I’m a little over two years out from that whole pregnancy/birth-having nonsense, and it feels like a good time to talk about body things.
Babies and bodies are difficult to discuss because of how unique and individual they are. This is my experience, and honestly, who knows how that compares to what others have experienced. But, like EVERYTHING ELSE with new-baby, the scariest part was not knowing, “Which parts are forever?” Right after I gave birth, my body was incredibly different, and I didn’t know what was staying, and what was in the process of transitioning back to normal. So, even though we can’t use individual experiences as a barometer for what will happen to each of us, I think it’s valuable to throw real stories out there into the mix with the horror stories and the models who are back on the runway a week after birth.
First, I need some disclaimers. I got pregnant at 25- which, based on rumor, is when your body suddenly halts in its merry chug-chug-chugging along of processing cheese curls and beer. So, hard to tell what my body is doing in response to building another person, and what my body is doing in response to, “Eff it, I’ve been metabolizing this crap for a quarter century. I give up.” The other wrench in the works is that right when I gave birth was when we smack, hit our worst time financially yet. Just because of being stressed and sad about how hard things were plus being, well, broke, we basically lived off fried eggs and ramen for a good few months. Even without pregnancy, that stuff would’ve screwed up my body, I’m sure. So, who knows what’s baby, what’s age, and what’s just plain old eating crap. I also haven’t really weighed myself since the doctor forced me on the scales in the hospital 2 years ago. So, I know how much I weighed when I gave birth, but don’t really know what the fluctuations have been like since.
I put this one first because WHAT THE HELL? I was completely stunned by this, and oddly, it was the most depressing part for me immediately following birth. My ribcage was stretched really far out. Like, looking at myself straight on in the mirror, normally my boobs are the widest point above my waist. For a short stretch there post-baby, my ribs jutted out a good inch further. It was really bizarre looking. I felt hunched over and hulking and odd. Though I wasn’t sure it would, eventually it went back to normal. I guess everything moves out of the way to make room for that person in your belly.
My feet are a full size larger than they were. Not fatter. Longer. I can not explain this, but other mothers warned me it would happen. My best explanation is: your body freaks the eff out. Meanwhile, none of my old shoes fit.
Wider. Naturally. This isn’t a terrible thing, but it does change how I wear clothes and how they fit me. What was flattering before, isn’t necessarily now. That might be the most frustrating part about it. I don’t mind having wider hips, but now I can’t rely on the same old default flattering shapes of clothes. I’m still working out what looks good on wide hips- I’m not used to dressing them.
Got HUGE right after baby, and then quickly deflated into flatter than it was before baby. I don’t know. I guess I have squats in my future or something.
So, carrying a little 10lb beefcake around all day makes your upper arms build up. I don’t have toned, muscly, Michelle Obama arms. And they don’t even really look that much wider. But, as Little Josh has grown bigger, it’s gotten noticeably easier for me to carry him. In the meantime, all of my old sleeves have gotten really tight around the top of my arms. It’s actually sort of frustrating that old clothes that fit everywhere else, now feel like I’m going to hulk-rip my way out of the sleeves.
Similarly, my upper back and shoulders have gotten broader. Mostly imperceptible to the eye, but I can feel it in my clothes. When I wear old shirts, by the end of the day, it actually feels like someone has been standing on either side of my arms, squashing my back together.
Wider. Jigglier. Obviously. It happens.
I’ve always had a paunch. It’s just more noticeable now. Not cute, but, meh, I’ve always had it. So, I’ll deal.
Ugh, this is the heartbreaking part. They are droopier. Not loads. But some. Sorry. They’re also just a bit bigger than before, if that’s any consolation for some of you. It makes me sad to think that maybe that droop will increase incrementally each time I have a kid.
My face is still fuller. When I look in the mirror, it feels like I still have pregnant face. Is that going to stick around? I don’t know. It could also just be plain old aging.
I didn’t have many, but what was there has faded to the extent that I don’t remember where they were. I’d say it took about a year? for them to fade.
As a result of a lot of the shifting bones and expanding muscles and things, I’m a bigger person than I was before baby, but I’m not entirely sure I’m “fatter.” Wider hips and back mean bigger clothes, and bigger shouldn’t be the dirty word it is when we talk bodies.
Body stuff is, and always has been, a head game. I feel like I’m in my worst shape right now, but I’m wearing clothes that didn’t fit pre-baby. Or, I’ll put on a shirt and feel “OMG, SO FAT,” only to realize- oh, right, this shirt made me feel fat back when I was 21 and still cute because they didn’t have my size and I stubbornly bought it too small because I’m an idiot. I saw bikini photos of myself and sighed wistfully at how small I was prebaby, only to have Josh point out (based on little anachronistic pieces in the photos), that they were taken after baby. So, you know. It’s hard to get a real read on everything when it’s warped and twisted immediately as it enters your little eyes. I’m probably walking around with a chip on my shoulder of, “POST BABY BODY, SIGH” when who knows if it looks that way to anyone else.
Baby-havers: what changes impacted your body? Folks who are planning on kids: what changes are you nervous about? Everyone else: does all of this sound like normal aging stuff? What changes have you noticed in yourselves?