I’ve been deemed officially pregnant for like 30 seconds and I’m already beating myself up over what I’m eating.
Like how fucked up am I, that one of my first initial thoughts is how my body will look, postpartum? That can’t be normal. Maybe it’s because it’s my second time around? Or maybe I’m just scarred from my previous experience.
When I found out I was pregnant with Mickey I was so blissfully ignorant that I genuinely thought I’d sneeze her out of me and walk out of the hospital with a six pack.
This may be true for some women. Some women bounce right back. From my perspective, my girlfriend Gina is one of those lucky few. Gina has had three children, back to back, and looks like her body has never seen pregnancy. She basically pushed out this third one, got up and went strutting down the hallway of the postpartum unit like it was her runway. (She’ll tell you something extremely different if you ask her, but this is how I saw it.)
When I first found out I was pregnant, I had the initial “glow” everyone talks about. Even though I had yet to sprout a baby bump, I was convinced people would know I was pregnant because I just was simply gleaming.
Then that “glow” I was so confidently wearing, went rogue. The “glow” mutated into a blinding sheen of oil all over my face. Before I knew it, I was introduced to pregnancy acne. As if acne and I didn’t have a long enough fucking relationship from age 12-24, let’s bring it back and see if we can rekindle things.
Okay so I was now wearing my hormones on my face; not ideal. At least I could have control over my weight gain. Due to being on hormones I started out 20 lbs heavier than my “normal” weight, so I knew I’d have be extra careful. Good thing I loved to work out and eat healthy! (I want to punch myself in the face when typing that, so I’m fully aware of how obnoxious that is.) But it’s true. Working out is my sanity. Eating well (for the most part) makes me feel good. I’m not at all into weigh-ins or counting calories; I just want to feel good.
So if there was one thing I should be able to conquer it would be a clean diet of organic produce and lean proteins. I bought healthy pregnancy cook books and prenatal yoga dvd’s.
Silly, silly girl.
I, yet again, was entirely too cocky in my false belief that I had any control.
I wanted nothing but cornbread, mac and cheese and unfrosted cinnamon poptarts. I couldn’t even look at a vegetable or a piece of chicken. The mere thought of a salad was enough to make me dry heave over the toilet. I basically lived off of Boston Market, which i’m fairly confident is NOT organic. One time, I strayed away from my usual Boston Market order and got creamed spinach in hopes I could choke down some greens. I took one bite and immediately puked everything I had just eaten. Haven’t eaten spinach since.
The first ob/gyn appointment I had outside of my comfort zone of my fertility clinic was a complete disaster. I had this dude, who may or may not have been minimum 97 years old. He scolded me for gaining too much weight and told me I needed to start eating salmon and vegetables. He suggested zucchini noodles instead of pasta. Was this guy fucking high? Try to bring a piece of salmon near me. I will projectile vomit all over this office.
He was so adamant about me not gaining weight and how women shouldn’t give into their cravings and instead allow them to pass. I left the appointment in tears. I was 10 weeks pregnant and already being body shamed. By the time I hit 40 weeks they could just tie strings on me and use me as a balloon in the Macy’s Day Parade.
By the end of my third trimester, I had put on 55 lbs. on top of the original 20 I had gained from hormones. I was incredibly swollen and my legs were covered in spider veins. I felt hideous.
As if I didn’t feel grotesque enough already, I had Michael join me for one of my weekly internals, just a few weeks before going into labor. This doctor, another gem of a man in this group, sat down and began to tell us about what to expect. As he was talking, his eyes caught a glimpse of my legs poking out of my gown. He stopped mid sentence, wide-eyed, and said “Those are really bad spider veins, especially for someone your age. You might want to check out The Circulatory Center to have those taken care of after you give birth. It’s in the same building; two birds, one stone.”
What a fucking comedian.
Fast forward to postpartum. I had edema. When I say I had edema, I mean my entire body was like the Michelin Man. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Nothing fit me but the mesh underwear the hospital provides. I had to send my mom to get me xxxl pj pants because my legs couldn’t fit into my maternity pants. I had to wear my husband’s sneakers home because my foot wouldn’t fit into mine, even with no laces.
Six weeks later I went into my post-op appointment from my D&C and the surgeon looked at me in disbelief and said out loud, “Wow. You’re actually attractive.”
As if I was such a disgusting beast prior to that moment, that it was shocking that I could possibly be considered slightly attractive.
It took almost 12 weeks for my edema to fully subside. It took me a little over a year to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I never got back to my pre-fertility hormone weight. And I never got my six pack back. But I did learn something.
I was so busy worrying about how gross I was and feeling so sorry for myself, that it didn’t occur to me that Gina could possibly be feeling the same exact way. She felt terrible about herself and felt a ton of pressure to bounce back immediately. She was exhausted, hormonal, and anxious. So she didn’t have edema or spider veins like me; she had her own shit. Who was I to assume she had no struggles because she looked super thin and put together?
Every woman has a different experience from trying to conceive, to pregnancy, to postpartum, and they all come with a ton of insecurities.
The truth is, more than likely your shit is gonna be a little wrecked after a baby. And it’s okay to feel bad about it for a while, but we have to try not to allow it to consume us. This is something I learned, but am having a very difficult time practicing. Plus, I’d like to talk to the person who decided that maternity should be erased from our bodies. It was more than like a male doctor.
So, if someone tells you that she left the hospital at her goal weight, feeling like Gisele, she’s probably a liar. Or, if that really was her experience and she’s sharing it with you while you are post up in a body that is no longer recognizable to you; then she’s probably an asshole.
Oh wait, I learned a second thing. Don’t ever, ever, ever, under any circumstance, let anyone, especially a man, make you feel bad about the way you look. And if it’s your doctor who is commenting negatively about your looks, report that shit and sprint as fast as you can to a new group.