So The Guy announced the other night that he hates blogs.
Well, of course he doesn’t hate ALL blogs (AHEM), just personal style blogs and, to a lesser extent, craft blogs.
As I’ve said many times before, my husband is one of the most laid-back humans on the planet, so you can probably imagine how taken aback I was by this statement. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard him say he hates something, and two of those things were Ann Coulter and green onions. That obviously doesn’t leave much room for anything else.
And besides, while he’s nowhere near as into clothes as I am, he does like getting dressed up, and he’s definitely not impervious to the charms of a really great tie or a cashmere sweater. So I couldn’t understand this vitriol toward style bloggers.
It all started a few days after we brought Harper home from the hospital and I realized none of my clothes fit. Yes, I tried on half my wardrobe just a few days after pushing an eight-pound human out of my body. I know, I know: rookie mistake.
Naturally, I was loathe to go out and buy anything, because it’s not like I’m going to be this size for very long, right?! Give me six or eight weeks, and I’ll be back in fighting form!
(Did you hear that gigantic CLUNK? That was the sound of all the readers who have ever given birth banging their heads against their monitors.)
Pretty soon, even my maternity clothes were no longer an option. My jeans were so loose that one evening while shopping at Target, I very nearly gave my fellow shoppers on the cat food aisle a free show. It only took a few days of rotating between the same two pairs of yoga pants before I gave in and decided to go shopping. But where could I buy a bunch of “new” clothes without spending a lot of money?
(Cue the foreboding music.)
Feeling very clever indeed, I wheeled Harper up and down the aisles of Goodwill in her stroller, picking up jeans, button-down tops and fitted dresses a couple sizes larger than I normally wear.
(If this were a horror movie, this is the part when all the mothers would start biting their nails.)
Confident that I was going to walk out of the store that day with a chic new wardrobe for less than $50, I took Harper and my selections to the dressing rooms.
(The mothers can see the boogeyman sneaking up, duct tape and hacksaw at the ready, but our intrepid heroine is frustratingly oblivious.)
I decided to start with the jeans. I couldn’t pull Pair #1 over my hips. Pair #2 fit like a sausage casing. And Pair #3 did appalling things to my poochy post-baby stomach. Horrified yet undeterred, I pulled on article after article of clothing, every piece worse-fitting than the one before it.
(“DON’T GO UPSTAIRS, YOU IDIOT!”)
After realizing that none – NONE – of the clothes I picked out fit me, I did exactly what you would expect me to do:
I completely lost my s–t in a Goodwill dressing room. There I stood, with my daughter sleeping peacefully in her stroller, bawling my eyeballs out over a pile of second-hand jeans.
Needless to say, my headspace was very, very bad, and it only got worse from there. By the time The Guy got home that evening, I was practically hysterical.
After about the third straight hour of listening to me sob about how much I hated my new, postpartum self, The Guy kind of lost it. “It’s those stupid blogs!” he said. “They’re all, ‘Look at me and how perfect I am, and if you’re not as superficial and self-obsessed as me, then you’re doing it wrong,’” he ranted.
See, because I love clothes and fashion as much as I do, I read all these personal style blogs. And two of my favorite bloggers recently (as in, within the last couple of months) had babies. One of them is already back in her pre-pregnancy clothes, and the other apparently spent nine months shopping for this super chic postpartum wardrobe, so she looks like something straight out of the pages of Vogue when she leaves for work every morning (with her hair perfectly coiffed and her nails painted to compliment her outfits, of course). I’m no slouch (or so I thought), but my two pairs of yoga pants and I can’t even begin to hold a candle to that.
Why didn’t I do that? Why didn’t I watch my weight like a hawk while I was pregnant? Why didn’t I work out every day? Why didn’t I spend the entire time trawling painfully hip thrift stores for vintage Calvin Klein blazers and silk trapeze dresses three sizes too big? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME?!
“Um, nothing? You’re normal,” Dr. Brandi said when I called her in tears. While that may be overstating things a bit, she pointed out that those women and their fellow style bloggers make a living by their appearances. The whole time they were pregnant, they knew that very soon afterward, they would have to begin modeling their outfits again, and two pairs of yoga pants were not going to cut it. Therefore, they prepared accordingly. MY job, on the other hand, (thankfully) has nothing at all to do with the way I look.
