For me, I think one of the hardest things about being pregnant, having a baby, and then nursing for well over a year was all the changes to my body in that time.
I wasn’t one of those women who hated being pregnant and spent hours standing in front of the mirror lamenting my blossoming shape. I actually liked the belly I developed and would jealously eye other pregnant women further along than me. But during my pregnancy, I knew what to expect; even celebrities, with their nutritionists and personal trainers and hours to exercise, grow gigantic bellies when they’re pregnant! Society expects this look. It was everything after I delivered A that I wasn’t prepared for. [Photo credit]
In the time since first becoming pregnant in 2010, I have worn no less than five different sizes of jeans (hence the stack of 14 pairs in my closet right now!) and three different sizes of bras. Before then, though, I had been a predictable size and shape since…well, probably middle school. See, here I am in the years leading up to the pregnancy:
Even during the first few months of my pregnancy, not much changed. I could tell my body was not the same: my jeans were just a little tight and my joints were super achy (so long to my ballet classes and pointe shoes!). Finally, by six to seven months, I was showing, and I didn’t just look chubby!
July 2010, 6 months pregnant
By the end of the pregnancy, my belly was huge! It really just stuck straight out in front of me, but I had grown elsewhere, too, like an animal preparing for a long, cold winter (which is what taking care of a newborn was like for me: no time to think of myself or my nutritional needs).
September 2010, 8 months pregnant
And, finally, days before I delivered
Like all new moms, I spent the first few days (weeks?) after A was born in a mix of maternity clothes and regular clothes, as I worked to get my “normal” body back. I remember when the picture below was taken, when A was only forty days old. I was so upset that I hadn’t sucked in my gut or tried to improve my posture, which led to me looking like I was still pregnant. But this was just the reality of my body’s recovery: my abs were still weak and loose.
Once I realized it was going to be a while before I could realistically squeeze back into my pre-baby clothes, I broke down and made a trip to the mall for some unwanted additions to my wardrobe. I remember grudgingly dragging my infant into J.Crew to purchase matchstick jeans in a size bigger than I normally wore–jeans that I now call my “fat pants.” I also found myself tethered to a set of most unattractive nursing bras several sizes larger than my pre-baby size. No one told me this was coming!
But within a matter of a few months, I was back to my old weight with the help of endless breastfeeding, a little consideration to what I ate, and some brisk walks around our neighborhood pushing the stroller. But then, something truly unexpected happened: I kept losing weight, more and more.
Sounds great, right?
Well, not if you literally can’t keep your weight from dropping each week. At one point around A’s first birthday, I was actually twenty pounds lighter than I had been when I first got pregnant. I was drinking whole-milk smoothies and tossing handfuls of almonds into my mouth all day to try to stabilize my weight.
At 5’11″, fluctuations in my weight (even fairly major ones) usually go unnoticed by everyone but me. Losing twenty pounds, however, meant yet another new wardrobe, as my clothes from just a few months earlier looked ridiculously oversized. I wasn’t complaining at the time about my slimmer, bustier self, but really my body had seen some pretty dramatic changes, with weight gain/loss totaling over fifty pounds!
Every time my figure changed significantly (and usually unexpectedly), I had to readjust to the new reality. Looking in the mirror could be a real roller coaster ride of emotions and getting dressed each morning was always a challenge. I tried not to care too much as I discovered that my body was not just an ornament, but a machine with a practical purpose: making and feeding babies. It’s just so hard not to let vanity get the best of you.
And now, here I am again, back in my maternity clothes, up about thirty pounds from my lowest weight. At my last OB appointment, my doctor referred to how “fun” my Thanksgiving holiday must have been, since I had (apparently) gained eight pounds since the previous month’s visit. Yikes! I guess I’m back on that roller coaster ride that comes with being a mom.
Did you have any major surprises as your figure changed during your pregnancy or post-baby life?