I'm calling myself out.
A co-worker told me that after having a baby, Mom has one year to use "I just had a baby" as an excuse. It's an excuse for everything from poorly manicured fingernails, to an unkempt home, to excess weight that we call "baby weight." Now, more than nine months post-delivery, my year is coming to a close, which means it's time to make some changes.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I wouldn't let anyone through my front door these days. It's embarassing, what a mess my home has become. If Gabriel were still with me, I would have a nine-month old excuse, but because he's not, I don't, and even saying "My child has died" only excuses poor house keeping for so long. I'm on a mission to return to my previous standard, that one should always be prepared for an unexpected visitor.
Now, for a more sensitive subject: Baby weight. I didn't put on much. Before Gabriel was conceived I weighed 152 pounds, having shed my law school weight, which is much like baby weight, only, not at all cute. I quickly dropped two pounds, which will happen when one cuts out the soda, coffee and beer. As I am in the upper range of "healthy" according to the BMI, I was advised by my doctor to try not to gain more than 20 pounds. Gabriel was just a little guy, though, and this was not a normal pregnancy in so many ways. Ultimately, I only gained about 13 pounds after the initial weight loss, capping out at 163. When Gabriel was born, between losing his weight, the weight of amniotic fluid, and the stress of caring for him for ten days, I lost my baby weight within two weeks.
I then set about putting it all back on. Poor eating habits and even poorer drinking habits - again, everything from coffee to beer - had me back at pregnancy weight in no time.
But I always had that excuse that Jessica had provided me with in my back pocket. I just had a baby! When I put it that way, people say things like, "Oh, well then you look pretty good." The clock is ticking on that excuse, though, which has me on a mission to not require the excuse anymore.
According to What to Expect. . ., the average woman gains five "keeper" pounds during pregnancy, meaning she should be able to lose all of her prengnacy weight BUT those five pounds. Since I didn't gain much, and I already know at one point I lost it all, I figured I would challenge myself to getting down to 145, five pounds less than I was in early pregnancy. It's not that I care so much about the number - if I did, I don't suppose I would publish it for so many to see. The number is just a goal, a way to track my progress. It seems like a better way to track my progress than "How few doughnut holes can I eat?"
Don't ask me how I plan to do it. I'm unlikely to keep a formal diet, though I'm sure reducing or even eliminating liquid calories will be a part of the plan. I've also never been much for exercise but I know I'll have to try. I suppose that will involve, in part, walking the dogs. "Walking the dogs" is code for this thing we do, where I put a leash on Gideon and he runs down the street, dragging me with him. I figure if we both practice more often, maybe we can come to some sort of compromise.
When I dared to look at myself in a fitting room mirror today, it hit me that my unhappiness is best seen in a full length mirror. In such a mirror I can see what I have let happen to myself since losing Gabriel. And whether he is here to experience it or not, doesn't Gabriel deserve one of those "hot moms"? As shallow as the previous statement may seem, I do believe that my little prince deserves the best of everything, and that includes a mom who takes good care of herself.
On June 10th I will celebrate with family and friends Gabriel's first birthday. He has my commitment to be the mommy he deserves, today, on June 10th, and always.