View Full Version : Post Partum Body Image Blues
05-11-2010, 10:04 PM
Warning: Whining ahead. I recognize I have an amazing husband, healthy and relatively happy children, a great job, and crapload of other things to be grateful for. I do. And, while my body is not in great physical condition, it's still relatively decent shape. I'm just...*sigh* My neurosurgeon said after my second back surgery to get physical therapy to help "regain confidence" in my body again--and that's precisely my struggle now. I don't have confidence in it. In fact, I cast a wary and watchful eye on anything my body does, as I don't trust it any more than I could throw it. Er...you get the point.
My whine is this: I'm frustrated. My body feels like a big, deflated blob, with this lame post-baby-belly jiggle grossing me out and angering me when it interferes with buttons and zippers. But, as I'm the sole source of nourishment for my 5-month-old infant (he's had cereal twice, but otherwise it's all boobie all the time), I'm hungry CONSTANTLY. As Boy 2.0 is dairy protein intolerant, I can't snack on the string cheeses and yogurts and big gulping glass of nonfat milk I used to. I compensate instead with higher fat nuts and carbs, carbs everywhere. Boo.
More aggravating, though, is my desire to exercise is usurped by a spine that can't handle the compression of jogging and recovering lungs that can't handle the exertion without wheezing. Beyond that, I'm so freaking tired when I come home from work (and facing the exhausting evening of child juggling), the last thing I want to do is exercise.
I see the girls at work in their cute little skirts and cute little high heeled shoes, and look at my frumpy pants and hideous New Balance 926s (best shoes for walking, highest recommended for back surgery patients, ugly as unshaven ass) and think...well, my cute days are over.
Summer is coming, and Boy 2.0 is maturing, so (hopefully) I'll be able to find an exercise routine that works and can become ingrained habit and I can work on "regaining confidence" in my body again.
*sigh* Whine over. Wine, please...but hold the cheese.
05-11-2010, 10:32 PM
More aggravating, though, is my desire to exercise is usurped by a spine that can't handle the compression of jogging and recovering lungs that can't handle the exertion without wheezing. Beyond that, I'm so freaking tired when I come home from work (and facing the exhausting evening of child juggling), the last thing I want to do is exercise. I don't have kids or a bad back so you can disregard this if you want to, but I wonder if you'd be happier if you tricked yourself into low-impact exercising. Put baby boy in a stroller and go for a nice long walk which gets you both out and burns calories. Or if that still feels too "exercise-y" put him in the stroller but bring both kids to the zoo/aquarium/museum or the mega-mall, all places where you'd be walking a lot but have lots to look at to make you forget that you're trying to get yourself moving. Or, leave the kids at home and get a friend to take walks with you, so you have someone to talk to.
Walking may not seem like it's doing much for you, but when I walked ten-twenty miles more a week than I do now, I also weighted 20 pounds less, so it was doing something!
05-11-2010, 10:56 PM
Question: how depressed are you?
I've never had a baby, but you sound just like me back when I was really depressed.
I had many of the same problems (overweight, physical problems limiting exercise, felt ugly), but couldn't find the energy or resolve to do something about it until I got my depression under control. Then I saw that it wasn't so hard to limit my diet, get some light exercise, and groom myself more attractively even if my body wasn't perfect.
Maybe I'm way off base, but the fact that you use the words "postpartum blues" makes me wonder if you already recognize depression is part of your problems. Maybe getting some (more?) help with that would be the first step.
05-11-2010, 11:01 PM
You're in southern CA. You might have access to yoga. These people seem to have the answer to practically any physical complaint.
No guarantees but they won't kill you.
05-11-2010, 11:39 PM
Elfkin, I do enjoy a good walk. As it is, as a teacher, I walk about 2-3 miles a day (I checked it with pedometers for a while), but that's not the same. Being outside is refreshing and invigorating; I just have to get there. By the time I'm home, the sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion have worn me down to where I'm not motivated do anything but rest. I need to poke myself with cattle prod (between the constant attachment to the milking machine and the flabby body, I already feel like mooing) and get up off the couch. Problem is, if Boy 2.0 is napping or Boy 1.0 is having one of his "WTF I'm not the center of the universe anymore?" breakdowns, I'm not going anywhere.
Good question, Q.N.. I don't know. I am depressed, but sleep deprivation is more psyche-straining. The lack of sleep, exhausting work schedule (I pump three times a day, which is kicking my ass), physical recovery from a rough pregnancy and birth, and lingering emotional recovery from my father's death a year ago do all weigh on me from time to time. Being in the fresh air does wonders for me, though. My mare is my best therapist, but because of the chaos in the house I haven't been able to get to her. In about 2 weeks, we're moving her to a private barn less than 2 miles from our house, though, and it's quiet enough that I could take one of the boys with me during a barn visit so I get my horsey fix while not leaving hubby with both kiddos. That will do wonders for me, I think. My goal is to pump at work until the end of the school year--six weeks. Not having to work or pump ought to do wonders, too.
Try2B, it sounds great, but it sounds like time. I don't have time for a class. Literally, hubby and I run around until 8pm. I have to be home by 3:30p to relieve the babysitter, so I leave straight from work soon after the last bell rings. But maybe later, when things settle.
I'm grateful for my job and grateful for our financial situation, I am. I'm just tired. And my body looks like it.
05-11-2010, 11:47 PM
Big sympathy from me here! It is a REALLY hard place you are in right now.
