Jimmy Fallon and Michelle Obama present us the evolution of “mom dancing” in support of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign.
They forgot “check the boobs to see if you need to pump” and “bump the stroller up the stairs of your walk-up,” but entertaining nonetheless.
I still have maternity days left to use. I will be taking them in the coming months. All of them. And here’s what I have to say about it:
Before you begin to (or while you openly) resent me, remember that the only reason I have this extra maternity time to use is because for a month and a half immediately after Henry was born I had a long, raw, down-to-the-uterus-deep wound that kept me homebound and severely hindered my ability to bond with my newborn son for weeks. I’d rather I weren’t so lucky.
If work offered me another 800 days of paid leave I’d take it and feel exactly the way Joey feels about eating his date’s cake. And I wouldn’t even bother wiping the frosting off of my face.
Because who am I to deny the jessicasimpsonification of popular postpartum discussion, I too shall weigh in on the low-tact discussion of getting “back into shape” after having a baby. But I will try to have some tact.
Based on my experience, I have only one tip: breastfeed.
The tact I promised:
Not everyone can or wants to breastfeed. I chose and was able to do so, and because of it I lost all the pregnancy weight I’d gained (40 pounds) in a month. I absolutely do not promise this is or will be the case for everyone.
I really can’t attribute the weight loss to anything else, except maybe eating well and having kept in shape by walking, a lot, including 129 stairs almost every day, while pregnant, because for that first month after Henry was born I was forced to be quite inactive due to my post-Cesarean complications. Though I was sedentary, the weight came off – fast.
Breastfeeding burns many calories, and I found myself either stuffing my face or falling asleep (or both) after. When Henry was a newborn it took at minimum a half an hour for him to nurse, and at the end our core temperatures were both a few degrees higher.
I could use this space to explain that women have better things to worry about after having a baby than losing weight, and that society should celebrate women of all shapes, and that women should not be pressured in the slightest to get back to their pre-baby weight at any time – for I believe all of these things – but I also do not begrudge women for whom looking normal (by their definition) again after pregnancy is a priority. Women who want to lose weight after pregnancy are not antifeminist.
For about three weeks postpartum I not only felt heavy but misshaped (not even considering my excessively swollen legs and feet). I worried about feeling “right” again in my body. Then at about 3 weeks I was almost back to my pre-baby weight, and I felt denied my baby fat and misshapen body, for it was just one more sign that I was no longer pregnant. With Henry arriving early and entirely unexpectedly, my rapid weight loss was just another way in which I hadn’t been given enough time to mourn the transition from pregnancy to motherhood. At that three week mark I had still expected to be pregnant, and I was still angry about being denied my last weeks of being pregnant with him. This was the hardest part about having a baby early – how much I missed him.
Cue the “It could have been worse”s and “You should be happy you lost the weight so fast”s. I hear them. I say them myself. I acknowledge all of my blessings. I’m not asking 9-month-pregnant women to love their situation or new mothers to be happy with their awkward, chubby bodies. But it is worth being a little precious about it. I still miss my swollen pregnant face daily.