I have been given the green light. The particular green light I’m referring to is the one at the intersection of Sex and Physical Activity. I had my six week check up today after having the baby. All is good – at least as good as one can be six weeks after giving birth. (Experienced mothers, you of course know that your body is still far from being “back to normal” at this point). For those of you who have yet to experience this miracle, here are just some of the wonderful physical side effects pregnancy has on the body:
* Weight gain
* Fat ankles (aka kankles)
* Widened noses
* Larger and (very) dark nipples
* Linea Negra (the dark line that spreads from under your chest down your naval)
* Hyper-pigmentation (darkening of areas of the body such as under eyes, nether regions, etc)
* Stretch Marks
* Widening Hips
There are a whole slew of other symptoms women experience when pregnant. Many of them go away once the baby is born (such as morning sickness – vomiting) but are replaced by new things (such as morning sickness – why am I up this early?).
Eventually with hard work our bodies may be able to return to their original appearance (somewhat). Stretch marks are still there but they at least will fade from their dark red appearance to a silvery line that is less visible. Unless you just knock them out with a cosmetic surgical procedure I guess. I won’t lie and say I haven’t considered that myself. Hips may stay a bit wide set. You may have earned a caboose that could rival Kim Kardashian or J-Lo’s.
Other side effects occur after, as the result of having a baby. Those include:
* Sagging eyes / Dark Circles (from lack of sleep)
* Sagging boobs (from nursing)
* Sagging skin around the belly (from weight loss)
* Sagging in general
I was happy at not seeing many stretch marks during my pregnancy until the last month when they came out of nowhere and claimed the whole front of my belly. Bastards. I also fell victim to the pigmentation issues. The doctor says this could take a while to go away. Bollocks! Fortunately, I didn’t gain a lot of weight during the pregnancy (about 35 pounds) but I have only lost 18 pounds so far (half of which was the actual baby and baby “byproduct”). Plus I was a little heavier than I wanted to be when we got pregnant. So now is when getting the “green light” means the most.
I was not very healthy before getting pregnant. I had high cholesterol, smoked, drank, lived on coffee and cigarettes by day and unmonitored foods by night. I actually think that’s why I didn’t gain so much weight and why I felt pretty good during my pregnancy. I was eating small and often and drinking lots of water like we should. I was paying attention to WHAT I was eating (quality not quantity). I totally cut out the caffeine and obviously gave up smoking too. My body was finally getting what it needed and was feeling good. I also decided while I was pregnant that I wanted to start running after having the baby. Being a smoker before getting pregnant I figured that having my lungs back could enable me to do so much more. I’m eager to see how well I can do with something like running. Who knows, maybe work myself up to trying a marathon before 40.
Ah, but now is also when getting the green light to physical activity (aka the corner of Bedroom & Brown-Chicken-Brown-Cow Streets) can be dangerous too. Did I say dangerous you ask? Didn’t I mean “enticing”, “sensuous”, “much needed”? No. I mean DANGEROUS. Your womanly parts have just been through a major ordeal, trauma is a better word, that often times requires repair. Sneezing for weeks after having a baby can make tender spots more noticeable. Sex? Yes, sex is major. My OB’s words were that it would “hurt like hell” the first few times. It takes your body a while to get back into the “groove” of sex again too. And did I mention that a woman is extra likely to get pregnant again right after having a baby. (Yes, even when nursing so hey new moms: DON’T use nursing as a method of birth control!). Plus you’re body itself still doesn’t look the way it did before getting pregnant so you’re feeling kinda like you should be fully covered at all times and not prancing around in a sexy lingerie. After having a baby you feel many things – accomplished, strong, proud, (tired). Sexy isn’t really one of them.
Oh and as a side note as I’m getting dressed to leave the doctor’s office she also throws in that my hair will start falling out by the hand full at around 4 months postpartum. Um, EXCUSE ME?! Why doesn’t anyone talk about this. Of all the women with children I know I’ve never heard them talk about the crisis of losing all their hair when they’re chirping about how many hours they were in labor and all their personal experiences. Apparently the hormone that causes us to shed our hair regularly stops when pregnant and so you keep all your hair. Some women notice their hair is thicker when pregnant. That’s why. But at about four months after when your body has just about expelled all those hormones your hair regeneration cycle starts back up. All at once. As in, here is all the hair you would have shed gradually while pregnant. We’re going to shed it all now in a couple days. Gee, can’t wait. She assured me I won’t “go bald” but couldn’t say it wouldn’t be thinner than it was before I got pregnant.
So you spent the last six weeks waiting for the okay to just start doing normal things again and now that you’ve got the green light you’re wondering how in the world your body could be ready already. Maybe this is a side effect of delivering naturally without the epidural: You actually experienced that pain completely. You felt every second of it and it was amazing, yes, but PAINFUL. So you for once in your life fully understand the wincing feeling that men get when anyone talks about making anything less than gentle contact with their genitalia. Your mind is still protecting that very sensitive, traumatized area. You feel like a virgin all over again worrying about pain, pregnancy, and of course, your appearance.
Now is when, if we’re committed, we can work ourselves back into the shape we were before the baby (conceding some of the youthfulness of perky boobs and a flat stretch mark free belly, that is). We can either return to the healthy active and fit person we were or find a healthy, active, fit person that we always wanted but never had the motivation, will power and reason to achieve before. Or we can sit and do nothing. We have spent months eating healthy for two, taking our vitamins, drinking lots of water, respecting our body. So why not continue it now that it’s still so routinely part of us? We have added a whole new dimension to our confidence by showing that we can do the ultimate – create and bear life. Granted, our confidence takes a little hit by having the hiccup of a (for some women) brutally beaten up body afterward. But if we can regain our pre-pregnancy body for the most part AND be healthier and more confident in the long run, why wouldn’t we?
So, my tank is full. I’ve got my roadmap and my itinerary for where I want to go. My light is green. Wish me luck as I enter this unknown territory. Destination: ME. 🙂