Those Are Not Where I Left Them: Marvels of the Postpartum Body
When I was 19, I got a tattoo of a dragon on my hip. Getting a tattoo was something I’d always wanted to do, and I used to doodle tattoo ideas all over my lecture notes in high school.
THANK GOD I did not go with my original tattoo idea, because it involved a heart and looked somewhat like this and would sort of give the impression that I give handy-jays at truck stops for a living.
I told everyone I went with the dragon because it was my Chinese New Year symbol, but the truth is I mostly chose a dragon because I thought it was sort of badass. And Internet, I love my tattoo. It’s small and simple and needs touched up in a BAD WAY, but I have never regretted it. And I never worried about its location, because it’s not like I’m ever going to have a baby and risk it getting all stretched out or anything.
Fret not! Despite its close proximity to The Belly, the tattoo never got distorted in the least. And I’m even thinking about getting another tattoo to commemorate Sadie’s birth.
But you know what DID get stretched out to funhouse proportions during my pregnancy? EVERYTHING AROUND THE TATTOO.
Lest we forget.
The freakish bodily changes (and their aftermath) were something that always freaked me out before I got pregnant, but once the actual baby-growin’ was in progress, I developed a pretty dismissive attitude about it. It was the same way with my view of childbirth: it’s happening, yo, whether you like it or not. Might as well make your peace and let it ride.
This is not to say that I didn’t freak out a little inside whenever I read about stretch marks and sagging boobs and The Muffin Tops That Ate Manhattan. Because what kind of modern woman would I be if I didn’t tie my self worth directly to the flatness of my stomach? And while I don’t want to harp on the whole post-baby-body topic, I feel like I should address it simply because I know how curious I was about the whole postpartum period when I was pregnant, and I am all about being of service to you other curious souls on the Internet.
I’m pretty fortunate in that I didn’t get any stretch marks and that I somehow stayed within the normal weight gain guidelines during my pregnancy, despite the massive amounts of ice cream and red velvet cupcakes I consumed. I think that this, combined with the breastfeeding, the constant running up and down our house’s GAZILLION stairs, and the calories burned by crazy postpartum crying and sneaking into Sadie’s room during naptime to check on her breathing have helped me quickly return to my pre-pregnancy weight. Actually, I’m about 4 pounds from where I was when we started this crazy business last summer, and that fact is brought to you from a scale that I opened up and used in the Sears Grand at the mall last weekend because I do not own one (a scale, not a Sears Grand) (or a mall) (but I don’t own those things either). However, as the Internet will tell you, pre-pregnancy weight does not equal pre-pregnancy SHAPE. And hoo boy, that’s the truth.
Basically, it comes down to this:
- My boobs, they are bigger, natch, thanks to the breastfeeding. And although they are not yet back to their usual smallish size, I can tell that they now sort of hang down low, wobble to and fro, I can tie them in a knot, I can tie them in a bow, etc. I mean, they aren’t hitting my knees when I walk or anything (and let’s keep in mind neither me nor my boobs are 21 years old anymore,) so all in all, this isn’t that big of a deal. To me, at least. If you happen to be an adult film star named Perky McTitty or something, this might concern you more.
- My stomach looks about the same as before when I am standing, but when I sit down all the still-kind-of-mushy skin comes out to play. But I’ve never been able to trust anyone whose stomach doesn’t create at least SOME kind of rolls when they sit down, so this doesn’t bug me much either. What does bother me, though, is that I still have that fucking linea nigra. It’s faded a little, but DAMMIT, IT’S STILL THERE. I read somewhere that the purpose of the linea nigra was so that pregnant women were easily recognizable back in the caveman days when we all wandered about naked, but I have some problems with this, specifically 1) Not every pregnant woman gets the linea nigra, and 2) Don’t you think the HUGE BELLY would be enough of a clue? But I digress. Enough with this stupid line already. Even though it’s not like I have a burning desire to wear a belly-exposing half-shirt anytime soon.
Miller High Life optional, but recommended.
- My ass. Did it always look so flat? Or is it just because my bosoms are currently so plentiful in comparison? The world may never know.
I know I sound so incredibly mellow about these pretty insignificant body changes, but I, of course, have my moments. Moments when I get frustrated that things around the middle just aren’t as tight as they were before – and maybe they never will be. Moments where I freak out about what might happen to my body should we decide to do this whole crazy show again, at which point I will most certainly be a few years older and therefore less likely to bounce back quite as nicely. And then I feel shallow for worrying about this shit at all, because HOLY FUCKING ASS, woman, look at that baby and tell me you still want to complain about your love handles.
A few years ago, I saw Eve Ensler (she of The Vagina Monologues fame) speak at a local theatre about a show of hers they were about to open called The Good Body. You can learn all about it here, but to put it in the simplest of terms, it’s a play about how women across the world feel about their bodies. She shared a story about interviewing a woman in (I think) South Africa, and asking her question she’d been asking everyone she interviewed: What parts of your body do you dislike? The woman gave her a puzzled look. “Why would I dislike any part of my body?” she said. Her body was what enabled her to work, to bear children, to have sex, to dance, to run, to laugh – how could she ever hate such a thing?
Kind of makes a person feel like an asshole for obsessing over a bingo wing or two, huh?
Obviously, that story really stuck with me, and it’s something I’ve tried to remember, especially throughout this past year. Sure, I want to do what I can to be healthy and feel good about myself, but it doesn’t hurt to remember that your body is your friend, not your enemy. It’s with you, not agin’ you! And without it, you’d just be some sad little brain in a jar somewhere, and while that would mean you’d never run the risk of having cellulite, it sure would suck the joy straight out of living.
Because brains in jars seldom create babies this cute.