After the birth of my second son, my ex turned to me and said “You’ll probably have to work off your mom bum now.” I asked him what a mom bum was and he informed me it was the droopy bum that new mothers get. He and his workout buddies enjoy pegging new moms by this “affliction”.
My second son is now six months old and I find myself looking in the mirror, trying to decide if I have a “mom bum”. I come to the decision that I do not and then I get steamed, in fact, I get down right mad. Who cares if I have a mom bum or not. I brought a child into this world and the thing I am supposed to worry about is if I have a “mom bum”? If that’s the case then my priorities are seriously messed.
But, it’s not my priorities that are messed, it’s the expectations put on new moms by society that are messed. After all, I doubt I would have even looked for a droopy bum if it was never mentioned.
I remember how excited I was when I found out I was pregnant with my first born. My first reaction wasn’t how my posterior would look in 9 months, nor was it how many stretch marks I’d have (granted, it didn’t take long for these thoughts to enter my brain over the next few months as I read through such books as “What to expect when you are expecting”). No, my first reaction was excitement, with a side of fear, about bringing this miracle into the world.
I was lucky with my first. I got through that ride with absolutely no complications. My only complaint was that my little Hercules was using me as his personal punching bag. I stayed fit by going to the gym and weight training, then swimming when weight training became uncomfortable, then I became a “Yoga Momma” after I found that I felt heavier getting out of the pool than I did when I got in it. I gained the perfect amount of weight. All baby with a side of fat for the marathon feedings to come.
If you care to believe it, I lost, what I thought was, all the baby weight within the first two weeks post-partum. I thank my genes for that. Now, I did say I “thought” I lost all the baby weight and I suppose I did, but here’s the thing about having a baby, you can lose all the weight, but that doesn’t mean I came out without scars.
First, I will discuss “the pooch.” I went back to working out soon after my first was born. I looked at my abs and thought “Yes, I’ve got definition already!” Until, one day, I looked down at my “defined abs” while in plank position and saw “the pooch.” You have probably guessed it, it’s all that loose skin that holds the baby in during pregnancy. It does not leave nearly as fast as the weight can. In fact, it wasn’t until my son was about five that I could honestly say that my body felt and looked like my own, except… for the stretch marks. Yep, shortly after I shed the weight, I looked down to find deep red scars on my stomach. Stretch marks to be exact, stretch marks like I have never seen before. Stretch marks that made me ashamed to wear a bikini, even after they became thin and silvery.
I believe my son was about three or four before I finally ventured out to show off my badges of honour by wearing a bikini again. And that’s exactly what they are, badges of honour. I remember standing in front of that darn mirror looking at my stretch marks and recalling the birth of my son. My memories of his birth are filled with love, pride and a connection that only I can have with my son. It was then that I decided that, if I was proud to have brought my son into the world, then I should be proud of everything that came with it. I went out that day and bought my first bikini in over five years.
I decided to have a second child when my oldest was five. I find it amusing that I decided this right after I really felt good about my body again. Of course, this time was different, since I knew it was going to take five years to get it back again, but I was ready. Except my second was different from my first, since my pregnancy wasn’t smooth sailing this time. I continued with my workout and immediately pulled out my “Yoga Momma” video and I am so grateful that I did.
It started with a miscarriage, which meant that there was always the expectations of loss throughout my pregnancy with my second born. My next issue was simple enough, I couldn’t eat. I was living in Thailand until the end of my fourth month and all the Thai food I couldn’t wait to try, revolted me before I could taste it (I have decided to try again another time, when I’m not pregnant). This meant that I had the delightful experience of actually being eaten by another human being. I actually watched my plump posterior being eaten away by my unborn child. I still haven’t managed to gain that back and I’ve been trying. Lastly, I ended up with a nasty kidney infection that I couldn’t get properly diagnosed until my return to Canada.
Well, I suppose that wasn’t the last thing. The last complication was going into pre-term labour 4 weeks early, and to complicate things further, he was breach. This guy refused to be as easy as his brother (although, he too used me as a human punching bag). I ended up having an emergency c-section. Which, I have been told, is classified as a major operation. One which took 6 full weeks to recover almost fully. I actually recovered quite quickly. This is why I am thankful for all the weight training during my pregnancy, but don’t get me wrong, I still popped all the pain killers the doctor prescribed.
So, here’s what I got out of these two very different experiences. With both, I felt like I was supposed to be able to get back to doing everything right away and look fantastic within a few weeks of giving birth. But, over the years I have learned so much. I have learned that all women will come away from pregnancy and child birth with their own personal badges of honour. For myself, it was stretch marks. My friend, who had five children, it was a permanent “pooch”. Another friend told me that hers was extra weight gained (and never lost) on her arms. And for the women at my ex’s gym, it’s the “mom bum”.
I met a woman shortly after giving birth and she told me about her daughter-in-law who died in child birth (yes, according to my Doula, this still happens). Her story made me realize what a true accomplishment women have made by surviving pregnancy and child birth and by bringing the next generation of human beings into our world.
So, don’t pay attention to headlines telling you how to get rid of all that baby fat in six weeks, or how to laser away those stretch marks. Embrace them with the same pride you embrace your child with.
We live in a strange place as far as expectations and reality go. I say kudos to those of us who can keep it real and be proud of our accomplishments instead of focusing on unrealistic and unnecessary expectations. And here is what I say to all mom’s everywhere, don’t shy away from that bikini because you have the figure of a mom, wear those scars proud, show off those stretch marks as the badge of mother hood and wiggle that mom bum to the beach. Be proud of who you are, not who that person beside you thinks you should be.