Category Archives: Motherhood/body image

Your ingenious marketing ploy makes me feel fat…

After having children clothes don’t fit my body the way they used to. I recognize part of this is due to the extra pounds I carry around as a result of a sedentary job and a love of all things bread. However, part of it is due to the fact that certain muscles stretched out beyond their normal capacity and may never return to their previously gorgeous ultra flat condition.

In other words, I have a pooch.

Jean shopping since the advent of the ultra-low-rise-guaranteed-to-give-you-plumber-butt-or-a-horrid-muffintop-no-matter-how-much-you-starve-yourself jean has been fairly impossible. None of the low rise jeans fit me in any flattering way and all of the “traditional fit” jeans are made of flimsy denim, cost 10 bucks and make me feel categorically uncool.

I have been touring the jean rack at Ross for months now. My only awesome pair of ultra luxurious designer french jeans came from Ross and I have stalked their jean aisle religiously ever since in the hope of finding another pair like them. (Especially now that I have worn that one luxurious pair for years now and must retire it due to huge rips, tears, and thin spots.)

While touring the jean aisle this time my fingers happened upon a thick and luxurious denim in my size. Soft deep blue fabric rested heavily in my arms as I carried them to the fitting room. The jeans fit beautifully. My ass looked great, I didn’t have a muffin top, and I could move around in all positions without feeling any restriction. Perfect! I removed the jeans feeling damn sexy and pleased to once again own a pair of jeans that made me feel really good wearing them.

Then I saw the tag. I am sure the marketing geniuses who came up with the brand name and web address thought they were appealing to my sense of outrage at the ridiculous rail thin models shoved in front of my face at every fashion turn. I am positive they were trying to create a sense of female solidarity and tell me they were taking the time to make jeans that really fit real women really well. What they did was drain the pleasure from my shopping experience.

“Not My Daughter’s Jeans” may as well read “Mom Pants” or “Uncool and dated jeans” or “Too busy parenting to bother with looking good denim”. Seriously. I don’t want to be buying jeans marketed to mothers even though I recognize I need jeans designed for women who have had babies. I want to wear jeans marketed to Catherine Zeta Jones or Angelina Jolie or to women who are traveling to exotic places and dancing in fancy nightclubs. I want to buy jeans that tell me I am still hot and desirable even if my kids will ultimately use them as a kleenex.

My previous sense of self satisfaction gone I reminded myself that they looked damn good on me and the tag, NMDJ, was both discreet and located on the inside of my waistband.

Then I found the tag with their web address on it.

Fuck you NMDJ’s. Fuck you.

The third person

I believe I have hit upon the reason mom’s refer to themselves in the third person. For example:
“Mommy is busy right now honey, please wait until I am done.”
“No honey, Mommy can’t turn the t.v. up right now, Mommy is in the shower.”
“Mommy is still in the shower honey, I can’t get to the remote right now! Please wait until I am out of the shower!!”

It is in part do to the interaction with the infant, but I think it is really because mommies have three personalities, therefore Mommy is personality number three, the third person.

My first person is a young woman who loves to go dancing, stay up until dawn, smoke cigarettes and toss back one too many tequila shots. Sadly, she was put into a coma about 6 years and 9 months ago, so the chances of anyone seeing her again are slim. However, she occasionally invades my consciousness with a sweet memory and the smell of freedom, often when I am driving in the rain and turn the music up a little louder than I should.

My second person is a serious lawyer ready and able to save the world. She is dedicated, tireless, and armed with the tools needed to wreak havoc on opposing council. She wears sexy yet serious business suits and sensible heels. She is witty at cocktail parties and political functions, and still amazes her husband with her intellectual prowess and social capabilities.

My third person is a mom. She is always there for tears, problem solving, lunch making, real and imagined insults, boo boo kisses, and upset tummies. She cleans the house, buys the groceries, prepares the food. She showers at night because she is usually showered in baby spit up several times during the day. She is a napkin, a washcloth, and more. She doesn’t sleep, hasn’t worn make-up in months, and lost her ability to put together a decent outfit ages ago. She is an expert in getting smiles and giggles, diffusing kiddo stress and consternation, and removing stains from laundry. She can change a really messy diaper in under three minutes with only three or four wipes.

