The requisite body after baby post

Most new mom bloggers I read — at least those focused on fitness and running — seem to write the “body after baby” post almost as soon as they have the baby. I waited a while.

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I wrote the following when I was 39/40 weeks pregnant.

40 Weeks & Counting

“Are you sure your due date is in a month?”

“You look like you’re ready to pop!”

“Wow, you’re getting big!”

“Are you sure you’re not having twins in there?”

I haven’t heard any of these comments, I’ve just read about them on blogs, message boards, and Facebook groups. Instead, I’ve heard comments from family, co-workers, nurses and others that I don’t look like I’m that far along or that I look small. One nurse asked if I was gaining enough weight. Family members commented on my lack of a large bump. My cousin Nancy even accused me of exaggerating it — she was half right. Although my doctor was never concerned about my weight gain or Meatball’s size, those comments made me wonder if he was growing okay.

Honestly, I felt a little left out since it took a while for me to even get the occasional “Are you pregnant?/When are you due?” question from a stranger. In this case, the person was not a stranger, but a student I worked with. While my co-workers all knew early in the second trimester, I never actually told the 4 work-study students in our office or the dozens of students I coordinate in research programs. That just would be weird. In mid-May (30 weeks along), I got my first “are you expecting?” question. I was happy because finally I was starting to look pregnant rather than as if I’d just gained weight. When I told Sean, he replied, “Ah, youth. They haven’t learned to avoid that question at all costs.” I replied that I didn’t mind, plus the student got a pass because he’s in nursing and has done a nursing round in labor and delivery at a local hospital. One of our work-study students didn’t even know I was pregnant until June probably because I’m usually sitting at a desk.

The only other time I’ve received much attention about my body and weight gain/loss was four years ago when I was in the process of losing 60 pounds. In both cases, the comments about the changes came from friends, family, and co-workers. During weight loss there were more comments that made me feel uncomfortable and self conscious. Sure, I liked that my efforts were noticed, but for me there was a “right” way and time to acknowledge the differences. The same goes for pregnancy. I’ve been lucky that I work and am surrounded by people who are (a) just very sweet or (b) know what not to say.

***

Written in early 2014

I know that was a bit smug and humble-braggy, probably why I never felt it was ready to publish. And then Xavi was born and writing wasn’t a priority.

Now 4.5 months postpartum this has come back. I remember reading another mom blogger’s update about her newborn son’s 2nd week. At the end of it she made a comment about already being in her pre-pregnancy jeans. I felt pretty shitty reading that. For the first few weeks, I felt like a slug. Nothing fit and and I felt frumpy in everything. This wasn’t such an issue since I really didn’t have anywhere to go and could get away with wearing yoga pants and tank tops all day. If I needed to wear actual pants, I wore my maternity jeans. When I returned to work, I bought a couple new pairs of jeans with a gift card my aunt gave me (thanks, tía Nelly).

***

Losing the weight I gained during pregnancy and the year before that hasn’t been a priority.

Five years ago, I worked really hard to get to my current weight. 165 was my driver’s license weight, that way low-balled number you put on the DMV forms. Sure, it was higher than what I was used to in recent years, but I was still 30 pounds away from where I had been at one point. It took me 5 months of meticulously tracking everything I ate to make sure I stayed within my points and running 4-5 times a week before I got to the 160s. I feel okay giving myself some leeway in the mad dash to lose the baby weight.

I had other priorities besides getting in to a certain pair of jeans — spending time with Xavi and Sean, keeping up my breastmilk supply and getting a little more sleep. I did miss running, but when I tried to start again I’d get discouraged by being so out of shape. I do want to get back to running and being more fit especially since Xavi started walking (4 days after his first birthday) and I need to keep up with him.

In August I began a free 12-week fitness class, Bruin Health Improvement Program’s (BHIP) On Ramp. The intro class is described as a “comprehensive strength and conditioning program.”

Working out at the track again

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but everyone I know who has taken the class highly recommends it. I would have signed up earlier, but was still pumping three times a day and wasn’t sure I’d have time to commit to an hour class three times a week. I still need to get work done.

So far, BHIP has been awesome. I’ve never stuck with a fitness class for more than 1 or 2 sessions. I preferred running on my own schedule. BHIP is different. Our class is tiny compared to the evening sessions. BHIP offers morning sessions too, but I’d rather sleep and have a little more Xavi time.

