I think I was the youngest in the group and my kids were probably the youngest too. But that wasn't what really set me apart. One of the questions asked was how motherhood had changed the way we looked at ourselves and also whether pregnancy was great. Most of the moms waxed lyrical about their experiences and talked about how it made them more confident, realising that many things previously were superficial especially now that they were on this journey of motherhood and how blessed they were to have such an opportunity to be mothers.
Before I go on, let me just state for the record that yes, all the above are true. But there was something else, that was either specific to me or they chose not to see it because it made them look bad. Motherhood also sucks as does pregnancy. I'm saying that now, in my third trimester because I feel as big as a whale, I hate the fact that I am as big as a whale and in no way do I feel one bit attractive. And when it comes to motherhood, yes, the things that used to matter might seem trifle but at the same time, those were all parts of a personality that has had to be cast aside. A friend and I were commiserating last week about how we hated how we looked and we didn't have a new-age bone in our body that made us want to embrace our madonna like bodies.
It may sound extremely flippant and flighty but such concerns obviously are in the face of large, life-altering issues like how we are there to shape the lives of our children, our offspring, the blank slates that God has blessed us with. But at the same time, it doesn't make it any less real and upsetting.
This hit home yesterday when for the first time in my pregnant life (both this time and last) did I find the beginnings of stretch marks. They were only visible when I sat in a certain way, in a certain type of light. But as certain as the fact that I am pregnant, I am also certain that the bluish, purplish welts that can be seen are stretchmarks. Most moms-to-be get them. What annoyed me and upset me was that I'd been pregnant with the twins previously and been much larger but never had to worry about stretchmarks then. I'd also been liberally slathering on oil for the skin, obviously to no effect. Packrat didn't think it was a big deal although my world seemed to be collapsing around that fact as I checked and re-checked the belly button and its surrounding area.
Obviously, it's a superficial issue. But to me, it brought home the downward spiral that my previous life had been heading toward, into an uncomfortable tail-spin. Before the twins, I ran about 25km- 30km a week, did pilates and had abdominal muscles that a guy would die for. After the twins, I found out that these muscles that also served to protect the belly, had split, in order to accommodate the babies. Ironically, the tighter and fitter the muscles were before the pregnancy, the more likely it would give way to make space for the baby. That took a great amount of rehabilitation and even then, my belly never looked the same again.
So, the six-pack had disappeared, and the muscles had split and in its place an unsightly bulge that grew into a 4 month pregnancy every time I ate. I had thought that what made it this bad was the fact that there were twins involved and the next time round, when I got pregnant, which is now, the same things would be less likely, especially since I'm carrying a much smaller load.
Unfortunately, as the stretchmarks have indicated, nature does not get kinder with subsequent pregnancies. Instead it just keeps it bringing it on, pushing and taunting you and the fact that the pregnancy is taking away what once gave you pride (in my case, it did). And I guess, because it defined such a large part of my life, it really does blow and is tears worthy.
What will happen after I deliver this baby? Will I have to burn all my previous photographs? Will I never lose my pregnancy weight and have to settle for something about 5 kg heavier, with flab round the belly and thighs? I know my mom never lost the weight she gained when she had me. She said I was the turning point. After both brothers, she was lithe thin, but after me, there was padding everywhere. People have commented that I actually look better with a little bit of padding here and there. The problem is that it causes cognitive dissonance in me and causes my brain to short out while it tries to wrap itself round that idea.
Too much of my life was spent worrying and preventing myself from ever getting fat- the reasons were mostly because it had to do with athletic performance more than image. The problem is when so much is focussed on not gaining any weight, what ever the reason is, it becomes something that has to do with image, self- image specifically.
And regardless of how warm and fuzzy a baby makes a mommy feel, in the moments when the mommy remembers that she was a girl, a woman and a person before she was a mommy, that's when things like that make her feel miserable.
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