While we’re admitting things we’re not proud of, I’ll just go ahead and share that I think about my body a lot these days. Probably way too much.
When I read the word “PREGNANT” on the white stick last August, of course the first thing I considered was the tiny little Seabass swimming contentedly in my lower abdomen. But just behind that thought was a more sinister one, lurking deep in the shadows: You’re going to get fat. And then, to its logical conclusion: The fat might never go away.
Thankfully, I only gained about 30 pounds during my pregnancy – truly a miracle considering how I put away tri-tip sandwiches and muffins for nine months. Also very thankfully, I have lost all but five of those pounds due to breastfeeding and the God-given grace of good genes. But that’s not to say I look the same. Uh, no. Not even close.
You see, I appear to have lost my butt.
It first became clear that my butt had gone missing about two months into the pregnancy. “Does my bee-hind look different to you?” I asked Jake, turning to give him the best view. Having learned his lesson years ago, he replied, “No, you look beautiful as always.” Smart man. And a liar.
I probably wouldn’t have asked him or even noticed it myself if my undergarments hadn’t started acting differently. To explain…hmmm…how can I put this delicately? It suddenly felt like I was pulling my underwear out of my rear 24 hours a day. There was no longer anything of substance to hold it back. The elastic looked for something – anything – to cling to, but there was no hanging on. It just slid across that flat surface and happily wedged itself right in the middle.
Afraid that my Mom Butt (a real condition) would lead to the inevitable wearing of Mom Jeans (a real product), I consulted with friends who’d already had babies to get the inside scoop. “Don’t worry,” they reassured me. “Your butt’s just hibernating. There’ll be junk back in your trunk the moment Seabass is born. You’ll see.”
But I’m not seeing anything yet. My trunk remains junk-less, and I’m still playing tug-o-war with my undies on a bi-hourly basis. To make matters worse, my stomach looks like a Shar Pei puppy and my shoulders are permanently slumped from holding the baby. I’m like the friggin Phantom of the Opera.
Let’s just get this out of the way: I know I should be patient with myself. I know, I know. And I know that Hollywood has given me an unrealistic expectation for my postpartum body. I know, I know.
Perhaps more helpful to me right now is knowing that my body has done something for which it was made. I grew a beautiful, healthy baby and birthed him, all by myself. Shouldn’t my body look different after a feat of such enormity? If it took nine months for this body to grow with Seabass, shouldn’t I expect that it will take another nine months to shrink back to size?
Yes, I should.
But I think some of this crazy-making comes from my refusal to accept that I look like a mom. I may not wear Mom Jeans (yet) but I carry a diaper bag that requires its own zip code. I can’t wear most of my cute pre-preg clothes because they don’t present easy access to the boob for nursing. I mean, I drive a little SUV for crying out loud. Anyone who looks at me can easily deduce which phase of life I’m in, long before the baby comes into view. And maybe that scares me a little. The no-question-ness of it all.
So for the time being, I’m putting up little signs around the neighborhood that read: “Have you seen this butt? Last seen August, 2009.” I’m checking between the cushions on the sofa. I’m peeking in the dryer and under the bed. My tush has to be somewhere around here, and I’m not giving up until I find it.