The workouts are crossfit style without the competitiveness or weird names. Since our class is usually 8 people, we get a lot of individual attention from the two instructors. They are also really motivating for those times when I just want to quit because it’s too damn hot out. It’s also nice to get out of my office and check out the campus I know and love. I’m the kind of person who eats lunch at my desk.

Drake Stadium stairs

I like being back at the track where I used to do speed workouts for marathon training. I didn’t know much about BHIP then because I wasn’t eligible for the program. Now I’m the one in a corner doing workouts and watching the very fit athletes — Olympians, pros and D1 athletes — who are on the track or stairs for their midday workouts. I even spotted Kevin Durant out there once.

KD at UCLA

For the first week or so I was very sore and felt in over my head. Maybe I should have taken the BHIP 0.5 class focused on weight loss for more sedentary folks. Nevertheless, I’m starting to see results. I still can’t do a proper pushup, but I am getting stronger. I’ve also lost a little bit of weight even though I’m not concentrating on the nutrition aspect. It could just be water weight since I sweat a lot with outdoor midday workouts. The main physical differences are probably my awkward tan lines.

I’m still far from getting to pre-pregnancy clothes, but that’s okay. At least my sister Lori will get some use out of them. I had a moment when I saw her in one of the dresses I wore at my goal weight. I expected my old clothes to fit her a little loose, but the dress fit perfectly. I couldn’t believe I was that small. I forgot that one of my weightloss goals was to fit in to Lori’s clothes.

The experience was a little unsettling to see how far away I am from my goal weight. But that’s okay, it’s also motivation to know what sticking to a plan and moving more can do for my body and mind.

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My year of Meatball

Like a lot of other new parents, Sean and I take a lot of photos of our son. We’ve slowed down a little bit partly because Xavi has sped up — it’s tough when he’s always on the move! — and Sean is done with his one-a-day project. He committed to posting one photo a day on Facebook for the first year. I loved seeing the daily photos he would post. It was a nice treat to get to see each new photo, as if I didn’t see Xavi all the time. We also did monthly photo shoots. It’s fun to see how big he’s (and his hair) grown.

1month

Sean made each label and we reused the 99 Cents Store frames that held table numbers are our wedding.

2months

We used the same newborn size outfit for month and two to show the growth. He was so tiny!

3months

He was Robin for Halloween. Sean was Batman.

4months

Our in-laws came to visit in November. My MIL picked out several items at Baby GAP and even signed Xavi up for a card. She still sends him boxes of clothes.

5months

More GAP clothes.

6months

He has a lot of superhero clothes.

7months

You can’t see the back, but this is a Derek Jeter onesie (Sean’s favorite Yankee these days).

8months

It’s time for Dodger baseball!

9months

Spring gear.

10months

Ready for the World Cup!

11months

No contaban con mi astucia! Xavi represents Mexican pop culture figures too.

12months

Excited to be one!

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Eight books for July

July felt like a really long month. Maybe it’s because I was counting down the days until Xavi’s first birthday, it was hot, or I was going through the job application/interview process.

I took advantage of those 31 days by sticking my head in a book. Or eight..

I read the first three books below as to finish off the A-Z challenge.

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
For several years, I’ve come across Edwidge Danticat on lists of women writers, young writers, people of color writers, etc. I knew I should read something by her, and wasn’t sure where to start. Her first novel seemed appropriate. Overall, I enjoyed the story of Sophie Caco coming to live with her mother, Martine, in NY after many years of living with her aunt and grandmother in Haiti. Of course, the relationship between mother and daughter (and the other women, niece/aunt) are quite complicated given that Sophie is the product of rape.

Bilal’s Bread by Sulayman X
TRIGGER WARNING. Breath, Eyes, Memory was depressing in it’s exploration of rape and complicated or abusive family relationships. Bilal’s Bread topped that by adding in Kurdish refugee issues, marginalization of Muslim families, physical and sexual abuse/incest, and the coming out process. I’m not sure I’d recommend it since the depictions of physical and sexual are very graphic. However, it does explore homosexuality and Muslims — what does the Koran say vs. how followers interpret this — which was interesting.

