This is not about Jessica Simpson.
This is about a regular mom without daily personal training sessions, a private chef, a round-the-clock nanny or a $4 million dollar carrot dangling before her, who gained 62 hideous pounds of pregnancy weight and managed to fit into a honeymoon-era bikini by her kid’s first birthday party.
This is about me.
First things first: I acknowledge that I far exceeded the recommended 25-30 pounds of pregnancy weight gain. Ben, Jerry and the Hamburgler all enjoyed above-expected quarterly earnings during my pregnancy. I was initially grateful for those McDonald’s fries (one of the few foods I could stomach during a queasy first trimester), but once I began to feel better the bacchanal of forbidden foods continued. I’m normally pretty disciplined about diet and exercise, so all I can say is that it felt liberating to let it rip for once. (Piper to be paid later, as it turned out.)
Then the Little Lady was born and I received an ugly reality check: not only is the baby not delivered by stork, but pregnancy weight is NOT mostly baby and fluid. I was so excited about our anticipated post-birth weight loss that I requested a weigh-in at the hospital and was crestfallen to learn I’d only lost nine flipping pounds.
I returned home with my hopes pinned on breastfeeding. Who hasn’t heard urban legends about women who weigh less than they did pre-baby within weeks of beginning nursing? That breastfeeding burns 600 calories per individual session? Yeah, well, La Leche League and Beyonce are liars: breastfeeding burns calories, but you need to consume extra calories to actually make breastmilk. Not only does breastfeeding make you crazy hungry, but failing to consume adequate calories can diminish your supply. So those folks bragging about their dramatic, near-immediate weight loss? Likely not breastfeeding. To note, P&V believes that breastfeeding is a personal decision every family should be allowed to make for itself without judgment.
Beginning to exercise again was HARD. The first time I tried to run, it felt like my joints were going to shatter with each stride. My body just wasn’t ready yet. (“The Fourth Trimester” is a real phenomenon, folks.) So instead I walked — EVERYWHERE — taking at least two walks per day and always pushing the stroller or wearing the baby. Any errand or visit I could come up with? I walked. I’ve done the Lyon Street Steps countless times with the Little Lady snoring in her Ergo carrier. (And eventually, I was ready for yoga and even a short run.)
Sometimes I was hungry. (I also got the stomach flu a few times. Score.) During my first trimester, I thought that feeling hungry meant the baby was hungry, so not eating immediately meant I was starving my precious zygote. This was nuts, of course, but also meant that I was eating nonstop. It’s hard to wind down from an epic junk food binge like my pregnancy, but I had to relearn how to say “no” to seconds, empty calories and excessive carbohydrates, and say “yes” to allowing myself to get a little hungry between meals.
All in all, it took an year. (Really.) No pregnant or immediately postpartum woman wants to hear it, but unless you’re willing to be quite extreme (a la Tracey Anderson or Kate Hudson) or you’re one of those ladies who looked like a stick with a basketball glued to her abdomen (forward all hate mail to club president Giselle Bündchen), I urge patience. Allow your body time to heal, accept that running with size 36F nursing boobs might be a challenge, and focus on the amazing thing your body had just done. It grew a human, a far more magnificent accomplishment than fitting into a size 2 dress. But dammit if it doesn’t feel good when then that dress finally fits again. And it will. Trust.