Friday, March 30, 2012

The Post-Baby Body Blues

I’m currently in rehearsals for a play set in Dublin the early 1960s, and I’ve started looking for costumes. The first shock of that process was taking my measurements, which I haven’t done since before my kids were born. Yikes. But the real shock was when I pulled out an old costume. Five years ago, I was in a production of The Pajama Game, which is set in the 1950s, and I found a beautiful beige linen shirtdress at a vintage store that was my favorite costume in the show. I thought it would be perfect for my current show, so I brought it down from the attic and tried it on.

Or, more accurately, tried to try it on. The waist wasn’t even close to closing. I have a vague recollection of having to suck in a tiny bit when I put it on back then, but no amount of sucking in or corsets or possibly even organ removal is going to make it fit now.

I’ve got the post-baby body blues.

The weird thing is that I actually look pretty darn good. Not just for a woman in her 40s who has never darkened the door of a gym. Not just for a woman who had two babies after the age of 40. Not just for a woman who gave birth to a nearly 10-pound baby less than 8 months ago. No, I look good for a woman, period. I just don’t look the same as I did five years ago.

Having babies does things to your body that will never change back. My feet and hips are wider and all the exercise in the world won’t make them narrow again. Maybe if I spent two hours a day in the gym five days a week I could lose the added jiggle around my middle and the little muffin top. Maybe if I ran up and down the stairs 50 times a day my thighs would slim down to what they used to be. But that ain’t gonna happen. Because having babies also does things to your lifestyle, like not allow you the freedom to spend hours at the gym and climbing stairs. My exercise these days consists of lifting babies and chasing toddlers. And my diet consists largely of leftover macaroni and cheese, toast, and graham crackers.

And you know, I’m cool with that. I’d love my slim little waist back. I’d love to have my so-firm-I-don’t-need-a-bra boobs again. I’d be delighted to buy a pair of jeans that doesn’t threaten to set my thighs aflame (and not in a good way) because of the chafing. But in the big picture, I’d rather have my small children than my small waistline. I’d rather steal bites of mac and cheese from my son and giggle about it together than nibble a salad on my own plate. I’d rather get my exercise chasing him around the house or climbing at the playground with him than going to the gym by myself. I’d rather tone my muscles by tossing my baby daughter in the air and stretch my back by bending over and helping her walk for hours than take a yoga class with strangers.

When you think about it, the changes in my body are a small price to pay for the happiness that my children bring me every day. And as long as my family and I are eating healthy (side of applesauce or baked sweet potato fries with that mac and cheese) and getting exercise (going for walks together and soon, swimming in the pool for hours every day), we’ll all be doing just fine.

And fitting into some old dress will just be a pleasant memory.

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