A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Tag Archives: body changes

Trying…

It’s Thanksgiving again…

I’m thankful there are so many establishments around me that make unbelievable chocolate chip cookies. I’m sure they have other confectionery marvels, but I guess I’m a traditionalist…not that I would decline any kind of cookie, but I have my preferences. Along that same line I’m grateful to have a friend that periodically bakes me chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. They always turn out perfectly soft, and the oatmeal makes me feel like I’m doing something positive for my body. On impulse I tried making cookies from scratch a few weeks ago. The baking soda was a relic from quite easily a decade ago…the cookies were flat, but I still managed to eat most of the batch in one day. They didn’t come close to my friend’s cookies, but morally I will not leave any cookies feeling unwanted or unloved…I’m generous in spirit that way.

I’m thankful almost all of my pregnancy losses the past couple of years have been so early that holding weight is the only real bodily disturbance. I’m thankful that my weight gain allows me to look like a drawn 1950s pinup. While I would prefer to fit into things more easily and buy a bra that fits, there are worse outcomes in life.

I’m thankful that I was so close to someone that even a year after he shuffled off this mortal coil I can still envision perfectly how he would respond to my various antics. I often craft texts and emails to him in my mind; before long there is a vivid exchange. I don’t believe in an afterlife. He’s lost to me forever, but I like to think that his memory isn’t. I had another successful class at the prison; perfect attendance once again despite some really screwy lock-ins lately that yielded one random student arriving. I can practically hear his responses to my stories…his laughter. I’m indescribably grateful for that, but I miss him. It isn’t much of a substitute, but I didn’t have these kinds of things when I lost my best friend at sixteen. I wasn’t able to stomach those thoughts, so I pushed everything down trying to escape the effects of losing someone so vital to my existence and happiness. I didn’t though…not really.

I’m thankful my husband is so funny. I’m not very good at communicating things. He sometimes reads this blog, but doesn’t tell me when or comment about the content. He knows I’m having a hard time, but probably not the details. I’m better at sharing things these days, but I never reveal the complete picture to anyone. But, my husband has always loved me for my faults, and no one makes me laugh as he does. I’m grateful that he provides me one of my life’s greatest pleasures: laughter.

I’m thankful for middle-age…really. I love the feeling of what this point in my life quest reveals. I now suddenly have this impenetrable armor I had spent my youth unsuccessfully trying to mold. For so long there were all of these notions I internalized as weakness, but as a middle-aged woman these vulnerabilities and my humanity are what make me strong…less fearful…more joyful. There is no better shield from a foe.

I’m thankful my kids are so snugly. I’m grateful for their chatter and smiles. I’m thankful that they have the capacity to remind me of the best parts of myself. I’m thankful that they will eat my cookies happily even though they are nothing more than a smear on the baking sheet. I’m thankful that while they will eat them, they won’t eat too many.

Oddly, I’m thankful to feel loss in it’s lonely grasping pain. I’m finally ready to attempt justice for the memory of such remarkable people. In my middle-age I’m secure enough to preserve the most hallowed parts of who they were, and continue the legacies I’m sure they never considered. I’m thankful I can give them such honors, and hope it offers me peace at some point.

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Revelations and Taking Up Space

I feel strange for posting this, but I’ve spoken to enough women to know the internal rantings within silence. Mostly I’m tired of feeling bad, which means that I need to do more to alter how I see myself and pieces of my life. Recently I’ve returned to help on that front, which gives me reliable time to interface with a human and be self-serving. Things are about to return to a slog, even if not quite as bad…at least I hope it isn’t. Frankly the stress was becoming too much, so I began looking for more…different ways to take care of myself because my traditional strategies no longer cut it. But, it’s hard to divine ideas when my brain is consumed by when I can lay in bed…and not be able to sleep. It hasn’t been quite that bad for the past couple of months, but that time erratically comes and goes. I’m pleased…or proud of myself for not wasting moments of internal motivation. I worked hard to find other things…more of what will pull me up to living.

From time to time I post about physical appearance. It’s a complicated issue, as it isn’t just about what lives in my mind. Competing are the external forces dictating what should be attractive or merely acceptable. Part of the issue is that I’m no longer twenty, so while there is an entire world telling me how I should behave and look, I’ve surpassed the years when I’m really part of the discussion…It’s a weird state of being, both liberating and daunting.

