My husband accompanies me to my post-partum appointment two and a half weeks after Peanut is born. Peanut's delivery was a complicated one, and the doctor has a lot of serious information to convey to us. After he has finished talking, he asks if we have any questions. I do, but it feels silly and slightly inappropriate in light of what we've just discussed. I ask it anyway.
"Any idea how long it will take for my stomach to go down?"
Sure, I am currently wearing last summer's jean cut-offs, but there is a conspicuous muffin top pouring over the snug band. A week earlier, at the CVS, I was stocking up on diaper wipes and infant vitamins when a checkout clerk asked if I was "gearing up for the delivery."
"No," I replied angrily, "because I already delivered her."
Really CVS check-out guy? Really?! Give a mom a chance to deflate!
A few days after that my husband and I were at the Italian restaurant in town for our first post-delivery date night. Our table wasn't ready, so we stood at the bar and ordered some drinks: A Manhattan for my husband and a refreshing glass of club soda for me. A man seated beside where I was standing got up and offered me his stool. "You look like you're going to give birth any day now," he explained.
"Well, I'm not, because I gave birth ten days ago," I grumbled.
I waited until my husband and I were seated at our table before I burst into tears. When the bread basket arrived, I refused to tear into it with my typical gusto. "I mean, am I that big?" I cried.
"He was just trying to be nice," my husband offered weakly.
Thanks for ruining date night, considerate man at the bar.
Even my mom was concerned about my round post-partum belly. Then she saw the footage of Princess Kate leaving the hospital the day after the royal baby was born. "She still has a little bump, too!" my mom exclaimed over the phone. "That made me feel much better about your tummy."
Personally, I think it's a travesty that the media has manufactured a news story out of Kate Middleton's post-partum belly. The woman is a real-life princess, not a Disney one. An animator doesn't redraw her body moments after she pushes out a baby. I was watching a television program (okay, it was Extra!, but- in all fairness- I was at the nail salon) in which someone asked J. Lo to comment on the royal new mom's post-baby appearance. J. Lo's advice: It will take two or three days before her stomach returns to normal.
Don't get me wrong, I'd hardly consider J. Lo to be an expert in anything, much less obstetrics and gynecology. Still, her words made me question my own post-partum recovery. It is taking my uterus ten times longer than what J. Lo deems reasonable to shrink to its normal size. There is quite obviously something wrong with me.
Now my doctor looks at me incredulously.
"Let me guess," he says. "You're one of those people who 'bounced right back' after your first baby."
"Yes! I said. "Minnow came out and I wore my skinny jeans home from the hospital."
"Well, second pregnancies are a little different," he explains. "You probably started showing much earlier with this pregnancy because your abs are stretched out. It will take time to get back into shape."
My husband, sensing my dissatisfaction with the doctor's response, elaborates.
"Her thirtieth birthday is tomorrow, and she's worried that she won't look hot in the new dress she bought for dinner."
"Oh!" the doctor replies. "Well do you have Spanx?"
This is a good time to mention that my doctor is at least in his mid-fifties and looks like a devoutly Jewish John Goodman. "Spanx" is not a word I'd expect to hear from him.
"Well! Problem solved!"
The following day- my thirtieth birthday- I pull the Spanx I last wore when I was four months pregnant from the back of my lingerie drawer.
"Here goes nothing," I say aloud, because my life is a sitcom in which I mutter trite phrases to myself.
I can't believe it: Not only can I slip on my brand-new, non-returnable Rebecca Taylor dress, but it zips up the back with hardly any resistance. And- bonus!- with my oversize nursing boobs, the dress looks even better than I'd imagined. I can't wait to meet my husband in Penn Station that evening for my birthday dinner.
After a crazy-good meal at Union Square Cafe (where no one offers me their bar stool, thank you very much), my husband and I meet up with some friends at a speakeasy in the Flatiron District. I've never been, and one of our friends insists on introducing me to the bartender. He walks me back to where the bartender is busy muddling mint and limes.
"This is C," my friend says to the bartender. "Today is her birthday."
"Happy birthday! How old are you?"
"It's a big one," I reply. "Thirty."
"You don't look thirty," the bartender says, and I decide he means it in a good way.
"And she has two kids!" my friend chimes in.
"How old?" asks the bartender.
"One of them is only two-and-a-half weeks!" my friend continues.
Now the bartender looks at me incredulously.
"Wow!" the bartender says. "You could never tell."
Isn't elastic amazing?