I teach a couple yoga classes every week. After my last baby, I went to teach my first class. A student approached me, “Have you lost all the baby weight?” The question hit me sort of hard, right in the chest. It was an abrupt entry into the “real world,” after my maternity-leave. I thought for a second about my response. Was I ashamed that I hadn’t? Did this person need a lecture about manners? Maybe. Did she need my entire story? No. I responded, “Nope, this is what I look like with about 15 extra pounds, but I’m not really worried about it.”
I wish I could have come up with something more eloquent.
I wish I had said, “Today I am not the same weight that I was when I became pregnant with my last child. My bottom and thighs are rounder and my tummy is soft and squidgy. My breasts are the biggest they have ever been and I feel so good that they are full of milk for my baby this time (because one time they weren’t).
I am mushy and squishy in every way right now. My brain is mushy and squishy. It’s been altered (possibly permanently) by a cascade of hormones throughout pregnancy, birth and now – to help me understand, respond and bond to my baby.
My heart is mushy and squishy because when it felt like my body was going to break apart in birth, the thing that really broke apart was my heart – making room for the love that would come with this child.
Everything is as it should be right now. My body, my mind and my heart are perfectly poised to nurture my baby. To hold him against my soft warm belly, to feel that my heart might burst as I feel his breath light and soft against my chest. To understand that my mind has stilled – to allow me to sit; to be still and quiet with this infant – fresh from heaven.
I am raw and healing. Something the size of a bowling ball came through me. My nipples ache and burn. My mind is raw – I don’t get a lot of sleep and hormones make me cry at every sappy ad on TV. My heart is healing around this new space, around this new person and the new family we have created – but it is raw and tender and vulnerable and intensity of my emotions is electric.
So, when you ask me if I have lost the baby weight, you discount what has happened to me. You discount that I am a new person, a different person. I am not trying to “get my body back,” or “get back to the old me.” With each child I have, I am born again as a new mother. I am stronger and bigger (on the inside and out). I carry that birth with me, physically, mentally and emotionally. I am in a process of growing and healing. Please do not ask me to go back. I’m having a wonderful time being mushy, and squishy, and raw, right here, and it feels amazing.