This post is not going to be PC. Sorry.... not sorry.
I'm a skinny girl. Always have been.
I have chicken legs. In fact, my legs and ankles were so skinny when I was in Kindergarten and 1st grade that my Daddy made me wear high tops every single day, no matter what I wore, so I wouldn't break an ankle.
Do you remember those?! :-)
I'm not quite sure where his theory came from but... I never broke an ankle!
I had teachers who wondered out loud if I had an eating disorder or if I was eating enough.
I was. Ask anyone in my family. I ate. A lot.
So... I was 'that' girl.
The one who could eat anything and everything she wanted and never gained a pound.
The one who could wear anything.
Women write about losing weight and being over-weight every day... and they aren't too crazy about 'that' girl. Like me. But what about those girls? We have a side, too....
And I'm pretty sure MY side might come as a surprise.
I have always been aware of my innate, genetic 'thinness' but as I get older.... as life continues to happen... I've learned a few things about the progression of women's body types and I've found myself painfully aware of it over the past 5 years...
When I was younger, maybe elementary through middle school, my skinniness was a concern to others'.... I wasn't developing properly or getting the right nutrients or I wasn't eating enough.
Throughout high school and college, it became something to be proud of.... I could eat whatever I wanted, I never gained weight, and exercising made me sweat.... and if you know me, you know I hate to sweat ;-)
I was proud of being a skinny bride, even though I hadn't hit the gym for the 6 months before our wedding.
Regardless, being married to Joey ;-) I quickly found that exercise made everything about me more 'enjoyable' to be around... I was happier, I made healthy eating choices not because I wanted to lose weight but because I wanted to be healthy, my sweatiness was something my husband kind of enjoyed, and it felt so good to watch my body change as I became more healthy.... skinny does not equal healthy.
Entering my mid 20's is when my thinness started to bother me.
It didn't take long for me to realize that skinny girls in their 20's and 30's no longer have a right to complain about their weight.... 'being skinny' took away my ability to mention feeling bloated, bring up my awful eating habits, mention having eaten too much at dinner, or call a day a 'fat day'.
So... I'd formally like to announce that there are many days when I feel bloated, that when I eat a whole box of animal cookies I DO notice it the next day, I tend to eat way too much on certain days of the month, and I absolutely have a pair of 'fat-day pants'.
Just like every other woman... fat, thin, chubby, skinny, pregnant, or not.
Skinny girls have fat days, too.
While I have never been 'unhappy' with my weight, my 'child-bearing years' only made me more aware of my weight and more specifically, of the 'world's' perspective of the skinny girl...
Everyone says that a woman's weight can adversely affect their ability to conceive when they have either above 'average' or below 'average' BMI for their age group...
(We'll use 'average' loosely, too... what in the world does that mean?!)
I was well below 'average' and was advised by my first (of many) infertility specialists to gain about 10 pounds.
I hadn't gained TWO pounds in 10 years... so yeah, I'll just go do that now.
My final and favorite specialists put no 'weight' whatsoever on a woman's weight unless it was threatening her life, aside from her wanting to get pregnant.
I loved him.
We all know how those 'child-bearing years' went (we'll use 'child-bearing years' loosely, too... they didn't do me any favors ;-))...
eventually, we brought Hannah home :-)
My first few times out with her is when the evolution of my 'skinniness' didn't just stand out to me.... it hit me like a wrecking-ball.
"Please tell me you did NOT just have that baby!"
"You must work out every day to look like that with a newborn!"
"My baby is 6 months old and I've gained weight since he was born... how did you lose weight that fast?!"
"You're babysitting, right?! That can't be your baby."
"I hate you."
True. Every one of them... and so many more.
My precious baby girl had become the one thing in the entire world that I was most proud of. She was beautiful and precious and we had waited so so long for her.... and she was home.
I was a new mom....
to the people who knew me.
To the world? I was an obnoxious skinny girl who couldn't have 'just had that baby'.
MY focus was completely and solely focused on our precious daughter... and the world's focus was on my weight.
And the comments weren't compliments anymore... even if they were meant to be.
I found myself stuck in an awkward grey area that I wasn't sure how to navigate...
I AM a new mom and this IS my baby girl....
and if I had HAD her, the world would look at me like any other post-partum mom and they would focus on her... not me.
