Here in Connecticut, a group of women recently caught national attention for bearing their postpartum bellies in a photo shoot. The seven women, who blog for CT Working Moms, rocked it out in black yoga pants and sports bras. They even wound up on the Today Show, where I’m sure the segment ran out of time, but the Today Show nonetheless! The women took the photos in response to the idea that a celebrity must be “bikini ready” in a hot minute after the birth of her child. We must remember that famous people have the means to gain access to personal trainers and chefs who help them shed a ridiculous amount of poundage in an even more ridiculously short amount of time. Most women out there don’t have that kind of money, nor do they have that kind of pressure to look perhaps better than they did before having babies. However, most women DO have access to the internet, which is slowly making us all hate ourselves. There are some pretty unrealistic things out there, and you don’t even have to go to the second page of a Google image search to find them.
I’ll sheepishly admit that I more than partially relied on Google and US Weekly to guide me through my pregnancy. Is this what I should look like at 27 weeks? Is this what it means to carry high? Are there really women who look pregnant from behind? Can I wear leggings to work? There were a few celebrity women who were pregnant around the same time as I was. I’d feel a need to find photos of them and then compare them to my own image. Dumb, I know. Now I’m a smarter woman than I was before. I know that I can’t compare myself to the likes of other women on the internet. Except Jessica Simpson. Just kidding. Sort of.
Perhaps I have had that epiphany that other women talk about. My body has done something so miraculous, that it’s hard to hate it. Full disclosure: I have pretty much never weighed myself. Not until I was visiting a doctor so frequently for the better part of the last year had I ever kept track of the numbers on the scale. My philosophy has always been that I should go by how my clothes fit and what I think when I look in the mirror. My goal is not to lose a certain amount of pounds, but rather to wear my old wardrobe again. I own a lot of pencil skirts and trousers. Like, probably more than a woman in her twenties who doesn’t even work in an office setting should own. At any rate, I’d like to be wearing those to work come autumn.
I’ve certainly had my ups and downs with my weight. In high school I was an avid swimmer and dancer, and could eat everything in sight and still weigh less than 100 pounds. Gross. In college, I was on the crew team, but I also had access to all-you-can-eat soft serve ice cream, chicken fingers, and chocolate milk. Gross in a very different way. I hope every picture of me between the years of 2001 and 2005 has been burned. When I became a real adult, I knew that the only way to stay healthy was to workout. A lot. I grew to enjoy running, and have since participated in a handful of 5 and 10Ks and even two half marathons. Luckily, I am a pretty good cook, so I make sure we eat relatively healthy at home too.
Like most first time moms, I was so freaked out by my post baby body. Everything seems to kind of sag there, in a sad state, as if it was a little bit depressed to not be the center of attention anymore. I was surprised at how my body changed every day. It was like waking up with a whole new midsection every morning. But after a few weeks I got to the point where I could tell that the gym was the only way the rest was coming off. I waited six weeks to really start working out hard again, but I did a lot of walking in those six weeks. So now I’ve started lifting weights, running and eliptical machining my butt – belly? – off. It’s a nice getaway from being in charge of Parker 24 hours a day as well. I feel a lot like the person I used to be before I got pregnant. Confident and energetic. I hope that is something my son sees in me as he grows older. There are many times when I don’t feel so courageous, but when it comes to athletics I somehow a different woman. I am comfortable in my skin. I think this will be the key to successfully coming to terms with my post baby body, and maybe to raising children who are confident too.