A Look at My Body, Nine Months after Childbirth


A Look at My Body, Nine Months after Childbirth
May 19, 2009
Okay, I chose not to write about my body right away because it seems to be common knowledge that it takes our bodies a while to get back to “normal.” Before having Little Lewie on August 11th, I had gained fifty pounds during my pregnancy, so my once lean 135 lb. body had become a round mass of blubber weighing in at 185. No matter how many times I vowed to myself that I was not going to gain a lot of weight during my pregnancy, my voracious appetite would sabotage my efforts: “You know you want that chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. It would be great for the baby. It’s high in calcium and protein. Plus, it tastes ummmm so good.” Yes, this was the advice that would keep me up at night and keep me snacking away from early morning until bedtime. The recommended extra 500 calories per day, tripled for me, and let’s just say that carrots and celery sticks were not high on the priority list.
While I was six and seven months pregnant, I loved my body. My belly was this perfectly round glowing ball, which stirred up a lot of attention from thoughtful and supportive onlookers. My face beamed, and my body felt the best it had in years. However, by the time I had reached the end of my pregnancy, the light weight round ball felt and looked more like a heavy sack of potatoes. My thighs and butt had doubled in size, and even my arms and face looked bloated. The one body part that I was actually looking forward to seeing get bigger, to my disappointment, only changed somewhat. I had heard stories about how women with “A” cup breasts had suddenly gained these voluptuous “Double D” size boobs. Oh, how fun it would be to finally have cleavage! My husband, trying to make me feel better, said my “oranges” had now become “grapefruits,” but when I actually put my boobs to the test, I had changed from a 36 B to a mere 38 B/C. (I bought the C bra to make myself feel better, but let’s just say the cups were never completely filled up.)
The day my son was born, there was no secret why I only appeared in one or two of the thousands of pictures. After 22 hours of labor, an hour and a half of intense pushing, and a two-inch tear in my vagina, I wasn’t exactly a pleasant site. Firstly, everything from my head right down to my tree trunk legs was swollen. My make-up couldn’t begin to hide my red, puffy face, nor the excruciating pain I felt. (I swear the pushing created a few more permanent wrinkles in my forehead, too.) My hair was still matted up in knots, and I was walking and sitting like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. (It took a while for my back to straighten up after feeling the residual pain from having the epidural administered.) Finally, I was amazed to see that I still looked pregnant. Nobody in the Lamaze or Hypnobirthing classes told me that my large, protruding belly would still be there. Even my husband was amazed: “Wow, you’re still…um…big.” (Thank you for your words of encouragement, dear.)
The next few months were tough. On the one hand, I was thrilled to have Little Lewie. Tears would stream down my face frequently at the thought of how blessed I was to have him in my life. On the other hand, I was depressed about my body. I couldn’t fit into anything except for my maternity clothes, and since I didn’t have much energy from lack of sleep and sheer exhaustion, I often found myself wearing the same pajama set or sweat pants and T-shirt over and over again. Comfort came before style, so I’ll be the first to admit that my pumpkin orange cotton shirt looked less than appealing with my rainbow striped velour pants. The only value to wearing this hideous clothing was that it proved to be a great form of birth control.
Once November approached, and the days became colder and shorter, I really felt miserable. Before and during my pregnancy, I was used to walking three to four miles a day. Now with the little one, my walking time and duration was limited or halted altogether depending on the severity of the forecast. “You can’t take the baby out in this, or he’ll catch a cold,” my mother would predictably nag at the start of each day. I knew by now that germs actually caused colds, not the weather, but what if…God forbid… he did come down with a severe chest cold or ear infection? I’d never be able to forgive myself, and consequently, my mother would never be able to forgive me either. Good grief!
So now after this very bizarre journey, here I am, nine months after the birth of my son. I go on monthly trips to the chiropractor because my back and arms ache from carrying our extraordinarily solid 25 lb. son. My posture can use some work as I’ve become addicted to slouching, mostly from breast feeding and from carrying our little boy. My face, I feel, looks a little bit older and tired. I’ve lost 40 lbs. of the baby weight. I still don’t look like the super slim pregnant girl from church that left the hospital looking like she just left a photo shoot, but I’m getting there. My biggest problem area, surprise-surprise, is my belly. When looking at a side profile of myself in the mirror, I still look about two months pregnant or like I just came home from overeating at the China Buffet. The excess skin hangs over the beltline of my pants. I have a series of redish-purple stretch marks around my belly button that (I’m told) is supposed to fade in time. My belly button is larger than it used to be, but at least it’s not popped out like a turkey timer anymore. The linea negra (dark line) on my belly is still there, but that (I’m told) is supposed to fade too. Will I end up wearing my bikini to the beach this summer? I’m not sure. I have a magazine that promises me tummy results. Should I be proud of my battle wounds or should I hide them? I still have a few more months to decide…

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