Nuh-uh. No, she didn’t.
Yep, she did. That stupid grocery store clerk just asked if I was pregnant. I wanted to punch her face in. I wanted to tell her she didn’t look so hot herself. I wanted to throw the super sharp santoku knives from aisle 12 straight into her stupid, little face. But I didn’t. Yesterday, when she asked if I was pregnant, I said, “No,” and ran away and cried.
Damn her! I had just gone for a long run with John and was commenting to him about how I was finally starting to feel a little better about myself. It has been 7 weeks since Callie left us and although I don’t look like my pre-pregnant self yet, I definitely look better than those first few postpartum days. And just like that, with a quick, well-meaning question from that clerk, I was back to feeling like crap…CRAP!
I’ve been thinking about writing about this topic for weeks now, but just hadn’t felt like it was the right time. Well, baby, here I am…pissed off and ready to tell it how it is.
Losing Callie was the hardest thing I have ever experienced in my whole life. And preggo comments do not help…one bit. It’s already hard enough!!! From the nice lady on the elevator at the Homestead who said “Babies first!”, to the receptionist who took one look at my stomach and told me to let the masseuse know that I was expecting, to the nail lady who asked if I was having a baby and then laughed when I told her my baby died because she had no freaking clue what I was saying, I have been bombarded by cruel, cruel reminders of the empty void that is my stomach. That place where Callie used to be is now a saggy, shell of itself and every time someone makes a thoughtless comment I am transported right back to my baby girl’s death. It makes me feel so ugly and sad.
Instead, I should feel proud. That stomach was the house that sheltered Callie as she grew. There is no greater miracle than that. I grew a baby! A precious life. My stretch marks and C-section scar are my only physical reminders of the fact that Callie was here. She was real. I am a mother and she was my baby girl. I can remember at the beginning of my pregnancy how I wished I could carry around a sign that said, “I’m not fat, I’m just pregnant!”. I would give anything for a sign now that said, “I’m not pregnant, just fat…so leave me alone!” So now, with no baby in my Baby Bjorn to explain away my tummy, I am left defenseless to dumb people who mean well, but manage to single-handedly ruin my day, increase my grief, and leave me boiling mad.
When I first thought about writing this post a few weeks back, I thought I would try to give some helpful advice to other baby loss mommas who may encounter my blog looking for help. I know that I found it so frustrating trying to find exercise advice articles online. Just look at some of these samples:
“Sign up for a mommy-and-me exercise class.”
“As exercise-related endorphins circulate in your system, boosting your mood and your ability to cope, you’ll find yourself much better equipped to handle the stresses of new parenthood“
“Exercise is good for you, but in the first few months after you give birth, don’t overdo it. Your body needs time to heal, and you need time to adjust to your new role and to care for and bond with your baby“
GAG ME!!!!!! I wish I had a baby to do mommy-and-me classes with…these sources are full of baby talk landmines that you stumble upon as you try to navigate these weird postpartum days without your baby. Once, I thought I had stumbled upon something good when I saw this site advertising a “real postpartum bodies” gallery where new mothers post pictures of their bellies. I thought it would be like Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty. NOT!! It was just a gallery of women showing off their completely flat, non-stretch marked stomachs. Who are these people? Where do they live? Can I please send them hate mail???
I am going to try to channel this anger into a positive place. I am going to share my plan for myself here in the most public of places so that others who are walking in my shoes may benefit from knowing that they are not alone. Not only that, I am going to post real postpartum pictures:
BOOM! I DID IT! That’s me, 7 weeks postpartum. Scarred tummy, weird textured skin, and stretch marks. And I think it’s beautiful. Eat it skinny chicks!
Here it is…K’s Plan for Looking Not Pregnant:
Remind yourself of these things every day:
- Your body did a beautiful thing: It might not look beautiful to you right now, but it did a beautiful thing. Be proud of that. Some of you may feel like your body betrayed you because it was not able to hold your baby to term. Just remember that your body created your baby. He or she was beautiful. Let your stomach be a physical reminder of his or her presence. That is more than beautiful. It is amazing.
- Take it slow: You just had a baby (possibly major abdominal surgery, like me). You can not go straight to the gym…even if you read that the celebrities do in People magazine. They are wacked out, have millions of dollars, and chances are they are not very happy despite the fact that they have a beautiful new baby and fame and fortune. You are normal. You are human. Humans have flaws. Accept it and move on. Ease into a routine gently.
