Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Changes

This weekend, I had the pleasure of spending an evening in the company of a new mother. After plenty of cooing over the cute baby, talk inevitably turned to, "Are my hips ever going back to normal?" Just like that, we were off to the races. The guys who were with us started the usual, "Don't scare her!" protests, and I ignored them. I always hear that though, especially from men, when I start talking candidly about weird mama body issues. But I think it's the men who get scared by it and not the women, right?

I appreciated everyone who spoke candidly with me when I was pregnant. I was one of the first in my peer group to have a baby, so a lot of what I heard came from Mom and her generation. It was good advice. Kayla, the person my age who was already a mother, was also helpful. It was from her that I learned I would not be wearing my fat jeans home from the hospital. And that's something you have to be told, right? While you're pregnant, it's hard to imagine what your body might look like after the baby comes out. I needed the heads up.

When I was in college, I took a Developmental Psychology class that compared adolescence with pregnancy- these are the only two times in life, other than an illness, when a body changes so dramatically in such a short period of time. I always held this in my head, but only really considered how it would affect me on the front end of things. Yeah, I knew my boobs would never be perky again, but other than that I never thought about how my body would change afterwards. You have this vague notion of "getting back to normal." But there is no more normal. Or there is, but it's a different normal than the one you were used to.

I don't think it's unkind to tell a pregnant woman or a new mother about this, not if she asks. Your body doesn't become a horrible disaster or anything. It's just. . . different. And I think women need that warning, need to know that it's not going to be the same. You spend 30 years of your life with the same body, you know its pros and cons, you know how pants fit on your frame- it's weird when that changes. If you were 150 before the baby, when you get back to 150, it's going to be a different 150.

And so another new mom enters the fray. Should I be honest with her? Should I pretend like it's all fun and games? I know I appreciated the honesty, but I hear a lot of that "Don't scare her!" business too. What do you other moms think? Am I too harsh?



7 comments:

Stacey Greenberg said...

i don't know but that new flickr widget is badass.

CarrieJ said...

if she asks .. COMPLETE honesty! definitely. Some women need to know. They aren't just asking to be coddled and calmed down. They had a baby, not a nervous breakdown (well, in most cases those are separate issues). Besides, you know the person you are talking to, and you know what they want to know and what they want to REALLY know. Although, I must say that after having a baby I no longer care who I discuss my body with. All the mystery is gone :)

Sassy Molassy said...

Lying to new mothers won't make their hips any smaller, you know? It will just make them feel like everyone else had a different, better, easier experience. Honesty is the best policy.

Secret Agent Mom said...

I support full (solicited) honesty. The biggest thing I heard from new mothers was "no one ever told me ..." And while I think there are a lot of things you just can't understand until you experience them, at least having the words echoing in the back of your head can be helpful. Isolation, loneliness and fear are the biggest problems many new moms face, so any way you can show them they're not alone is a charitable act. And come on, guys, chicks don't scare that easy!

Stan said...

I would not have survived my pregnancy without you! I needed the straight dope. And I needed clothes that fit! (thank you a million times over for the maternity-ware!). Most of all, I appreciate your advice both pre and post baby, to buy clothes that fit your body, whatever it looks like. I forget that, a LOT!

Mrs. Katherine said...

I'm not sure if it's pregnancy that gives you a different body or if it's not being on the pill anymore.

I got some nice red streaks in my hair after Harper was born. No one told me that was going to happen, but it was a pleasant surprise.

VeeGee's Mommy said...

Hell, MOMMYHOOD gives you a different body (even if you adopt!).