when Caleb was exactly three weeks old, we took him out on a Sunday afternoon to a festival at the birthing center that our midwife had invited us to. We walked there of course, since we mostly walk everywhere and Waldi had him in the wrap. We felt proud of our obvious new parenthood and our sweet little one. I remember we ran into friends shortly after leaving our house (as one is bound to do in Marburg) and we introduced them to Caleb with pride.
So when an older woman passed us and expressed interest, we stopped to chat to her for a brief moment, enjoying the attention and excited to show off our baby a little more.
that was when she said it:
"from the looks of your mama, you could already have a sibling on the way..."
well, she said it in German and this is a loose translation but I can assure you, it was just as rude. we were more than a little shocked and kept walking without returning any comment.
of course, as it always goes in these moments, all the witty and cutting replies come to you after the fact and you regret not putting the rude stranger in their place. so instead, you write about it on the internet. Because there were so many things I could have said in that moment.
I could have told her that I tried on 3 different shirts before leaving the house that afternoon before I found one I was even remotely comfortable in. (Not to mention that this was only the third or fourth time I'd been out in just as many weeks...)
I could have told her about my struggle to let my husband carry the baby- not because I didn't want him to, but simply because I then wouldn't have a baby and a wrap to cover my postpartum squishiness.
I could have mentioned the fact that I no longer recognize my own body- the extra skin around my midsection, the stretch marks spread out like battle scars across my stomach, the belly button I'm sure will never look the same.
I could have admitted how I've already signed up for a postpartum exercise class, how I've scoured all my books to develop an exercise plan for once I get clearance from the doctor to exercise again, because, in weak moments, the extra pounds make me feel ashamed. How I seriously doubt that my old jeans will ever fit me again, how awkward I feel that the only pants I can currently wear are my maternity ones.
Or I could have told her an entirely different story.
I could have told her how it felt, meeting my baby for the first time, knowing that my body had been growing and supporting him all those months before. I could have mentioned how amazing it was to realize I had the strength to bring him into this world, could have talked about how hard that was- it's no wonder my body doesn't look the same.
I could have told her how my baby's favorite place to nap is on my chest- his little hands holding onto the folds of my shirt, his little body nestled into the cozy softness of my belly. He doesn't seem to mind the extra squishiness...
I could have laughed it off and told her, with good humor that if she thought I looked pregnant now she should have seen me a few weeks ago, when I was waddling around with what looked like a watermelon under my dress. I could have told her how for the most part, I really enjoyed pregnancy- weight gain and all, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
I could have admitted that, deep down, I don't begrudge my body for taking time to heal, for showing signs of what it's done these last months. Because, lady, I just had a baby. Life does not continue uninterrupted and I bear the evidence of that in more than one way. And I must admit, I am proud of my baby AND my body and thankful for what it's given me and allowed me to achieve.
And I refuse to let some insensitive stranger take that feeling away from me.