I’ve always been someone who exercises regularly and watches what she eats (most of the time). I’m not super strict, because hamburgers and french fries, but it makes me feel better to get sweaty and stay away from certain foods.
So, naturally when I got pregnant, I just assumed I’d be one of those women who would lose the baby weight within a few weeks and slide on my old clothes like nothing happened. That wasn’t my experience.
After having my first child, I was walking around a craft fair with my new 9-week old baby snuggled in his Baby Bjorn. A glimpse of my old self was there, and it was the first time I could pull on a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans. They were a bit tight, but I felt fabulous. My child was healthy and we had finally left the house for an outing. Some sense of normalcy was returning. Who cared if it hurt to sit down in those damn jeans?!
One of the vendors came up to me and asked how old my sleeping baby was. After taking a peek at him, she told me that I looked great. Before I could even thank her, a woman who was behind me said, “Hey, I looked great 9 weeks after my first, too. Just wait until you have a second or a third, then you can forget it.”
While her words were a bit unsettling, and kind of rude, that woman was absolutely right.
A short time later, I had a second child, then a third. Fitting into my old jeans nine weeks after giving birth those times did not happen. Like, not even half a leg could fit into anything. So, I just went out and got bigger clothes.
I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t long to slip into some of my favourite sweaters, skirts, and pants without feeling like I was wrapped in sausage casing. No one wants to look or feel like a busted can of biscuits. But here’s the thing: I didn’t care as much as I thought I would.
I wanted to lose most of the weight I’d gained, yes — especially since I had gained 50 pounds (or more) with each pregnancy. However, my visions of being one of those super fits mums who could push a baby stroller during a 5K faded fast. I applauded the women who were like that, but I just wasn’t one of them.
Running around with little kids, breastfeeding, and sleep deprivation drains your energy. At that point in my life, the 20-minute workouts that I could squeeze in here and there were more for my sanity than anything else. I didn’t want to spend hours in a gym, away from my young children, and I really didn’t want to spend time running while pushing a stroller. And, frankly, that’s what it would have taken to really get my body back.
Sometimes I would get down on myself about it and wonder where my drive and motivation had gone. But I also knew that if I wanted to put the effort into getting into great shape, and shed all the weight, I could do so when my kids were older. And that’s what I did.
When my youngest child was in school, I got serious about my fitness again and it felt so good because I was ready. My kids had a life outside of our home by then, so I had more time to work on myself without feeling like I was missing out. More than that though, since my youngest child was 6-years-old at that point, and everyone was sleeping through the night and a little more self-sufficient, my old energy was starting to come back. I had the energy and motivation to hit the gym.
Most woman want their bodies back after they have a baby. It’s normal and natural to mourn our pre-baby figure. But for the majority of us, it doesn’t just happen, it takes work. We feel pressure, but we are tired and have to put ourselves on the back burner in order to care for a new baby. And it’s perfectly okay to not give a sh*t for a year, or a decade, or ever about logging all those hours at the gym.