Sunday, December 14, 2008


From my mid-teens on, I have been a thin person; I am used to picking Size XS or 0 off the racks, and I am used to people referring to me as "little," or "skinny," or sometimes even "bony." (Size 0, by the way, makes no sense to me. What does it mean? That I don't exist at all?) That said, in the last couple of weeks, I have very suddenly become very, very skinny indeed. My iliac crests stand out like knives, rubbing palpably into the thick fabric of the high-waisted jeans that are my current mommy uniform; making love in the living room during the baby's nap, my sacrum digs insistently through my dwindling back-flesh into the floor. As I have noted elsewhere, I used to have a cute round ass, but the tiny bit that was left after pregnancy has now disappeared entirely, leaving me to shift uncomfortably from sitz bone to sitz bone whenever I am seated on unpadded surfaces. All in all, I have become unstylishly, Olive-Oylishly stickish from top to bottom, with the exception of my startlingly round, milk-filled breasts and the large, blue, Iggyesque chest vein that has popped up between them.

I assume that the reasons for this effacement of my flesh are the same reasons for everything else in my life right now (the mess, for example, and the exhaustion):
1) Back at work.
2) Busy. Three paying jobs plus doula and writing and family and household.
3) Broke. Not that I can't afford food - I can - but that it's stressful, you know?
4) Big damn baby to feed and haul around.

I am not exactly conscious of eating less than I did before, but it is inevitable that, snack machine notwithstanding, one eats less and less frequently when busy in the workplace than one does when ruminating at home. I am also not conscious of putting out more physical effort, but the truth is that my non-walking baby is upstream from 22 pounds now, while I'm downstream from 115, and this is not good news for my calorie retention.

I really hate the feeling of getting skinnier. There is a sense of cold, dry wasting away that I find to be intensely unpleasant, not to mention seriously anxiety-producing. I had a similar problem during my pregnancy when my midwife told me week after week that I wasn't gaining enough weight and that I was dehydrated and undernourished. Just being told this, just knowing that one is not in the robust, plumpy, red-cheeky condition one ought to be in - this knowledge in and of itself makes one feel less robust, less plump, more papery-sallow. I remember, in my last trimester, frantically packing little stashes of nuts and mini-cheeses into my pockets and bags, eating as much as I possibly could during each free period at school. Sometimes my midwife would weigh me to find I had gained half a pound, sometimes not. "Couldn't it be stress?" I asked her, thinking of my 150 clamoring eighth graders and my binder full of painstakingly documented disciplinary issues. "NO," she said, and I left it at that, because when I was pregnant, and when I was in labor, too, I just left everything at that, sometimes not even realizing that I had one more thought, one more question, one more feeling. I was in labor for 70 hours and I didn't think the entire time to tell anyone at all - not my husband, not my doula, not my midwife - that I was sometimes confused, that I was sometimes frightened, and towards the end, that I thought I was doing a really bad job. My transfer from an OB to a midwife around my 7th month used up all the stores of self-advocacy that I could muster - from that point forward, I fell silent, even though I secretly ached to, among other things, take one more step and secure myself a home birth.

It is the middle of December now; at this time last year, I was two weeks from my due date, and I had finally begun my maternity leave by walking out of the school abruptly in the middle of the day, racked by coughs from a cold that wouldn't give up, leaking pee and pulling my chest and back muscles with each spasm. I don't know if the people around me understood the intensity with which I had been suffering; I don't know what they could have done if they did. After I began my leave, my cough slowly eased, although it didn't disappear entirely until a month postpartum, when a doctor finally realized that it was a resurgence of my childhood asthma and treated it accordingly.

I don't know if most of these things I have said about last year are true - whether I really had those thoughts and feelings. It is simply impossible for me to tell anymore, not at this distance. It seems now that that is how things went; if I had recounted these events yesterday, in a different mood, I might have said something different, and I might say something different again if I were to speak of it tomorrow. I do know for sure, though, that around this time last year, I went on maternity leave. For the last two weeks of 2007, I shook my cold, I cleaned my apartment, I gained a little weight, and I got ready for my baby.

Now, as then, there is no magic to what I need to resurrect my health. I need to stay home, I need to rest more, and I need to eat a lot. However, deep as I may be into maternity and all things maternal, there is no more maternity leave in the offing for me. I will go to work this week and the week after that, and I will keep going to work until summer vacation, when I will need to find different work to go to. There is no real resolution to be had here; this is the way of our modern lives. Winter will pass, as it always does, and by Spring, I will probably have forgotten that I was distressed about my weight at all, either because I will have gained it back or because I will have become used to being this little bit skinnier than I was before. My baby will be walking, and maybe talking, and I will have other things to worry about.


pretty face said...

It's odd how the grass is always greener, isn't it?

For much of the female population, getting thinner would be a positive thing. For those who find it easy, involuntary, it's a negative thing.

I suppose that's just how life is, but maybe we should try to nurture the grass in our garden as best e can and LOVE IT. Do you have to wish away the time until summer vacation? Is there no way that you can make it so that you (not specifically YOU but me too acually) want to savour the time? I hope there is.

Emily said...

I was telling Bing about this entry and we both want to bring you food and feed you so you don't waste away. We would be very sad if you disappeared into thin air.

I LOVE YOU said...