Eight pounds, eight pounds, eight pounds. It’s all I can think of at the minute.
Eight pounds is how much heavier I am than before I was pregnant. Teddy is outside now, and chunking up nicely, but I still have the weight of an average-sized baby slapped on my thighs, belly and all the other inconvenient places it tends to hang on.
Do you know that I know how foolish this is? I know, oh I know. Only four months ago I carried around a bump the size of a giant beachball on my front. My skin stretched, my ribs widened, my organs shuffled over and I made a baby out of my own self (Tim helped. A little). Teddy’s insides and outside came all from me. Flesh of my flesh. My body has done something momentous, here. These babies will grow into long-legged boys, angry teenagers, tall solid men who will go out and make something fine, and all of that life and goodness came from their nine months with me.
I think about all of that, and feel overwhelmed with the stupidity of eight pounds. I also feel guilty, sick with it. Some women don’t have the opportunity to do this at all, ever, and it tears them to pieces. Some women embrace their bodily changes and gather their children up into their lovely curves. Some women hurt to their soul for more than they have, and here I am, listening to whatever stupid messages come from outside, and desperate for less. Just eight pounds less, and I’ll feel good about myself. Eight pounds less, and I’ll fit into my old trousers, my old body, my old life.
I will not do this, this time. I will not. When I think about what these babies and years have done for me, it feels like I’m standing on top of a hill, sweaty and grubby, looking down over miles and miles of newly discovered country.
Look, there I am crouched in the back of my green Fabia, gross with morning sickness, trying not to throw up a salad sandwich.
Here I am flinging up my hands and yelling like an idiot, because Henry finally let go of the sofa and walked to my chair.
Over there I am crying in a cupboard, because I’m so tired I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck, and a little boy is pushing the tears off my face one by one.
And here, look, just here: 2.3oam, and my battered body is sat on the edge of the bed, cradling a brand-new boy. He is so tiny. It is so quiet. His fine hair ruffles under my breath, and his soft little fingers creep around mine as he swallows, swallows, swallows again.
All that, and the only thing to show that I’ve lived there are these last eight pounds. Dear friends, if you struggle with this too, please remember: your wonderful body shows you where you’ve been. Let’s gather our wealth, and move on.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had to write myself out of this. It probably won’t be the last. Here are the previous entries in my Diary of a Post-Partum Body: