I took a bath.
I know it sounds like one of these “who gives a fuck” Facebook status updates, but it was my first bath since Mark was born. Oh, don’t worry, I take a shower everyday—I don’t want to perpetuate the popular “French stink and don’t wash” stereotype. But these days, ‘me’ time, alone in the bathroom, is rare, and I usually rush through the shower much like I rush through everything these days.
Hot water and bubbles plus fancy French beauty products equals instant relaxation.
I soaked in the hot water, Mark’s baby babble downstairs temporarily muffled by the bathroom fan, and took a few deep breaths. I stretched my legs, ran my hands through my hair and got some of my Nuxe facial mask in my eyes—oops.
The smell of the scrub I use when I take a bath reminded me of last summer when, in the third trimester of pregnancy, I used to take a bath almost every other day in a desperate attempt to ease lower back pain and a myriad of other small pregnancy boo boos.
But this time, I no longer had a big belly bump peeking above the waterline. My belly is flat, my breasts even flatter—goodbye “pregnancy boobs”!
I have my body back for myself even though I don’t always have the time to be by myself these days.
When I first realized I was pregnant, the practical side effects of baking a baby were the least of my worries. I’ve been fatter, I’ve been thinner, I have worn out my body traveling and I’ve soothed it with massages whenever I had the money for this oh-so-pleasant luxury. Overall, I have a fairly healthy relationship with my body—even though, like most women, I periodically wish I could fit this tiny pair of trendy skinny jeans and flaunt an outrageous cleavage.
Oh, and I wouldn’t have minded smaller feet as well. Finding size 9–10 shoes can be a pain. But I’m 5’7, you can’t reasonably expect me to have tiny Chinese feet.
A few months into the pregnancy, when the baby bump started to show, I freaked out.
Okay, there was something growing inside me. Ahem… was my body meant for two people? I mean, would it like… expand? Would I end up like a huge balloon?
I went online and read a long litany of pregnancy– and postpartum-related complaints, aches and pains. Acne, stretch marks, excessive body hair, hemorrhoids, constipation, clumsiness, dizziness, heartburn, hair loss, stuffy nose, sore breasts… and these were just a few benign if icky side effects, apparently.
I read forum threads where expert moms described babies as small but lethal weapons of mass destruction who destroy your body and pretty much kill your fuckability. “But it is worth it in the end,” said most of these woman. “You have a baby! A cute little baby!”
I’m a married woman, but a French married woman. And at 29 years old, I sure didn’t want my fuckability to be destroyed. And call me shallow but I like my body, and I resolved to protect it against the baby invasion.
I decided to fight back.
I exercised. I ate healthy. I massaged my round belly and thighs with almond oil to prevent stretch marks. And I kept my finger crossed that I would get my body back, even though it wasn’t the body of a supermodel to start with.
Well, ladies and… ladies (because I doubt gentlemen care!), I’m happy to tell you that you can indeed “recover” from nine months of pregnancy.
I did experience some icky pregnancy side effects, the most annoying ones being constipation (seriously not funny) and sore breasts (I couldn’t even touch them in the first trimester!).
I have a few old and almost faded stretch marks from my teen years on my thighs but I didn’t get a single additional one with this pregnancy. I think using cream every day really helped! My belly came back to its normal state and I don’t have extra skin hanging out. The only small difference I see is that my navel piercing is a bit loose—I didn’t take it out when I was pregnant though, no need too.
This is not to brag I have a perfect body—far from that. This is just a message of hope to the women who are pregnant or who want to become pregnant and are bidding goodbye to their body. Sure, pregnancy and having a baby changes you in tons of small ways. But your body is smart and it adjusts accordingly.
Four months after giving birth, I’m back to “normal”, whatever “normal” was. Pregnancy is not a disease—it’s an experience, and your body will deal with it.