I want to be the woman who can look at my new post-baby body and sigh and smile and love it and accept it. La la la life is beautiful because I have a baby and hey, is that a rainbow over there?
But I’m not.
I suppose I’m shallow that way.
It’s not that I’m aerobicized, pilate-d or yoga-ed–on the contrary. I hate excercising. Almost as much as I hate eating anything that isn’t entirely a carbohydrate. (With the exception of cheese, which is the one substance in the world I could not live without.) But I do admit that now, thirteen months post-baby, my body is starting to again resemble its former self and it makes me happy.
It makes me happy to only have to suck my stomach in half as much as I did before.
It makes me happy that my XL oxfords no longer require the strength of J-Lo quality doublestick tape between the buttons to keep them closed at my bustline.
It makes me happy that I’m starting to acquire some photos of me that I’m not mortified to put in Thalia’s baby album.
It makes me happy to be nearing my pre-baby weight.
So sue me.
(Meanwhile, could someone please explain to me exactly how this new weight distribution works? How is it possible to be the same weight as you once were, only everything about your body is bigger–bigger boobs, bigger hips, bigger belly, bigger arms. What exactly is smaller then? Do my toenails weigh less? Have several pounds worth of bones somehow sloughed off into my system and disintigrated? I’m confounded. )
I recently bought some new clothes to replace the maternity skirts and tees that overstayed their welcome in my closet. I bought some new bras to keep the droopy new (but mercifully smaller) boobs hoisted up to a reasonable half-mast position. I even bought some new thongs. Good ones.
And just as I’m feeling like me again, like a woman who can walk down the street without being entirely obsessed with the size of every single other woman’s ass relative to my own–Nate and I start to have the baby number two talk.
And inside, I freak a little. Just a little.
I was not one of those cute pregnant women that I pass on the streets of New York every day. I did not have chiseled little arms and a tight little butt and a cute little bump. I had the body that made the salesgirl at an overpriced Madison Avenue maternity boutique look me up and down and sneer, “I don’t think we have anything that will fit you here.”
I bought a ridiculously priced black maternity dress just to spite her.
And then, four days later, I made the shameful trek back to Manhattan, back to the dreaded Upper East Side, back to the store, along with my stepmother for moral support, just hoping that that same saleswoman would not be there when I begged them to take it back.
She was there.
I exchanged it for the only item that would fit me: A $200 diaper bag.
Yeah, I showed her.
If it were only the weight that I was worried about now, I would be selfish. Disgusting. One of Those Women. I certainly know there are women who had it worse than me, still have it worse than me, wish they could have the hips that I pour into my Fat Jeans, wish they could have the stomach that hangs over my seat belt in the car. But it’s more than the weight.
I had a pregnancy that–what’s the technical term again? Oh yeah: It sucked.
Besides the sciatica, the nausea, the clumps of hair in the drain, the standard war stories and pregnancy complaints that forever bond us to one another as materniveterans, I had lots and lots of bedrest.
Bedrest, if you haven’t heard, is not fun. Not really. I would not for a second compare it to, say, karaoke night with your best friends or a shopping spree at Bendel’s.
Thanks to a cautious high-risk OB and the threat of cervical incompetence (Hi, your cervix? Yeah, tooootally incompetent. Can’t do its job at all, and considering what we’re paying – well we just might replace it with a cheaper cervix from South America.) I was confined to my home for much of the 41.5 weeks of my pregnancy.
I was sometimes allowed to walk my dog. I was sometimes allowed to walk to the corner deli for lunch. I was sometimes allowed only to walk to the bathroom and back.
Exercise: Not even.
Instead I immersed myself in online message boards, in registry research, in reality show reruns I had no business watching. I am far too intimate with Danny Bonaduce’s freckles. I went through the entire third season of The Surreal Life. Twice. But it’s what I could manage from bed.
You could safely say I was depressed.
For the first time in my life, I had no control over this thing that was happening to me. I couldn’t work harder and make it go away. There was no more I could do. What I had to do was less.
I’m not good at doing less. I would not list that as one of my skills on a job interview.
To make matters worse, I had to force gracious responses to well-meaning friends who assured me, it’s for the good of the baby – you want a healthy baby, right? Oh it’s for the baby in the end the baby the baby a healthy baby baby baby baby. Their words had the opposite effect than intended. Because then I felt both shitty and guilty–guilty for wanting my life back when meanwhile, the baby the baby oh the baby.
I felt like an incubator. A fat, depressed, bedridden incubator.
And now, even as I read this, I fear that I sound like an insensitive jerk. Please don’t think I’m an insensitive jerk?
I know there are people who are desperate for a baby, would do anything to have a pregnancy as “easy” as mine was. I know, as Nate reminded me this weekend, that it’s nine months of yuck for a whole lifetime of joy. I know that should I be lucky enough to put the almost 38 year-old ovaries to good use again, that it will of course be worth it. Every minute of the pain, the misery, the weight gain, the sacrifice. There isn’t even a question about that.
But still, I freaked. Just a little.
Edited to add: To clarify, I wasn’t on bedrest the entire pregnancy. It was off and on the entire pregnancy – weeks here, days there. I’ve known those who had it for 7 months straight and their experiences made mine seem like roses and sunshine.