Wait issues.

Like most women, I haven’t always been kind to myself. In fact, there have been times in my life when, were such things possible, I really ought to have packed my bags and left me, slamming the door and vowing not to come back until I got some help. Instead I had to ride out those awful years, and thank the gods I did, because now I have a pretty great life and some cute babies to boot. (Not that I boot my babies. That would be wrong.)

One of the ways in which I treated myself poorly had to do with weight. You name the eating disorder, I had it, or at least flirted with it. Or maybe just gave it my phone number when I was drunk, but I probably picked up the phone when it called. After college, I thought I was done with all that, but then graduate school came along. I needed money and a flexible schedule, so I started modeling, and, well, I’m sure you can guess how good that is for the ol’ body image.

I got out of the beauty business in 2003, taking a big pay cut for the sake of my sanity. I moved out to LA, home to every homecoming queen, and tried to get used to life beyond looks. And I was doing pretty well. Then I got pregnant with twins.

Let me just say, I loved my pregnant body. I had trouble gaining the recommended amount of weight, which I worried about loudly while being secretly, shamefully pleased. I sincerely did try, eating ice cream and avocados and olives and lots of meat. But each time I stepped on the scale and saw the needle hover only a millimeter above its previous reading, a nasty little voice in the back of my head congratulated me. Eventually I did gain about forty pounds, and I was proud of that.

Now, though, it won’t go away. I’ve lost about twenty-five pounds, while fifteen more cling to my butt and my stretched-out, wrinkly belly. My face is rounder than it used to be. And I am struggling to be all right with this. Because old habits, like cliches, die hard, and my instinct is to crash diet this squishiness away. But I am nursing and have a low milk supply; now is not the time for me to diet. (Oh, and that old saw about nursing being the best way to lose weight? Not so for everyone, as it turns out!)

I have made a promise to myself that I will not seriously try to lose this weight until I’ve stopped nursing. I could embark on a sensible, nursing-friendly weight-loss routine, but I’d be risking a precipitous tumble back into the waters of Crazy, and it’s not worth it. Still, accepting my body as it is is hard for me. Harder than even I would have anticipated.

Wren sleeping on Mama


16 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    I’ve talked about this with luckybuzz — I was one of those, ahem, lucky ones who had to hang onto substantial extra weight to nurse successfully. Like you, I’ve been up close and personal with various eating disorders. I had come to terms with my pre-pregnancy body after decades of hating it. Nursing played absolute hell with my hard-won self-satisfaction. The first time I had to take my nursing-body out to buy (x-x-large) clothes to fit it, I stood in front of the dressing room mirror and cried.

    The weight really DOES come off eventually when you’re done nursing (though the tummy stuff, well, uh, you know). But I know that’s cold comfort when you have to look at your current self in the mirror. So. Sympathy and lots of it. And, for what it’s worth, I thought you looked incredibly fabulous in your recent pictures.

  2. 2

    Natalie said,

    You are a beautiful woman. The weight will come off in time. Try to eat sensibly because I I know for me when I start to worry about my weight I reach for the cookies. That’s sabotaging ain’t it. In fact yesterday I tried to do a dance cardio video for the first time and didn’t really know the routines so I grabbed a cookie and watched. HA! I know how hard it is to exercise without little ones but if you can take the babies on a vigorous walk around the block or 20 minutes of yoga or hula hooping you will feel better too. I through hula hooping in there because it sounds like fun right? I can see you hula hopping for some reason and being really good at it.

  3. 3

    geckogrrl said,

    Your body is perfect just as it is!

    So sorry to hear about your milk supply. I totally know how that goes. At least, though, you have been able to nurse so much for so long! How great is that???

    I also have body issues. It’s really hard to get over those. Part of me hopes, though, that in time I’ll be able to fit back into some of my clothes and maybe be more accepting of my baby belly!

    Hang in there and feel free to write if you need an ear to talk to — I so completely identify with what you are going through!

  4. 4

    KS said,

    I like this post…I think it’s one of the most honest things you’ve written (not that you’re usually NOT honest, but this is a difficult subject). One thing I have to mention, though, is that your babies are only 7 months old. When I lost 60 pounds of baby weight in 5 months, I was nursing AND dancing four days a week, and I started dancing at 9 days postpartum. I don’t think that’s, um, recommended. Many many people take a year or more to lose all the weight. I took a year after the second baby, and I was dancing the least that time. Also, after each baby I hit a plateau where I don’t lose any for a while, and then for no apparent reason, the rest goes away. So please give yourself time (I don’t know why I said that, the point of your post is that you ARE giving yourself time, it’s just hard).

    I love that picture, because what better to look at when you want to appreciate the belly squishies, eh?

    also, even when the weight comes off, your body will be different. I weigh less now than I ever have as an adult, and body is completely changed…there is a lot of belly skin these days, and I’m not sure I could ever diet it away (I mean, maybe if I cut out the Ben and Jerry’s, but seriously? I don’t think so…)

    Blah, I think about bodies a lot, and I’ve been thinking about how I talk about bodies a lot. With three daughters, I am hyper-aware of what I say. And teaching dance all day, I constantly try to figure out ways to tell girls to hold their stomachs in without saying it outright because I don’t want them to think I’m telling them to be thinner, when in fact I just want them to be stronger, you know?

