There was a time I believed I wasn’t particularly vain. Having a baby shattered that myth. It turns out I am. Truly. madly, sadly vain.
In May 2010 my body reached the pinnacle of its physical abilities and delivered a rather beautiful bundle of baby girl. Throughout my pregnancy I marvelled at my swollen tummy, the most obvious symbol of the tiny life I could barely believe was growing inside me. For me, pregnancy and childbirth, defy belief. I understand the science of it and I know it’s how all seven billion of us got here. Even still, it blows my mind.
If it weren’t for the unforgettable thirty-six hours immediately preceding her arrival, I might not have believed it was even possible for a tiny little person to emerge from this body. But she did. Having accomplished that miraculous feat, I remember thinking my body was truly special. It facilitated this fabulous arrival and took on hero status in my mind. At least it did for a while.
Nine months after her birth, I dreaded catching a glimpse of that body in the mirror. The very same body I developed (and owed!) an inordinate amount of respect and admiration for, now made me cringe. I’m ashamed to say it. But it’s true. My tummy sagged, my clothes didn’t fit and my chest could rival Jordan’s. I hated getting dressed.
I wrote this at the time:
Part of me is above these shallow preoccupations but sadly that part only ever appears in quiet moments of reflection. In the heat of the moment – when I’m madly getting dressed for something or trying to buy clothes to avoid moments of such madness – my rational mind is nowhere to be found. Instead I become consumed with self-indulgent thoughts about the extra flesh I’m carrying. How terrible and unfamiliar everything looks. How enormous I feel. It’s not a happy place.
When I step away from the mirror and head out the door I can digest what’s happened. I can see I’m not being rational. I am not overweight. I am five kilos heavier than I was when I fell pregnant but I’m still a healthy weight. I go to the gym three times a week, I walk every day and I eat sensibly. But I cannot lose weight.
In moments of clarity I accept this is my new normal. I am healthy. I have a husband who loves me regardless of my shape. I have a beautiful little girl who has thrived from my body. I know those things matter so much more than my shape. I know my weight is not a problem. At least, I know it shouldn’t be. And, yet, it is. I care that my body doesn’t look how it used to and I care that my clothes don’t fit. And, especially, I care that I care.