If you’ve ever read this blog in any capacity, then you probably know I’m not one to comment on news, politics or any other socially charged topic. Why? Because most of the time, I’m not cool enough or informed enough to broadcast an opinion of any significance into the chum-filled waters of internet debate.
However, after reading yet another attack on a post-partum celebrity, one who didn’t magically lose the baby weight within four weeks, I have something to say.
For weeks, a certain notorious celebrity has been dogged by the media about her pregnancy weight, her baby’s birth weight, and then her post-baby weight. In fact, we might as well call it “WEIGHT WATCH 2012,” because pictures of her are feverishly published and scrutinized, using horribly sarcastic phrases like “she poured her curves into her workout clothes.”
“Poured?” Seriously, ya’ll? Every article I’ve seen in recent weeks has something to say about her weight, chest size, or baby, and every word is a thinly-veiled jab at her for daring to be a normal, post-partum mom who may have better things to do than miss her baby’s precious milestones for hours in the gym.
As a mom who is currently struggling with my own post-partum body, I know full well the roller coaster of emotions that come in the first three months after giving birth. We may be filled with all that new-baby joy, but we also must deal with the staggering realization that your body doesn’t magically shrink back down to size the instant the baby comes out. We live in a society where baby weight is cute when you are pregnant, but becomes instantly pathetic about a week after you give birth. What new mom hasn’t felt that crushing blow when the well-intention person at the supermarket asks you when you are due, despite the fact that you have a clearly fresh infant in tow? It doesn’t help when we see highly publicized tales of those genetically blessed celebrities, rocking the catwalk in a bikini less than two months after giving birth. Their perfectly smooth tummies send the impression that everyone would bounce back that fast if we were just disciplined enough, motivated enough, or just plain awesome enough. With nary a stretch mark in sight, these lovely women represent a best case scenario that is out of reach for most moms. Too bad the media didn’t get the memo that maybe, just maybe, that’s not reality for the other 99% of women.
I gained a lot of weight during all my pregnancies. With the first two, it never really came off…but I really never tried to make it come off with any degree of commitment. However, once my youngest was nearing school-age, I did finally decide to get less fat. I had no magic diet or expensive gym membership. I just watched what I put in my mouth, and worked out with nothing more than my kids’ Wii and the streets around my house. It took nearly nine months, but I lost 60 pounds, and wore jeans I hadn’t donned since middle school. It was amazing, and glorious, and I managed to keep the weight off for two years. However, even with the weight gone, my poor body was a scarred landscape of stretch marks, surgical scars, and the inevitable skin “pooch” that many c-section moms can’t shake without a visit to the plastic surgeon. Even skinny me would not dare a bikini, because my abdomen looked like Freddy Krueger had a go at it.
Having conquered my weight once, I figured that my post-partum weight loss this time would be a breeze. I had done it before, I could do it again. I had the knowledge and the experience, so I fully expected to be back in my skinny jeans by now.
When I lost the weight last time, I had one child in school, another was nearing school-age, and I worked out over an hour a day every day. I did a workout program during Bear’s afternoon nap, and went jogging in the evenings when my husband came home from work. My kids were on a predictable schedule and fairly easy to manage, so carving out an hour a day was no great task.
It’s taken me several weeks to realize that losing the weight again is not going to be so quick this time. First, I am a nursing mom, and while I can eat better and make smarter choices, my caloric intake can’t take a nosedive without compromising both my and Bean’s overall health. Furthermore, Bean is a high-maintenance infant, so free time is thin on the ground right now. When or if she does nap, I have things like laundry, cooking, and two other kids that require my immediate attention. When it comes to jogging, leaving my husband with two self-contained kids was a piece of cake. Asking him to manage those two kids plus an infant, all after having worked all day at his own high-stress job, is asking a lot. Even when I do, exhaustion from lack of sleep means I would rather lie down than strap on my Nikes and brave the 100 degree heat (don’t even mention a gym…we are flat broke and childcare for workouts is out of the question). Don’t get me wrong, my husband is the most helpful, supportive person in the world, but after a long day, I’d rather have help with the dishes, kids or the current poop-apocalypse. Mostly, I just want to bathe without interruption.
I know that eventually, I WILL be in the position to rock my skinny jeans again. But, it’s just going to take time. A year from now, will I regret that I didn’t get my full hour of workouts in a day? No. Because I’ll be too busy NOT regretting the fact that I didn’t miss basking in Bean’s smiles, milestones, fresh baby smell, and first-year magic. In the meantime, I’ll eat the best I can without starving myself or Bean, workout when I can, and try not to let insecurity about body image ruin the most incredible time of my child’s life.
So, as much as I avoid social commentary on this blog, I want to say that the perverse expectation the media puts on new celebrity moms is awful, disgusting and pathetic. Even if they have the expendable income for gyms, personal trainers and nannies, they are not obligated to melt the baby weight away at super-human speed, just because a gossip column says so. God forbid they focus their energy on bonding as a family, becoming a good parent, or getting some much needed rest. In fact, for every media outlet that publishes an analysis of that certain celebrity’s baby weight, I say we take a scale to their office, and make EACH AND EVERY staff member weigh in on a live, streaming internet feed for the entire world to see. When all is said and done, I bet we would be able to say, “She just had a baby…what’s your excuse a$$hole?”