With so much attention focused on how quickly mothers can “lose their baby weight” (in scare quotes because…scary how obsessed the media is with how quickly celebrity moms can lose their baby weight?), and with my favorite “how quickly did this celebrity lose her baby weight” getting lots of publicity today (click the link, you’ll get a good laugh), I thought I would share the things that concerned me in Thor’s early days, weeks and months. You know, the things that so many women are concerned with, when not being shouted at and called fat by the media for having dared to gestate a human being.
- My first and most oppressive concern was in getting the child fed. We didn’t get the nursing thing down pat for several weeks, and I felt I had already failed as a woman by having been induced in a low-level emergency situation because I had planned an earth-mother (or water mother, actually, since I wanted to float around in a birthing tub), natural delivery. Not being able to nurse him as easily as the lactation specialist seemed to think I should consumed me.
- Right alongside feeding him, was the cost of feeding him. Since he rejected (with a forceful stream of used formula, right across the room) the first few formulas we tried, we were told to buy one that many families (ours included) might find cost prohibitive. Fortunately, we were only tied to that as a mainstay for a couple of weeks, then it was only as-needed to top off his tank.
- Was he breathing? You ask any new mother which is a top concern: Her weight or whether or not the new baby is breathing. You cannot know the number of times you feel the need to check just to be sure until you are responsible for one of those baby things. It is insane. You feel insane. But you go check again anyway, because some experts tell you that if the baby is on his back and he barfs, he will choke and die. Some experts tell you if the baby is on his stomach, he will smash his face into something soft, suffocate and die. Some experts tell you that if the baby is in a crib with a bumper, he will die. Some tell you that if the baby is–do you see where I am going? Not even the experts can agree, so you go check again.
- The baby’s laundry is now ankle deep.
- Is he pooping? If you have ever had a constipated baby… He cried. I cried. None of us were happy. And then I introduced the baby suppository. Wow.
- He won’t go to sleep! When will he ever sleep?! Something is wrong!
- He’s asleep…he’s been asleep too long! Something is wrong!
- The baby’s laundry is now mid-calf deep.
- When can I take a shower? Oh my word. I can tell you that my proudest moment in Thor’s earliest days was when I managed to take a shower AND wash my hair in one go.
- Everything on you is leaking, and they don’t make pads for all of it.
- Everything on the baby is leaking, and they don’t make pads for all of it.
- The baby’s laundry is now knee deep–you did laundry two hours ago.
- When do I eat? When do I sleep? Oh sure, they tell you to nap when the baby naps, but do you know how that works? You get the baby to sleep and you see this: The breast pump you haven’t had a moment to rinse yet, which you are going to need in half an hour. The bottles that need to be washed and sterilized. The diaper pail that needs changing. The mess in the living room. The mess in the kitchen (because you still have to feed the other members of your family, too. Don’t forget that.) The detritus from the baby’s bath. Your own post-baby garbage that needs to be taken out (so incredibly gross). Your own milk/poop/urine/barf/drool/food stained wardrobe (when Thor was 3, I lost my freaking mind over fingerprints on my Easter dress because I hadn’t had a stitch of clean, just clean clothing in three years. I will never forget the look on B’s face as he steered the confused child away from the crazy lady.) There are phone calls to return, emails to check, knocks at the door to answer. If you can fall asleep after running through this mental list, good on you. Because the baby will wake up just as soon as your breathing regulates.
- Laundry. Oh my god, the laundry.
- I was consumed with worry about going back to work. Forget about the pressure to be thin, I was dealing with the judgment of literal strangers, who felt perfectly justified in telling me that I was dooming my child to a life of delinquency and crime by shuffling him off to daycare so I could fulfill my selfish desires to keep a decent roof over his head.
I could keep going. I could go all day. And, while it is true that I was excited to drop enough baby weight to fit back into my pre-baby clothes, I didn’t give a stinky diaper what anyone else thought about it. And I wore my maternity pants anyway.
If you are having a baby, or have recently had a baby, listen to me: The only people who are worried about your size are the people who stand to benefit from it monetarily. You spend your time loving that baby. You spend your time taking care of yourself mentally because babies, whether you birth them, adopt them, have one dropped off on your doorstep by a stork, or are just watching them for an hour while their mothers try to get showers, are the most mentally and emotionally taxing challenges you will ever face, and you need to be good to you so that you have the wherewithal to be good to them.
Take all the (viable) help that is offered to you. You need it. Anyone who has ever stared at a newborn all night long, trying to suss out why it won’t stop crying KNOWS that you need the help. Accept it gracious, gratefully, and go take that elusive nap. Do not let anyone try to convince you that you need to spend your free time doing crunches (unless that is what you truly want to do.) Anyone who does, slap them upside the head with that diaper pail bag. Twice.
*I have no idea how I lost my baby weight. It just happened. I gained a total of 34lbs, and when I came out of the hospital, I’d lost half of that. The other 15…I don’t know. It just came off over the two months after Thor was born. I cannot offer you a lick of help when it comes to weight loss.
All I can offer you is this: Even if I had never lost the weight, I had Thor, and that child…people. That child is the light of my life. I would weigh a thousand pounds, happily, if it meant his health and happiness.