I think with six weeks to go before the end of the school year, if it were me, I'd just shut my eyes to the flab and plod on till the end of term as you are now. By then boy 2 will be that much more established, and you'll be able to use the summer break to get both boys and you out more, without work and pumping grinding you down as well.
When I had my second boy he was placenta previa, and I was in hospital 55 days with him. I lost a lot of blood and just coming home to big kid, work and house stuff just about killed me. It wasn't till the next summer holiday when he was a year and 3 months old that I finally felt that I was back to full strength.
Forgive yourself and let yourself get to the summer and little boy's six month mark before adding more into your life.
05-12-2010, 12:23 AM
Your son is five months old? The old saying goes "nine months on, nine months off". It takes about that long for your body to come back. It sounds like you just really need to rest. Any chance you can have a weekend off with just you and the baby?
And let me guess... my crystal ball may be cloudy, but you live in one of those places where it is impossible to walk around the block?
Still, when you relieve the babysitter, is there any "outdoors" you can take the kids to, even if it's the backyard? My brother's mother-in-law acts as their live-in babysitter (there's a few Pit threads worth in there); she used to find the concrete-floored, flat, nothing-in-it patio in their apartment building totally fugly until she discovered that it's a great place to have a toddler running around with a bouncy ball while the wee one gets moved back-and-forth, back-and-forth in her stroller.
05-12-2010, 09:00 AM
I can sympathize about the body image business. I'm sitting here nursing my 3 month old and pretty much all I can wear has an elasticized waist or a spandex component to it. I'm not thrilled with the shape I'm in at the moment. That said, I know that it took me longer than 3 months to get back into my regular clothes with my other kids, but it's hard to be patient when you're unsatisfied with yourself.
Still, knowing all this, I went and bought myself a pair of sketcher shape-ups. I know myself, and if I have to go out of my way to get exercise, it will never happen. Most of my exercising is walking to various places in the neighborhood (grocery store, school, library) - but I have the time to do that since I'm still on mat leave. I'm finding them super comfortable, and I figure it couldn't hurt. I can't say if they're helping, though.
05-12-2010, 03:42 PM
Ach, you have my deep sympathies. This is a rough stage, but jumping jiminy! Is Boy 2.0 5 months old already?
So you have many moons of sleep deprivation behind you, which as you know too well, rips you apart. (I have a theory, by the way, that the first stages of parenthood are accompanied by sleep deprivation specifically to break you down and cause you to forget, on a cellular level, what your life was like before. As your sleep goes back up, you reform your life in a new shape and go on from there.)
My advice would be to 1) give yourself a major honkin' break here. You've got enough pressure in your life now; you don't need to add to it yourself. You'll get right back to where you want to be in the end, never fear. 2) not for one minute forget that your body gave birth to the two most extraordinary boys in the world. Your body rocks, and so do you! 3) take the time until summer break to focus on one goal: getting as much rest and sleep as possible. When summer arrives, you'll be in way better shape to focus on different goals.
Your cute days are nowhere near over. When you look at those colleagues in their cute togs, think point 2) above. You made a person inside of you. Holy shit, that's cool!!
By kind to yourself. You deserve it.
This too shall pass, Ruffian. You're going to be just fine.
05-13-2010, 09:23 AM
I hear you! Stinky is 8.5 months, and still going strong on the boob. Little turkey will NOT even consider a bottle, and is having a heck of a time figuring out the concept of a cup.
I was in the same position with both my kids - nursing with little ones that couldn't take the dairy. It's so hard - you're hungry all the time, and all the usual healthy "snack" foods are off limits. I think I ate several pounds of almonds. I also ate way too many liqorice allsorts, as I craved sugar desperately, and couldn't have chocolate.
I'm amazed you are doing as well as you are! Kudos to you. I was reading along and thinking "yep, been there. Uh huh" Then I got to the part where you said you were back at work. I quite honestly don't know how you are doing it - No. 2 is kicking my ass, and I'm still at home! So I'm definitely with the others in saying cut yourself some slack - you're doing great!
I've also read that the body will sometimes hold on to the last few pounds while you are still nursing. So maybe once Boy 2.0 is no longer a boob man, the rest of the weight will disappear.
Hang in there! You are awesome!
05-13-2010, 06:14 PM
In the last few days, the intensity has been turned up a notch to where I don't have the luxury to obsess about my body. Boy 1.0 had another coughing spell that sent him to the doctor's office for a breathing treatment (it's heartbreaking hearing your 4yro sob "I can't bweeeeeeeve! I can't bweeeeeve!") after a night of near non-sleep from near nonstop coughing. Boy 2.0 has a slight cold so he's uncomfortable, but not too sick--just whiny and shortening his naps. We're testing at school, which means odd schedules and lonnnng days. Oh, and for added bonus, our babysitter has an abscessed tooth and the only appointment available to her in the next 3 weeks was today,which caused a huge mess with hubby and I trying to get home in time to relieve her for her appointment without me missing a testing period, and he (a music teacher) missing a rehearsal with the paid-for accompanist. Oh, and it's his open house tonight. Fuck. This is kicking my ass.
shantih, thank you for your encouraging words. They made me tear up, in a good way.
One day I won't be so tired, and maybe then, I'll be able to get fit again. Hanging on by my fingertips for just a few more weeks...
BTW, here's a pic of my littlest kidlet taken last week. (http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc3/hs318.snc3/28543_1479420744954_1216834020_31329091_137415_n.jpg)
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