Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Postpartum Body

The Stir is a website whose articles frequently show up on my FB news feed as one parenting site or another re-posts them. They are clearly meant to cause "a stir". They are always completely open-sided, based on opinions more than facts, and on hot-button issues. I enjoy a good fluff article that reaffirms my belief in something as much as the next gal but I don't take much of what I read there too seriously. I certainly don't bother to add anything to the vicious conversations that take place in the comments section. However, this recent post really hit home and referred back to this, even better, article so I had to share!

Like most American women, I struggle with my weight. Once you're pregnant, you have such a heightened sense of everything about your body. Along with your obvious baby bump, your breasts swells, your fingers and feet swell, your hair thickens; you start to feel like you are trapped in some kind of foreign body (no pun intended). And people are always ready with all kinds of "helpful advice" about how not to gain too much weight while pregnant. (Surely a baby can grown on just salads and fresh fruit! And those make you feel really full! You should never want to eat anything else!) And every week, your midwife is weighing you to make sure the baby is growing, even though you are sure that it is to secretly judge you about how much you have gained. She tells you your weight and you search her face for some kind of reassurance that it is okay.

I gained 25 lbs with Lydia (who was 5 weeks early) and 35 lbs with Elliott - well within the average recommended weight gain. *phew* right? That makes me feel better, right? Not at all. And everyone tells you, "If you breastfeed, the weight will just fall off magically!" Not for everyone. And the scale isn't the only indicator of size, remember. After Lydia, I DID get back to my pre-pregnancy weight pretty quickly (it was all stress - she didn't sleep for the first 5 months of her life). However, my hips had spread and I had gone up a pant size. So I was the same weight, but a different size. That did a number on my self-esteem. So then I gained even more weight.

Right before I became pregnant with Elliott, I had joined a weight-loss group and was making real progress. Then I got pregnant and didn't want to be obsessed with my weight - even though I WAS, of course! I got anxious before every appointment about how much weight I had gained from week to week. Another problem for me is that I am short with no torso, so I carry my babies far out. So even if the scale showed that I had only gained a pound that week, my tummy looked like I was at least a month further along. With Elliott, I started wearing maternity clothes at like 9 weeks along. I was so uncomfortable already!

So now here I am, 14 months postpartum and still rocking a flabby pooch of a stomach. I am in between the pant size I was pre-pregnancy and the next pant size up so buying clothes is a test in anxiety coping skills every time. I am still nursing but it's toddler nursing now so it's irregular and so are my breasts. There is about a cup difference these days so I tend to wear larger, flow-y style shirts. Oh yeah, I'm bringing sexy back.

I would encourage women to encourage each other. When I see a woman in ANY phase of pregnancy, I always tell her she looks great. This is for two reasons:

1. She deserves to hear it.

2. It is the truth.

Even if she is one of those poor women for whom pregnancy reeks complete havoc on their bodies, I see her and am reminded of the unparalleled joy and excitement that comes with being pregnant. I am always even a little bit jealous. How many women are struggling with infertility and miscarriages? And here you are, growing a precious baby inside you. Hear me when I tell you that you are one of the lucky ones. No matter how big and fat and uncomfortable you are, you are a miracle.

I guess the best thing I can do is to remind myself that someday I will be old and I may even be thin but my body will not be bale to do this anymore. I may actually have time to go to a gym but my body will no longer be able to grow another human being inside it. It will no longer to able to feed a baby. I am sure I will look back on these days and miss them. I bet I won't even see this flabby tummy or breasts. I will be too busy looking at the beautiful faces of my children.

almost 31 weeks with Lydia
almost 32 weeks with Elliott

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