After 28 years, you really start to know your own body. You know how much food, how much alcohol you can handle. You know how long you can stand being in the sun or how many miles you can run (zero miles is about right for me). You become an expert at eyeing things up on a hanger and deciding if they will fit you.
And then you have a baby, and most things you know about your body go out the window.
In some ways, this is a good thing. You realize that your body is capable of so much more than you thought it was. You go through an immense amount of pain and come out of it not only alive, but thriving (after a few weeks of recovery). But carrying a baby for nine months and then giving birth to that baby does a lot more than just make you a mom. It changes your body from head to toe.
Your feet can grow so that you no longer fit your shoes. Your fat settles into new places. You lose muscle. I didn’t gain any weight in my legs, arms or feet, but I have a nice addition to my spare tire. This is normal, especially only at 7 weeks postpartum, but it’s new. Also new is my mom bust, which is making it impossible to fit into any of my pre-baby shirts that don’t stretch. There would have been a time that I would have loved to have a chest that was busting out of my tops, but in this stage of life, I just want to be COMFORTABLE.
Like most women, I’m still wearing my maternity clothes while I lose the baby weight. I gained 34 pounds in pregnancy and have lost 24 so far. Because of this, the elastic of my maternity jeans is entirely too big on me, making it difficult to keep them up.
And yet, my pre-baby pants don’t fit.
I’ve been surviving on two pairs of maternity jeans and two pairs of shorts, along with a selection of leggings and stretchy tees. As a new mom, it feels awesome to get cleaned up and put something on that makes you feel good… but I had some slim pickings. I’m not where I want to be, but not where I was. How the heck am I supposed to dress for where I’m at right now?
I started by buying some new shirts. Ones that were a larger size, but made me feel good when they were on. I figured that if I got down to my goal weight, I would be able to wear them as baggy tees and tunics. My baby doesn’t give a crap about what size I wear. I know that for sure. And he certainly doesn’t give a crap about how great I look while I take care of him. He cares that I’m there, making decisions that are right for the both of us.
Shirts have their own challenge for new moms who are breastfeeding: Easy access. I started to realize that tank tops with tee shirts layered on top were going to be a go-to, as well as wide-necked shirts with loose cardigans.
For some reason, it was easier for me to think about buying new shirts than new pants. Somewhere in my mind, I’ve been convinced that it’s more shameful to have to size up for your belly than to size up for your boobs.
But I was getting sick of those maternity jeans. So last week, I decided to suck it up and just go jeans shopping.
I had a pit in my stomach just thinking about it. I knew I wasn’t fitting into a size 6 or 8, and that the jeans that fit me would probably be the largest size I’d ever worn. But I wanted so badly to feel comfortable again. I got online and typed in my new weight to try and figure out what size I would wear. Do you know how WEIRD it is to not know what size you wear?
Yep… that was the biggest number I’d ever seen on the tag of my jeans. But now I had a number to go off of. And so, I headed to the store and grabbed the bigger jeans from the sales rack. (I didn’t want to pay full-price for “transition” jeans). I tossed a few pair in my cart and made my way to the dressing room, expecting the worst.
At first, I was sad that the big jeans fit. But when I looked in the mirror, I saw pants that REALLY fit for the first time in quite a while. Not maternity pants – just pants. My tiny butt looked good in them. I didn’t have a muffin top. My body is so different than it was before I got pregnant. I have new stretch marks on my stomach and a new bra size. But for a moment, I forgot that I had a “postpartum” body and just saw that I had a good one.
I bought those jeans and a pair that looked good one size down. I figured these two could get me through the next few months or whenever I was able to fit into those pre-baby pants. I’ve worn those jeans a lot already, and all I think about when I wear them is how darn comfortable I am, which allows me to focus on other things, like how darn cute my baby is.
I thought about making this post a “10 Things to Wear Postpartum” post, complete with style tips and links to products. But I decided that it was more important to just talk about what it’s like to dress a new body after you have a baby. I’ve been dressing my body for the season it is in. And when I end up back in an old pair of jeans, that will be fantastic. Until then, my big girl pants will be just fine.