A few months after I found out I was pregnant, my sister got engaged to her longtime boyfriend! My family was so excited to be growing by two in the coming year. I remember thinking, minimally, about being a bridesmaid shortly after giving birth. In the chaos of planning for a newborn, it was easy to push any anxiety to the back of my mind. Also, I was pretty pleased with how my pregnancy was progressing at that point, and I believed I would be back to normal-ish by the time she said, “I do.”
Well, those two love birds got married four WEEKS after I had Bellamy. Four weeks prior to fluffing her dress, I was pushing a baby out in the hospital. I remember having a moment of clarity and realizing the wedding was less than two weeks away. I had the oh-so-fun task of trying on my bridesmaid dress only to realize it no longer fit! Thanks to my uhh, momma lattes, I was barely breathing. I took my pride to the tailor where she let it out, and I tried to focus on my bridal duties!
Fast forward to now. I hope I can be open about this and communicate honestly without causing comparison or negativity. Lord knows there is plenty of personal body shaming that happens before and after babies. I honestly thought I looked OK for a girl who had recently had a baby. I thought I had “bounced back” enough to where no one would look and give two thoughts to my weight or appearance. The number on the scale was relatively back to what it was pre-baby, give or take a few pounds, but OBVIOUSLY my body was just … different … squishy … tired and in need of a spa day. I spent much of the wedding dodging the photographer, who happened to be a great friend, so, that didn’t work out too well. Once I had a few cocktails I let it go and forgot about the flashing lights until today …thanks to Facebook.
Oh, Facebook. Just when I thought I had skipped the self-loathing portion of post-pregnancy rebounding, you have to tag me in like 100 pictures of that day. Please hear me when I say I held firm to the reality and notion of, “No one is here to see me. This day is all about my amazing sister and her new husband!” I believe and believed it! But looking through all of these images hurt a little bit, because it’s hard to be pregnant in 2016. Everything we do is out there for everyone to see. The idea of being seen when we feel vulnerable is scary, and I was definitely in that spot. It feels weird to have thought I looked a certain way in my mind, only to have that positive image shattered by a bunch of silly photos. Embarrassing to admit, but it happened.
I did what every other woman does at some point and started un-tagging myself from the album. Each “hide” click made me feel even lower because I was succumbing to some ridiculous pressure I put on myself to look great pregnant and look even better after the fact. I started wondering how it will be when I have baby No. 2. For the most part, every girl I know has been one of those “wonder pregnancy” girls with their sweet little bump to prove the legitimacy of their pregnancy. There’s no swelling, not a huge need for maternity clothing, and it seems more like nine days as opposed to the recommended nine months to ditch the baby weight.
I know the books and blogs will tell you to be patient with yourself and to give your body as much time to lose the weight as it took to grow the baby. Easier said than done, especially if you somehow thought you were looking good, only to be challenged with that later on. I don’t mean to sound critical, but this is the battlefield of my mind today. It comes and goes, and it’s not strong enough to really weigh me down (no pun intended).
Maybe the real problem is all bridesmaid dresses suck, and no one should be forced to wear them, especially new moms! Thankfully, my sister is just so freaking beautiful that no one will ever give two craps about my unflattering moments and me. I hope in time we can normalize humanity again and not live under the pressures of online profiles. Whether you consider yourself a “pregnancy wonder” or not, I want to put it out there that we ALL are, regardless of anyone’s opinion, including our own.