    Anyway, I’m writing a novel. Hang in there. You are beautiful, your husband loves your body, and your babies love your body. Now it’s your turn.

  5. 5

    Allison said,

    Great post. I struggle with this every day. My baby is turning 2 next week and the weight has still not come off. It’s not for lack of trying, either. I am having a lot of difficulty accepting the changes in my physical appearance and also my slowed metabolism. And I didn’t lose any weight when I nursed either.

  6. 6

    Celeste said,

    This is just a place our culture doesn’t go–acceptance or appreciation of what it physically costs to give life.

    Part of me thinks I would have a tuck if I could find any way at all to pay for it. The rest of me thinks that is just opening the door to deciding the rest of me needs cutting and pasting. Acceptance is hard. Most of the time I tell myself I have to do it for my daughter’s sake. I can’t having her feeling bad that she “did” this to me.

    Rock on, little mama.

  7. 7

    esperanza said,

    I have the opposite problem, but your post really resonated with me anyway. I only gained 13 pounds (yeah, delivery at 29 weeks helps with the weight gain). I lost all of that within the first six weeks or so, then about 10 more pounds, so that I weigh less than I have since junior high. This is not good. I eat constantly, but don’t gain any back. I think it’s the constant nursing (er, pumping in my case) and the not gaining enough in the first place, and who knows what. What resonated with me was the feeling of being out of control of the whole thing. The baby(ies) are in charge, seems like, no matter what we do. Guess I should just get used to that, huh? And, just to let you know, even being so small, I do have a bigger tummy than I used to, C-section scar and all. Ah well, there are worse things.

  8. 8

    Michelle said,

    I kind of said my piece on this privately… The part you don’t know is that I had worked very hard to get to a healthier weight before conceiving. I lost about 25 pounds And then gained 32 (for 1 baby). And lost about 24 between baby, placenta, blood volume, and water weight. That happened in the first 6 weeks or so after delivery. I haven’t lost a lick of the fat that I gained in the last year! It’s hard accepting the changes in body structure that I see — stretch marks, looser skin, extra flub. It’s also frustrating that nursing makes me freaking hungry!!! I would love to nurse my way thin, but the appetite has not lowered and I’m still eating like I did during the pregnancy. Of course, I am still building a whole other person, so I try not to be too hard on myself.

    For myself, I think the missing piece is exercise. I try to walk wherever possible (with a 20lb weight wiggling in his sling no less), but my gym membership lies fallow as I make excuses about time and child care. And with winter closing in, walking gets much more uncomfortable and dangerous, so I’ve got to figure something out!

    I wish you luck accepting what you cannot change, changing the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference. 😉 *hugs*

  9. 9

    KS said,

    I just wanted to add that I’ve been talking to people about this issue lately, and realized that one of the biggest gifts my mother gave me was that she never talked about her weight, and she never disparaged her body. I think that those of us who are mothers need to find ways to talk about this issue, while at the same time being vigilant about what we say and do in front of our children, especially our daughters.

  10. 10

    Red Diabla said,

    It’s well-nigh impossible for any woman in LA to feel good about her body under the best of circumstances, so to read this makes me feel sad and exasperated that women continue to beat themselves up over post-pregnant bodies when it’s so far from their control what can happen during that time.

    However, it sounds like you’re doing pretty well at not dipping your toe back into the Crazy waters, and I bet part of it is that you have a great support system between friends, Husband, and the rest of your family. That can make a WORLD of difference.

  11. 11

    writer2 said,

    As writer1 knows I’m the last person to say anything on weight gain or loss. But I do know that there’s way too much emphasis placed on image and self-esteem and on being judged by others (or worse yet, anticipating jiudgment by others) when it comes to weight. The body isn’t a finely tuned machine. It’s an organic blob of all sorts of messy processes, with stuff going in and out all the time. And bless you for having gotten through the most extraordinary process of all, with cutie pie twinkies to show for it.

    No easy answers here for these issues. All I know is that like everyone else who has been through this you have pulled off a miracle of life and your kids are thrilled that you have — even if they don’t always show it to you now. They couldn’t care less about your weight; the same for everyone else who really knows you and loves you.

  12. 12

    Nora said,

    Hugs. I myself just joined my local Y with a grand vision but thus far little willpower to get in shape. Have you thought about how you will help Wren navigate these tricky waters in the future?

  13. 13

    Teresa said,

    If it helps, I gotta say you looked great last time I saw you at J’s B-day party!

  14. 14

    kathy a. said,

    i think that photo is just beautiful!

  15. 15

    bronnie said,

    Aw– you’re fine and look lovely… Those extra few pounds will melt off soon.. I envy you…At least your body still makes estrogen.

  16. 16

    Liz said,

    You are beautiful. Objectively and subjectively.

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