I am sexier as a mom

Thanks to a reader named Vicky (from this comment section) for inspiring this post:

I figured that after I had a baby my body would be like a soldier after war, with the proud, annoying battle scars that have a good story but don’t dress up well. A few things went differently than expected:

1)   I had a real baby, which is sort of impossible to imagine beforehand and sort of trumps everything else

2)   I didn’t stop caring about the way I looked (this isn’t a story with a moral or something), but I was really busy caring a lot about other things

3)   I looked surprisingly great

nonplus

(me, looking great, of course)

No one ever talks about how you might feel sexy and beautiful after you have a baby. They talk a lot about how you might feel shitty and floppy and bad and you might have to work really hard to look good again and your belly might never ever be the same and the goal should be for everything to be the same as it was because that was so much better. It’s stressful, being pregnant and being yelled at by all of the headlines about your future “YOU NEED TO START THINKING NOW ABOUT HOW BAD YOU WILL LOOK THEN!”

I was prepared. I went in chin up, determined not to care. I was going to focus on my baby, damnit. I was going to have my priorities stacked correctly, color coded, baby blinking red on the top. “Attention! Attention! You have created a human life! Instead of checking out your ass in the mirror, you should make sure your child stays alive!”

You’ll have to read my book for the (whole) birth story (I promise, it’s dramatic), but afterward, there I was, somehow still myself, somehow epically changed, clutching the counter and staring into my own eyes in the bathroom mirror. I was a horrible mess. Puffy and ghost white and trembling, with limp, sweaty hair and a ferociousness rising off me like fire. The details of my appearance seemed irrelevant—it was the brute power and triumph shining through me that counted. I didn’t look beautiful, I looked awesome.

 

And then I wore whatever fit and learned how to breastfeed and cried randomly because there were too many emotions and felt surprisingly competent and confident and sometimes totally overwhelmed, of course. And sometimes I was just watching episode after episode of Gossip Girl while my baby endlessly drank and fussed and refused to allow me to ever put her down.

And one day I got up and put jeans on and looked in the mirror, and I looked great.

I don’t want to get into objective versus subjective here. I looked great to myself. And that’s practically the only thing that matters when it comes to body image.

I will say that Bear totally agrees. So there’s that. He’s like, “Did you get sexier or something?”

I am like, “Yes.”

I am sexier now.

red dress

Here’s how I did it:

I had debilitating morning sickness for four months, then I gained much more weight than is recommended, my ankles swelled up and my feet looked like those pink balloon dogs the guy twists up in the park by the carousel. Then I gave birth and immediately ate a lot of pizza and ice cream. I continued to eat these things because they are filling and quick, as I cared for my newborn. I ate everything I’d ever wanted to eat, actually, because I was celebrating. Then I wanted vegetables, too, so I ate lots of spinach along with my pizza. Sometimes I ate spinach on my pizza. I walked for miles some days, because my baby liked the motion, and because it was good to be outside. Some days, I didn’t leave the apartment. I forgot about my hair completely. I bought some cheap, cool earrings from a woman who makes them and sells them by the subway entrance. I started wearing very low-cut shirts because they are easier to breastfeed in. My boobs got full and round and expressive, though they are still not particularly large. I forgot to be excited about my boobs, because I was too busy mopping up all the milk they kept happily, obscenely squirting. I appreciated the way my lighter body felt, moving up a hill or rolling over in bed. It was so nice to not have a giant pregnant belly anymore. I bounced my huge, surly baby for hours, because she screamed at me when I stopped. My arms ached, my back ached. I bounced her sitting on a yoga ball, watching TV. That was a little better.

I was weirdly happy.

I stopped caring so much about the things I thought mattered a lot, like having a glittery, impressive career. Or at least, I paused.

I was excited.

I wanted to work again, but because I like to work. It felt fun to get things done. I felt accomplished for doing them.

I was unexpectedly fulfilled during long, quiet stretches. I felt unexpectedly okay about “doing nothing.”

I felt strong.

14th st

I was proud of myself.

I caught a glimpse of myself going by the window of the wine store, in my jeans and my low-cut top, and I looked hot. Nice boobs, I thought. Nice ass. Nice hair. Nice whole woman. No one ever talks about this part. About how you might be sexy. About how you might end up sexier, for having done this crazy thing with your body. For having learned to give it a high five for everything it can do. For transforming. For not having to care as much. For wearing jeans again. For everything.

Nice, I thought.

And then I just kept walking, because my baby insists on constant motion.

frown

I wrote this piece for my Mirror Mirror column on the Frisky

*  *  *

Unroast: Today I love the way I feel like I look when I’m with good friends late in the evening, when we’re all tired and laughing a lot

Here’s some stuff I’ve been up to, in case you’re interested:

I did an interview about body image and my book with my brilliant friend Autumn. It’s on her blog, The Beheld and over at The New Inquiry. I really like it. I had to think really hard.

