O turned nine months old yesterday. While this ¾ of year birthday did not seem to faze her, except for a brief morning photo shoot with her teddy bear, for me it felt like a huge milestone. Pregnancy is extremely tough on the waistline and childbirth is rough on everything else. And since it took nine months for my body to make a baby, I had been giving myself nine months to get back in shape.
This seemed fair and logical. I wasn’t going to be a new mom on a diet, unlike J-Lo I did not start training for a triathlon 6 weeks after birth. I would give myself time to enjoy motherhood, eat healthy enough and exercise when I wanted to and could find time. Nine months seemed like a fair amount of time to give myself. O’s nine month birthday crept up way too quickly, both because I am not ready for how old she has gotten and because of this arbitrary deadline I have set for myself.
Weight: I gained about 35 pounds during pregnancy and lost about half of that giving birth. For me the weight has melted off. I am confident this is because of breast feeding and I am feeling a little nervous for when O weans. I have pretty much matched my daughters weight gain with my loss pound for pound for the last nine months. I have actually lost ten more pounds than my starting weight. These were the last ten pounds that I had been trying to loose for the last decade; these were the ten pounds that would make me happy, my clothes fit right, increase my confidence and all sorts of other magical stuff. Ironically, when you loose those ten pounds nothing changes. I feel no different and no better have finally lost the “extra” weight I was carrying around. Loosing those ten pounds matter not one bit – my self esteem remains the same and my clothes fit worse.
Strength and Endurance: This has been the area of biggest distress for me. I can’t run as far, lift as much, do as many reps or exercise as hard as I once did. I still feel weak and afraid of injury. Over time I have grown stronger but I am not able to invest the time, mental and physical energy I need to get back into the same shape. This has been the hardest part of all the body issues surrounding motherhood for me. I am not as strong as I was. Last week, a guy at the gym asked me if my daughter was 5 months old yet. Nice of him to inquire, but I wanted to cry.
My body: I need to reevaluate my assumptions. My body has not returned to pre baby shape in nine months. And it is pretty clear to me that some of these changes are here forever, the softer stomach, the wider hips, and the new wrinkles from worrying too much and sleeping too little. I have the body of a mother that I am slowly accepting. It is not the price of motherhood but another reward of it.