Everyone knows that having a baby turns your life upside down. It’s easy to understand how much time babies take up – and that you have to shower faster and go out less and go to bed earlier. But babies change you in other ways, too, that aren’t so obvious.
For example – NEVER before having a baby did I find it socially acceptable to lift up a small child and sniff their butt. I also (with the possible exception of one very drunken night) have never sang Row Row Row Your Boat 16 times in a row and LIKED it. I’ve never sat on an airplane with my boobs exposed in front of a stranger. Never licked regurgitated avocado off the back of my hand. I never thought ever in my entire life would I refer to any type of liquid as “boobie milk.” Nope, never.
But now I do all of these things. On a regular basis. And it doesn’t really seem that weird.
Today, though, I realized yet another way in which I’ve changed since having a baby.
This morning Mia was not very keen on the idea of a morning nap. So since I needed to shower, instead of putting her to sleep, I put her in her new sled that she got for Christmas, towed her into the bathroom and sang “I’m a Little Teapot” over and over until I got all the conditioner out of my hair. By the time I got out of the shower she was on the verge of a major meltdown. I shook her rattle, jiggled the sled, sang “I’m a Little Teapot” even louder – but nothing was stopping those threatening tears. And then, I’m not sure why I thought this might work – but I started dancing around the bathroom like a person who belongs in a mental institution singing jibberish words to the tune of Old MacDonald and jumping up and down shaking my hair around. Mia thought it was HILARIOUS. Her face broke out into a giant smile and she started giggling and laughing and looking at me adoringly.
As I continued to flail around the bathroom trying to make Mia laugh I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and stopped right in my tracks. It was not a pretty sight. My day-old mascara was giving me raccoon eyes, my hair was sopping wet and yet somehow frizzy at the same time – and my once somewhat toned, smooth stomach (although I never would have referred to it that way before) was bouncing around in it’s new, jello-like state…still painted in a swath of stretch marks that vaguely resemble claws.
You see, I’ve taken pretty good care, since Mia was born, to not spend very much time in front of the mirror. Especially not in minimal clothing. So looking at myself now – dancing around the bathroom naked was something of a shock. “It’s been 5 months,” I thought to myself. “And it still looks THAT bad?”
And then, I looked at Mia. She was smiling ear to ear and reaching her hands out toward me to play with her. It was then that I realized, the way my stomach looks now, it’s because I created her. I grew a baby inside of me – and not surprisingly it left a mark.
Kind of like that time freshmen year of college when I was attempting a new trick off the three meter diving board and I cut it too close, dragging my arms against the edge of the sandpaper board. It left a pair of tick marks on my wrist that are still there today – a sort of welcome reminder of the bravery it took to attempt that dive.
Or the raspberry shaped scar on my knee that I made going head over feet off a skim board trying to impress a boy at the beach.
Or the crooked pinky on my right hand that was the result of a killer corner kick on a muddy soccer field in 6th grade.
None of those marks make me feel ugly. None of them are marks I’ve ever tried to cover up – or make go away with creams or pills or exercises. They are badges of honor that I wear to tell the stories of all the awesome things I’ve done.
And Mia is by far the most awesome thing I’ve ever done. So why should the scar she left be any different?
Looking at her look at me in the bathroom this morning I realized – that she doesn’t look at me and see stretch marks, or jello-y skin or extra pounds. She sees mommy. She sees “boobie milk.” She see’s a goofy girl dancing around the bathroom willing to do anything to make her laugh.
And Dan? He doesn’t see me any differently either. Actually – yes he does. He sees me as the woman that gave him a daughter. He sees a body that was strong enough to carry a baby inside it for 9 whole months. A body strong enough to endure 19 hours of labor and a vaginal delivery. Dan says, there is nothing more beautiful.
I was so worried about how my body would look after a baby. And it wasn’t until 5 months after giving birth that I realized my body is more beautiful now than it ever was. It is strong. It is healthy. It is useful. And now it has a scar that proves I once carried another life inside of me. That’s pretty fucking badass.
So am I going to wear a bikini this summer? Maybe not.
Am I going to do a trillion situps to try to get a little bit of muscle tone back in my belly? Probably yes.
But am I going to try to get my old body back? Hell no. Because I like my new one just fine.
I made a baby in that belly. What could possibly be more awesome than that?