However, she is the hardest personality to acknowledge and accept. She is much more disheveled than the other two parts of me, much more emotional, and seemingly less capable, though really, she is just dealing with more. After all, how often does a lawyer have to handle complex billing negotiations with a screaming baby vomiting on their suit? How many young and carefree women have to schlep children through the grocery store?

Anyway, the reason I think I refer to this third personality in third person is simple, it places distance between the sleepless, pale, disheveled mad woman in the mirror and myself. After all, carefree woman and slick lawyer are rarely interrupted in the shower by anyone for any reason, much less a six year old needing help with the television.

I really am still the young carefree woman and the slick lawyer. They are just currently hidden behind a river of baby spit up and burp cloths. Until I can see them again, or at least small parts of them, I will likely still continue to refer to the rest of me, that tired, spit up covered woman, in the third person.

Insomnia brings an epiphany.

I haven’t had insomnia since Marlena was born, I suppose because I haven’t slept much at all since she was born. It’s not all her fault, a big part of that is due to the various degree’s of higher education I have obtained since she entered the world.

Tonight’s insomnia came to me like an old friend. I used to suffer from this loathsome and annoying condition often in my youth. When afflicted with the inability to sleep as an adult, I would read or watch t.v. to while away the hours. As a child I would rearrange my furniture in the middle of the night.

Tonight I snuck into Marlena’s room and cleaned it. Then I lay in bed listening to my husband and baby snore and waited for sleep. It didn’t come. So here I am, writing to all of you, and eating some cream of wheat with soymilk. I miss real milk. A lot.

(Marlena’s bday party was successful today, but I will save that post for tomorrow, when I can post all the pictures with it.)

While lying in bed and listening to the rumbles of the men in my life I began to think about my body. Having just had a baby I am squishy and pudgy. I have dark marks down my stomach and I am pretty sure my breasts sag more each day. I look in the mirror while naked and I am a far cry from my supple teenage body of yore.

Tonight I realized something very important. I don’t care. I think I have a beautiful body. I love my body. My body has done the most amazing thing in my life, twice. I have grown two entire human beings. They came from me fully formed, with eyes, and ears, toes and fingers, and great personalities. They think things seperate from me and they have their own ideas. They will grow to have their own seperate lives. Their own children.

My body grew people. Real people. These real people:

I love these people. I love that they came from me, that I made them.

I love that my breasts look like they have nourished and are nourishing children. I love that my nipples are long and dark and my skin is marked with silver streaks. These breasts of mine have made the most amazing babies. They have fed them for hours of the most wonderful snuggly nursing.

I love that my stomach and thighs have stretch marks. My stomach grew two people. My babies came to life inside my stomach and grew to be strong and healthy. They would not be here if it weren’t for those stretch marks.

I don’t care that I don’t look like a young girl anymore, or that I am squishy and pudgy. My body is one that grew and sustained lives, and those lives love to hug and snuggle me as I am.

Thank you body, for everything you have given me. Thank you for being squishy and saggy and floppy. Thank you for being strong and able. Thank you for my life.

Hormones and Dreams…

I had the worst dream last night. It was one of those dreams where you are walking through your house into your bedroom and you just have this sinking feeling that you are going to find something horrible on the other side. Every step was in slow motion as I walked towards the door, I opened it and on the bed was a shirt of Lee’s. The room smelled vaguely of women’s perfume and the shirt has a lipstick stain on it.

The rest of the dream consisted of vignettes of me trying to figure out what to do, me crying, me packing up the kids and moving back in with my parents, etc. I woke up cranky and depressed. There is nothing like a cheating nightmare to make a brand new mommy feel squishier and less secure than the day before. Why is it that I feel less pretty, and therefore in a sick way (that has nothing to do with logic and reason) less valuable to my husband, when I have an extra 40 pounds of perfectly valid baby wieght on my frame?

It is not as though I gained this weight eating nachos and watching daytime soap operas. I grew an 11 pound 6 ounce baby for the love of Pete! Then I birthed him! I should feel like a rock star, or like MVP at the very least.

On the happy front, I lost 9 pounds in just under three weeks, so his eating habits are helping me creep back toward my pre-baby weight. Of course, then I will be back to attempting to lose the law school weight, but no one is perfect.

I am breathing… cleansing breaths… my dream was not indicative of reality, it was all a subconcious hormone induced nightmare.

I am getting a haircut tomorrow. I will post pictures.

Thank you

From an unexpected source…

First of all, thanks to all who commented on my last post, I appreciate having a village of women who will rally ’round and support me in my final months of grazing and lowing. I could not do it without you ladies.

As evidenced by my last post, I have been feeling like a large beached mammal more than a lovely woman, so I was pleasantly surprised to be given a self esteem pick me up from an unexpected source today.

I was in the checkout line of the Whole Foods today buying milk. I was dressed in my usual late trimester uniform, ponytail, no make-up, yoga pants and front tie shirt. The woman behind me leaned over and asked when I was due. I told her the first of April and expected to get the normal sympathetic look or questions about whether or not it’s my first child, the usual checkout line chatter. Instead she told me that she thought I was just lovely, and looked so comfortable and proud of being pregnant. She then handed me her card, informing me she was a photographer specializing in pregnancy and families, and asked if I would model for her.

I was stunned, here I was at my most schlubby, feeling like a giant beached mammal, and this wonderful woman was asking me to model for her. I told her that the black hid a lot, which was part of it’s beauty, she laughed, told me to take her card and think about it. I muttered something about thinking about it, thanked her, and wandered into the parking lot.

Needless to say I checked her out online, and called her immediately thereafter to say yes. She wants me to bring my yoga clothes, wear whatever make up I normally wear, and be comfortable. Not only does she want me to model, but she actually wants ME to model for her, not me covered in piles of correcting fluid.

It was really nice to get a compliment of this nature from a stranger. I get told I am lovely by Lee and my family and friends, but let’s face it, if I actually was a beached mammal you would all tell me how lovely I was in order to make me feel better, so the stranger compliment is more successful at perking up my self image.

Anyway, I am off Wednesday of next week to capture me in all my pregnant glory. I am excited to see how she sees me when the photos are finished.

Not really baby blues…..

More like baby shock. As the day of Otter’s arrival approaches, I keep getting these flashes of reality… I am having a baby. Another person. Who will he be? What will he be like?

There is something disconcerting about growing someone inside your body for nine months and still knowing very little about him. It seems as though I should have a very in depth knowledge of this little guy, and while I know we are already bonded, and that this bond will continue to grow, it still feels strange to think I will be meeting him for the first time in about a month.

I remember when Monkey was born, I had a similar reaction. After months of singing to her, reading to her, playing music into my belly, my first reaction after her birth was surprise. “Oh that’s a baby…. Oh fuck that’s MY baby!!” I looked at her little face and held her warm little body and thought “How?”

Of course, then she was in my arms and snuggled up to my breast nursing and I felt that special bond. It is still here, stronger than ever, a connection she and I have that no one else shares. It is precious, and wonderful. I have often wondered how I can have another similar connection with another person when the one I have with her is so intense and deep.

I guess I am going to find out in about a month! I am sure it will be a similar experience with Otter, I will experience a moment of disconnect and then all the bonded mommy/baby feelings will come rushing in. I can’t wait to hold him, and hear him cry, and be able to wear pants with a zipper. I want to find out if he is funny, like his sister, or serious, or what he is going to like or dislike.

It is so strange, this creating life thing.

Here are some recent baby belly photos:

This one really shows how big I have gotten! And he still has to grow by several more pounds! Ack!

Love to all of you! Soon there will be pictures of him, without the belly!

He’s going to rock that belly!!

It has begun. Otter is now big enough to rock that belly!! Yes indeed, last night Lee and I were talking when Lee stopped and stared hard at my tummy.

“That was wierd, your whole stomach moved.”

Yes it did! He is rolling and kicking and moving around so much that I look like the first stages of alien release!! We sat back and enjoyed the show together for a bit as Otter was quite willing to put in a major performance.

At Ellen’s suggestion yesterday I checked of Shape of a Mother and submitted some of my pictures. It is an amazing site to go to. I am so angry that our image of what women should look like is impossible to acheive.

I mean, I was a thin and muscular teenager, I had an excellent body, and I remember scouring my image in the mirror for fat and “consoling” myself with the knowledge that Cindy Crawford had the same measurements as I did, so I didn’t have to be heroine thin to be cute. Come on!! How sick is it that our healthiest fit women in our culture still have to convince themselves that they are okay looking because they are not anorexic? Ugh!