So, I’m middle-aged now. I’ve birthed two babies. My body has changed. I’ve maintained a healthy lifestyle on many fronts, and even though things have been quite stressful for the last year, such healthful choices continued. That said, I’m middle-aged now, and I’ve birthed two babies. My body has changed. Parts of me are bigger, but I feel I look good. I feel I look strong and defined. I feel I look healthy and powerful. A year ago I lost my daughter’s baby weight, but since that time I’ve also lost several early pregnancies. I rapidly gained quite a bit, which has bothered me for several reasons least of which has to do with my actual physical appearance. I’ve tried to fully embrace the narrative of feeling that I look good. Feeling that I look strong and defined. Feeling that I look healthy and powerful. I’ve been a successful Weight Watcher for over a decade now, and I credit it for most of the ways in which I rejoice and value what my body can do. I’ve learned to treat myself with respect and balance with all things…much of the time anyway. But, the pregnancy losses and subsequent additional weight has done a number on my positive resolve…pregnancy hormones have their own pacing, even when it does not yield a baby…even if the pregnancy is a whisper. But, it seems that I have an option. If my doctor sees me as healthy at my current weight, then it’s okay to feel that I look good, to feel that I look strong and defined, and to feel that I look healthy and powerful. There is quite a bit I don’t know. I don’t know if I will ever have another child, probably not. I don’t know if I will ever be at the weight before I was middle-aged and birthed two babies. But, I do know that I have so many other things about me that far eclipse the tellings of a contraption at my feet. I know my body can perform miracles and help change the world for the better. My body can laugh and build connections to others. My body can love and be loved. So, I’ve decided to give myself permission to accept whatever extra weight my body has that may or may not continue to take up residence indefinitely. If this is your struggle, I give you permission to do the same.

Receptacle

This isn’t my first post about post pregnancy body image. I’m still proud of my body as a reproductive entitiy. Almost daily I look at my children, especially Warrior Queen, and try to comprehend that I grew these two beings from some cells. It’s remarkable.

Enduring Gestational Diabetes with my second, I haven’t had all that much baby weight to lose, but like the poundage loss process after my son’s pregnancy, the shed is glacial.

I’ve heard just about every cliché and wife dogma when I express my frustrations with the lingering weight that won’t budge despite a focused and previously effective attack plan. Those offering such tid-bits of support should feel fortunate my reciprocating response stops at an eye roll so hard it gives me a view of my tonsils. One of the more frustrating and obnoxious comments is that carrying extra weight is minor because I’ve birthed a healthy miracle.

Image result for eye roll

(No, I’m really grateful for your input. I was just checking that my hairline was where I left it.)

The thing is, wanting to look and feel my best is not a superficial musing. I’m not sure exactly how it came to pass that mothers are not permitted to embrace their own badass MILF selves. Possessing a strong desire to look attractive and enjoy what I see in the mirror is a pursuit I’m entitled to include within my growing list of priorities. Furthermore, it is important for my children to see me embrace myself as valuable, independent of them however I choose to define it.

Another introspection that boggles is when I consider the reality of my shape compared to motherhood body misconceptions I held for most of my life. Before my son’s pregnancy, like many women I feared the inevitable carnage having a child would have on my form. It isn’t that I expect perfection or that I was ever anything close before my axis tilted. But, I was terrifyingly certain I would never look good again, and I like to look good even if I am woefully below airbrushed excellence.

For the year it took for me to lose the almost entirety of my son’s pregnancy weight, I was surprised by the process, maybe even delighted by the complexity of the experience.

That said, it bothers me to work so hard, yet have my body shed excess fat with an excruciating meander. But, the experience’s totality isn’t so bad. Even though I gained a significant amount more after my son’s pregnancy, I was struck by the difference in my appearance when I compared myself to pictures of a similar weight gain not credited with growing a human. Hovering at the same forty-five pound increase on my small frame, post Little Man, I simply did not look as heavy as I was for most of my twenties. That was interesting.

Currently, I’m about a clothing size away from my pre- pre-pregnancy size, but my body is forever changed. I used to hip ride my pants, no more. I embrace my mom jeans. And, really, if they are good enough for a president, what am I complaining about?

Image result for obama mom jeans(My tushie can totally compete with his!)

Prior to brewing Warrior Queen, my hips were wider, so were my thighs. My belly, for the most part, regained its former shape. So, while my old cut of pants yielded an uncomfortable muffin top, I could still rock a two piece bathing suit…in the event that we ever go on a vacation again. My general figure was a bit curvier with a slightly smaller waist. When I lost my first round of baby weight, I had less cellulite than I had at any other point in my life. My body, while not svelte, had significantly more definition as well. Even with seven more pounds left to shirk, my physique is all the more defined. I didn’t think that was possible. A bit more baby weight or not I look good, even if my weight number isn’t quite my ideal.

