I always took my pre-babies body for granted. My slim body never gave away my sweet tooth.My skin remained clear through out puberty. I assumed my body will stay the same after the babies started coming, I was wrong.
After my first baby was born, my body went back to its original size six after almost six months. Like butter melts under heat, the fat slipped away,effortlessly. I made minimal effort,still ate the same. It seemed keeping up with my maternal responsibilities sped up my metabolism. After my daughter was born, it took my body a shorter time to return to its original size. I didn’t even notice as the weight slipped off, I was that busy.
And then, my beloved Chunky was born…and I grew the ‘muffin top”. My favorite jeans refused to fit. I lingered longer in front of the mirror, doing that familiar dance we women do:sucking in my breath, trying to take a few inches off my waist, swinging left and right, looking for more flattering angles…finding none and feeling frustrated. Each morsel of food seemed to travel down my esophagus and stop at my waist.
I shopped more carefully for clothes, looking for those that could hide the bump that refused to be wished away. I spent a small fortune on body shapers that promised to give the illusion my flat stomach had returned. For the first time in my life, I join a gym. I do crunches, sit ups,run, lift weights….I do everything my instructor tells me like my life depended on it. Everything firms up, muscles I was not originally targeting become sculpted. I lost a few inches in the middle, the muffin top seemed to shrink but my original stomach still eluded me. After several months of “jumpology”I asked my gym instructor for a special course of exercises that would target the muffin top.
He asked me if I had any children. I eyed him and asked him what that had to do with anything. He patiently explained to me the effect childbirth could have on the stomach muscles. No matter how many sit ups, crunches and laps I ran, my middle may never return to its original shape. When he saw how stricken I looked, he advised I may want to consider reconstructive surgery. Surgery? I muttered a couple of very colorful expletives under my breath. I start to ask myself some very hard questions.Why am I so desperate to have the body I had in my twenties? Why am I less accepting of its flaws?What makes me see each bump,wrinkle and wart under a microscope?
And so, after a few weeks I had the talk with my gym instructor I am on the phone with an old friend. He tells me how his stomach has ballooned after marriage, how he couldn’t fit into a very expensive suit his wife had bought him last Christmas.I tell him about the stubborn muffin top. He sounded so laid back and comfortable with his premature pregnancy. I advised him to buy a girdle to take a few inches off his middle, or a crash ‘insanity course”in boot camp. As usual,he is kinder:Buy bigger jeans, he says with a laugh when I whine about not fitting into my favorite jeans.
I do my research. I improve on my diet. I learn to walk away when enticed by my palate. I stopped exercising as if my life depended on it. My body is no longer the one I had in my teens and twenties. It has been through the wringer: three babies, a few surgeries(none for aesthetic reasons),health challenges that have not defeated it and never will by God’s grace. So what if my bulge refuses to go away? I have grown to love every crease, wrinkle and bump. And to all my fellow sisters out there: eat,pray, love and buy bigger jeans.