I didn't have her.... but where do you go from there?
I remembered how many times I would stand in front of the mirror, pillow under my shirt, dreaming of what I would look like if I got pregnant.
I remembered stuffing my bra, imagining what it would be like to watch my body change so I could nurse my baby and help him or her grow.
I remembered how badly I wanted to shop at maternity stores... I've never even walked in one.
I remembered wanting my body to be different... for the first time in my life.
I wanted 'that' body.... the one that friends and family would analyze so they could try and guess if it was a boy or a girl... the one that strangers would touch in public.... the one my husband would talk to and touch, just waiting for a response from inside of me... the one that symbolized the love between me and my husband.
All of a sudden, our precious baby was finally home and I was finally a mom.... and the world judged my body, of all things.
I tried out a variety of responses to the comments I was receiving... they ranged from a full explanation of our infertility process and adoption process... to a lying 'thank you.'
I get those same comments now... a year after Hunter was born.
"He was 2 pounds when he was born."
That's all they get.
I let them take what they want out of it... 'she didn't gain all that much weight if he was only 2 pounds", if they're really focused on ME... or "wow... look how far he's come!!!"... and I walk away.
I've been at this now for almost 5 years and I still haven't mastered the perfect response. I don't really think their IS one.
All I know is that now, my skinny body doesn't symbolize s**t.
But my friends.... the one's who have recently had their babies.... the one's who's babies are toddlers... the one's who carried their babies and had to grieve the loss of them...
The one's who want so badly to lose their 'baby weight'...
I admire the effort they make to 'get their body back' and I'm so proud of how hard they work to be healthy for their children...
but it makes me so sad when they show embarrassment or shame at their post-baby bodies.
True, I haven't been there....
But I've wanted to be ... so so badly.
Those precious friends of mine... I'll never truly understand what happens to a woman's body during and after pregnancy... and I'll never understand the feelings that come with comparing your 'pre' body to your 'post'...
But aside from what I'll never understand, one thing stands out to me as I witness so many women who 'struggle' with their post-baby bodies...
Those women have their babies. They walk around Target with their post-baby belly. They sit at the pool with their sun-screen lathered baby. They take so much pride in their baby....
And then I think about my babies' birth-moms... they had a post-baby body, too.
But they don't have their baby. They walked around Target without that newly born baby and I wonder if people still asked them how far along they were. I wonder if people gave them that sweet "you're going to be a mom" smile. I wonder if anyone wondered how old their baby must be or where he or she was.
And then everything changes.... for the skinny-body new mom and the I-just-had-a-baby new mom.
To 'those' women...
Your children are beautiful... because of you. They're healthy and growing because of your body. You've experienced every second of your baby's life.... his or her first precious seconds of existence, first movements, first breath... the changes in your body symbolize those extraordinary moments of your child's life that no one else in the world can share with you.
Please don't be so quick to 'lose' that baby weight... to lose 'your baby's weight'.
Yes, be healthy. Yes, be good to yourself. Yes, get to a place where you love your body.
But, at those moments when you're putting on your first post-partum bathing suit... or getting dressed for your first date-night since baby... or trying to find new clothes to fit the awkward stage your body is in...
or when you're sitting next to the skinny girl at the pool...
Don't be so quick to be discouraged or to compare yourself.
This skinny girl spent many many nights wishing that she could wear an anything-but-A-cup maternity bathing suit or bra or experience those super-comfy maternity pants with the huge spandex waistband.
This skinny girl thinks you're beautiful. I've been jealous of you for what your body was able to do.... for what it's doing.
And my babies' first moms? I think it's pretty safe to say that they struggle with their own jealousy, at times, too.
Keep letting your body do what it's been made to do for your baby.... but also do it for you... for the part of you who is allowed to hold on to your baby for as long as you need to, whether you're holding on to her as you rock her to sleep or snuggle with your toddler or carry him a little longer than you'd like because you can't hold him in your arms.
Every mom is, at the very least, entitled to a 'fat day' once in a while...
and every mom is also entitled to carry her baby as long as she wants to, in any way she wants to....
and every mom, natural, adoptive, or birth-mom...
skinny, chubby, fat, thin, or whatever other term the world has thrown at you....
every single mom in the world....
has that in common.