- It will get better: The first 6-8 weeks suck because you don’t feel good about yourself but there is not much you can do about it because you are supposed to be taking it easy. On top of that, you are drowning in grief. Just know that it will suck, acknowledge that, and move forward. Do what you can: walk, walk, walk and eat as healthy as possible without being a Nazi about it. Right now, I am making sure that I am eating healthy when I am at home, but I let myself get whatever I want when I am out with friends. When so much else seems out of your control, diet and exercise are the two things you can completely control. I’m only 7 weeks out so I am in this phase right now. Just fighting to stay positive and give what I can give.
- Be real: It took 9 months to put it on. Expecting it to come off in one month is totally unrealistic. Be gentle on yourself. I have to remind myself of this…a lot.
As much as I would LOVE to hide behind a baggy shirt and sweatpants, it is just not a good look. It’s depressing. And it makes me feel even more large and in charge than I really am. After several not-very-fun shopping sessions, I have found some clothes that are working ok for me right now.
Some good picks:
- Button-Downs: Casual chambray button-down shirts can be worn a little loose and look great with jeans/capris and ballet flats! Feels like wearing a baggy t-shirt but looks way nicer.
- Cute Tops: Buy tops that have ruffled tiers, buttons down the front (esp. with nice darting that gives you shape), or interesting details. They are forgiving in the tummy area.
- Wear Layers: Put a cute jacket or cardigan in a cool color over top of the cute tops to disguise your trouble spots
- Pants: This is the hard part. Wear your maternity pants as long as you need to! I tried on regular jeans…not a fun experience right now. The waist fit, but the butt was extremely saggy. Currently, I’m wearing maternity jeans that have the under-belly waist as a compromise because they don’t feel so maternity-ish as the full-panel kind. No one will know if you wear a long tank top underneath your tops. I do not feel like going out and buying all new pants yet. That will be my reward for working hard :-)
|Before: Taken 4 weeks postpartum… looking kind of preggo. BOOM AGAIN! THAT’S REAL!|
|After: Cardigan + button down makes me look smaller and un-preggo|
-Eating & Working Out Plan
I am the most unathletic person in the history of the world. Me giving advice on this is like Snooki trying to play Jeopardy. Totally not qualified. But, this is the plan I created for myself. Putting myself out here like this will hopefully help me stick with my resolutions and maybe help someone else looking for postpartum workout advice without all the baby talk. Do what is best for you.
Weeks 1-2: Lay in bed and cry. It’s ok. Give yourself time to heal.
Weeks 3-6: Walk- going for long walks is healing because it gives you time to think and process your emotions. My doctor said this was fine as long as I went slow and listened to my body. Even if it’s just around the block…at least it was something.
Week 6-8 (after doctor’s blessing)-Week 12:
- Start “From the Couch to the 5K” program. It uses interval training to increase your endurance. I started after my 6 week postpartum checkup and I am now on week 2 :-)
- Do yoga/pilates at the gym or with a video. Gentle strength training, and healing meditation at the same time… winning combo.
- Hit the gym hard! Go to group classes at the gym like weight lifting, step aerobics, zumba, kickboxing, etc.
- Sign up for a 5K and train for it!
Diet: Great resource for diet- http://assets.babycenter.com/ims/Content/post_baby_diet.pdf
I like that it has portion size visuals :-)
Ok, ranting complete. Writing this blog has really helped me so far in my grief journey. I’m saying this because I didn’t write this post looking for pity or sympathy. I write to vent, to share, and to heal. I’m not fishing for compliments here people…so don’t even try it. Please DO NOT comment on this post telling me how beautiful I am or how great I look. I mean it. Although that is very sweet, it will feel like a handout after writing about this topic and your words will be empty to me. What you can do is send me an electronic hug, check in with me from time to time to see if I’m sticking with my plan, send me an inspiring quote that will help me kick ass at the gym, give me a good recommendation for a running playlist, or give me a witty comeback that will make the next person who tries to call me preggo want to run away and cry. Ok, so maybe not run away and cry…that’s mean. But it will help me laugh about something sad and that is almost just as good.