Life happens: Here's my excuse for my post-baby body
By Aprill Brandon
Here's a fun fact you may not know. When you are in the hospital after having a C-section, you are issued several pairs of giant, disposable, netted hospital underwear.
If you're having trouble picturing that, let me help you out: They are incredibly unattractive. I mean, these things are hideous. And completely see-through, leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination. (And trust me, immediately after having a baby, you want most, if not all things, left to the imagination).
Now, I'm assuming these things have something to do with the giant gash you have recently received on your lower abdomen. And since you did just undergo major surgery, and infections are nothing to sneeze at (heh), you are in no position to argue when the doctor says you have to wear the giant, netted hospital underwear.
Never being one to defy authority (or at least not the authority that is steadily supplying me with amazing weapons-grade painkillers), I obediently followed my doctor's orders. Although I can guarantee he probably wished that I hadn't taken his words quite so literally.
I was in the hospital for four days, and for four days, I wore those see-through granny panties. And only those see-through granny panties.
It didn't matter who was in the room, if the door was open or closed or what I was doing - I was, for all practical purposes, buck naked. All. The. Time. With my body looking arguably the worst it ever had, I had it on display for all to see. Every stretch mark, every wobbly bit, every "hmm, that used to be much higher" body part.
It wasn't that I had suddenly turned into an exhibitionist. Or . pffft . I was actually happy with how my body looked. I just had a million other things that required my attention other than clothes, such as:
1. The amazing human I just created.
2. Getting up from the bed to go pee, which was a Herculean task that required six nurses, a crane and three, sometimes four horse tranquilizers shot directly into me by an orderly standing a safe distance away.
3. Debating what would hurt more - cutting my boobs off with a dull ax or continuing to breast-feed.
4. Deciding continuing to breast-feed would probably hurt slightly less and then attempting to feed him again while 17 lactation specialists roughly squished together my boobs and my baby's head.
5. Trying to sleep during the 47 seconds I had in-between feedings. Comforting my crying baby, nurses checking my vitals and eating an unhealthy amount of cheeseburgers from the hospital cafeteria.
So, being naked all the time just made everything so much easier. I was exhausted and sore and overwhelmed and screw wearing pants. Burn in hell, stupid bra. Even the hospital gown seemed too complicated, with its two whole ties in the back.
Now, a woman choosing to be naked in the comfort of her own hospital room may not seem like a big deal to you, but for me, this was not only uncharacteristic but downright unheard of.
Yes, I was one of those women who, like any good white girl raised in the Midwest, hated her body. I was never thin enough. Or hairless enough. Or shaped enough like a 12-year-old boy. So to hide my perfectly healthy and normal-weight body, I mastered the art of changing clothes without flashing any actual skin.
I wore overpriced bikini coverups to the beach, only taking them off once I was deep enough in the water to not let anything south of my chin show (and then flinging the coverup back onto the beach). After a shower, I would race to my room while clinging to my towel for dear life (because God forbid I flash someone in my family my apparently offensive upper thighs).
But now? Shoot. You're lucky if you actually catch me with clothes on. I'm always walking around with my shirt hoisted up above my chest because I couldn't be bothered to pull it back down after feeding Riker. After a shower, I walk around in my birthday suit because a towel is too rough on my chewed-up nipples. And I'm still too exhausted and sore and overwhelmed to care about pants.
Of course, this doesn't mean I am now completely comfortable with my body. I don't know if that day will ever happen. But it does mean that I have a new appreciation for it. Because now it has a purpose other than looking good for other people.
My breasts being perky matter less than the fact that they are a food source for my son. My arms being toned matter less than them being strong enough to lift him and carry him around for hours on end. My hips being narrow matter less than me having a convenient perch to rest him on.
And let me tell you, it is completely freeing.
Aprill Brandon is a columnist for the Advocate. Her column runs every two weeks in the Your Life section. Comment on this story at VictoriaAdvocate.com.