Yesterday I was nursing Aidan and he puked on me. He never throws up, he didn’t even spit up when he was a little thing, so it was a bit alarming when he vomited a glob that was, well, puke green, onto my shirt. But he smiled and cooed so I assumed he was just losing an offensive bite of lunch and decided not to worry.
I did take off my shirt, since it had vomit on it. And that act had a magical effect on Aidan. He beamed at my big ol’ mommy tummy, looked up at my face and down again, and began to pat my chubby belly like he does the cats and other soft, cute, cushy animals he comes into contact with. Then he leaned over and kissed it. I said, “That’s mommy’s belly. You lived in there for ten months. That’s why it’s so big, because you stretched it out and I haven’t managed to get it back to its normal size.” He smiled dreamily and kissed it again.
I love being a mom. Everyone who knows me knows that. But the havoc it’s wreaked on my looks I could do without. Before I got pregnant, I was a cute girl. I hung out with other cute girls and often went home with the cutest guy at the party. I was comfortable with my cuteness. I also tended to look a good 5-10 years younger than my age. At 30, I got carded. At 35, younger men stared slackjawed when I told them my age, having taken me for 28.
Today is my birthday. I am not so young anymore. And for the first time in my life, I look my age. And also for the first time, I don’t look so hot. I look more ragged than during my beer-drinking, meat-and-potatoes-eating dark period when I lived in London. I was pasty and gained twenty pounds, but at least I was 21 and had a cute face.
When I bitched to my friend Courtney about the baby belly—remember the old Special K ad where they asked you if you could pinch an inch? How about six?—she told me by Christmas I’d fit into my old clothes and by February they’d be falling off me. Thanks to a steady diet of breastfeeding and circuit training, I did get into a couple pairs of jeans by Christmas, right on schedule, but since the weight has stopped coming off. If I’m bloated, I look five months pregnant. My breasts are more like puffy pancakes than the bouncy cantaloupes that used to burst from my plunging necklines, and their hugeness when hoisted up in a bra is what prevents me from getting into a lot of my clothes. The saleswoman at the Pump Station told me they’d go back to their normal size at six months. She was high. (Funny, the boob part doesn’t really bother me. They’re boo’s boobs now and to him they are God.)
If we’re going for the laundry list, guess I have to mention the gray hair that suddenly sprang from my scalp when my husband was shooting a movie in New York for three months and I spent three weeks alone with boo doing sleep training. Then there’s the cyst on my face, technical term: xanthelasma. It’s an unattractive little bugger, yellowish in color, that appears mainly in women around the eye area and in my case used to be the size of a freckle. But pregnancy and now breastfeeding have caused it to flourish (my doctor’s term), probably due to hormonal insanity, so it appears to be eating my face. I am totally self-conscious about this thing. It makes me look like a crinkly-eyed old lady and I’m convinced it’s the first thing people see when they look at me. I’ve had it removed in the past, surgically, but now I’ve been told to wait until I’m done breastfeeding, as it might go down on its own once my hormones return to normal. So I wait—with a face that looks like a cabbage patch doll’s.
And when I go to Yoga Works, I’m no longer part of the clique of lithe lovely yoga babes twisting themselves into advanced pretzels. I admire them from outside their circle, sort of hiding my face. And there’s no kidding myself that the cute boys at circuit training are checking me out. Although the other day, one of the men who works there did a double take when he saw me from behind and said, “Girl! You look awesome! I saw you and thought, ‘Who’s that?'” I said sheepishly, “Well, I still haven’t lost the baby belly.” (I used to be able to take a compliment.) And he said, “Whatever. The rest of you…woo!” And that made me feel like there’s hope.
Okay, and my husband tells me I’m beautiful on a regular basis. And today he said I look like I’m 32. But he swore to love, honor and cherish me forever—and he’s delusional.