love, not loathe

I was out for a walk last week huffing along with my jogger stroller when I came upon a woman with a giant baby strapped to her in a Bjorn, deserving her huffing much more than I deserved mine.

I spoke with her for a bit, offering support and encouragement.  Our babies were about the same age so we chatted about that for a few minutes, mostly about getting your mojo back post-pregnancy.

She said something to me that I cannot get out of my head.

She was lamenting how hard it was to get back into shape (I nodded).  She mentioned how well she took care of herself during her pregnancy, eating very healthy and swimming every day (I gasped, impressed).  She then told me that despite taking such good care of herself, she gained 60 pounds (I shrugged).  She called this “shameful.”  I was stunned.

It was the proverbial record scratch in our conversation.

I wanted to yell and scream.  I wanted to tell her to love her body for what it was able to do – create life!  I wanted to ask her why the hell she thought it was shameful.

But I didn’t.  I didn’t want to scare off this perfect stranger with her perfect baby.  I didn’t want her to go home feeling  more stressed than she already was because I was being a self-indulgent a-hole wanting to rail against convention.

So instead I told her it was obviously not up to her how much she gained – it’s what her body needed to do.  I told her she looked fabulous (she did!).  I told her to cut herself some slack.

When Lindsey and I had our first babies, we made a pact not to bash other mommies.  Ever.  It’s a hard enough job without the scrutiny and judgment of others.  We’re all doing the best we can for our kids.

But are we doing the best we can for ourselves?  I am incensed by the notion that we would be SHAMED by something as silly as weight gain from pregnancy.  I am angry that a new mom is focusing on her weight gain instead of the gorgeous, healthy baby she had in her arms.  I am upset that women are wrapped up in self-loathing vs self-love.  I am also grateful to this stranger who opened up to me.

Now, I am not the poster child for motherhood.  I have my self-doubts.  I question my tactics.  I berate myself when my tone is too harsh.  I know I need to secure my own oxygen mask more.  I am my own worst critic.  I concede that my body will never be the same… and am (most of the time) really okay with that.  What I also know is that anyone who raises an eyebrow at a postpartum body, their own or especially someone else’s, with judgment needs to really back off.  WAY off.

women can do amazing things

Can we please try to cut ourselves some collective slack, ladies?  Love, not loathe.

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6 Responses to love, not loathe

  1. Sophia & Juliana says:

    Love this post!!

  2. Nina T. says:

    What a great post and I totally agree with you! Love, not loathe….perfect!

  3. Lindsey says:

    Post-partum suckitude can be all-encompassing, and can turn even the most fearless females in to sweaty, pitiful piles of self doubt. Myself included.

    It’s a damn good thing I had some solid ladies in my corner, keeping my (insanely swollen, hardly recognizable) feet on the ground when the time came for me to actually see those feet again.
    You, along with the rest of my posse, gave me the strength to realize that my striking resemblance to Chris Farley in those third trimester photos is just plain funny- nothing more or less.

    This begs the question:
    Where are this woman’s girlfriends?
    Her sisters?
    Her mother?

    I would hope that it’s our goal as women to help pull each other out of the newborn abyss and back in to the land of the living (or at least the movie-going).

    The only shame is in turning our backs.

    It sounds like you gave her exactly what she needed.
    A dose of perspective, extra empathy, hold the judgement.

  4. Margie Mader-Clark says:

    I am extending this love and excellent thinking to those of us who gained sympathy weight with our pregnant loved ones. I wear it proudly, albeit somewhat heavily. And honestly, to share ANY of the pregnancy experience is an honor that I would trade for nothing.

  5. Meg says:

    I also gained 60 pounds in one of my pregnancies–and 55 in the other! For some reason I never felt that it was shameful–but I do have what are probably normal issues with my weight. I didn’t keep it a secret: for heavens sake anyone who looked at me could tell! I was even quoted in “Fit Pregnancy” magazine because it was such a shocking number, and because after about a year I looked much like my pre-pregnancy self. Now that my baby is 19 years old, I’ve come to realize that it’s not so uncommon to gain that much weight; however, most women don’t share the real details of exactly how many pounds they put on. So good for that woman for sharing with you, and good job sharing it with us. The more we know about what the realities of the world are, the less we will feel shame about pregnancy weight gain–and everything else.

  6. ScottD says:

    I bet I can guess which “weighs” more – a few extra pounds on her frame, or that six ton gorilla of guilt on her shoulders. Why hate yourself? Just head to the DMV and you’ll plenty of more viable candidates. 😉

    As a good friend once told me, shame is a useless emotion with zero returns for anyone, but love is universally infinite. Use your powers for good, lady!

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