When I was pregnant, I paid little heed to my changing shape.
As someone who had always been slim, I embraced my growing bump as one would an interesting novelty item. Something to be enjoyed for its newness and difference, but which would soon be discarded. As someone who had always been tiny, I loved being massive. I took pride in being the tiniest pregnant woman with the most enormous bump. Round and ridiculous, like there was a beach ball strapped to my front.
I didn’t care if the weight didn’t come off immediately. I was thirty-four years old and desperate for a baby. My bikini years would be behind me soon anyway, and surely the baby would make any loss of figure more than worth it. I was a proud feminist who would never be taken in by any pressure to lose the baby weight before I’d even left the maternity ward. And not that it mattered, as surely once I was a single mother no one would ever see me naked again anyway. I could just let myself go, wear leggings and a milk-stained T-shirt for eternity, and no one would care.
And I was bound to snap back into shape eventually anyway. I had never been more than seven and a half stone and couldn’t seriously see myself as someone with anything other than an impressive metabolism. And if I didn’t, well, I’ve seen Fat Families. How hard can it be to lose a few pounds?
Well reader, it can be hard.
Breastfeeding made my appetite go through the roof, and now, two years later and still breastfeeding, it’s still there. Although I am far from being overweight, my stomach is no longer as toned as it was before, I have a visible paunch, and I do not like it.
I envy those women who say that after childbirth they are proud of their bodies and what they have achieved. That they wear their scars and stretch marks with pride, as the badges of motherhood. I cannot do this. Every time I see my caesarean scar I am reminded of how I never got the birth I wanted, of how I feel as though my body failed me and failed my son. How I feel I can never truly say I “gave birth,” but stutter over my words and use passive phrases about how he “was born.” I am reminded of my failure to get back into shape, of how I am no longer young, and thin, and desirable.
I am reminded of how I lack the willpower to go running, and instead make excuses about not having enough time or wanting to burden my mother with extra childcare. I am reminded of how I now routinely eat too much, and find it difficult to stop.
I see my future self in one of those TV documentaries where a prying camera records an overweight person shoving food into their mouths at close quarters with prurient glee before doing a full body scan and reeling off a list of potential conditions which will kill them before they reach old age, in the patronising tones of someone who believes that the obese simply lack self-control, and deserve to die.
I am exaggerating, of course. I am not obese. But I am not as slim as I was, and it bothers me. I now understand a little more of that pressure to be thin, to be young , to be desirable, and to be found wanting in all areas.
And so what to do, I either do something about it, or I accept that this is the way life is. I’d like to say I’m choosing the latter, but for now, I’ll be dusting off those running shoes.
This post first appeared on the website Meet Other Mums
18 Comments Add yours
I know what you mean. We are bombarded with images of women that have snapped back into place or have worked hard to get there body. If I see another image of Kim Kardashian in the Daily Mail tool bar of shame, then I may throw my last-top out of the window! On the one hand I think good for her. On the other hand she has millions of pounds, nannies, private gyms etc etc. We would all look amazing if we had that at our disposal. She also makes a living from her looks so perhaps that helps too. If I made a thousand pounds everytime my body was in the paper I might find the motivation. We shouldn’t care about how we look, our body is a reflection of the amazing lives we have created. However, I am shallow and I would quite like my pre-baby body back with no ugly c-section scar and boobs that are still perky.
Yep, agreed! And I think I would find the motivation pretty quickly if I was making money out of selling books full of selfies of me. I avoid the sidebar of shame. It’s just too depressing.
I’m the same – give me my lovely pre-baby body back please! x
Haha, me too!
Small steps will build to larger ones. Sounds like you are being hard on yourself. You gave birth, there is more than one way! #bigpinklink
Yes, I am being hard on myself I think. Thanks for commenting.
My youngest is almost four and I’m only now tackling the baby weight properly. I did run a half marathon two years ago and then an op laid me low again but I joined a great gym and slowly things are changing. Cut yourself masses of slack. And as if a c-sec isn’t giving birth, they slice right through you! That counts!! You gave birth alright! Thanks for joining the #bigpinklink
Thanks! And you’re right-there is plenty of time to lose the baby weight. Thanks for hosting and commenting.
Loved reading this and I absolutely resonated with your line about stuttering over not being able to say you gave birth – Mouse was a c-section and I always say “I had her”, “she was born” etc. As for the weight, I think it’s incredibly hard when women get past a certain age (hi 30) AND put their body through a fairly traumatic ordeal, it doesn’t just bounce back like a memory pillow. I guess as our babies get older we can readjust the balance but we’ll never be quite as lean or get away with as much. I say all this as if it’s a known fact yet I’m still not on board with it!
I hope so-I am using that 86 year old nun who runs triathlons as my new inspiration. Someday, that will be me, and I will be lean and fit again! Thanks for commenting.
Oh I feel every word of this. After my first the weight came off with a bit of diet and exercise, second time round though it won’t budge and I had my shelf above my csection scar and all of my millions of stretchmarks. I have started running and am loving it but I still eat too much and too imagine cameras everywhere a la secret eaters. 8 used to scoff at that programme as while I have never been that skinny (I have huge hips) I have always felt in control of it. Now though the pressure to be slim is so so real! Great post #maternitymondays
I know what you mean. I’m not fat by anyone’s standards, but I just have a bit of a tummy that I can’t shift, and I definitely eat too much too, and am still blaming breastfeeding!
I was never thin before I had my babies (not for a couple of years anyway). It is hard and I don’t think being woken in the night helps. Sleeplessness causes hunger. THat’s my excuse anyway ‘;)
That sounds like a perfectly good excuse to me! I actually ate the remnants of a Dairy Milk on the way home from work today whilst trying to hide the fact that I was walking down the street eating bits of Dairy Milk. I think the fact I felt the need to hide it says it all really!
I know what you mean; I’m still coming to terms with my mummy tum … very unfamiliar when I compare it to what I’m used to. It’s a difficult balance to find – how you feel about your post-birth body. All the best as you find a happy medium and a perspective you’re happy with, as you mother on. #MaternityMondays
I know what you mean. Hopefully when I have a bit more time I will be able to do something about it.
I get it. I just don’t relate to women who say they are proud of their jiggly bits. I certainly sympathise as I have my own jiggly bits from my 3 back to back pregnancies. I’m not exactly ashamed of them but I don’t wanna show them off either. Plus, breastfeeding my 3rd child gave me an insane appetite and I couldn’t diet, so it depresses me when I hear about other mothers losing tonnes of weight from breastfeeding.
This. I have the same appetite from breastfeeding, and 2 years on it still hasn’t gone away. Thanks for commenting!