I was recently asked twice in two days if I was pregnant. Then, just a few days later, I was told that I look fantastic and must be lying about having a baby. I'm still confused as to which of these is true, but if I have a choice, I'll take number two.
Apparently some people have never been told that pregnancy and (at least) the year that follows is a very sensitive time during which all comments regarding a woman's weight (or, for that matter: diet, hair, clothing and overall appearance) should strictly be kept to themselves. Because we know we look tired, we know we're carrying a few extra pounds, we know we probably shouldn't be eating that for one reason or another, and although we aren't sure whether it's spit up or ice cream, we are aware of that fact that our shirt has a stain on it.
But even though we're vaguely aware of these things, we are happily living in a cloudy post-baby haze where our thoughts are entirely occupied by things like look at how cute she is and I can't believe she's crawling or oh look, there's a starburst wrapper in her diaper! In this blissful fog we're able to rationalize the fact that we still have a poochy belly even though our baby has now been on this side of the womb as long as she was in it, as well as the fact that we haven't showered for three days now because HAVE YOU SEEN THOSE CHUBBY THIGHS? It's a wonder there's enough time in the day to do anything other than nibble on them.
As happy as we may be in that haze, it doesn't last. No, inevitably someone will make a comment about our weight or we'll happen to see a breathtaking magazine cover displaying a partially nude celebrity and her ridiculously fabulous "BODY AFTER BABY". The cloud is suddenly lifted and we're reminded of how our pounds didn't just melt away and leave the body of Heidi Klum behind.
And that loathsome realization is usually followed up with strong shot of despair and a pint of Ben & Jerry's Triple Chocolate Chunk.
This is a fairly accurate account of how postpartum life has been for me, anyway. Please tell me I'm not the only one...
My problem hasn't been the number, as it is for a lot of women, but rather the distribution of the post-baby pounds. I was actually down to my pre-pregnancy weight shortly after Morgan was born, but I didn't feel beautiful at all. Everything on my body had shifted. Where I used to have a slight curve, I now had a bulge. Where there was once a toned stomach, there was now a thick, jello-like substance. My pants were fitting tighter around my hips, but hung loosely from my bum. During the last few weeks of my pregnancy, Morgan had exhausted the nutrients my body was willing to give, so I'm pretty sure she had to start eating my butt to sustain herself.
Then, to make things more interesting, when Morgan was three months old I became very ill and had to be hospitalized. I have to admit, that extra belly fat came in pretty handy when they began giving me heparin shots in the stomach each morning to prevent blood clots. I ended up losing 13 pounds during my hospital stay. After I was discharged, I was leaving the hospital when I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a large window. I was horrified! My mid-section had managed to stay the same size, but I now had toothpicks where my arms and legs used to be and after spending quite some time staring at my reflection, desperately trying to locate my butt, I came to the conclusion that at some point during the past two weeks it had packed up and moved entirely.
Over the next few months, for reasons that had nothing to do with trying to lose weight (at this point I actually needed to gain some back) I began working out. After a while I noticed something strange happening to my legs. After hitting Adam up for a second opinion, I realized what it was... are you ready for this? It was MUSCLE. You have to understand, this was something completely foreign to me; something I was unfamiliar with even before my pregnancy. I actually had muscles!
As Morgan has grown, the muscles have started showing up in other places, too. Did you know that SOMETHING ACTUALLY HAPPENS when I flex my biceps now? I'm pretty sure those things that pop up are more than just tendons. I guess that's what happens when you carry an almost 20 pound little one around all the time.
As my body has continued to change I've begun to develop a new found appreciation for it, although it's far from perfect. This body of mine was solely responsible for sustaining another life for nine months, and parts of it continue to sustain that life today. It was able to create and deliver another human being! Seriously is there anything is this world more amazing than that? I've also learned that I am my own harshest critic. Adam still thinks I'm beautiful ("Rockin Bod" is the term he prefers to use) and Morgan couldn't care less that I haven't lost all that belly flab or that, thanks to stretch marks, the underside of my boobs now looks like a road map.
I've become perfectly comfortable with my imperfect body. Although it will NEVER resemble the body of a supermodel, it's good enough for me. I loved it three years ago, I loved it when I was pregnant, and I've learned to love it now.
But I may, on occasion, still go out of my way to avoid the freakishly fit bodies and beautiful faces that peer down from the magazine rack at the grocery store.