I've been trying to write a post about losing the baby weight as I just came up on my 1 year anniversary of beginning to get back in shape, but I've been having a lot of trouble with it. First of all, I hate the pressure new moms get from our culture in general to drop any pregnancy weight they gained 5 minutes after they drop the kid. We're all, "Look at Beyonce! Girlfriend is dancing onstage in a sparkly leotard with her epidural IV still attached! She's amazing! Now that's a woman!"
As the average new mom could tell you, we've got much bigger fish to fry than worrying about wearing our pre-pregnancy jeans to our newborn's 1 week check-up. I do not want to encourage that kind of thinking at all. The pace at which you lose your baby weight or whether you decide to lose it at all has absolutely no bearing on the quality of mother, woman, or human being you are. Period.
Secondly, I didn't want to sound like a Braggy McBraggerson and no matter how you slice it, posting before and after pictures of yourself on the Internet is braggy. And really, I mean, it's not like I climbed Mt. Everest without an oxygen tank or discovered the cure for AIDS. I lost 50-something pounds. People do it every day. It's kind of a petty and shallow thing to brag about.
But then I realized I want to be petty and shallow. I want to brag. I want very badly to rub this shallow, petty, superficial, relatively meaningless victory in the face of one specific person:
The person who told me I couldn't do it.
Since I have no idea where she is now as she's moved away, y'all will have to suffer through a ridiculously self-indulgent open letter. You're welcome.
Hi! How's it going? Hope you're having fun midwifing and such wherever you are now. As I stated in the greeting above, I mostly loved you. You were funny and sharp. You listened to my concerns and answered my questions. You tolerated my distinctly odd 2 year old spinning circles in the corner while singing, "La la la". You also tolerated him opening all your cabinet doors and pulling out important medical instruments. You furthermore tolerated him burying his head in your stomach and pinching your thighs. Like I said, you were pretty awesome.
You want to know what wasn't awesome, though? Your constant harping on my pregnancy weight gain. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know we're all supposed to gain 25-35 lbs. and, in your defense, I did look like this at the end of my pregnancy:
If that image isn't the very definition of the term "cautionary whale", I don't know what is.
But, as you watched those scale numbers steadily climb upward, perhaps you should have paused your one-size-fits-all judgment parade to consider who I was as an individual. Perhaps you should have considered the diet and exercise log I brought you per your request that showed I was eating a very sensible 2000-2200 calories of balanced, healthy whole foods every day and exercising at a moderate pace 3-4 times a week. Perhaps you should have taken into account the fact that I repeatedly reminded you I dropped all 40 lbs. I gained with my first pregnancy within 3 months after my son was born. Perhaps you should have thought about the fact that my blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol were all perfect at every stage of my pregnancy.
Most of all, though, you shouldn't have done this: Do you remember that moment when you looked up from my chart after noting that I had gained 6 lbs. over the past month and you said, "You need to put the brakes on the weight gain. It's just going to make it harder for you after the baby's born. There's a good chance you won't be able to lose all this weight"?
You should not have said that.
I conceded then and concede now that as my medical professional you (and you alone, take note non-pregnant world) had the right to comment on my weight gain, but what in my medical history or present made you think that I couldn't lose any weight I gained? And what would have made that the worst possible thing to ever happen to a woman in the world, as your horrified tone implied it would be?
But then again, thank you, because a year ago, I looked like this:
And today, thanks to a lot of hard work, I look like this:
Every time I wanted to quit a tough workout or eat an extra brownie, I would hear your voice in my head, telling me I couldn't do it. Nobody tells me I can't do something (well, except the police and, you know, Sir Isaac Newton, but you know what I mean). So, I guess you get some credit for my current state of fitness.
But you know what? How about you leave the poor pregnant ladies alone? Unless you have reason to believe that gaining a few extra pounds will be significantly medically detrimental for them, or you know they're subsisting entirely on a diet of AM/PM cheeseburgers, smudge that bottom line a little bit and let the lovely ladies you work with relax and enjoy a very special time in their lives instead of fretting about the scale. I'm pretty sure the anxiety induced by weight-shaming is as bad for the baby as gaining a few more pounds than that perfect average American woman-who-doesn't-exist is supposed to gain.
Seriously, knock it off. Because out of all the awesome times we had together, that one moment is what I remember, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
A Formerly Happily-Fat Pregnant and Currently Happily-Fit Not-Pregnant Woman
P.S. I'm not kidding. And I have muscles now.