I kinda look pregnant, and I kinda don’t care.

Warning: Lady essay ahead.

Today, while we were running, I asked my husband, “Okay. Do I look pregnant?”

He got that blissful expression on his face that husbands get when their wives ask neutral and in-no-way-dangerous questions like this. I added, to ease up on the poor guy a bit, “Sometimes. In some clothes. Do I?” And he said, “Yes.”

Message me for our address, so you can mail him his medal for courage.

And then he told me how beautiful I am, and how much progress I’ve made since we started running. Which is true, and which I expected him to say. The thing that surprised me was how little it hurt to hear him say that I look pregnant.

I gave birth to our tenth child almost two and a half years ago. I had a bad year last year and gained a bunch of weight, and now I’m working on losing some of it. I’m running several times a week, eating less, and correcting a lot of bad habits and bad attitudes surrounding food. But I have this solid, poochy belly. I see people glancing at it, wondering if I’m pregnant again, and I don’t blame them.

I guess I have diastasis recti, or separated abdominal muscles. All those little unborn savages weren’t content to eat all my nutrients, suck the calcium out of my teeth, permanently jack up my hips, and turn my brain into gruel; they had to tear apart my muscles from the inside, too! The ingrates! And now they want a ride to the library!

There are special exercises you can do to heal your diastasis recti. They’re not terribly hard. I’m already in the habit of exercising, so it wouldn’t be that difficult to do some abdomen work. But I just, deep in the heart of me, don’t feel like it. I don’t feel like I need to be “healed” of having a poochy abdomen. It’s not that I’m proud of my belly. I’m not big into that “Yeah, bay-bee, I EARNED these tiger stripes and if you don’t say my stretch marks are BEAUTIFUL than you are RAPING MY SELF WORTH and I WON’T LET THAT HAPPEN DO YOU HEAR ME?” stuff.

At the same time, every cell in my body, every corner of my soul utterly lacks the motivation to make it appear that I haven’t had ten children. I don’t enjoy being a fatty. But there are so many worse things I could be. I could hate my body, or be filled with self-loathing, or feel that I don’t deserve love because I’m a size 18. And I don’t do any of that. I’m taking care of myself, and I feel pretty good.

This is by no means a condemnation of women who are working hard to get back into pre-baby shape. I think you ladies are amazing. I will freely admit I’m mostly just too lazy to even look up the exercises, much less do them faithfully. I don’t think there’s anything morally superior about leaving my tired muscles alone, and I don’t think that losing belly fat is a sign of self-hatred. For some women, taking on the challenge of getting back to pre-baby shape is the right thing for their mental health, maybe even for their spiritual growth. Maybe they just want to look nicer. Yay, ladies! I’m sincerely impressed!

But for me, at age 42, married almost twenty years, sending the first two kids off to college . . . I’m moving on to the next stage of my life. Where I am, it just doesn’t seem important to erase all evidence of the previous stage of my life. I had a bunch of babies; I look like I had a bunch of babies. So what? I’ll buy brighter lipstick and go out anyway.

Check back with me in a couple of weeks, and I’ll probably be all teary and desperately scrolling through shape wear reviews. Right now, though, I feel kind of like a moderately strong, moderately attractive, moderately confident woman who doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about belly fat. It feels pretty good.

I’m sharing this because maybe you don’t have anyone in your life telling you that it’s not the end of the world to be fat. So here I am telling you: It’s not!

7 thoughts on “I kinda look pregnant, and I kinda don’t care.”

  1. My body looks like it’s had babies, and I wish that was why. I have no babies. I’m just 43 and out of shape because of chronic pain. I want babies, too. 🙁

    1. I dont know what to say that might help. But I’m sorry for your pain. Isaiah 54:1 has helped me when I feel bad about this. Prayers for you.

  2. FWIW, I think you posted photos from a talk you gave last year and I was struck by how pretty you are and what a great dress you were wearing. I admire people who own their bodies and can dress for the size they are in a way that is individualized. I can see recognize great talent in those areas, but have little myself. In your photos you looked happy and confident. That always shines through.

  3. In my deep subconscious, it really would love to be thin and look good in anything I wear. But I know that is not going to happen. I was a tall, average weight kid, put on weight as a teenager, lost it in college, and put in on and off through seven pregnancies. (I did the math at one point, wondering how I got to be 50 lbs overweight – 7lbs X 7 kids seems to be the best excuse). Now that I’m on the other side of menopause, my fat seems to be redistributing itself as if moving in to stay (fat arms!). Everyone says they only way to get rid of it is to lift weights. That is not going to happen. I’ve always hated exercising just to exercise. But I’m walking everyday and eating well, and I feel good despite still wearing a size 18. I do have a goal of getting to a 14 so I don’t have to wear a mumu to my daughter’s wedding. But other than that, I can live with my belly fat.

  4. I’ve accepted my little Buddha belly, but it does make it harder to find clothes that fit. I’d rather not have it, to be sure. But I think part of it is just genetic, Ashkenazi-old lady style, and not the pregnancies. I’ve been doing core exercises for 4 years (to help with back pain, and yay! they do); so I have a very firm Buddha belly. But it’s still there.

    1. When I was at my thinnest and most fit in my early twenties (I was a sedentary teenager!) my belly was still a bit round. But (speaking of genetics) my ancestors were French peasants, and I have a short little French peasant figure, small and just a bit rounded. After twenty years, five c-sections and another abdominal surgery, I’m definitely rounder than I used to be. And I don’t think there’s much exercises could do for my diastasis recti, which seems big enough to drive a truck through. And I’m pretty OK with that too. I’m looking at my fifties, and lots of college decisions and bills . . . lots on my mind besides the figure.

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