When you’re pregnant, your body seems to become part of the public domain. People compliment your cute belly or comment on your cankles. It’s all, “Oh, look at you! You must be feeling _____.” They mean well. It’s all an attempt to acknowledge and empathize in some way.
Thankfully, once the baby is out, that tiny bundle of adorable becomes a welcome diversion. I mean, come on:
Most people are more interested in peeking into your carrier than pointing out that you still look preggo. Unless you’re paparazzi bait like Kim K or Duchess Kate, in which case you can expect about a bazillion headlines anticipating and then analyzing your first “post-baby” pics. Or unless you work with 7th grader boys who give you the eyebrow as you introduce them to your 10-week-old and say things like “Uh, Miss Brianne, are you uh, you know again?” (Direct quote!)
Every woman’s experience is different, but my feelings related to my body over the past year have been the Space Mountain of emotions. (It’s a roller coaster in the dark, people. You don’t know where the next turn will take you. Wheee!) As my butt and belly slowly re-enter the same zip code, I’ve come to realize that this year I’ve been more aware of my body than ever before.
I’ve experienced the emptiness of losing a pregnancy, the wonder of feeling a baby flutter and kick, amazement at growing a life and rounding out with it, grumpiness at the stretching and puffing (and reflux, gross) of the third trimester, the pain and triumph of childbirth, the soreness and exhaustion and euphoria of caring for a newborn and the strangeness of making sense of my new shape. I’ve been equal parts delighted and disgusted with what my body can do.
I’m not going to lie, I’m frustrated that breastfeeding hasn’t melted these lingering 20 pounds off in the three months since having Emmett. I look at myself in photos and repeat what people tell me (it took nine months to put on – give yourself nine months to take it off!) and hope this version of myself is a phase. I’m OK with buying bigger bras, but resisting the sizing up in the pants department. Turns I’m one of those women whose feet grew a half size thanks to good ole pregnancy. (It’s something about ligaments loosening and then extra weight stretching your feet? Insult to injury, I say.) When I think about potentially doing it all over again and my mind sort of melts at the thought of working hard to lose weight and then gaining it back after another baby. How did Joe’s grandma have 14 kids and still look amazing?
Right now, I’m discovering a sense of pride in my strength. I jumped into to a semi-private workout class once a week with a group of awesome granola-y moms (Caeli cheerfully tortures us with all sorts of core-toning circuit workouts on the steps of the Capitol). I’m trying not to obsess over the scale, because its numbers tell me I’m still carrying around the equivalent of an overfed Chihuaha. I’m trying to focus on the freedom my body feels when it stretches, or when I ride a bike or go for a long-awaited run.
I know that 20 years down the line, I’ll smile with all of my accrued wisdom at this self-conscious version of myself. Girl, wasn’t it worth it?
P.S. So glad I’m going through this with Cara, even if she’s on the West Coast.