So, I think I’m finally ready to talk about my post-pregnancy body. I should probably start off by saying that I am very confident in my own skin. I am not the type of person who spends hours (or minutes even) nit-picking at myself in the mirror–in fact, there are no full-length mirrors in the jungalow at all. When I hear women beat themselves up about their weight, cellulite, their bulges or their wrinkles I often wonder how I escaped the self-loathing trap–I’ve never been too hard on myself about these things. I probably have my parents to thank for this. It could also be a cultural thing–growing up in a family that is Black and Jewish there is a certain appreciation for–he-hem–zaftig ladies and so maybe it has something to do with that.
Okay. Now that all of that is out of the way–I must say this: WHAT IN THE HELL HAPPENED TO MY BODY!?!!
The day after Ida was born I felt puffy and sore and out-of-it and elated and all of those things that one feels after twenty-six hours of labor, abdominal surgery, caring for a newborn baby, learning to breast-feed and not sleeping for three consecutive days. I hadn’t given any thought what-so-ever to my body until this happened: the doctor came to unstick the bandages from my C-section wound, and to check for infection. She came to explain how the stitches would dissolve on their own and how I was to care for the wound once I got home. It was then that she said something to me that I won’t ever forget: “You’ll have to be extra careful,” she looked me square in the eye and stated plainly “because of the flap.” It took me a minute to understand what she was referring to–until, gasp–I realized she was talking about my belly. Tears actually welled up. My belly had a new name. Just days before it was this magnificent sphere housing my daughter–and now, it was…a FLAP. A flap!?! A flap that drooped down and covered the C section scar, putting me at greater risk of infection (not to mention self-esteem issues).
I’ve always had a belly. A cute little belly that pouched over my jeans just a bit–but this? How am I to get used to this? It’s been almost six months now. I have stretch marks that surround my bellybutton like bulls eyes. My boobs have assumed a new shape–a couple of sizes bigger and a couple of inches lower than their former residence. And yes. My dear flap is still a lingering souvenir of my pregnancy.
I didn’t know. This came to me as a shock. I thought that if I put on the stretch-mark cream everyday that I would not get stretch marks. I thought if I ate healthy and stayed active during my pregnancy that my body would be ‘back to normal’ in no time. I gained the ‘average’ amount of weight during my pregnancy (22 lbs) and, in fact, I am almost back to my pre-pregnancy weight. But my clothes still don’t fit–not because of the extra weight but because I’m a different shape than I was before. Things shifted around in there. And I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to exercise post-pregnancy either. I am not kidding when I say that I wear three bras when I take Ida on walks around the reservoir. And the flap?!? No one ever told me about the flap?! The flap shocked the hell out of me–it truly did. And I am beginning to suspect that my frenemy the flap is gonna to be ‘hanging’ with me for a while.
Of course I’d do it again in a heartbeat–trade in my cute, soft, size 12 self for Ida. I don’t in the least bit regret anything. But that doesn’t mean it’s not hard–and I think about all those women who don’t have the self-confidence that I started out with, and how they must feel post-pregnancy. One good thing about being a new mom is that I am, for the most part, way too busy to dwell on what I look like. But I’m not too busy to dwell on what I feel like–and I’m ready to feel comfortable in my own skin again. I’m ready to feel good in a bikini. I’m ready to be proud of my body–this miraculous body that brought a baby into this world. Flap or no flap, stretch marks or no stretch marks I’m ready to own it, work it and love it again.