Getting it Back… sort of.

July 28, 2008 at 4:09 am 3 comments

Others in the fatosphere have been writing (here, and here– if not elsewhere) about the odd language applied to women after childbirth: “getting my/her body back”.

I’m right in the middle of that right now, and I bookmarked Tiffabee’s post weeks ago, wanting to respond but not wanting to write an epic comment. I’m going to try and make sure I only talk about my own experience, here. Mostly because I spent some time recently with a woman who talked about pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting in the second person. “And then you do this, and then this happens to you…” umm. No.

There was, while I was pregnant, a strange sort of ‘otherness’ associated with my body. I know my body pretty well, we’re on good speaking terms. But suddenly, things I thought I knew, I didn’t. I used to know how much room I’d need to fit between chairs in a crowded room, and could plan a route accordingly. I used to know how far I could open the refrigerator door without hitting myself in the navel. I used to know how what foods I liked, how far I could walk without pain, and my shoe size.

Then I didn’t know those things any more. And some of that was because of this other human being, who had taken up residence in my body. I knew other people for whom this sense of ‘other’ was reflected in their nicknames for their unborn babes. A couple of expecting moms I knew talked about ‘the Alien’. One pre-med student referred to the ‘very efficient parasite’. (tee hee).

I know that, for a lot of folks, the way other people lay claim to a pregnant woman’s body is really offensive. Asking ‘when are you due?’ becomes a loaded question- and lots and lots of folks step WAAAY over a line, offering comment, advice, and horror stories unasked, uninvited, and ad nauseum. the extent to which I allowed people to get away with that kind of crap is my own problem, and my own business.

But I did feel that there was a legitimate claim on my body to by made by the babe. And not just in a “mommy can’t have a beer” way. I invited her in there, and we were occupying the same space. My choices affected her. Her movement, and the basic process of growing affected me. We were intimately intertwined- but other. Even then, she wasn’t me.

Getting my body back? Sure. In the way that when even delightful house-guests come to stay, when they leave you ‘get your house back’. It didn’t go anywhere, and I never really lost control. But for a while I had to share. And I am delighted to no longer have an intermittent aversion to black pepper. I’m thrilled to be able to reach my feet in the shower. I look forward to the day when my favourite jeans fit again (much as I appreciate the friend who dropped off a carton of elastic-waist summer clothes, two sizes above my pre-baby size). I eagerly await a time when I am no longer subject to the whims of this tyrant who still rules my sleep schedule (though more benignly than she ruled from within).

But eventually I may get to sleep through the night. And someday, I may be able to hear a small child cry on TV without it causing me physical pain. Whatever body I have at that point, it’ll be mine and mine alone.

So, yeah. I’m getting my body back. Sort of.
My rock-hard abs, flat stomach, pert breasts, and ability to stay out past 11 have, however, gone on permanent hiatus.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

6 weeks This is my body…

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Miriam Heddy  |  July 28, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    You wrote, “I look forward to the day when my favourite jeans fit again…”

    And see, for me, this is part of what’s problematic about the “getting my body back” concept.

    I agree with you about all the issues involved in being a baby carrier. I mean, I referred to my own as a “temporary subletter.”

    But see, the media insists that we’re supposed to assume that we’ll eventually fit into our favorite jeans–that we’re supposed to somehow hit the reset button on our bodies, rather than being permanently changed by our pregnancies.

    And that notion is, I think, both unrealistic and actively harmful to women. We’re expected to (and expect ourselves to) remain the same, untouched by childbirth, by aging, and by living.

  • 2. mrs.millur  |  July 28, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    Miriam, thanks for your comment. You’ve made me be more honest with myself about this.

    A year has passed since I last had an un-pregnant body. The passing of time changes ~every~ body, and the extra changes of pregnancy even more so. The year before this pregnancy was one a very active one- I was in the best physical shape of my adult life. I’m very glad that no one in my immediate circle expects me to be at that point any time soon- if ever. I’m even more glad that I don’t expect that of me. I hope I’ll get back there, because I had a lot of fun getting there before. And I’m so very glad to have found FA this year, too. Because now when I say “I want back into that shape”, I know that I mean that level of strength and endurance not… well… shape. Or at least I know that’s what I want to mean. I’m on that path.

    My expectation that my favourite jeans (box of various clothes, actually) will fit again is based on the experience of (and after) my first pregnancy. (Which is a little nuts, considering how many things have been different this time around.) And I confess I’ll be a little sad if I don’t get to dip into that box again- because its full of things I bought because I loved them. My current wardrobe is transitional- and very seasonal, and mostly not what I would choose. It was also very free, which is a lot to commend it.

    I struggle with balancing the inherent wisdom of tossing away tiny pants with my previous experience of slow and steady return to a previous set weight range.

    I would like to imagine that I’m far enough in my FA journey to say (and really mean) that I’d be happy to return to any maintainable weight and start re-building a wardrobe of clothes that make me happy (and hide spit-stains?). Having done that once already, I know that would be a good thing, too. But I’m not there. I do think I belong at that weight I was maintaining before, and returned to, and maintained again.

    Would it be the end of the world if that box never made it back into my closet? no. But it would mean re-adjusting to a different mental picture of myself… again. And I know I could. But I don’t want to.
    I’m not particularly proud of that- but there it is.

  • 3. Ferijen  |  July 29, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Just to say really enjoying reading your blog. Seems like more than a year since you were over here!

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