Recently, Reid and I made it out to our very first Kindermusik class. It’s basically a fun little singalong group for mamas and their little ones, and since Reid already finds my lame made-up songs completely hilarious, what could be better than REAL, PROPER SONGS with REAL, PROPER MUSIC??? (Pretty much nothing, is the answer to that question.)
We had a great time overall, he did enjoy it, and we will be going back with Maddie soon. But it was my first real mom and babe outing to a real class with other moms, and as we sat in a circle in that big room with the big, mirrored wall, all I could think was, “I gave birth at the same time as these women and yet, they are all much skinnier than I am!”
When I got pregnant, once the awful misery of morning sickness subsided and before the awful misery of bed rest descended, I had a beautiful little window of pregnancy where I had grown a little bit of a bump, and felt well enough to enjoy it. I was worried, of course, about the weight gain issue – I think we all worry about gaining too much weight during pregnancy whether or not we admit it – but I was doing my best to eat well and stay active, and I was a small girl pregnant with twins, so I figured I’d end up massive by the end anyway. Ultimately, I decided I would just take it as it was and try not to judge myself too harshly.
I’ve always had a bit of a belly, never had a nice flat tummy to be proud of, so the wonderful thing about pregnancy for me was that I no longer had to worry about it – this was how my belly was SUPPOSED to look! On top of that, I’ve found that people are awfully generous to pregnant women, telling you your skin is glowing when it definitely isn’t, oohing and ahhing over your pregnant-ness too much to notice whether your face is puffy or your butt has gotten jiggly. I even found it easy to wear a bathing suit when I got pregnant – no one ogles the preggo poolside!
But then, of course, you inevitably give birth. Since I was only pregnant for six months, I didn’t even have a chance to get that big, but that didn’t mean I was immune to the physical consequences. Stretch marks that had been hiding under my growing belly were suddenly out in full view. My twin-bearing hips had gotten wider, and my previously-comfortable underwear was starting to feel snug. I had a big, red, permanent scar right across my belly from my emergency C-section with Reid. And I won’t even get into the ridiculousness of post-partum breasts, except to say that none of my pre-pregnancy bras fit, and all of my non-maternity tops became borderline inappropriate.
Until I attended Kindermusik, I figured, meh, I had two kids, and I look like it. Who cares? Again, people tend to lower the bar for new-mom attractiveness (if you have showered and are wearing clean clothes, people tell you you look great!), and the man who is legally bound to me for life still finds me attractive, so why worry about it? I would much rather my children grow up with a mom who is comfortable with herself, than one who worries about looking great all the time. I have a mom body now, big deal.
But then there was the girl with the newborn whose hair looked so lovely and who managed to get makeup on AND her baby out the door in time, and the other girl with the five-month-old with the flat tummy that suggested perhaps her child had been adopted (versus mine, which suggests that maybe I could still have a bun in the oven). I started to feel a little ashamed that I hadn’t tried harder, that I hadn’t been going for more long walks with the babies, or taking Stroller Fit classes, or counting calories instead of shoving in whatever food I could grab while the babies were asleep.
It is a tough thing to exist in a world where you are supposed to love and accept your body as it is, but only if it looks perfect. You are meant to enjoy your pregnancy and embrace the changes your body is experiencing – but don’t forget to lose the baby weight right away (and, oh, try to make it look easy while you’re at it).
This morning, while the babies were sleeping, I eyed my still-in-the-original-packaging post-partum workout DVD, and figured that I should probably start trying a little harder to get rid of my mom belly. Then I glanced over at my delicious sleeping babies, one on each side of my oh-so-comfortable, rumpled bed, and this mom and her mom body opted instead to clock another glorious hour and a half of blissful, uninterrupted sleep. I’m sure the ‘body after baby’ guilt will not be going away any time soon, but at least I’ll be that much more well-rested as I try to deal with it.