About eight weeks after having my first child, feeling confident that my body was snapping back to its old self, I pulled out my pre-maternity jeans, quite sure they'd fit. Once I'd worked my way in, I was shocked to find that several inches lay between button and buttonhole. I'm sure I cried.
It's a story I shared recently with my sister Annie who, despite a healthy diet and plenty of exercise, is finding those last handful of postpartum pounds clinging to her like a newborn babe hungry for mother's milk. She's trying her best to be patient, but it's hard not to compare her postpartum journey to that of a stylish neighbor who was pre-pregnancy slim practically before leaving the birthing room or a close friend who shimmied into her skinny jeans about the time her baby hit the six-week mark.
None of this is helped, of course, by the endless parade of celebrities in various stages of gestation, either lauded for losing their "baby" weight or scandalized for not. The apparent fixation of the media, and particularly the tabloids, on the ups and downs of pregnant celebrities is both bizarre and disturbing.
I'm not exactly a Kim Kardashian fan and I've never downloaded a Jessica Simpson song, but the fact that any woman is publicly flogged for being "fat" during and after pregnancy gives me hives. I take issue with the tabloids' exploitation of every pound gained and lost. Kim Kardashian was apparently too chunky and Princess Kate too thin.
Holding up the likes of preternatural beauties such as Giselle or Angelina as the gold standard for the postpartum ideal is no better. Must we measure up to Heidi Klum, a woman who walked the runway at Victoria Secret six week after giving birth? Most of us don't have the God-given genetics, never mind the personal trainer, baby nurse or private chef to pop in and out of pregnancy with such ease. Most of us are too busy wiping baby's bottoms and nursing around the clock to be counting carbs.
This is not to say that making your way towards a healthy weight after having a baby is not worthwhile. It is. But it needn't happen overnight. I eventually was able to button up those jeans, but it took nearly five months, not two. New moms have enough on their plates without the added pressure to be supermodel-slim straight out of the delivery room. Their focus should be squarely on that wonderful, exhausting, beautiful, perfectly imperfect new baby, not the numbers on a bathroom scale.