myself. I’m not sure where I wanted to be at nine months postpartum, but I guess I was hoping to be back to my prepregnancy weight. To be fair, I’m only 5-7 pounds off (depending on the day). I’ve officially weighed in for the Marines and passed. I can fit into nearly all of my prepregnancy clothes with the exception of bras (my boobs have changed size) and my cammie bottoms (that waist was always too tiny). I’m only breastfeeding once a day, first thing in the morning for about ten minutes, and I aim to be completely done by the time I return to Germany for work again. It’s not that I don’t like it, but Beaner is solidly on solids (and loving it), drinking water from a beaker cup, and is offered a bit of formula at night before bed. She’ll move on to cow’s milk in August. Quite frankly, I’m looking forward to being done. I’m super ready to have my boobs stop leaking milk, painfully clogging up if they’re not used enough, and flopping around during runs due to their bigger size. I don’t like big tatas, never wanted them, and am ready to return to my own body.

My own body.

For the past year and a half, my body’s not been my own. My “mummy tummy” (thanks, Britain) has been a housing unit for the little one, nourishing and protecting her as she kicked her way around the womb. Pregnancy wasn’t too bad. Sure, I had to pee a lot, I couldn’t really eat bread because of reflux, and I woke up a handful of times a night due to my bladder and my enormous belly, but I liked the idea that I was making a human. Once she was born, I was too busy surviving to think about much more than eat, sleep, poop, repeat (and that was for my daughter). After the first two weeks, my body had recovered enough that I could walk up and down stairs without wincing, I didn’t have to worry about bowel movements cracking me in half, and the pangs of my uterus contracting back to its former size dissipated. After six weeks, my nipples began to hurt less with breastfeeding, my undercarriage (as my husband says) had repaired its second-degree tear, and I began to feel competent in caring for a newborn. By three months, I had begun to venture into working out, lightly, again. At six months, I started to worry about what my weight should be and what I was eating. And now, at nearly nine months since giving birth, I feel I should be back where I started.

I know things will never be the same. I have a child now. My body is physically different. I’ve changed shape, size, and habits. I think differently. I sleep differently. I structure my time differently. I worry about different things. Yet, the advent of stopping breastfeeding – the last physical demand my baby is placing on my body – with the start of part-time day care has brightened my outlook. I can be free from the world’s cutest succubus for a few precious hours. I can work out to get myself over this weight plateau. I can focus on a few other areas of my life to enrich my soul in ways caring for a baby cannot. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kid. She’s pretty awesome, even when she’s a teething gremlin, and I enjoy watching her figure out the world. I especially like sitting back and observing her attempts at self-feeding; she’s pretty good with Cheerios. But, I also know I need balance.

I have to run a Physical Fitness Test before the end of June. I’ve set a goal to run one at the end of May. I’m being realistic – I just need to pass. Losing this last bit of weight will help with the pull-ups the most, but also the run and crunches. My right kneecap hurts sometimes when I run, and I keep that pain in mind because I don’t want to do more damage to my body, but I try to keep a steady pace. I ran outside today, after I dropped my bean off at nursery. It was misty, then drizzly. It was perfect running weather. I ran for half an hour, more than I’ve run in eighteen months. When I returned home, I forced myself to do some timed crunches. They were terrible. I had already put in a set of five pull-ups, more than I’ve done in a long time. I have no promotion boards coming up, no schools or PME or a change in billet assignment. I just need to pass.

I think that after I pass my PFT in May, and especially if I’ve lost the five pounds and quit breastfeeding entirely, I will be able to declare that my body finally belongs to me.

Of course, a second kid will throw all that hard work out the window…

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