A neon pink headline caught my eye in the check-out line: “The Weird and Wild Changes To Your Post-Baby Bod, p.57″
Damn right I grabbed the magazine; how could I not? I was 22 years old, barely into my second trimester, with absolutely no idea what to expect.
Except that my body was ruined, of course. I was sure of that.
I never would have admitted it at the time — Me? Care about my youthful body at my peak hotness? I’M GROWING A HUMAN HERE. Give me some credit. — but sure, it crossed my mind. I had spent years toning and pushing and hating my body; I thought I had years to perfect my abs before a baby took up residency. Yet here I was, pregnant, barely into my twenties.
Welp, good try, abs. Time to pack up the pipe dream.
I wasn’t consumed by my postpartum expectations (I was way more worried about raising a small human, to be honest), but I certainly slathered on cocoa butter; I dragged my tush to the gym each morning; I flipped to page 57 and read big, bold prophecies: BIGGER FEET, SOFTER BREASTS, STRETCH MARKS. THE END TIMES ARE NEAR.
Looking back from a six-year vantage point, I can’t help but chuckle. You see, the real changes to my post-baby body are so much deeper and stranger than anything I read.
Your body will change, yes, but not always how you’d expect:
1. Your body tunes to a new frequency.
This is the only way I can explain it: It’s like my son and I are tuned to the same frequency, he can just cough, whimper, whisper, and I’ll wake up from a dead sleep and instinctively go to him. It happens all the time.
Last summer, for instance, we were hanging out in my friend’s backyard and my 5-year-old boy was inside on the couch, ready to fall asleep.
“I think I hear him,” I told my friends, including my husband. No one heard a peep.
When I went inside, someone in the kitchen said, “There’s NO WAY you heard him! He just quietly said your name and you walked in!”
I didn’t hear him; I felt him.
2. You’ll randomly hear fantasy crying.
Whether it’s the sound of the washing machine, or the shower, or my husband’s wheezy snores, my brain hears sounds and interprets them as my son crying. All the time. It’s impossible to guess the number of times I’ve run into his room in a panic, sure I was hearing his cries, only to find a sleeping child.
3. You’ll develop Jedi mind tricks and energy-pushing sorcery to get him to sleep as a baby.
And you’ll SWEAR IT WORKS.
4. Your heart will get heavier.
I knew I’d pack baby weight on my thighs, but I didn’t know I’d have a permanent weight on my heart.
5. When you hear a crying baby, any crying baby, your breasts will leak.
They’ll also leak during sex, by the way. That’s a “weird and wild” change the magazines failed to mention.
6. You will lose any sense of modesty.
Especially if you’re breastfeeding. Those aren’t just breasts anymore; they’re magical feeding machines that operate to their own biological wiring, and you had no idea they were capable of such feats. You’re proud of those things! And your baby is hungry! NOW DIVERT YOUR EYES OR DEAL WITH IT, SIR.
7. Your emotions will sit right below the surface, like open nerve endings.
When you pass a horrific car accident, or you hear someone being ridiculed, or you watch the news and another child has gone missing, you’ll feel it deeper, stronger, than ever before. (That’s someone’s baby!) Bring up the subjects of foster care, starving children, or global pandemics, and you might become temporarily insane. Your heart won’t only feel heavier, it’ll periodically break under the pressure of a sad and scary reality that you just brought a newborn into.
8. You will have a new appreciation for your body’s strength and capabilities.
While I was Googling what would happen to my stomach, skin, feet, hips, and breasts, I didn’t realize that the real change wouldn’t be to my physical body, but my relationship with my body.
In my pre-pregnant life, I was always at battle with my body. I pushed it, starved it, dreamed of the ways I’d change it. But during my pregnancy, it was the first time I was actually inside of my body, listening to what it needed, witnessing its dormant, primal functions.
Even now, six years later, I still have an appreciation and respect for this life-birthing machine. For my body’s capabilities. For all we’ve been through together.
My body is a little different — it’s stronger and softer and a little marked up. The other day I jumped rope in my CrossFit class and peed myself, because childbirth. But after seeing all that this body can do, I much prefer the post-baby version.
The one I listen to.
The one I’m proud of.
The one that gave me my child.