Body Image

7 Years Later And I Still Don’t Have A ‘Post-Baby Body’

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I am always amazed at the laser beam focus directed at losing baby weight after pregnancy. Pretty much as soon as my kid was vacuumed out of my uterus through  a hole in my stomach, people started asking me what my plan was for a “post baby body”. Despite being pretty disappointed that I hadn’t given birth to a 25 pound infant, I was pleased to not be enormous anymore, and since my worst fear was popping a staple and disemboweling myself accidentally, I didn’t exactly concern myself with heavy exercise.

To be honest, losing all of the baby weight ranked pretty far down my list of “Things I Must Do To Feel Normal Again.” I wasn’t self-conscious, and if I was, it would have been because my boobs were perpetually leaking and my hair hadn’t been washed in a few weeks, not because I suddenly jiggled.

If anything, it bothered other people. The concern trolls came out en force, and friends I hadn’t spoken to since I first peed on a stick had a list of things for me to do so I could stop embarrassing them with my manatee-like figure. For instance, some of them helpfully suggested I breastfeed, not because it was particularly nutritionally beneficial, but because ew those thighs.

My weight did drop though, about three months after giving birth, something that everyone was quick to laud me for. The fact that I lost the weight by taking long, furious walks to the entire Rancid discography because it was the only thing that lessened my PPD was of little consequence; I looked good.

Since then my weight has fluctuated up and down. Down when I was sick for a year as a preschool teacher to the world’s streppiest preschoolers, and up when I started staying at home. I went through a period when I felt like I had to lose all of the weight so that I could look like myself pre-pregnancy, before I realized that that was a complete impossibility. Why?

Well for starters, I’m closer to 30 now than when I was a pregnant, rapidly metabolizing teenager. Then there’s the fact that I had a baby resting on my pelvic girdle, giving me some awesome wide-set hips. Then there’s the fact that I don’t resemble the person I was then; gone are my piercings and dark eyeliner, and I don’t even know where I stashed my favorite shirt-the one that I made myself by spelling out “Fuck You” with iron on letters.Oh, yeah, and then there’s the fact that I couldn’t figure out why I cared.

I came to the realization that I was trying to lose weight to meet some arbitrary deadline; first to beat the “if you don’t lose the weight six months after you give birth, you’re totally screwed” one and then the “if you don’t lose the weight before you turn 25 you’re totally screwed” one, and more recently the “if you don’t lose the weight before you turn 30 you’re totally screwed” one. I could see all of the ways that I would be screwed, but what I couldn’t figure out is “why?”. What would happen? Would the mighty thunderous clap of my thighs bumping into one another cause a tear in the space-time continuum? Would my husband leave me?

He assured me that no, he would not. He thinks I’m quite pretty, thanks, and hopes that we will grow old together with ham breath and bon-bon stained fingers. I certainly wasn’t doing my daughter any favors by obsessing over losing baby weight after pregnancy–a full seven years after, no less.

So I can’t lose 10 pounds all these years later. So what? We’re a healthy family. We shop the perimeter and go on walks and play together. Somewhere along the line I realized that my obsession with weight wasn’t even for my benefit, since I’m pretty comfortable the way I am. It was more that I was concerned for everyone else–I wouldn’t want to offend anyone with my cellulite, the poor dears. Well, it’s a billion degrees in Texas, so I’m pretty much done making sure my post-baby thighs don’t make anyone else uncomfortable by wearing jeans in July to cover them.

I don’t go in for all that schmaltzy mess about stretch marks being tiger stripes, but I will say that after the hell that was my pregnancy all those years ago, I’ve earned the right to wear pants without Spanx.

Forget about losing baby weight after pregnancy. You want a post-baby body? Here’s the secret:

Have a body. Put a baby into your body. Get the baby back out of your body. Ta-da!

(Image: PhotographybyMK/Shutterstock)