When I got pregnant the first time, I immediately took to the Internet to learn all about what the next nine months had in store for me.
I learned about breastfeeding, bottle feeding, sleep training and co-sleeping.
I even learned that I needed to make those really neat (and totally lifesaving) postpartum pads. What I didn’t learn, however, was how my entire body would be completely different after having babies.
I knew the normal stuff -- I would probably get stretch marks and gain some weight -- but what actually happened after pushing out these two beautiful babies still has me a bit confused.
I feel the need to state here that I don’t, in fact, hate my body.
I’m totally aware of how beautiful and powerful childbirth is. I’m also in no way body-shaming myself or others.
I’m simply talking about all the changes to my physical body that no one -- including my ever trusted Pinterest bloggers -- bothered to mention.
I also feel the need to tell you if you went home from the hospital in your pre-pregnancy jeans and have never experienced any of the things I’m about to talk about, I’m going to need you to exit this post without leaving a comment.
Go eat a pizza alone in silence. I don’t want to know unicorns like you exist.
However, here are six realistic postpartum changes you will face, as per my experience:
1. My belly button will literally never -- without surgical intervention -- be the same.
I used to have the cutest belly button.
It was so open, tight and non-deformed that I would have never in my wildest dreams expected the reality that is now my new belly button.
The best way to describe what’s going on down there currently is to say it looks like a permanent frown face.
My stomach has been stretched to its limits and deflated two times in the last two years, but this malfunction didn’t happen until after my second pregnancy.
When Graham was two weeks old and I was brave enough to peek in the mirror for the first time, I was able to convince myself that once I lost some of the pregnancy weight, my belly button would open itself back up.
Not the case.
I’m almost a year out of my last pregnancy and 40 pounds lighter. But still, my belly button frowns.
2. My stomach legitimately feels -- and looks -- like cottage cheese.
Now, one could argue I could work out more.
One could also argue I could win the Miss America swimsuit competition. Both are about as likely to happen.
Seriously though, I do eat fairly well and work out more than I have in my life. The consistency of my stomach has (much like my belly button) remained unchanged, despite significant weight loss and toning.
I can feel muscles underneath the cheese.
3. The texture of my hair has changed.
I used to be able to go through an entire body pump class sweating and pumping for over an hour, dry off and take my hair out of my ponytail, only to have it fall perfectly back into place. No need to brush or otherwise fuss with it.
This was obviously amazing. But I will never experience it again.
Not only did I lose my fabulously thick and shiny pre-pregnancy hair, it's now growing in with a coarse texture I’ve never experienced before.
I’m learning things I never wanted to know, like frizz-eliminating blowout techniques and leave-in conditioner.
4. Boobs? I don’t even know where to start.
Yet another part of my body that won’t be fixed without surgical intervention.
Not only are they permanently two sizes bigger than before, they’re two sizes saggier. I have that much more surface area for stretch marks to cover.
Granted, my stretch mark situation could be so much worse. But there they are, my little tiger stripes reminding me of the absolutely terrible experience that is breastfeeding.
Side note: I know I’m not supposed to say this, but man. Do I love formula.
5. I am the proud owner of two brand new love handles.
Would you believe I was once completely perplexed by love handles?
I actually said out loud that I didn’t understand how they even existed. How could one even get pants on and buttoned, just to have those unsightly accessories hanging over?
Then, God laughed to the angels.
“Hahaha! Oh, naïve, never-been-pregnant-girl. You will know one day."
Seriously, if I had to buy pants big enough to not highlight my extra baggage, I would never wear pants again.
Love handles be darned. I’m wearing my jeans (with the loosest peasant blouse I can find).
6. Everything is bigger, including my feet.
I do think one person warned me about this one, but I didn’t believe her. I spent over 20 years curating the perfect size-7 shoe collection.
Within nine months, all that time and investment became as useless as my size-26 jeans (which are still in my closet for the day I lose the final 30 pounds I’ve put on since I was 16).
Unlike the rest of my body, I’m not holding out false hope that my feet will magically shrink. I have given away basically every pair of shoes I have owned before two years ago.
Here's a piece of advice: Save all the money you’re dumping into your shoe closet now for girdles and Spanx later.
If you’re reading this and you’re already knocked up, there’s no turning back now.
Fear not. There’s really nothing on Earth -- not even bigger feet and love handles -- that will compare to the love you will have for your children and the love they will have for you.
Except when they’re old enough to play with said love handles like flapjacks.