“You have another baby in there, Mama?” my almost-three-year-old asked, as I lifted my shirt to feed his little brother.
Children always dish out a full dose of sincerity, so while I appreciate hearing, “You would never know you had a baby!” from friends, I know I’ve still got some work to do. I’m about two months postpartum and 8 pounds away from my pre-baby weight. While that’s obviously not much, I have to admit my toddler’s comment did sting a bit.
These past few weeks I’ve been fighting the urge to whip myself back into shape, when I know that having a flat tummy is the last thing I should be concerned with right now. I partly blame my job as a trainer, which carries the (totally self-imposed) expectation that I should be the poster child for bouncing back after baby. But I also suspect that some other new moms feel the same pressure.
Yesterday, I spent nearly half-an-hour rummaging through my closet, looking for a shirt that would disguise my post-baby belly. After three disappointing try-ons, I stopped myself. I put on a fitted tank top and stood sideways in front of the bathroom mirror. There was my bump, just as it looked when I’d just started showing. Suddenly a thought came into my mind. Why, I mused, can’t a woman be just as proud of her baby bump postpartum as she is during pregnancy?
I kept the shirt on. I walked out of the bathroom and saw my two adorable boys, waiting for me so we could finally leave for dinner. The rest of the evening, I kept thinking of how I treated my body during pregnancy and how quickly my mindset had changed after my son was born—from the way I viewed my curves to my attitude toward food to my overall sense of purpose.
In these early months of pouring my time, energy and love into my newborn son, I hope to remember that nothing I can do is more important. My postpartum to-do list:
1. Wear my clothes with the same confidence and pride as I did while in my third trimester (even if my newborn son is not with me to vouch for his former habitat).
2. Eat to nourish my body and to nourish my baby. Remember that I am still eating for two, and that in fact, breastfeeding a 15-pound baby increases my caloric needs much more than providing for a fetus.
3. Exercise not with the motive of a flat tummy or a certain number on the scale, but rather to get strong and energized so I can care for my kids
4. Cherish my time breastfeeding my son. Love my breasts, even if one seems to always be bigger and both have taken on the role of feeding devices.
5. Don’t stress about not finding the time or energy to work out. Remember that while the gym will always be there, they’re only little once and I’ll never get these days back. Baby weight can wait.