This reworked post of mine from ETDC, about taking time for new motherhood, is up on HuffPo

Oh, and P.S. if you liked my book a lot, please consider giving it a good review on Amazon! Just a thought! I had a nightmare that I was reading all these terrible reviews. They were really specific. Then I worked up the nerve to finally check and there are only five reviews, and I am pretty sure more than five people have read it. Anyway, it would mean a lot to me if you felt like taking a moment to do that. But if you read it and thought it was really lame, don’t feel like you have to say anything. It’s really fine if you don’t :-)  

 

 

28 Comments »

Kate on November 22nd 2013 in beauty, body, motherhood

28 Responses to “I am sexier as a mom”

  1. Erin Lee responded on 22 Nov 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    *click*…. review.

  2. Barbara responded on 22 Nov 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    Great post, Kate! Just great!
    Eden is so adorable, too.

  3. Kate responded on 22 Nov 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    @Erin Lee
    Ha, thanks!!! I’m sitting here writing a piece about how I want to stop writing right now, being all dark. That helps

  4. Kate responded on 22 Nov 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    @Barbara
    Thank you!
    She has THE BIGGEST cheeks. I want to take full credit, but I bet it’s from some ancient string of genes.

  5. Joe Cardillo responded on 22 Nov 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    This is awesome Kate! Whole humans are sexy. I’ve spent the last 2-3 years unraveling a lot of the language and cultural insanity around what I am supposed to find attractive and/or valuable about myself and other people. I think you do a lot for your readers, and it’s nice to see good things returned to you from the world. Speaking of which, I’m off to Amazon to buy the book.

  6. Tammy responded on 22 Nov 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    You helped create and spew forth a new human.. how could that NOT be sexy?

    Seriously, you look great and the baby is adorable.

  7. Deva responded on 22 Nov 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    I love your hair :-) You are a totally sexy mama!

  8. Rosanne responded on 22 Nov 2013 at 2:50 pm #

    Kate, this is awesome. From your words and your pictures you radiate happiness. It translates through screens and across the world, it makes me smile :)
    That first picture of you and Eden is gorgeous – you being all joyful and Eden looking ahead… stoically. Great photo!

    P.s. The (whole) birth story wás dramatic. It read like a thriller, a real page turner ;) The whole book was great to read. I found myself recognizing many parts of your story, even though I’m far, far from having a baby. So, well done.
    P.p.s. I’ll post a reconstructed version of the above on Amazon.

  9. San D responded on 22 Nov 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    oh, I guess you are a MILF now (at least in Bear’s eyes)

  10. Kate responded on 22 Nov 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    @San D
    finally!! I’m a MILF! phew.

    also, i wrote “MILK” the first time

  11. Gaby responded on 22 Nov 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    Awesome and fascinating :)

  12. Christie responded on 22 Nov 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    Loved this post, Kate. You’re one hot mama!

    About the number of reviews: When my book published last July I sent out over 100 free print copies asking for reviews. Plus, there were thousands of ebooks downloaded on Amazon. The review total as of today: 11. Including 2 from absolute quacks – really, crazies. This was puzzling to me until I noticed my own resistance to making reviews online with my whole name, especially for friends’ books. Not sure why. Maybe I won’t sound smart enough? Maybe I just value my privacy and don’t want my name out there on the internet in perpetuity. Anyway, I hope to find time to read your book – Barbara is raving about it – and know it will be a 5 star review. In the meantime, don’t be discouraged about the low review numbers and best of luck harvesting plenty more!

  13. Betsy responded on 22 Nov 2013 at 8:07 pm #

    It’s so refreshing to read someone who is positive about their body after a baby. I really hope I can appreciate mine after I have children.

  14. Jeldaly responded on 22 Nov 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    You look so lovely, as always, but the main point of this comment is EDEN’S CHEEKS OH MY GOODNESS

  15. Val responded on 23 Nov 2013 at 12:24 am #

    I love that you refer to your “huge, surly baby.”

    Ornery babies are good too.

    I had one of those big,cross ones too, and I adored him. He’s an interesting person, not difficult at all, though he drove me nuts sometimes when he was small.

    I read your book last weekend and LOVED IT.

