Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Fear of Scales Aside...
Every once in a while, it hits me - throws me for a loop - catchs me off guard (and any other cliche to suggest being "caught by surprise" that you can think of) - that I've had children. That I'm someone's mother. I'll be unloading the dishwasher while my son buzzes around in his bedroom (during what's supposed to be naptime) and I imagine that any moment he'll scream and I'll be left to deal with the disaster - that I'm the adult in the situation. It terrifies me.

My mother is a nurse, clearly suited for the job of raising children. Clearly able to dab wounds with hydrogen peroxide and bandage up cuts and determine how deep is deep enough to consider a trip to the ER for a stitch or two. But me? I'm lucky I survive the poop-incidents as well as I do. Heaven help me when my child is finally struck down by a stomach bug and I need to be the basin bringer, the vomit scrubber.

And so I load up the dishwasher and wonder what I've gotten myself into, just as a thud and cry comes from my son's bedroom.

Other times, things occur to me while laying on the couch, looking over at my husband. A wave of realization that we aren't who we once were anymore. That my body has been a vessel, twice. That it's not the same as the one that walked down the aisle to hold his hand. That it never will be, no matter how many hours I log on that treadmill, or however many crunches I squeeze or weights I lift - no matter how many pre-pregnancy outfits I can pull on and dance around triumphantly in - my body itself is fundamentally altered in a way that I can't change back, because it's not only a physical change - but a mental one. The way I see and feel about my body is fundamentally different than it was before I had children.

Before children, my body was bad. It was something to be beaten into submission and dragged to the gym. I was constantly worried about pinching (nonexistent) fat on my sides, and wondering if anyone else was noticing my thigh-spread when I sat on a couch. I ate like it wasn't a requirement for life, but a necessary evil, something to handle with great caution. (My husband might argue that this hasn't changed.)

But now, I stretch and walk and run, because it feels good. And I see my curves as good. Because they are. My hips have shifted, made way for birth. My chest is bigger, but not so large that it hurts my back or does anything worse than attract a few more stares at the gym - so what?

And yes, I still dread the scale like a child afraid to write his answers out on the blackboard at school. There's a fear of disapproval (which is an entire other blog post in and of itself) - but, I've realized over the past week that this new body is inherently good. That there's a softness to my stomach and chest that I actually like, it's perfect for small heads to cuddle on, and the once dreaded thigh-spread is now a warm lap for little bums to sit on and nuzzle nearer to me.

It makes me sad to think that the pre-baby me would've taken one look at this stomach and found a million places to pinch, to squeeze and loath and pout about in the mirror - without giving thought to what this softened body has done - who it has housed, nourished, grown.

Sometimes, I totally wish I could go back in time and smack her. And maybe I would, if she hadn't gone and gotten pregnant and stumbled upon the realization that her body isn't her enemy all by herself.

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Blogger zhoen said...

My tum never looked quite that good, even when I was taking dance classes every day. I was ugly then. I wish I could go back and tell me how beautiful I was. But I couldn't see it then. And now I'm bulgy, but I know I am beautiful, because my special D shaped mirror tells me so.

Blogger owlhaven said...

umm... that's after? That's how my tummy looked BEFORE I had kids....

Blogger Novice said...

Yeah, tell me about it.

It's a good thing you're so loveable, Mella. If you weren't, so many women could hate you.

Blogger dillyweed said...

Yeah, ditto on Owlhaven's comment. I WISH I looked that good BEFORE having a baby. But it's good to think of what our bodies have carried us through and that they are indeed vessels. Vessels of life.
And if a couple of post-baby-saggy-boobies are what my son decides to rest his head on after a long day, I'll take that. That's good enough for me.

Blogger Mella said...

Zhoen, we should all be so lucky.

I'm sure all your stomach's, either before or after babies are/were even nicer than you realize. If not to you, then to your children or in your own husband-shaped mirrors. (Thanks Zhoen)

Though, maybe I should've taken a picture of my post-baby bottom instead...but then you lose the whole nice "this is where the baby lived" factor, and just see, um, my big bottom.

Blogger Susanna Rose said...


I think you'd be fast friends with my older sister! She's had 3 kids and still has an amazing, stretch mark free tummy just like yours. She works out all the time and eats very minimally...self discipline sure does show on the body!!!:)
I'm glad you're learning to accept your post-babies curves or changes that may have happened to your body. Besides the dratted stretch marks I got, I don't feel like my body really changed much but I do know what you mean that inherently you just never do feel the same after having a baby. I also agree that I wish I had felt more beautiful and confident when I was younger, when I had a nicer tummy, etc and could look good in a two piece! I always felt totally ugly though and it shows in pictures, etc. It's definitely taking me a long time to come into my own.
Anyways, good thoughts and, by the way, you're so lucky you have a bigger chest post-children...mine has almost disappeared since stopping breast feeding. I just didn't get much luck in the post-pregnancy department I guess!!!;)

Blogger Mella said...

Susanna - It's so sad the amount of time we waste disliking ourselves. I've met very few women who can say that they've never dealt with self-doubt, or insecurities about thier bodies. In fact, I can't think of a single woman I've ever met who could say that.

Oh,and don't envy my post-partum breasts - I was quite ok with them before. Now they're even more cumbersome. Not that I'm complaining...I'm just not jumping for joy. (Probably shouldn't jump at all with them, actually - ha ha)

Having seen the adorable pictures of Micah up on your site, I can safely say that you had plenty of luck post-pregnancy. =)

Blogger Darkmind said...

OMG OMG OMG!!! You are SO FAT! BWA HA HA HA!!! Just from the fact that you are still fertile enough to have kids, means that your neurosis was not full blown severe anorexia, but come on...People would kill for a stomach like that, even before having kids. You look fine - don't be so self conscious!

Blogger Mella said...

Oh, Darkmind, you had me at You are SO FAT...

Blogger LJ said...

Honey. I am 59. About five minutes ago, I was 25 and pinching nonexistant fat. Look at this way, if you worry about your perfectly lovely shape now, one day, five minutes from now when you are much older, you will look back with regret that you didn't appreciate your beauty then.
You follow?
And if you put on 20 pounds tomorrow, Mella, you'd still be just as beautiful. I absolutely promise you.

Blogger herhimnbryn said...

Came here from z's site. Beautifull belly Lady,
You have nothing to be worried about you have e lovely tum.

Blogger Lorianne said...

Thanks for the inspiration, delivered via Zhoen, to post my own belly pic. At what point does a Belly Roll become a wave and then a meme?

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