Breast feeding. Vaccinations. Work/life balance. Childcare. Cloth versus disposal diapers. BPA. All hot topics amongst the childbearing set. Add to that weight gain and loss, from pregnancy to post-partum.
Each woman I know talks about pregnancy weight with a mixture of fear and glee. Fear as you see numbers on a scale you never imagined and glee at eating a little more than you ever thought possible. Stories about never owning maternity clothes or who shows earlier are traded like cards. It is a tough scale to balance on, with one hand wondering how a being mere ounces can make you gain weight and on the other, loving your growing form. Rumors of people only gaining 15 pounds are laughed at and brave people admit they gained upwards of 60, 70 pounds per pregnancy, no matter your assumptions of their previous size.
Women share stories about how big they get. Or don’t get. Numbers equaling a middle schooler are tossed around, or odd stories of someone who gained so little they walked out of the hospital in pre-pregnancy jeans. You can thank genes for that. I remember thinking around month 7 that I looked a little like Chris Farley and my ankles were so swollen my husband’s thumb prints from nightly foot massages stayed visible for far too long.
My personal weakness while pregnant? Lemon freezies with fresh fruit from Culver’s. I didn’t go overboard, but didn’t hold back. “When else can you eat Cheetos and not have anyone stare at you?” said my friend, E.
After stories about gaining weight come stories about how fast someone gets it off. Again, stories of women who lost it all when they had the baby, or weighed less than before the baby. It’s all something pregnant women are anxious about – when will my bottom parts feel normal again and when will the pooch disappear? I have good news and bad news, ladies. You can figure this out on your own.
The Baby Weight Gain Game doesn’t end even post-partum. There’s the excuse of “I just had a baby,” or “I’m making milk,” that leads to no budges on the scale. We moan amongst our female friends about stomach skin that doesn’t look right anymore, angry, red stretch marks or a chest that will always require the help of underwire and padding. [Note: if you have never been pregnant and are a woman, take a photo of your chest RIGHT NOW. Consider it a quaint historical relic to admire once you’ve had a baby.]
Many of us trudge along, working on getting back to shape, while balancing work, child(ren), friends, life and personal time. What I notice on this path is that I’m kinder to myself as I work on the numbers going down. I made a pledge amongst our female friends that we won’t say negative statements, even in jest, about our bodies in front of our children, and I’m also giving myself more time and yes, more permission, to wait out this weight game. After all, my insides grew a baby and my privates pushed one out. What have you done today?