Friday, May 8, 2015

On pregnancy and the aftermath

I stumbled across a blog today that someone wrote about women being pregnant and how they felt about their body both during and after pregnancy, and as I read it I just kept thinking "Well, fuck those guys".  Here's the thing, they all had some big long commentary about being in awe of how their body could create life and how amazing that was.  The blogger interviewed a bunch of women and posted photos of their "belly shots" while they were pregnant and had this long write up about how looking at each of those women only showed how beautiful and amazing they were.

Horse shit.

Ok, maybe that's a bit harsh, but let's be honest here, it's not like that for everyone.  Maybe I'm a superficial bitch, but I didn't go through any of that crap.  If we're going to start at the beginning, I had a TON of fear about having kids (please see early blog posts of me freaking out) and if I'm going to be totally honest with you, a lot of that stemmed from not wanting to get fat and gross looking.  If I was going to list my big pre-pregnancy fears, the order would look something like this:

  1. Totally fucking up someone else's life that I'm responsible for shaping.
  2. Gaining a ton of weight, having my body distorted and gross looking, and then not being able to lose the weight again after having the baby like 90% of my friends.
  3. Having to tell my boss and co-workers I was pregnant.

There were more reasons, but those were in the top 3, and if I'm going to be honest, 1 and 2 were running neck and neck most of the time.  When that test came back positive, I remember looking at my husband and sobbing "I'm going to get fat and look gross and I'll just stay that way forever!"  Some people might chalk that up to hormones, but the reality is, I honestly was super fucking stressed out by that.  The second I started to get any sort of baby belly, I spent 90% of my time trying to hide and disguise it.  I often cried while showering because I hated the way I looked, and I knew it was only going to get worse.  If people drew attention to my mid-section I found myself wanting to punch them in the face.  I had no humor about it.  I didn't want to talk about it.  I wasn't in awe, I was annoyed.  I didn't feel like "Oh my god, I'm growing a human and that's soooo beautiful".  I just wanted to not deal with it.  I kept viewing it as an adverse side effect to a medical condition, and I wanted it to go away.  The day I realized that none of my regular shirts were going to fit over my stupid distorted baby belly anymore, I dropped my husband off at work and sobbed like a toddler as I drove myself to the office.  No reassurance that the belly was "all baby" made me feel better.  All I saw in the mirror was something I hated.  I felt horribly unattractive.  I didn't feel like this amazing all powerful woman, I felt like a lump of crap.  I got no sympathy from other women, who would just say "Oh, I was bigger than you are!" or my husband, who told me that I was being ridiculous and that the way I felt was insulting to him because he actually struggled with his weight and it was an insult to someone who struggles to see yourself as fat when it's a baby.  That one stung.  I wanted support.  I got flamed with anger.  People didn't understand that the way I saw myself wasn't the way they saw me, and that it was a lot of change for me to go through in a short time and it was hard to deal with.  Couple that with my mother repeatedly calling me "Fat ass" or telling people how fat I was, and I basically would have been fine staying in my house and never leaving again until I actually gave birth.  There are no adorable belly photos of me.  There are no touching pictures of me holding my belly and romanticizing this process.  There were photos taken at my baby shower, but it was begrudgingly and I never intend to let anyone else look at them.  People kept telling me "You should take a few pictures, you'll want to remember this later when she's all grown up".  Except that I don't.  I don't want to remember it.  I don't like it.  I look at myself in those photos and see someone who looks fat and awful and I literally have only kept them for her sake so I can some day say "Look, you were in mommy's tummy" if she asks.  Otherwise, I'd get rid of them all together.  I love my daughter.  I didn't love looking at myself while carrying her.

Now we're 4 months postpartum and all of the women in this blog I read were like "Well, I'd like to lose the last of those pregnancy pounds but I just care about my baby right now, so it doesn't matter".

Horse shit.

People can say that, but I don't believe it.  Women are so hard on themselves that I can't believe no one actually cares.  I'm not going to lie.  I care.  My belly button is misshapen.  I have stretch marks across my abdomen.  I have a c-section scar.  My abs are basically shot, and I still have pudge there.  My boobs didn't go back to their original size, much to my disappointment.  Plus, you get the fun hormone related aftermath like losing your hair, getting tons of acne, horrible night sweats that leave you literally soaking wet.  Nothing makes you feel like you're bringing sexy back quite like your hormones betraying you all over again.  I still look in the mirror and see something I don't like.  I find myself Googling "Lose baby belly" on occasion just to be depressed by all of the testimonials on how difficult it is after a c-section because your ab muscles are wrecked.  I read about how the hair loss can go on for a year.  The acne may actually not go away for a long time because your entire hormone balance my have changed.  Basically, I dislike my post-baby body less than I disliked my pregnant body, but not by much.  I still feel like I'm a patchwork of scars and disfigurements.  I fit back into my original jeans, and I actually weigh about 4 lbs less than I did before I got pregnant, but you'd never know that to look at me.  I still don't feel like I look normal.  I don't feel good about what I see.  I'm not about to put on a dress and attempt to look cute. I'm still in that mode I was at this time last year where I'm doing everything I can to disguise and mask my body.

Do I have some control over this postpartum body image?  Yeah, I do.  I could get up every day and do a million crunches and run on the treadmill for 20 minutes (have I ever mentioned how much I loathe running?) and try to fix the flabby belly thing, but the truth is that I come home every night to immediately start dinner, eat dinner, do dishes, get my daughter fed and taken care of, and the first time I get to actually sit down for a moment is often at 8:00 and I just can't force the energy to go work out.  I'm tired.  Some days I'm so tired I feel it in my bones.  It's not one of those "I don't have time" excuses.  It's just that at the end of the day, I don't have any desire left to take care of me after I take care of work and everyone else in my life.  And, working out sucks, so it's not like I'm feeling overly motivated to do something that really sucks.

And the thing is, even if I lost the belly flab, I'd still have the scar, the stretch marks, the unattractive boobs, the acne, the thinning hair, and the night sweats, so does it really make any difference if just one of those things gets removed from the equation?  I'm not sure.

But, the bottom line is, not all women feel amazeballs about being pregnant and want all of those memories, and I hate that a bunch of stupid blogs seem to focus only on those women.  It makes other women feel kind of shitty.

I don't regret not having pregnancy photos of myself.  I do sort of regret not having many photos of me and my daughter together right after she was born.  I told my husband I didn't want a ton of photos of me looking wrecked after having a baby, so there aren't many photos of me and her.  I took a bunch of my husband with her, but I do regret that I don't have many photos of us together where I'm actually looking at the camera and attempting to look happy.  Anything I have was something my husband took on the sly.  I feel like some day she's going to ask why there are no pictures of me smiling and showing her off to the camera, and she might think I wasn't happy to have her, and that makes me sad.  I wish I'd been less concerned about what I looked like in photos with her.  I can't get those first couple of days back.  But, I don't regret for a second that there are very few pictures of me with a huge baby belly.  Not at all.


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