    Thank you thank you thank you for an excellent story, well told. I’m so glad you didn’t wait and wait to have a baby, to become Eden’s mom. xo, love, Val

  16. dee responded on 23 Nov 2013 at 7:29 am #

    Still feeling a tad left-out as I don’t have an electronic reader to download your book. Is there anywhere that your loyal fans (and readers) can read your entire birth story online? It’s not fair to leave people like me hanging…we’ve been around supporting you and now we are left hangining out to dry. :*o(

  17. Mandy responded on 23 Nov 2013 at 10:49 am #

    @dee
    You don’t have to have an ereader: Amazon, at least, will let you download ebooks onto your computer, along with the software that lets you do so.
    And, Kate, so far as the reviews go, don’t understimate the procrastination factor–I read and enjoyed your book, and I fully intend to post a review, but I keep forgetting to do so. Thank you for the reminder, I just put it on my to do list.
    And, yes, you look great, not to mention self-confident.

  18. Christine responded on 23 Nov 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    I agree with Christie about why often people do not write reviews! I consider it, and I may even attempt it, but then I get too caught up in questions about my own review-writing – “Does this sound stupid? Do I express my thoughts clearly here?” Because of this, I have never once reviewed anything on Amazon.

    However I figured if it was worth making an exception for anyone, it was def. worth it for you since I have read & been endlessly entertained by your blog for so long. Just posted my review! If any of it sounds stupid, well, just don’t tell me, okay :P ?

  19. dee responded on 23 Nov 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    Thanks Mandy, but I just recently had a virus (one that takes a picture of you to prove they are already imbedded and then asks you for money to protect the virus from sending out all of your info…I’m old so I fell for it and gave them my ccard info.) so I’m only using if for fun activities until I get it totally uncorrupted. No more online purchases as I had to cancel all of my cards. Note to all- don’t fall for the security pro virus! :o )

  20. Sari responded on 24 Nov 2013 at 12:54 am #

    I miss those cheeks! And I love your unroast. And the whole thing, really. :)

  21. Aimee responded on 25 Nov 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    Kate I just adore you! I’m constantly coming to your blog checking to see if you’ve posted anything new, and sometimes just reading through old stuff to get my fix!
    You look like you were born to be Eden’s mother, I love how you can articulate the difficult stuff, celebrate the joy and let us share in such an incredible journey.
    As for that baby, wow! Little divinity!

    Can’t wait to read the e-book!

  22. Erin Lee responded on 26 Nov 2013 at 11:14 am #

    You might have already mentioned this, but are you planning on making your book in paperback? My friends just found out they are pregnant and I’d like to gift it to them! I’m not sure if they have a kindle… I might be able to steathily find out.
    Thanks,
    Erin

  23. olivia responded on 26 Nov 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    wow Kate this is so encouraging! :D

    it’s about time someone talked about the positive body-image things that come from having a baby..instead of somehow implying that your body is “ruined” and will never be the same again etc.

  24. Marina responded on 27 Nov 2013 at 9:33 pm #

    Kate you do look great! Must be all the walking! Who knew exercise could make you feel sexier? Lol keep up the good work, dont stop walking even after Eden gets old enough to not need the constant motion! Great blog and a great book!

  25. Kelly Masters responded on 07 Dec 2013 at 1:44 am #

    Thank you. When I found out I was pregnant I decided to learn to love me more & set a damn good example for me child. So far so good & I don’t fit back into my jeans yet at 5.5mths and I’m cool with that coz I have a beautiful baby to show for it <3

  26. sheree responded on 07 Dec 2013 at 5:16 am #

    Love your post & in many ways I have to agree! Just carrying a baby, birthing one & then being a.mother is one incredible thing for your mind & body. Embrace it for sure!

  27. Anne responded on 10 Dec 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    I read your article about being afraid to give birth on another site and wanted to encourage you, I have had three, but the site said comments closed. I am glad you have such a beea-utiful little bub.

    I was immediately moved by all your fears, remembering what it was like before my 1st, and subsequently the other two. I was one of those mothers who took a long time to give birth. I would be in the birthing suite hours after every other mother who had gone in around the same time. It was very annoying, and it happened every time. With my third, I was in a private hospital, and they whipped her out afte a 12 hour labour because that was what they did apparently. Had a cesearean and remembered Rhonda Birchmore’s hilarious account of her C-section and doing puppet shows behind the tent.

    Anyway, my three are now adults, both boys are v. tall and strapping and I feel like I am flanked by my own bodyguards when I go out with them to shopping malls. It’s hilarious, I never thought that people who began life a foot long could grow to this size.

    Well done on your superb effort in labour and birth, and hope it wasn’t as scary in the end as you thought. You can probably tell I haven’t read your book as only just found out your wrote one.

    kind thoughts,

    Anne

  28. Eat the Damn Cake » losing my hair responded on 18 Dec 2013 at 10:59 am #

    [...] these days I feel so fine. I mean, I just wrote this piece, about feeling sexy. And before that I wrote this piece, about not caring about the way I look [...]