My body looks and feels quite different to how it used to, since getting pregnant and giving birth.
There have been small, welcome changes: the broken blood vessel on the side of my nose got larger during pregnancy, and a few days after I delivered V it magically disappeared! It probably would cost $300 to have a dermatologist remove it, so I’m chalking that up to a postpartum haemmorrhage win…
I also can’t use any form of chemical deodorant, otherwise I break out in an itchy rash of whiteheads in my armpits. Yargh! I’m currently alternating between EO and Home Health Herbal Magic which are the only natural deodorants that work AND don’t irritate my skin.
There has been a change in how I shower. I grew up in southern Spain where water is conserved. You turn it off as you lather up, because water in the region is scarce and limited boiler capacity means heated water can run out. I used to take quick, cool showers and never could understand how DH likes his so hot he can’t stand still. My first postpartum shower in the hospital changed that. Two days after the caesarean, I shuffled to the enclosed shower room where I slowly lowered myself onto a medical seat, and the water felt so good that I turned up the temperature until it was so hot that plumes of steam curled around the room, clouding my view of my mother-in-law only a few feet away. I’ve enjoyed the quintessential long, hot, American shower ever since. (Plus, it’s often the only quality “Me Time” I get these days.)
And there have been bigger changes, ones that have required adjustment.
In the days after I came home, I took photos of myself, naked, to show what my post-caesarean postpartum body looked like. My belly is high and round, I look six months pregnant. My uterus hadn’t shrunk back down to its normal size, but I think I was still a little swollen and extremely tender from surgery. My pubic hair is clipped close to my skin, and the scar was a deep purple colour, but there was surprisingly no bruising. My breasts were, for the first time in my life, heavy. Or, as DH lovingly and curiously described them, “pendulous.” And I have the fatigued pallour of someone who just lost a shitload of blood.
Almost seven months later, I have regained my colour and am back in my jeans, but not my shorts. I weigh 15 lbs more than I did before I got pregnant. I’ve always been on the slender side, so carrying this extra weight has been a strange experience.
My whole body has a thin layer of extra fat on it. I really like how this softens my angular face. My arms have a thin layer of extra fat on them, but they are otherwise as toned as ever, thanks to the upper body strength I’ve come to rely on for the better part of a year. And for the first time in my life, I have big boobs — I’ve gone from a B to an E cup — and even sleep in a bra. My bottom is bigger and rounder, which fills my jeans nicely. I appreciate my new curves!
But there is no longer a gap between my thighs, so feeling them rub when I walk feels weird. I don’t like it, it makes me feel like I’m going to trip over myself. And I have no idea what I’m going to wear this summer if I can’t squeeze myself into my summer wardrobe.
Even though my uterus is back to its normal size, I am still pot-bellied: my inactive pregnancy and complicated delivery have weakened my diastasis recti (“six-pack”) and transverse abdominal muscles; so picking up, carrying, and putting down a giant baby has caused back problems, so I’m seeing a physical therapist.
It’s the belly fat that is the strangest to me, because I am a pear shape. My acupuncturist says this fat is where my milk supply comes from, and when it begins to go it’s a sign my milk will soon dry up. I’m glad to have this forewarning. Vi will be seven months old on Sunday, and my milk production seems to be as good as ever.
And I am always losing hair: multiple strands at a time from my head daily, and at least once a week an eyelash stubbornly clings to my eyeball and needles its way under my contact lens. The clipped hair covering my nether regions has grown back, but the lilac seam peeps through. The skin below my scar feels normal, but a two-finger wide area above it is numb from hip to hip, and has points of tenderness on the left.
I look in the mirror and see myself anew. I am dimpled and lumpy, and I jiggle and wobble. I have crow’s feet and I look tired, so tired.