It Never Left

You know how when that Justin Timberlake song “Bringing Sexy Back” came out, and everyone went around saying “I wasn’t aware that it left”? No? Just me? Ok then.

Video break!

Well, that’s how I feel when people say things about getting their body “back” after having a baby. INCLUDING my Mother in Law who told me I really should be working on regaining my girlish figure.

Liz Lemon Eye Roll

I managed not to make this face. Barely.

Look, I, like most women in our patriarchal BULLSHIT society, have a complicated relationship with my body. Sometimes I think I look ok, good even! Other times I despair over this or that, and feel like I’m not fit for polite society. Then came infertility and a miscarriage, and I started to truly hate my body, because I felt like it had betrayed me and killed my child. Healthy, no?

Pregnancy was strange for me. I watched in a kind of fascinated horror like my body was an out of control science experiment. A Frankenstien, if you will. I gained weight, and that was OK because I was supposed to gain weight, for the first time in my life. All told, I gained about 40 pounds, a little more than the “recommended average,” but that was OK. Not only did I grow a baby bump (obviously), but I rounded out all over. My face filled out, my arms grew plump, and my ass curved and filled out my jeans in a way it never has before.

Once Ellie was born, I was pretty shocked with how I looked and felt. I was still plump and swollen, my boobs were rock hard and freakin’ HUGE and my stomach felt heavy and jiggled like I was pregnant with the world’s largest bowl of jello.

jello jiggling

It’s aliiiive!

I lost “the baby weight” pretty quickly. I felt enormous pressure to do so, mostly from family. And now I actually weigh 7 pounds less than I did before I was pregnant. But you know what? My body isn’t “back.” I feel deflated and soft. My stomach is a lot softer than it used to be, and my pants don’t really fit the same way. My breasts are softer, and after Ellie eats they sag. My nipples are bigger and darker. I have the dreaded “mom butt.” Stretch marks cover my stomach, hips, and breasts.

So will my body ever again look like it did before I was pregnant? Probably not. I would be lying if I said I was totally comfortable with that fact. I’m trying to work on making positive changes for my body – becoming stronger, building muscle, etc. – in the hopes that I’ll come to terms with my new body and learn to love it the way I never loved it pre-baby.

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10 thoughts on “It Never Left

  1. Your body is not supposed to look the same after having a baby. You might tone up but everything that doesn’t go back is a beautiful reminder of a goal you reached. You worked so hard to get pregnant. Let those stretch marks remind you of Ellie every time you see them. ❤

    • There are such unrealistic standards for women, you know? Like when Kate Middleton had her baby and was outside showing him off a day or two later, and she still (of course) had a belly there were all these comments like, “why does she still look pregnant?” People just expect that you pop the baby out and then boom, back to pre-pregnancy. It sucks.

  2. This sounds very familiar! I too referred to my pregnancy as a science experiment. And I’m in a similar place in terms of trying to get used to the new shape that my body has postpartum. I recently saw a cool project that had photos of women who had been pregnant (I think it was mentioned on Huffington Post…Here it is: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/09/bodies-of-mothers-jade-beall-beautiful-body-project-photos_n_5280419.html?utm_hp_ref=parents-pregnancy ). It was so helpful to me to see all of these rounded bellies and stretch-mark-covered hips. And it made me even more aware of how little we see bodies that look like this.
    I’ve found it interesting to feel the pressure to switch from wearing close-fitting shirts that emphasized my bump (when the bump was seen as cute because it contained a baby), to loose-fitting ones so that no one can see that I’m still rather bump-y there. Why is it okay to flaunt one sort of bump but not the other?
    I’m angry at your mother-in-law on your behalf, though. That’s crazy that she was trying to put pressure on you about that!

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