Nevertheless, I still felt terrible about myself. Surely something was wrong with me. No one else had this much weight to lose after a pregnancy, and it seemed everyone else in the world was back in her pre-pregnancy clothes by the time her maternity leave was over.
The Guy tried to convince me that this could not be so. “How many women do you think feel the same way you do?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered.
“Of course you don’t!” he said. “Because these women are trying so desperately to convince the rest of the world that they’ve got it all together, and even those who do talk about it do it in such a joking way that they end up completely glossing over it too. Nobody wants to tell the TRUTH. They just want to say whatever makes them look good.”
But I didn’t even know what the truth was. Despite all the unsolicited advice and bizarre personal anecdotes everyone starts telling you the very moment you pee on the stick, no one talks much about what happens after, and I can kind of see why. Let’s face it, if, in my seventh month of pregnancy, when I was as big as the side of a barn, waddling to the bathroom every 38 seconds and bursting into tears at Fancy Feast commercials, Jessica had said to me, “Oh, and by the way, get ready for your favorite pair of jeans to not fit for a year,” I’m not sure I would have considered that helpful information just then.
So I decided to take one for the team and talk to my doctor (who had twins last year), poll my recently pregnant friends and visit a few message boards. Here’s what I learned:
–There really is no “normal.” Everyone is different.
–Acceptable weight gain is whatever your doctor tells you it is and can range from 15 to 50 pounds.
–You should not even THINK about trying on non-maternity clothes for six weeks after the baby is born. Probably more.
–Most people lose the baby weight between six months and a year after giving birth, but their pre-pregnancy clothes may still not fit for several months after that because their stomachs, hips and chests are bigger than before.
–Even some people who end up weighing less than they did before they got pregnant never fit into all their clothes again.
–Go ahead and buy some postpartum clothes. You may not lose all the weight for nine months, but you still have to get dressed between now and then. When you do get back to your normal size, you can either have the clothes tailored or donate them and take the write off.
–Yes, some people do fit into their pre-pregnancy wardrobes immediately after giving birth, but they are, according to my doctor, genetically gifted freaks of nature, much like Stephen Hawking or Victoria’s Secret models. Do not compare yourself to them.
–Post-baby, skirts and flow-y dresses are the most forgiving articles of clothing you can wear. Jeans are the worst.
–Many people can achieve a flat (or flat-ish) stomach again after having a baby (even multiple babies). It just takes a hell of a lot of situps.
I will probably not do that many situps.
Although I’m quite sure no one mistakenly thinks I’ve got it all together, this is one blogger who will tell the truth about trying to get one’s body back after having a baby: IT SUCKS. IT SUCKS REALLY, REALLY BAD. If I joke about it, it’s because if I think too long and too seriously about it, I’ll cry. And don’t give me a bunch of crap about how I should shut up and think about how much I love my baby. Of course I love Harper. Next to marrying The Guy, she’s the best thing I’ve ever done, and she’s worth ANY amount of pain, discomfort and tears. But this doesn’t have anything to do with her, except that I want to show her the positive example of a fit, healthy mom who feels good about herself.
And slowly but surely, that day is coming. I’m back to my no-grains-and-no-refined-sugar way of eating, and I feel better and have more energy every day. And I’m proud that, thanks to hard work and good choices, the weight is steadily coming off. But in the meantime, it sucks. It sucks to feel a reflexive panic every time anyone invites me anyplace, because I probably don’t have anything to wear. It sucks that even though I used cocoa butter every single day of my pregnancy, I still got stretch marks. It sucks to wonder if the skin on my abdomen will ever forgive me for doing this to it. It sucks that my days of wearing two-piece bathing suits are over. It sucks that I don’t want my husband to see me with my clothes off. It sucks to realize that despite the progress I’ve made, I still have a significant amount of weight to lose.
I certainly don’t mean to discourage anyone. I just don’t want my pregnant friends to be as stupid as I was. No one deserves to have a semi-public meltdown in a thrift store dressing room.
Babies are an awful lot of trouble, you guys.
But they’re totally worth every bit of the hassle.
Your slowly shrinking