~Number of pregnancies and births:one pregnancy, one birth
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 1 year post-partum
When I did my first post at 3 weeks postpartum, I figured I’d wait to do another when my daughter was a year old and I had made some progress. Her birthday’s was two weeks ago and very little progress has been made (at least physically—daily life got in the way!), but here it goes anyway.
I fluctuated between 138 and 142ish before I got pregnant, and was 176 pounds the morning I delivered. By 3 weeks postpartum, I was down to 155—and still am. While I don’t mind that much, it’s frustrating because I’ve actually GAINED some weight back in the last month or so. I had been at 150 for a while. I think that as my little one eats more food and nurses less, I’m just not burning as many calories, and haven’t adjusted my food intake accordingly.
I have wanted to work out. I want to be in shape and have energy and not get tired doing the simplest tasks. The universe (and money) seem to be against me in this. We do not have the money to join a gym. It seems simple enough to take walks outside with the baby in a stroller, but first we had an abnormally snowy winter, and now we’re having an abnormally hot summer (we broke 5 heat records in the month of June alone). The nearest mall is 25 minutes away. Jogging is out of the question because I can’t afford a specialty-sized sports bra (which I need). Finally I discovered that if I squeeze myself into two of my old sports bras they’re supportive enough, and I bought a pilates DVD. I have yet to try it, but I’m excited to finally be doing SOMETHING.
What I haven’t done physically I have made up in thinking in the past year…about body image, about childbirth and what makes a birth “perfect” or not. Seventeen of my friends have had babies since my daughter was born. Many of them are less-than-satisfied with their mommy bodies. I find myself repeating the “9 months on, 9 months off” mantra at least once a week. It really makes me wonder why we seem to think that our bodies HAVE to look the same after having a baby. Why is the stick-thin non-curvy teenage figure so desirable? Why do so many women reject the changes that their babies have wrought on them? When, exactly, did the ability to wear a bikini become the measure by which we judge our attractiveness? And why are only “perfect” women allowed to wear bikinis? So few people have that body, so why do we look askance at the REAL women who dare to bare it all (er…most of it)?
Somewhere along the line I developed an amazing sense of self confidence. I am happy with my body, extra belly fat and jiggly butt included, about 98% of the time. I find myself looking in the mirror sometimes and admiring my figure. My husband helps; he still finds me irresistible. There are moments, though, when I am disgusted by the fat that didn’t used to be there. I tend to get down a lot when I’m around my sisters. They both have a completely different body type than I (long legs and very slender vs. long torso and curvy), and are obsessed with fitness and eating well. I compare my size 10 H-cup self to a 2 and a 4 A/B-cup and end up feeling like a big tub of lard. I realize I’m not big but it’s easy to feel that way around them. I’m hoping the pilates will help.
What I find myself wondering, though, is if my self-confidence is truly a belief that I am beautiful, or is born of the fact that my body bounced back really well? If I was carrying an extra 40 pounds and covered in stretch marks, would I feel this well? I don’t know. I will have to wait and see what happens in subsequent pregnancies to find out. I hope that I can continue to feel good about myself no matter what happens.
When my daughter was 6 months old, a friend of mine had an emergency cesarean at 27 weeks, and her son died 2 ½ hours later. It rocked me to the core. It made me realize how lucky I am to have a happy, healthy baby, despite complications and despite her method of arrival. It made me appreciate how very lucky I am to HAVE the option of a VBAC, because my friend had a vertical internal incision and will now never be allowed to go into labor. She gave me the idea of becoming a birth doula to help other women to achieve their desired births. I’m still considering it (it’s probably not feasible with my current circumstances), but I really like the idea.
Not a day goes by that I am not utterly amazed at this tiny little person that my body grew and nourished (IS nourishing). She was exclusively breastfed until 6 months and never got formula. We just put her on whole milk a week ago, and I’m in the process of weaning her. She is happy and healthy and full of life. Often times my husband and I find ourselves sitting with her between us just talking about how much we love her. I am looking for a full-time job and it breaks my heart to think of leaving my sweet baby with a stranger all day long. She is worth the stretch marks on my butt and the saggy mess that my breasts are going to be in a month or two. She’s worth the two extra pants sizes and the difficulty with finding shirts that fit. She’s even worth the cesarean scar. I cannot wait to do it all again (except hopefully without the cesarean the next time).
1. The night before my cesarean (what you can’t see is that my shirt was laying on the ground next to me because I had an IV in my other arm, and couldn’t get the shirt off over the IV pole!)
2-5. One year and two weeks post-partum.
6. The joy of my life.