Before I gave birth, I had some ideas about babies — specifically, that I wouldn't have any. I thought babies were cute and nice, but I preferred them when they belonged to other people. I also had ideas about moms: they were overworked, overtired, and usually overweight. I saw my own mom disappear after having four children, so I decided that while I appreciated the work moms did, motherhood probably wasn't for me.
Then I started to come up with new ideas about moms and babies. "Maybe I would have one," I thought. "Just one. Maybe it would be nice." I'd just met a nice man — possibly the nicest man I'd ever met in my life — and he opened up a world of possibilities for me. I had seen other couples look happy with their babies, so maybe we could be happy, too.
During my pregnancy, I only gained 25 pounds. And I had ideas about the weight loss that would follow my pregnancy. At 36, I knew that was older than many first-time moms, but I found myself surrounded by people who assured me the baby weight would disappear immediately.
“It just melts right off,” people told me. “You just have to wait about six weeks.”
So I gave birth and the baby came out at five pounds. Just twenty to go, I thought. I’ll just wait it out. I went home, and waited.
It’s been nearly two years since I gave birth. And I’m still waiting to lose the baby weight.
Before I got pregnant, I had finally reached a place in life where I was okay with my body. Maybe I wasn't stoked about it, but looking in the mirror no longer filled me with total loathing. I was OK with it. Content, even. After all, I was 35, and I'd been insecure about my appearance since I was a teenager. More than 20 years of self-hatred will wear a person down.
Now, it's been nearly two years since I had my baby, and I hate my body. Again.
I don’t regret anything. I don’t regret falling in love with the possibility of a new life, and then taking a chance on it. I don’t regret this baby, or the mass amounts of chocolate I ate while carrying him. I don’t regret not running to the gym the minute I could after giving birth. And I certainly don't regret the last two years, during which I have attempted to make peace with my new body and the new me.
But damn, why would no one tell me that losing the baby weight would be this hard?
I've made a few attempts to lose the weight during these past years. One of them was a half-hearted attempt at the 30 Day Shred with Jillian Michaels. The other was a 10-week session with a serious and very well-known fitness program nearby. The pamphlet showcased transformations so intense that I signed up, even though I had to pay a flat rate for all of the classes on my credit card.
For 10 weeks, I got up at 5:00 a.m. in the dark winter and drove my freezing car to the gym. I didn’t weigh myself once during the program; I wanted the end weigh-in to be a real reveal. The other people in my group lost 20 pounds, 30 pounds, or even more. You know how many pounds I lost? One. And I gained it back about five minutes after the program ended.
I can't help but feel like I am swimming in a pool of shame.
Now, when people ask me how I lost my postpartum weight, I try to act cool. “I’m still wearing my elastic waist band jeans!” I say, high-fiving a fellow mom. After all, she's had kids too. She knows how tough it is to shed the weight.
But at the same time, I can't help but feeling like I am swimming in a pool of shame. I am an overweight mother. An overweight person. Someone whose clothes don’t fit. I have spent hundreds of dollars on low-quality clothing to make up an interim wardrobe, even though it's been almost two years, so I shouldn't really consider myself to be at an interim weight.
In a sense, even though I am heavier, I am lighter at the same time. A giggle radiating through the house can transport me to a place where I know nothing of self-hatred, nothing of pain. I might've had ideas about moms before I got pregnant, but motherhood has proven them wrong. I am different now, forever changed. And I might hate my new body, but I love my new life.
For now, I have to make peace with that.