An entire decade.
After celebrating my fourth baby's 1st birthday, I have come to realize that by the time I am done breastfeeding her, I will have been pregnant and/or nursing for almost a decade.
For 1/3 of my life my body has not been my own. I have been creating, housing, nurturing, reproducing, providing, sharing, I guess basically...living and breathing with and for someone else.
Pregnancy alone, four years. Yes, almost four years of life, sharing my body, carrying another human being around that was growing within me.
40 months of gaining weight, growing in places I never knew could grow, and my body forever ...well, changing (the most polite word for all of the shapes moving, body parts shifting, and areas sagging, inflating and reinflating... over... and over again).
160 weeks of intermittent nausea, vommitting, migraines and shooting back pain. Need I say more?
1,120 days of hormonal changes, mood swings, and laughing and sobbing hysterically... at the same time.
26,880 hours of ongoing back pain (well, full body pain and spasms), sleep insomnia, and severe exhaustion.
And lo and behold, each pregnancy transitioned right up to labor. Oh, the labor.
3 days of withstanding pain that the human body somehow is able to endure, while by the sheer grace of God, not shutting down.
36 hours of preparing to push a human being out of me. Truly laboring, about to do something that is the most natural thing in this earth, yet takes the most inhuman, supernatural strength.
2,160 minutes of working and breathing my way through each contraction. And by contraction, I mean that feeling as if someone were taking a knife and stabbing me over and over again in my stomach. And as soon as I was able to regroup and catch my breath, sure enough another minute, another contraction would follow.
129,600 seconds of unfathomable pain. A human body can bear only up to 45 del (unit) of pain. Yet at the time of giving birth, I felt up to 57 del (unit) of pain. This is similar to 20 bones getting fractured...at the same time. Now count to 129,600 as each second feels like an eternity. And yes, I'm alive as I sit here, living on to tell my story.
My God the female body is simply incredible.
And following each delivery, led straight into time spent nursing.
2,678,400 minutes of tirelessly feeding, pulling, squeezing, yanking and yes, sometimes even pain and discomfort.
44,640 hours of producing milk, my body physically creating the healthiest, most nutritional meal filled with antibodies that only I can give my babies. (wow, I wonder if they need a new superwoman cartoon persona...I could always throw my name in for the running, yes?)
1,860 days of waking each night, all night, sometimes hourly, and often multiple times an hour to feed, to console, to quench my babies' hunger. (and if my superwoman gig didn't pan out, I could always use my stamina for a Duracel battery commercial and run beside that little drummer bunny that just keeps going...and going...and going...)
248 weeks of on and off pumping, breastfeeding, feeling engorged them rushing off to pump in my short allotted time at work.
62 months of constantly being on call and ready to be the "milk man"...any time, any place. But when I was called to duty, by God I showed up to the plate.
5 years of my body providing nutrients, actual meals for my children. Yep, Betty Crocker ain't got nothing on this Mama.
Speaking of Betty Crocker, I have provided my babies 2,610 meals every year. 13,050 meals total. 104,400 ounces of milk my body has produced and nourished my children.
I think that just speaks for itself.
And then we move into the territory of sleep. Or...lack there of.
8 ½ years of not having one, not a single, blessed, full night of rested, uninterrupted sleep.
3,102 days of going to bed late (and by that I mean going to bed collapsing somewhere in someone's bed or some random floor). Or waking up early (and by that I mean somehow managing to keep me eyes pried open to ensure the children stay alive).
74,448 hours of functioning on severe sleep deprivation, performing one of the hardest, most daunting, selfless jobs on the planet, trying to survive in that world we call parenthood.
4,466,000 minutes of having bags under my eyes, praying that tonight the baby will just sleep through the night. And if that prayer should be answered, that only means that a toddler will be up crying from a nightmare, someone will wet the bed or will start puking. Yes, it's just....hmmm, life as we know it. Who really needs sleep anyways?
So to accurately sum things up. I'm pretty tired. Ok, I'm flipping exhausted, out of my mind, lost my sanity (hell, lost my pride) several years ago and at this point, I can safely say, things aren't going back to normal anytime soon.
(there's always the infamous but....)
This physically exhausted body has accomplished and performed miracles. It's done the unthinkable and I can say I've created life, given birth to life, and then was given the privilege to sustain life.
And at the end of each day as all of my children are healthy and safe and alive, I can collapse somewhere and praise God that we all made it another day.
But the next time I complain or get down on myself and become discouraged about what I can't do or may not be able to do as well or as fast anymore, I need to remind myself that this body (no matter what it looks like or what has changed), it has done wonders.
I will have given a decade of myself over to 4 tiny humans.
And it's probably safe to say it has, it is, and will remain the most self sacrificing, exhausting, mind boggling, yet most fulfilling, rewarding, empowering decade of my life.