Nativity scenes drive me nuts. If I’m not irritated that baby Jesus has blonde hair (blonde?!), I’m irritated that Mary looks so svelte and calm after apparently just giving birth. This was NOT my experience and maybe having a child born on Christmas Eve makes me draw the comparisons a little more readily. I look back at those pictures taken directly after my son’s birth and I more closely resemble a Weeble (remember- Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down) than any Mary figure I’ve ever seen. I love seeing the genuine emotion and the beauty of my baby in my arms, but it is a little tough to see that very squishy, swollen version of me holding him.
I’ve written about weight before (here) while very much in the midst of that struggle. I had heard the same line you’ve heard: It took you nine months to gain it, it’s going to take you nine months to lose it. I kept holding to that truth like it was my lifeline back into my world before pregnancy. Now that the nine month milestone has come and gone, I have some arguments with that logic. My first argument with this line is just one for accuracy’s sake- it did not take me nine months to gain that weight. I managed to pack it all on in about six months. So shouldn’t it have all come off in six months? Not quite.
My second argument is this train of thought would seem to imply after nine months you will be back to your original size. Maybe you will. But I’m not. I am nearly a full year away from the birth of my child and I am still heavier than I was before he was born. And the rumor I hear is even when/if you lose all the weight, you will not necessarily be the same shape. I feel like these are the things somebody should tell you when you’re hanging on to your pre-pregnancy jeans like they’re your passport and you might need to leave the country at any moment.
So now I’m learning instead of looking at this body of mine and thinking it might someday magically morph back into the original version of me, I need to appreciate it for what it is. And with that appreciation, I am finding a new love for my maternity and labor pictures and those images taken shortly after my baby’s birth. Instead of seeing the swollen ankles and double chin, I’m seeing a fighter. A woman who carried life, birthed life (with the help of a skilled surgeon), and then snuggled that life to her chest. Did I expect that to come with no cost? The cost to my body was great, but it was so worth it for the life of my son.
Maybe when I look at those nativity scene versions of Mary I need to imagine how she looks is actually a portrayal of how she felt- serene, strong, proud, confident, enamored- but not how she actually looked. If that’s the case, then I think I can picture myself that way, too.