To look good has been an intense labor, but it’s one born of increasing love that was absent before experiencing the chemistry of motherhood. It feels strange to accept, or even admit that I, mostly, love my body in all of its quirky ways. It almost feels wrong to see my middle age baby body objectively surpassing the beauty of my gymnast teen years, even with spider veins aplenty. My children are at the age of expressing unconditional love as I never knew it to be, so why not bestow myself with the very regard I see on their beautiful faces when I enter a room? I’ve certainly earned it.

Tales of the Water Spout

I’ve reached that post baby delivery threshold where the glory of growing a human fades and the time of taking inventory of the aftermath begins.  At thirty-eight I consider myself an attractive woman despite not recalling the last time I even considered donning make-up.  Some of it is effort.  I try to exercise, sleep, eat well…wax.  Some of it is genes; approaching middle age I could probably easily pass for thirty.  On a good day possibly twenty-eight, but it would have to be a very good day after my daughter has been sleeping nine consecutive hours for a century and my son stops throwing every imaginable toy in the kitchen sink.  That said, I’m not terribly photogenic, which is evident in my published headshot.  But, to be fair, it was taken after another lackluster haircut at the very sunset of my gloriously heinous pregnancy with the Warrior Queen.

My body is starting to shrink, albeit not fast enough for my liking, but shrinking nonetheless.  It isn’t so much a vanity thing as I miss my lovelier clothing, and it would be even more lovely if I could wear a bra that fit.  But, returning to a type of pre-pregnancy body is a gradual thing, so periodically I try on wardrobe odds-and-ends.  This morning was a shorter dress just above the knee.  Since I birthed Warrior Queen, everything I wear has been ankle length, but I’m small, so ankle is kind in many instances.

This dress is a favorite.  Something about it is cozy and fun, even if my extra ten pounds doesn’t make it as fun as I remember.  Sometimes cozy is enough.  Draping this black number over myself I surveyed my legs in detail for the first time.  It seems every pregnancy brings about some type of physical godsend.  Surprisingly, my belly stretch marks disappeared after Little Man’s pregnancy.  Maybe their reincarnation will do the same this time; maybe not.  My spider veins, however, multiplied at Tribble-like frequency.

   (This is how I looked at my legs this morning.)

Such a statement says quite a lot because my spider veins were fairly plentiful prior to, and full out flourished after my son’s pregnancy.  I get that I’m supposed to love my goddess body and feel the pride of what it can do.  That sentiment certainly hasn’t escaped me, but I’d be lying if I said I was pleased that my fair, okay, pastey legs grew even more of these blue marvels.

A strange thing, though, as I scrutinized every inch of my stemware.  My younger pre baby me screamed that I should not go out in public with such arachnids visibly coating my lower half.  I even removed my cozy, fun dress for a moment.  Maybe it’s because of the comfort that pairs with the realization of my officially impending middle age.  Maybe it’s because my body, spider veins and all, did, in fact, create two pretty incredible humans who vomit…everywhere and throw toys in the sink.  I ardently tried to care about the appearance of my legs, but it just didn’t matter.  Sure, I’d love to walk on stilts worthy of the best airbrushing, but that will never happen.  So, while I forget to hold my breath, I will be wearing my shorter garments, making peace with the proliferations of spiders that climbed on my spouts again.

 

A Belly and a Road Map

On the other end of Gestational Diabetes, I am reaping the benefits of a mere twenty-six pound weight gain.  Under two weeks postpartum and still in the process of ridding myself of those fast initial pounds, I found myself in the position of needing to wear my second from the largest of my postpartum non maternity jeans.  Maternity jeans simply stopped feeling comfortable, and really the larger size of jeans I chose might be a bit too big.  It was easily three months after my son was born, and likely longer, before I was able to fit into the size I’m wearing now, but, first time around, between the forty-five pound increase, and having that recent post baby body, I was still wearing my full panel pants for quite some time.

Now, just under two weeks postpartum, I still look pregnant, as I should.  The jeans are likely not all that flattering in the belly area, but growing and giving birth to a human does something interesting to my general notions of body beauty.

I absolutely love that I still look pregnant; I even loved it when I was so much heavier after my son’s birth, and the high persisted for at least a couple months postpartum.  The literal transition between the two states is so sudden that I enjoy having a reminder of what my body can do without the discomfort of actual pregnancy.  I love that I can move and have energy.  I love that I can wear the better of my maternity shirts with that slight…or not quite so slight…round belly peeking through.  And, I love that I can hold my fierce girl with her incredible facial expressions of determination and assertions, yet still look at myself with the reminder of where she was so recently.

Of course, at some point probably sooner rather than later, I will want to stop looking pregnant and return to my pre pregnancy size and shape.  Eventually, the pang of longing for my old clothes will manifest, as well as the intense urgency to wear my old bras.  But, for now my amazing body made my remarkable Warrior Queen, and I want everyone to know that.

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