I loved and I mean LOOOOVVVVEEDDD my pregnant belly. Loved it. I have never felt so sexy in my entire life as I did those last 6 months of pregnancy. Finally my belly was round and full and my thighs, who once I thought hideous and covered in cellulite, couldn’t be seen when I looked down. I was Goddess Mother Earth and if legal, I would have walked around naked in public to show it off.
Sure it was not without some blemishes. Stretch marks, had them by the hundreds and even though they tainted my pretty belly ideal, I could still deal with them. Huge breasts and big swollen belly and full of growing life, that is my recipe for feeling gorgeous.
Then? Then I finally got to get out of that hospital bed 3 days after my labor and subsequent c-section and look at myself in the bathroom mirror. Oh. My. God.
If a woman who recently gave birth was at all involved in the design of that hospital room I’m pretty sure it would have had flattering lighting, an evening gown to step into complete with girdle, instant photoshopping when you looked in the mirror and hell why not, a wind machine to blow out your greasy bed head from all that laboring. You know what, go ahead and throw in a smoke machine too.
But no. Instead it was harsh overhead lighting, hair all askew, green tiles to bring out all the paleness in my face and oh dear god NO ONE TOLD ME I’D HAVE A FAT APRON where my once gorgeous belly was!?!?!
I was never a svelte lady by all means. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t pretend that I was a super model before or expecting to look like one immediately following giving birth, but oh my. My what a transition those 15 minutes in the bathroom mirror were from loving my belly to absolute disgust.
It hangs there. Mocking me. I did so many sit-ups during maternity leave to take advantage of all those calories I was supposedly burning breastfeeding. I ran, I sat up straight and sucked in my gut whenever possible to work those muscles, I did yoga even though I felt like sleeping. Yet, 5 months later…it still cannot be contained.
When I lay flat and still I can still feel it moving of it’s own will. When I sit up straight I can’t see my still intact and lovely thank-you-c-section-at-least-for-that groin region. When I stand I can feel it hanging down there. I put on pants, any pants and now I have a bulge where it once was relatively flat. I don’t just have muffin top, I have someone-put-a-belt-around-a-pillow top. I can no longer suck in my gut, let alone keep it in one place.
Basically, my lower mid-section is one of those awful jello desserts with the fruit suspended in it that old ladies bring to church potlucks.
But wait, there’s more. Have I mentioned the best part of my new growth? The part that assures me that God, if he exists, is most definitely a man. I mean really, and I’m talking to you Mr. Whoever the Hell Designed Our Bodies, do we really need to feel this flap thing moving around during sex? Isn’t the female orgasm elusive enough?
The upside is everyone tells you how fabulous you look right after giving birth. Basically because you just spent the last month looking swollen and tired. Of COURSE you look all fit and trim, especially when you hold your new cute baby strategically in front of said floppy belly.
Some random people on the street might also ask you how far along you are too. You can feel free to run these people over with your vehicle. Twice.
But in all things human misery related, I know I’m not alone. I’ve always liked photos of real women, women that are creative and use that to accept themselves how they are and create beautiful images from that. For instance, the BMI Photo Project by Kate Harding or The Shape of a Mother website (with good intentions but the 17 year old mother’s pics kinda make me sad. Thus the reason I linked immediately to a woman with 2 kids from c-sections, you are welcome). So thank god I realize this isn’t just me and it’s not that I don’t do sit-ups every night religiously.
It’s just…I mean. We’re new mothers for god sake. Everything about our new life is full of questioning ourselves and uncertain futures and grasping for straws trying to make this new life work. Can’t we at least get something nice physically for ourselves out of it too? Maybe some nice perky breasts or a few extra inches of height to balance out the extra skin? Longer eyelashes?
My belly before my daughter was so nice. It never gained too much weight there unlike those jerk hips of mine, and it was creamy skinned and sorta flattish and oh how I loved my waist. I could zip up pants without fear of loss of oxygen. Hell, I could zip up pants in general. I loved to have it kissed during sex and arms wrapped around it any other time.
The best I can do now is think of my body like those huge, new, pristine houses being built in those nice neighborhoods you drive through when you’re on your way to this and that. Those brand new McMansions with the manicured lawns, fresh unfinger-printed stainless steel kitchens, flawless drywall and empty shelves. You can picture yourself buying new furniture and how much better it would be to live in.
When in reality, the best and most interesting houses are always ones that have been lived in to the fullest. Places that don’t look like every other one in the subdivision. Those kind of houses, like our new bodies, always feel more like home.