Thursday, March 05, 2009

The answer is now YES

Yesterday it occured to me that at some point since Lion's birth, I reclaimed my dignity.

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, or where. I won't be able to tell my grandchildren, "Oh yes, I remember it exactly. I was in Wegman's buying avocados, and I was wearing my favorite fuschia sweater..."

I'm not sure when I got it back, but I definitely know when I lost it.

During my labor and delivery I did everything in front of everybody without caring a whit, and after Lion was born I was too worried, then too exhilarated, to notice who was coming into the room while I was lying there with my legs up in the air. HI, come on in! I just had a baby! He came out down there! It was awesome!

And then! As anyone who has given birth in a hospital knows, the nurses can come in and poke and prod at your uterus and sensitive bits whenever they feel like it, around the clock. And they do.

"I'm just going to check you!" they sing, and before you can even utter a token grunt of permission, the sheet has been pulled down, along with your mesh panties, and they are looking at things and pressing their fingers into the pile of dough that used to be your stomach while you lie there and stare at the ceiling and pretend that you are elsewhere, anywhere else, like even stuck in a 5-mile back-up on the Beltway.

And then you and your crazy, overachieving boobs might require the assistance of multiple nurses and two hospital lactation consultants, and since everyone and their mom has already seen everything down below, ripping open the top of your hospital gown at the slightest suggestion seems like no big deal.

At one point an LC was struggling to help me with my pump as I sobbed, giant tears splashing down onto my stomach and mingling with the milk drips. "Oh, cover up, honey!" she said, removing the pump and trying to pull my gown closed. "The pediatrician is coming in!"

And I stared at her with bleary eyes, wondering why she cared, because I certainly didn't. Cover up? Whatever for?

And then there was the time the fire alarm went off when I was alone in the room with Lion. I waited a few seconds to see if it would stop, or if an announcement would come over the intercom. When the alarm continued with no word from the hospital staff, I struggled out of the bed, put my purse on the bottom shelf of the bassinet (I remember being very proud of the fact that I remembered the baby AND my purse), and wheeled Lion into the hallway, my gown flapping open behind me. Nothing like flashing a few dozen people while saving your baby's life. I felt so maternal.

For weeks after I returned home, my body was alien and I continued to offer it up without question to whoever needed to examine it. My mother, my husband, midwives, doctors, more lactation consultants. I held my baby, rocked my baby, nursed my baby- and my body belonged to him still, even though he was no longer inside of me.

I had a little test to help me determine if I was back to my old self, which I repeated as the days went on:

Do you care if a complete stranger sees you without your pants on?

If YES, congratulations! You have taken an important step toward reclaiming your body!

If NO, I'm sorry. Please try again later. And in the meantime, definitely keep your pants on.

Yesterday I was in a store's changing room when someone tried to open the door without knocking. The lock was engaged, but I experienced that reflex of half-crouching.

"Sorry!" the person called, and moved on.

I stood there for a minute, then straightened.

A complete stranger almost saw me naked, and I cared. Now that's progress.

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Blogger His suzy said...

Congratulations on your progress!! That definitely deserves a celebration. ;)

10:59 AM  
Blogger BabelBabe said...

dude, if you make me laugh till i cry at Panera, they will kick me out. and they have free wireless AND a kickass Caesar chicken salad. so that would be sad. so QUIT IT.

ps. where did you pin your Order of Maternal Glory medal when you wheeled Lion back in to the hospital, on the front of that flapping gown? : ) seriously? check this out:

12:06 PM  
Blogger Caro said...

So funny. I plan on holding on to my dignity until I need to wear Depends. If it gets to that point, I'm grabbing my walker and heading off the edge of a cliff.

2:36 PM  

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