Caitlin Hurley of Bedford, Mass., has two children ages 5 and 8 and is pregnant with her third. She ran until 7 1/2 months into her pregnancy with her first two children and is planning on doing the same with her third, depending on how she feels.She ran the 2013 Boston Marathon in 2:58, and her next finish line will be delivering her baby late July 2014. Each week she'll document her progress on Ultra Sound Pregnancy.
Now that I am decidedly in my second trimester at 19 weeks, and have thankfully past the “Is she fat or pregnant?” stage, I am breathing a big, yoga-teacher-would-be-proud sigh of relief. Which makes me question, as the Sarah McLaughlin song did (yep, the one play that incessantly in my college dorm room), “That I would be good.. even if I gained ten pounds.” Self-image is such a stickler, and our societies’ notions of acceptable and normal has become completely skewed. Take Barbie. Designer Nick Lamm is crowd-sourcing money to make a “Lammily” doll that is modeled after Barbie but has (gasp) the proportions of an actual, live person! Imagine that. She is being dubbed the “average Barbie” and many are calling her short and fat. Therefore they think the average 19-year-old American woman (who Lamm modeled her after) is fat. Thanks a lot Barbie.
Now that pregnancy is de rigeur in Hollywood, showing off the bump and beautiful maternity styles has been accepted. Kerry Washington and Drew Barrymore sported cute bumps at the Oscars, Kate Middleton wore her pregnancy like her hair – perfect no matter what angle a photo was taken. But we still lampooned Kim Kardashian as she went from curvy to resembling the girl who ate the blueberry gum in Willy Wonky. No wonder she doesn’t want to leave the house (not that I have ever watched that mindless show, not me).
The problem isn’t so much the pregnancy weight gain as it is the pressure to lose it by the time you strap the baby in her car seat on your way home from the hospital. Once again, our culture is completely off-base in this expectation. Biologically there are reasons that women need to hold onto some weight post-baby, including having the ability to breastfeed. While celebs obviously feel the pressure to fit into their jeans more than us, they also have the tools to do it – trainers, cooks, nannies to watch the baby while they exercise. I still remember visiting my parents when my son was two months. I would sneak out for a run when he finally fell asleep, and we had a signal if he woke up – my dad would put a red hat on the lamppost in front of their house. I would go on a fifteen-minute loop and it seemed to me that that red hat was on the lamppost every time I passed. I would dutifully come and check on him, but part of me was frustrated. I couldn’t even get a run in. I’m sure that Jessica Simpson’s nanny doesn’t use the red hat on the lamppost trick.
What I am asking is easier said than done, and this is very much a note to self: give yourself a break post-pregnancy. You will be exhausted. You will feel like milk is coming out of your ears. Your hormones will fluctuate like the Tower of Terror. You do not need to impress anyone with how fantastic you look. You will be lucky to shower on a daily basis. Focus on what is important, this incredible new life you have brought into this world. Ignore that voice that implores you to look like Barbie, know that eventually looking like Lammily is just fine.
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