My mother helped me a lot when I was younger. She told me she had always been unhappy with her appearance and then was looking back on photographs of her younger self and really felt angry that she had never enjoyed her looks then. That really stuck with me and I was able to work at being really happy with the way I looked. But it took work. I was probably 20 before I really felt that I was hot stuff, and that only lasted until I was 25 and got pregnant with Marlena. I wasted years of concern worrying about imaginary fat or a few zits, or the fact that I couldn’t wear empire waist shirts without looking pregnant. It’s sickening.

So, here I am, 31, and heading towards a true jiggly belly as soon as this baby emerges. I had better get my crap together and start learning how to be okay with my body, actually no…. I want to learn to be proud of it! I am really strong! I don’t really want to look like a model! They have teeny arms and legs lacking in muscle. They can’t lift my 5 year old and tromp around the house blowing zurberts!!! They can’t swing her around “swing kids” style until she giggles breathlessly! They can’t hoist baby, diaper bag, briefcase, and groceries into the house all at once! Or move thier own living room furniture when they want to redecorate without the immediate opinion of their spouse! (Sorry honey, sometimes a woman’s gotta do it on her own. But I am always willing to put it back if you hate it.)

So, here is another foray into the land of artistic expression and unself-concious body acceptance.

Granted, the true irony about pregnancy is that once you accept your body as is, it changes again. And again. And again. However, it is an amazing thing, this ever changing body of mine. After all, it has grown two people. One of whom is running around in Kindergarten and the other who is still waiting to pop out and say hello. I don’t really know of any other thing as amazing. It is so unreal that what starts as a little nausea and tiredness becomes another person. A whole other human, who will eventually go to college and change the world… somehow.

Anyway, check out Shape of a Mother, if you haven’t already. Then take up the banner with me and agree to try to stop longing for a shapeless American Stick Insect body. Who wants to resemble a clothing hanger? It’s Mayan Fertility Goddess for me all the way!

The game’s a foot!!

Yesterday we felt a foot! Or was it is hand?

It was definitely an appendage of one form or the other, and Lee and I each got to feel it rest right under our hands. I almost felt it in my hand at first! It had edges and definition. He becomes more and more of a little person each day.

Monkey sings Otter a lullaby at night after I sing her one, and he kicks mightily away as she sings into my tummy. He is really going to know who is sister is when he comes into this world. She is so excited that she has really spent a lot of time talking and singing to him.

I am still nesting, the instinct growing stronger and changing form as we get closer to Delivery-Day. This week it is a scrapbook of artistic images of me and my belly to commemorate this pregnancy. I wanted something to remind me of what it looks like for me to be pregnant. It is a pretty neat project so far. I am having fun with my Photoshop elements program and my pictures. Most of them I will not post on the Internet, as they involve no clothing, and once you put naked pictures out there, out there they stay. However, this one is I feel is harmless enough.

I am trying to capture the sense of quiet peace that fills me from time to time. So much of pregnancy is hard, and so many of our culturally supported memories are the hard ones. Nausea, sleeplessness, cramping, feeling fat, etc. I wanted to create memories for myself that reminded me of peace, and beauty, the internal sense of fulfillment one gets when you’re growing a baby. That way, even though I more often look sleepy, or a little rumpled, or tired and grumpy, I will remember feeling beautiful and calm, and ready for baby.

It has been an interesting project. When Monkey was in my belly I had a cast done of my torso, but I have not gotten it from the artist, and recently found out he had passed, so it is unlikely that I will have that memory, in any form other than a memory.

Of course my mom took a ton of pictures of me while I was carrying with her, so it’s not as though I have no memories of that time, they just aren’t full on belly nudes.

I am also making curtains and designing a little book and doing all the other stuff that lends itself to a sense of readiness for baby. We have our first meeting with Ellen, who is our Doula for the grand day, this weekend, and our having our tour and birthing class the following weekend.

I am still anxious about delivery, and a little sad that this is my final time doing this. It is such a complicated thing, pregnancy, I can’t imagine signing up for a life of it, but I am sad to see this part of my life slip into the past. Sometimes I wish life’s experiences were less ambivalent.

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly…

I sympathize with the old lady who swallowed a fly…

Pregnancy is such a huge change. It happens so fast and yet takes forever. I can only vaguely remember a time when I was able to run and life heavy objects, but I know it’s only been a few months. At times like this I wish we were more like the Greeks, who measured beauty by their bride’s weight in gold, and the largest most rotund women were the most sought after.

