As if giving birth and post-partum isn’t hard enough, what with the crying baby and the lack of sleep and the paining va-jay-jay (or incision)- life just had to go and toss in a water-bed belly and ridiculously swollen lady parts.
Exhausted, swollen, and insecure? Oh yeah, being a new mom is so much FUN!
You look down at this deflated beach ball where your stomach used to be and think “holy fuck, I can’t wait to get RID of this thing!” and your friends are there to support you and tell you not to worry if it doesn’t melt right off, “it took 9 months to grow, don’t be upset if it takes that long to come off!” and everything calms down and soon enough, goes back to “normal”- whatever that is (including your uterus), what with your newly expanded family and all, and you all live happily ever after. Or… do you?
I was that woman; the insecure first time mother who had gained a considerable amount of weight with Holden and came out of the hospital looking like Violet Bouregarde after they squeezed all the juice from her. I was the woman with people telling me the weight would come off, I was so young, just give it time! I was the woman who watched the weight melt away with little effort. I became the woman who was supportive of my friends as they became new moms and poked at their very own waterbed bellies. I was the friend who told them not to worry if the weight didn’t come right off.
And then I had Parker. And then I wondered how many of those friends I was only trying to be supportive of actually wanted to drop-kick me, because unlike post-partum after Holden, the weight did NOT melt off after Parker. Not in a month, six months, eight months, and then at nine months postpartum, I looked down at my stomach and I still didn’t recognize it. But… People told me it would take 9 months. What am I doing wrong? Did I fail?
I decided to work even harder to get it off. One year later, two, three, I kept looking down, and I kept seeing something I wasn’t happy with. When would I look like ME again? Would I ever?
My weight went up, my weight went down. My pants fit, and then they didn’t. I was comfortable wearing tight shirts, and then I wasn’t. My whole life prior to this, I’d never had yo-yoing weight. I’d been the same weight for YEARS. Worn the same clothes for YEARS. Who was this person I was seeing when I looked down? And how long could I really use “I had 2 kids in 2 years” as the reason for the excess weight? 9 months only? 18 months, since there are 2 of them? 3 years? Forever?
I’m not recommending that we blame the kids and give them a complex just to have an excuse for why our bodies don’t look like they did before children. I actually don’t think it’s an excuse at all. Bodies change; not just with age, but the chemistry within you during and after having a baby. Your back’s alignment. Your metabolism. Your everything. You grew a damn HUMAN in that stomach, your body will never be the “same”. It will never look exactly like it did. Maybe your hips stayed wide. Maybe your stomach looks different. Your bellybutton is shallower, longer, wider. Maybe you have stretch marks in places you never knew you could get them. Maybe you have big boobs now, when before kids the boob fairy skipped you. Maybe, with work, you could look and feel even BETTER than you did before pregnancy ripped through your insides. The fact is- your body is different, and you have to figure it out, and that can take some serious time. And I’m not talking about 9 months.
We somehow, after destroying ourselves to create this new life, have to learn to love ourselves, baby weight, muffin top, thunder thighs, mosquito bites, motor-boaters, waterbed belly, or not. It’s doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It doesn’t always come down to the number on a scale, or size of the pants. It’s not always as simple as taking a tape measure to your waist. It’s what makes US happy, and once we figure out what that is, we work toward it- and whether that takes one week, 9 months, or 10 years- it doesn’t matter.
My name is Jenny, I am 4 years and 6 months post-partum, and I’m still carrying around some “baby weight”, but hey- I grew a frickin’ BABY. What the hell did I expect??
Instead of telling new moms that it will take 9 months, instead we should just say- “You grew a human. Give it time!”
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