I’m Lazy (but that’s not why I don’t wear a bikini)
We shared a picture on Facebook this week of an adorable baby, captioned with the words “Hey Mom, I know you probably won’t ever get to wear that bikini again, but I promise I’m worth it.” While most of the feedback we’ve gotten has been from women (and men) who felt the picture summed up a feeling they could understand, we’ve also gotten some feedback that found it to be untrue or insulting. It wasn’t intended to be either – simply a statement of what many women have found to be true.
The adorable little baby in that picture happens to be one of mine. She was my first child. Despite carrying her to 41 weeks, gaining 50 lbs, and delivering all 9lbs 4oz of her, she wasn’t the one to end my bikini days. Breastfeeding and eating right got me back down to my previous weight, but I never got back to my previous shape.
For one thing, she gave me boobs. I was always small chested, and pregnancy and breastfeeding were the events that finally led to me looking down and exclaiming, “Holy crap! I’ve got cleavage!” Neither I nor my husband had much trouble with that change. She also made me softer – my curves more rounded. I’ve always had wide hips, but the pregnancy also spread my ribs. Dresses (and bathing suits) that were fitted around my ribcage no longer fit – even though I weighed less than I had when I wore them pre-pregnancy. And my feet! They’re wider and flatter now. Cute shoes that I loved were finally donated when I resigned myself to the fact that my toes were going to fall off if I kept trying to stuff them into pinchy shoes.
Despite all those changes, I still felt good about what I’d done. I’d carried a brand new human around for nine months. I’d brought her into the world and nourished her body by way of my body. It’s a pretty miraculous gift we’re given as mothers, and one that should never be taken for granted, especially knowing how many women would cherish it if only it would happen for them. I wore my baby – and my new new bathing suits for my new shape – with pride. Should a mother feel good if she is back to her bikini? Absolutely.
Then I got pregnant again. This time, it wasn’t one huge baby – it was two. I learned more about what a pregnancy can do to a body. Rapid weight gain, bed rest, stretch marks, and c-sections all have their effects. I stopped following the numbers after I’d gained 65 lbs. I was over 4 ft around – I didn’t need to know what the scale said to know how big I was. Despite the challenges, I once again delivered healthy babies, breastfed, ate well, and returned to my pre-pregnancy weight. This time, though, my shape was something entirely different.
Have you ever seen a latex balloon, filled almost to bursting, as the air slowly deflates? It is left wrinkled and twisted, never to return to its former shape. That balloon is my stomach. No amount of going to the gym or eating right can change what has been done. Is plastic surgery an option? Sure – if I can get beyond the risks (there are many) and the cost (it is high) it may be something in my future. But unless it happens, a bikini is not. Is that vanity? Sure. Am I allowed to feel what I feel? I think so. Should a mother feel badly if she isn’t back to her bikini? Absolutely not.
Many women find that pregnancy changes their bodies in ways they never expected. Some of those changes are great – larger breasts, softer curves, dramatic weight loss. Others are not so fun – scarring, stretch marks, drooping skin, sagging breasts, and more. But considering only that is looking at only a small part of a very big picture.
Pregnancy changes a woman. It changes her life, her dreams, her priorities, her body. And I would gladly go through each and every change it took me to get to my children all over again. They are worth everything to me. So no matter what changes your pregnancy brings – mentally and physically – remember that the marks on your body and on your heart are a sign of a life well-lived. A life full of love: messy and painful and beautiful. What does a mom look like? Someone who loves and is loved, no matter what she wears or how it fits. It's not worth comparing ourselves or worrying about bikinis. So celebrate yourself. Rock your mom bod. Love it for what it has brought you.