Drawing battle lines

There’s a pile of maternity clothes folded on the floor of my bedroom.

Even though I’m still shaped like Humpty Dumpty, my maternity clothes don’t fit anymore, so they’re waiting to be sent back to the attic. They’re sitting in my closet, under my regular clothes that don’t really fit either. Ah, postpartum is such a chic look.

I’m in that in-between phase. Nothing fits, but I refuse to buy any clothes that do fit because I don’t want to get comfortable here, and nothing is more motivating than looking terrible in your clothes. And there are the times I get curious and decide to try on my jeans just to see or try on a shirt that used to be loose and flowy but is now very, very tight. I can’t even wear non-maternity shirts that I wore far into my pregnancy, because shirts that look cute stretched over a pregnant belly do not look cute stretched over a muffin top.

And when a well-meaning stranger asks me when the baby’s due, and I’m standing there in my Humpty Dumpty pants, I have no choice but to say, “September.”

A quick tangent before I go any further…I’m sharing this here partially for accountability, but also because of the avenue of honesty and camaraderie that blogging provides. No matter how much weight you gain during pregnancy, after delivery I think every woman looks at themselves and thinks, “what happened?” There’s value in saying, “me too”, so that’s what I’m doing.

For the first six weeks after having a baby, I give myself my version of “maternity leave”. I don’t do any real exercise, and I mostly eat whatever I want. The exercise part is legit; I wait until my doctor says I’ve healed from pregnancy and delivery (although my doctor did say that if I wanted to get back to running I could call his office and schedule an appointment as early as three weeks. What on earth gave him the impression that I’d want to do that?). The eating isn’t quite so legit, but I justify it because I could use a break from feeling guilty about everything I put in my mouth. If I deserve any time to eat marshmallows before breakfast, it’s now.

And in my experience, after the first six weeks, I’ve lost all the weight from childbirth that I’m going to naturally. You obviously lose a lot when the baby is born, but then you continue to shed pounds from retained water (it’s really a beautiful process). Breastfeeding also helps with weight loss in subsequent months, but in my experience, breastfeeding isn’t a slam dunk, you have to work for it.

My six weeks was up last Friday, which means my boondoggle is over…or it’s supposed to be over. Realistically, I know I won’t really be back in the game until I’m getting more sleep and I’m not breastfeeding around the clock.

Here’s the plan.

First, I’m switching back to being mindful about eating, but not militant. This isn’t just to help lose weight, but also because, if there’s any time you could benefit from good nutrition, it’s when you’re sleep-deprived and breastfeeding around the clock. That’s also why I’m not planning to limit my diet. My body needs calories, and sometimes I need to self-medicate with butter pecan ice cream.

Next is exercise. For about three weeks now I’ve been taking two to three mile walks every day. Soon, I’ll turn those walks into walk/runs. It’s been really hot, so it’s hard to get motivated to run outside (the last time I went through this it was October, and the weather was perfect for running). I’ll start doing Jillian Michaels workouts once I work up the nerve. I have a goal of running the Richmond half marathon in November. Mary Virginia will be five months old in November, which means she’ll still be breastfeeding exclusively and probably not sleeping through the night. Both of those things make me really nervous about training and race day, but for now I think it’s a doable goal, and I don’t want to quit before I start. I’ve heard of women stopping midway through races to nurse their babies, and whether that’s hardcore awesome or hardcore crazy is up to you.

The postpartum body is unlike any other body transformation. Suddenly your body is different than it’s ever been, and it happens, literally, overnight. Normal weight gain or loss happens slowly, and you can usually look back and remember the process. Even in pregnancy, you see your belly get bigger every day. But then one day, you’re no longer pregnant and you’re left with a belly that feels like an empty bag hanging around your waist. In a day you go from pregnant to a weird, soft shape.

At my six-week appointment, I asked my doctor for good postpartum exercises. He knows I’m a runner, and told me to resume running. He also told me to do planks to tone my midsection, so I’m adding planks to my routine. Since I haven’t used my abs in almost a year, I’m starting slow, and making Tom do them with me. So far I’ve done just over a minute without stopping.

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After talking to my doctor about my postpartum frustrations, we talked about planks and running, but he ended by telling me that the questions I was asking were questions of vanity. Sure, vanity has its place, but he reminded me that I had two easy, uneventful pregnancies, my deliveries went as planned, and I’m now the mother of two healthy babies. Considering that, if what I’m left worrying about is vanity, well then I’m one of the lucky ones.

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7 Comments

  1. jennylynn July 22, 2013

    My doctor told me it takes 3 months to really stop losing weight during post-partum healing so…there is a little extra grace for you if you would like to take it 🙂 Post-Partum is such a trying time. Our bodies don’t just bounce back and it is such a struggle. It took me until about 10 months to get back to feeling comfortable in my pre-pregnancy clothes (i.e. not squeezing into them) and I still wear spanks 6 out of 7 days every week. 6 weeks is still so early. Give yourself as much grace as you can stand in these areas.

    You are awesome Amanda!
    XOXO,
    jL

    Reply
    • amandakrieger July 22, 2013

      THREE MONTHS!? that’s DOUBLE what i was thinking! thanks for telling me that, jen! and, yes, i think all women always deserve a LOT of grace in this area…especially after pregnancy.

      Reply
  2. E July 22, 2013

    Two things…
    1. I wore maternity jeans until Sam was SIX months old and only gave them up them because they literally tore off my body!
    2. I REALLY want to run the Richmond Half Marathon with you. Please say you will take on a chubby running partner and accept me!!

    I didn’t even read the rest of your post because I got too excited about us running the Richmond half marathon together. Going back now…

    Reply
    • amandakrieger July 23, 2013

      Yes yes yes!! Run Richmond!! You’d love it, and it’s a perfect first-time race&

      Reply
  3. Lynsie July 23, 2013

    I’ve been thinking about the dreaded “empty bag hanging around your waist” part and other wonderful post partum things recently and not getting too excited about that part. That in between phase is so tough with clothes. I am always so ready to put away the maternity stuff, but then I have nothing to wear and when you are nursing my muffin top was more attention getting to me because my back was catching wind while nursing (when I hadn’t gotten to the laundry to wash my 2 nursing tanks that had spit up all over them). Hang in there and thanks for adding the “me too” value because here in a few months I am going to feel like I am the only mama who is stretched out, muffiny, and saggy!

    Reply
  4. Jenny Ramsey July 24, 2013

    Baby Chase is almost six months old and I ate ice cream for lunch. How am I doin?

    Reply
  5. Simple Savvy July 26, 2013

    I just found your post on Casey’s blog and I TOTALLY understand every word you just said. I’m almost 8 months PP and I still hate my body. I haven’t been able to work out because I only get about 5 hours of sleep for every 24 (on a good day) and I’m always exhausted. None of my clothes fit. New clothes don’t even fit because they’re not made for PP bodies. I just wrote briefly on my blog last week about how the only thing I can wear without looking like a muffin are my husbands button down shirts (so not flattering) and how most days I’m just sulking around in my yoga pants. Thanks for writing this as it makes me feel less lonely in my PP body slumpfest.

    Reply

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