I’ve known it was coming for a while. I’ve been waiting for it for weeks, but a few days ago, it finally happened: My scale hit that magic number.
Everyone who pays attention to their weight has a magic number. A number that is too high. A number that is just right. Or in my case, a number that is much too low.
My number is one I’ve never seen as an adult, a number that in my head has always been unattainable. It’s a number I’ve been close to and always thought “wow, if I go any lower, there won’t be anything left!”
While many women struggle with postpartum weight loss, it’s never been a problem for me. It helped that I worked really hard during my pregnancies to not gain too much weight (32 pounds with my first and third and 28 pounds with my second). But I believe being an avid breastfeeder has played a huge part in helping with easily losing the weight gained during pregnancy.
With my girls, I was back down to my normal weight by 2 months and lost a pound a month after that until I started giving them cups of milk instead of exclusive nursing. With Doodle, it took me 4 ½ months to get back to my normal weight, but since then (only 7 months) I’ve lost another 13 pounds.
As a former ballet dancer, I’ve always been conscientious of my weight, though I never took extreme measures aside from diet and moderate exercise to manage any changes. I discovered my “normal” weight over 7 years ago when I broke my foot. At the time I was taking ballet class 5 days a week and teaching another. When I broke my foot I had to stop dancing altogether for 12 weeks and in that time I LOST a pound a week (I’m assuming it was all my muscle!) That is the weight I easily maintained through my wedding and until I got pregnant and that is the weight I quickly returned to after my first two babies and the weight I returned to after weaning Sugarplum before getting pregnant with Doodle.
And most importantly, that is the weight I feel my best at. At my “normal” weight, I feel healthy, energized and motivated to take care of myself by eating right and exercising (mostly for fear of my weight going up too much if I don’t!)
I know that most mommies struggle with postpartum weight loss and I am fortunate that it’s not been a problem for me. I feel lucky that aside from a little extra bulge in the belly that proves my mommy of three status, I have no complaints about my postpartum body (don’t hate me, but I even survived all three pregnancies with no stretch marks on my stomach or boobs).
But the thing is, I don’t feel like a sexy, slim or beautiful woman who others should envy. People have started commenting on how much weight I’ve lost and say things like “you’re wasting away!” and I joke that Doodle is “eating me alive” but the truth is: I feel like crap.
I’m weak, exhausted and struggle with bouts of lightheadedness (presumably due to an iron or other vitamin deficiency despite still taking a daily prenatal vitamin) and all of that makes me irritable and easily stressed. My hair is dry, brittle and falls out in ridiculous amounts. My body has become so bony it’s uncomfortable to sit, lay, kneel or lean on harder surfaces.
My clothes (specifically my pants and skirts) just hang off my hips and I constantly sport a “saggy bottom” look. Even the clothes I bought after losing so much weight after the having the girls are too big now and I can’t justify buying new clothes when I know I’ll gain the weight back after I wean.
I’m insatiably hungry and though I can eat most anything I want and will still lose weight, I know I don’t eat enough because I just don’t have time. I try to maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet but I don’t always have the energy to make proper meals and fall into eating what’s easy which helps satiate the hunger but does nothing for my deficiencies. And so it becomes a cycle: I feel bad, I eat something easy, I don’t get the nutrients I need, I feel bad…
My issues with postpartum weight loss are not something I discuss with people very often. I know too many moms who struggle with postpartum weight loss and I do not ever want to alienate them or make them feel bad. But it’s also because I worry that I will be judged, seen as a whiny, complaining or unappreciative which in this situation, I am none of.
So before you look at a mommy who slims right back down after birth and think “wow, she’s lucky it’s so easy for her,” remember there are two sides to every coin and just because a mommy LOOKS good, doesn’t mean she FEELS good and easily losing weight doesn’t always mean an easy time. We all have our struggles in life and health (or lack thereof) comes in many forms.