By Sarah B. Khan
I penned this a few months after my second child was born. My weight might have fluctuated, but the sentiments stay the same.
For many women, the body changes drastically when they have a baby. It’s a slow gradual shock that takes 9 months to manifest but when it does, the body just isn’t the same anymore. It feels different, it reacts in new and wonderful ways, and it certainly looks different. Now, some women ‘bounce back’ quickly; and I say this being wholly mindful of the fact that our society perceives a fit and slim body as ideal.
But some, like myself. We change. We morph. We’re shapeshifters if you may. But we’re not blind. Or oblivious. We know we’re rocking the Mumbod. We know we’re having to squeeze into those skinny jeans that we proudly wore at our 5-year college reunion. We have accepted that now we need to go up a few sizes, and maybe change our sartorial style a bit. We’re wallowing at those extra chocolate Digestives we had during pregnancy.
For me, the actual shock came post-baby number 2. I fell miserably sick. I lost a ton of weight; about 30 pounds in a month or less. I couldn’t eat. During that time I couldn’t even remember being able to keep anything down for more than a few minutes. Everything sickened me and I was constantly being given fluids intravenously. But as the pregnancy approached 20 weeks, and the cocktails of medicines I was being given started to work, I began to feel better. I was able to nibble on small meals and my hunger was slowly making its way back. However, I was still unable to be as active as I would’ve liked to be, and the rest of my pregnancy was spent just catching my breath and just trying to stay as calm and relaxed as I could with a toddler in tow (my daughter was 1 year old at that time).
During the last trimester, I finally began feeling like myself. As the taste and yearning for food returned, so did the appetite and the craving for desserts. The weight started to climb. But the doctors were hesitant to criticize me due to it being a high-risk pregnancy and also because the weight gain was within the acceptable range and I just needed to keep my body healthy enough. So, I remained more vigilant about the growth of my baby and was unable to do much working out, I let the weight be a worry for later.
And then it was later. And it was frustrating. Instead of focusing on my kids, I was constantly reminded of the way I looked. Especially the entirely unhelpful comments from others. I mean here you are, trying to adjust to your wildly changed life, and people saunter by, passing judgments as if a) you’re oblivious, b) it’s appropriate for them to do so.
The realization that we can be so harsh on new mothers hit me then. And I’ve compiled a short and sweet list of things never to say to a mom, or you know what? Things never to say to anyone.
1. You’ve put on quite a bit. Really? I have? I didn’t notice the extra pounds lingering around my midsection. Thanks for the tip.
2. Feeding your baby makes you lose weight faster. No, it does not. You’re ravenous. I’ve never heard of anyone waking up for the night-wakings and sneaking in a pilates session in between. But I have heard of mamas having a cookie or two to keep their eyes open at 2 am.
3. It’s so easy to fit in an hour of working out. I could barely fit in 5 minutes to eat proper meals. I usually eat faster than I can chew and I’m sometimes standing over the counter as I do it, because I know, someone’s going to be needing me soon. Yes, I know I could have fit in some time for a workout, but please don’t make it seem like I’m sitting on my sofa, leisurely contemplating life all day.
4. If you don’t lose it now, you never will. I’m sure it will be harder, but it won’t be impossible (now 3 years later I can safely say it was harder but it can be done, whenever you’re ready). Striking fear in my already exhausted heart is certainly not going to make me put my running shoes on.
5. You don’t want to look like a Mommy! But isn’t that what I am? Maybe let’s shame moms less and celebrate them more?
6. So and so lost the weight in just 2 months. I saw. I’m on social media too. Also, I’m not blind. But so and so isn’t me. I salute every woman on any form of a fitness journey. However, she looks.
I’m sure there’s so much more that women must hear, but this has been my personal experience. It’s so important to remember that just a little bit of kindness can go a long way, and we should build each other up. I am by no means saying fitness isn’t imperative to a healthy lifestyle, but everyone’s pace is unique. We all have a journey to walk, so why not appreciate it every step of the way?