I certainly don’t fit anywhere within the definition of heroine chic, nor do I fit the definition of any chic! I feel, in this seventh month of pregnancy, as though I have swallowed my former self. I feel that I can just see her, if I squint and turn just right in front of a mirror.

I enjoy my belly, it is very round and satisfying. I can’t help but stroke it soothingly, as I will the baby when he is born. However magical and wonderous this experience is, it still lasts nine months. Nine months is a long to time to maintain a sense of wonder and awe. I fight hard against the belief that I have to be skinny to be happy, but even the healthiest of self-esteems has weak moments when one’s body is changing every day for nine months.

I have done this once before too, so I can’t even hold onto the lie that I will return quickly to my pre-pregnancy body. Ha! No one returns to their pre-pregnancy body without the assistance of a scalpel. Everything is subtly different. A little lower, a little looser, a little bulkier. So instead of holding to that illusive dream, I am left wondering what changes will stay this time. Will I ever feel comfortable in low rise jeans again? Will I ever see my toes or will my breasts remain huge forever?

And still, in the bath with the baby kicking, I say hello to my new little man and I am proud that my body can do this. I can grow another separate human being. He will, like his sister before him, emerge from my body and become his own person. My children will accomplish things that I have nothing to do with, even though there very existence was brought about by me.

Pretty amazing stuff. It blows my mind really. How complicated is the relationship we have with our children? I want them to be their own people, do their amazing things, yet there is a voice in my head that cries “come back” with each step towards independence. Is it because they grew within me, that I can’t just be joyful at thier successes? That there must always be this little touch of sorrow for the days of their babyhood?

My daughter has lost all her baby fat. You can clearly see the woman she will become even while helping her button her jeans. She is lithe and muscular and strong and lovely. Her face is delicate and her eyelashes dark. She can hula hoop, and play sports, and has experiences each day that have nothing to do with me. I am very proud of her, but oh I long for my little baby girl, with her chubby cheeks and belly, and her duck fuzz hair.

Life is too many emotions.

A pregnant woman walks into a salon…

There is this urge, when largely preggo, to recklessly hack off one’s hair in an attempt to feel like a new, non hippo-shaped person.* I have been suffering from this desire for several days now. Luckily, fortune, and a stylist named Ryan, intervened and prevented me from getting my “Lt. Kara Thrace” haircut this afternoon.

I walked into a very fancy salon and up to the nicely tailored man behind the counter. I was dressed in yoga pants, a sweater, and no make-up. He asked me what he could do for me, and I told him. “I am 5 months pregnant, and I need my hair to be something more than a giant mop hanging off my head.” He looked me up and down, said “congratulations” and told me Ryan would take care of me at two. He then asked a very thin pretty woman to take my information down and seat me with tea and cookies while I waited.

I contemplated my short new ‘do’ while waiting, and wondered what Lee was going to think about the loss of my golden locks. I was eventually led to shampoo, and relaxed further while Jessica washed my hair. Why is it that simply having someone else wash your hair can be a transformative experience? Afterwards, I was led to a chair and introduced to the man who would shore my head.

He asked me what I was looking to do, and I told him. He then said no. I paused for a moment, and said “you won’t cut my hair?” He told me, “I will cut your hair, but every time a pregnant woman walks in here, she wants to hack off all her hair, and everytime she comes back, she hates it. I will work with you to cut it into something stylish and sexy, but I will not cut it off.”

I contemplated his comments and slowly began to realize that he had been placed on this earth to prevent me from shaving my head in my fifth month of pregnancy. I agreed to his terms and emerged from the salon an hour later with a great haircut.

Here are a few pictures of the new cut, and the baby belly!

Much better than a highly short boy cut inspired by a fictional female soldier in outer space. Thank the PTB’s for Ryan.

(* Before anyone posts to tell me I do not look like a hippo, I want to explain my comment. You see, when a hippo lays on it’s back in the water, you can only see it’s face, it’s feet, and it’s belly. When I lay on my back in the water, you can only see my face, my feet, and my belly. Therefore, I feel as though I have a lot in common with a hippo at this point in my pregnancy. Besides, they are kind of cute.)