Black Widow’s Wardrobe by Lucha Corpi
I picked this up on a whim because I remembered reading Corpi’s poetry in a Chicana/o literature class. The best way to describe it would be a mystery novel for Chicana/o studies majors. Overall, it’s okay, but it wasn’t my favorite and I don’t think I’ll read Corpi’s other two novels following her heroine and PI, Gloria Damasco. Maybe I would’ve liked it more if I had read the other books in the miniseries? I don’t read many mystery novels, but in the few I read, the villain’s motivations are always quite flimsy. That was the case with Black Widow too. I did appreciate the tie-in to Mesoamerica and the brief lessons on Malintzin/Doña Marina/La Malinche. I’ve read at least one other historical fiction novel about Malintzin, but I like Corpi’s approach more.

***

I went a little crazy in the new fiction section at the library one day and picked up 4 of the following 5 books. (I read The Commitments via e-book.)

At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón
Earlier this year I read Lost City Radio and didn’t love it as much as I expected. Part of what bugged me is that the sense of place was ambivalent. Peru is never mentioned, just like the word Chile is nowhere to be found in Isabel Allende’s The House of Spirits. Perhaps because I know a little more about Chile this didn’t bother me.

Despite never mentioning Peru in At Night We Walk in Circles, I didn’t feel annoyed or loss. There was a much stronger sense of place especially as Daniel Alarcón described the slow life in the provinces away from Lima.

This wasn’t a “can’t put down book,” for the first 3-4 parts (250+ pages). The set-up takes a while as the unnamed narrator tells us about Nelso and his family, the Diciembre theater troupe members, the revival of the troupe and ensuing tour in to the slow countryside.

Once I got to the end, I was surprised at how much I liked it and how well Alarcón set everything up. I remember thinking, “Whoa, I see what you did there. Cool.” Sophisticated, review, I know.

A few quotes that stuck out and are a good example of how great Alarcón is with language:

In response, Henry explained that heartbreak is like shattered glass: while it’s impossible that two pieces could splinter in precisely the same pattern, in the end, it doesn’t matter, because the effect is identical. [p. 223]

That morning, he was afraid of becoming old, and it was a very specific kind of old age he feared, one which has nothing to do with the number of years since your birth. He feared the premature old age of missed opportunities. [p. 262]

The Commitments and The Guts by Roddy Doyle

I picked up The Guts because I liked the cover. As I read the book jacket closer, I realized it was a follow-up to The Commitments so I downloaded that one first. The Commitments is the story of Jimmy Rabbitte and his friends trying to form a soul band in 1980s working class Dublin. It’s very short, but entertaining. I can see why it was made in to a film and musical. The Guts is a return to Rabbitte and some of his friends from his youth. Now he’s married, has four kids, and is still working in the music scene though not as a manager. He’s worried about his finances and health — rightfully so, he has colon cancer. I didn’t like The Guts much, mainly because I didn’t like Jimmy all that much. Also, reading a novella in Irish English is one thing, but the whole novel feels like a little too much. At least I learned new slang.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

I lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.

There’s a reason this is a NY Times bestseller. Just go read it. You can probably do it in one sitting, but you’ll regret it because you wished you had spent a little more time with it. That’s okay. You’ll do just as I did and re-read the prologue and first chapter. Then you’ll re-read the final chapter and epilogue. Maybe you’ll re-read everything because it’s the type of book that gets better with each new read. Then you’ll go re-read your favorite passages and quotes. There will be many. Then you’ll sadly return the book to the library, make your husband read it and promise to one day buy the lovely hardcover version. When you’re done, come back and tell me if you cried.

The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer
I really enjoyed The Interestings and hoped The Uncoupling would be similar. Not really.

The premise is interesting. The local high school where Dory and Robby Lang teach puts on Aristophanes’ play “Lysistrata.” In the play, the women abstain from sex in protest of the Peloponnesian War. This spell overtakes the New Jersey town and all heterosexual women, from teens to those married for several years, are suddenly disinterested in sex. While I loved The Interestings as a character study, I wasn’t drawn to the men and women in Wolitzer’s Stellar Plains. They all sort of fell flat. Also, the protest of the actual war in Afghanistan felt like it was shoehorned in. Overall, it was okay, but nowhere nearly as memorable as The Interestings.

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