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Here’s today’s riddle:
What’s the difference between these pants I bought at Target last week with the stretchy waistband and my regular old maternity jeans?
Nothing! They’re the same! The new pants are canvas and only cost $12 but a stretchy waistband is a stretchy waistband is a stretchy waistband. The real riddle is how come I feel so much better in my new Target pants than I do in any of my old maternity jeans? I think it’s just because I bought these pants in the regular women’s department and they don’t say “maternity” on the label. Which is totally insane. It’s not like anyone else can see the labels. And yet because I am wearing non-maternity pants today I feel about 20 lbs lighter than usual.
Actually, I’m only 3 lbs away from my “pre-pregnancy” weight. You may think those quotation marks are unnecessary, since pre-pregnancy is a medical term for “the time before a fertilized egg implanted in your uterine wall and then you ate the entire contents of the frozen food department at Costco” but it’s not as simple as that. Pre-pregnancy my hips still fit through most standard sized door frames. Pre-pregnancy I didn’t rub holes in my jeans with the power of my thighs. Pre-pregnancy my boobs were still closer to the arctic circle than the equator, but now they’re determined to have a tropical vacation even if I’m not going. The weird changes my body went through – and is still going through – are a lot bigger than just weight gain and loss. I’m starting to doubt my old jeans are ever going to fit again, even if I lose those last three pounds times ten. My days in the misses department are totally, completely, officially over. I am now a women’s section shopper.
This weekend we’re making the annual trek out to Plymouth, Mass for E’s aunt & uncle’s 4th of July party. There will be hamburgers. There will be beer. There will be fireworks. And there will be A POOL. Which means tonight before dinner I headed out to find a bathing suit.
BATHING SUITS OMG JUST HAD A BABY NO WAY NO WAY STRETCH MARKS WEIRD STOMACH POOCH SPANDEX HORRORS BLINDINGLY PALE SO AWFUL ALERT THE BIKINI POLICE AND READY THE JAWS OF LIFE!!!!11!1!!!
Actually, it was the least unpleasant bathing suit shopping ever. I tried on three. They all fit ok. One looked the best and was in a nice color and a halter style that will allow me to breastfeed. It was $25. I bought it.
Did I mention it’s a one piece? The last time I shopped for a one piece was for church camp (apparently belly buttons are the gateway to Satan) in 8th grade. Since then I’ve spent the first two months of every summer searching in vain for an affordable, flattering bikini. One year I bought a dozen cheap ones at Wal-Mart and just threw a sarong over the bits that didn’t fit right. One year I spent $100 on a very nice orange bikini with a bandeau top – and spent my time at the beach wishing I could go body surfing without flashing all of South Carolina. I’ve tried ordering them online. I’ve tried the special bathing-suit-stores. I’ve tried on literally hundreds and hundreds of suits in the past decade. But I never considered just buying a one piece. Those are for old people or my mom.
But now I am a mom. I have a three month old baby and a three month post-partum body. I could use a little extra material in my swim wear. And maybe some ruching. And a hidden control panel. And a nice flattering criss-crossy pattern. Anything short of a full body wet suit is going to expose some flaws and imperfections and the old Suzanne, the 22 year old who ate half a Powerbar for lunch and plain lettuce for dinner and hated every part of herself between her chin and her knees, that Suzanne would be dreading everything about this pool and beach filled weekend. But the cliches about how you learn to love and appreciate your body after pregnancy are true. I GREW A PERSON. I am currently keeping that person alive using only my boobs. That is way cooler than a bikini any day.
I’m going to tell you something you didn’t want or need to know. You’re probably going to think it’s gross and weird. Technically, you are very wrong to think that. Technically. But even I think it’s a little gross so for the first time ever, I’m giving you the opportunity to NOT read something. Here comes the break, only click if you SERIOUSLY want to read about it.
I’M GOING BALD. Monday in the shower my hair started falling out in clumps and by yesterday afternoon everything in my house was covered in long blond strands. They’re on my clothes, in my food, wrapped around the baby’s tiny wrists and toes. I’m suddenly picturing a future of Bret Michaels-style wigs attached to bandannas attached to hats covering my shiny hairless scalp. Maybe I can get them in fabrics that co-ordinate with my Bobby covers. I’m told this is a perfectly normal part of the joy ride known as the postpartum period but that doesn’t make it any less upsetting.
Imagine someone tells you “Tomorrow when you wake up, everything will be upside down. The furniture will be on the ceiling. Water will run uphill. Gravity as you know it no longer exists.” “Got it,” you say, “Upside down.” You go to bed fully prepared because you have the information. Other people might be freaked out. People who haven’t been paying attention are going to be totally shocked. NOT YOU, because you KNOW. You bought a book about upside-downness.
But in the morning when you’re staring up at your carpet and down at your slippers, you will still scream “WHAT THE $%^# IS HAPPENING TO ME?!”
99% of pregnancy, birth and motherhood can be described with the above analogy.