Now, after having two pregnancies and three children, I realise that I was actually quite a babe then. I can look back on that pre-pregnancy body and wonder how I did not spend every day marveling at it's amazing parts.
Take breasts for an example (men - avert your eyes!). I remember a day BC (before children), when the bottoms of my breasts did not make contact with the skin of my rib-cage (under which were actual ribs - I could feel them and everything!). My breasts were what is called "pert" or "perky" by some of the seedier novelists, rounded, and when I moved my feet, like during exercise or running (yeah right!) my feet were the only things that moved up and down. There is no doubt about it, my babies were going to get milk from attractive containers! The other day in the shower, I discovered an awful fact: having three hungry babies dangling from my nipples for the better part of four years now has had a dreadful toll. I found that I can fit at least four fingers under my breasts as they dangle rather lifelessly onto practically my stomach. Not only that, nipples which once pointed proudly forwards somewhat like car headlights now seem to be looking forlornly and aimlessly at the ceiling, almost as though they are wondering what they are doing there. Exercise (like running after a child - not actual exercise like in a gym - what mother has time for that?) now consists of moving my feet, while frantically clutching at boobs that are bouncing up and down so hard they give new meaning to the phrase "milk-shake".
Likewise my tummy: in the olden days BC, my stomach boasted an actual six-pack of muscles. I was very conscientious of maintaining skin-tone during pregnancy, oiling myself up with bio-oil to such an extent that I looked like a female body-builder in competition time. For thirty seven weeks, I had not one stretch mark, and I smiled smugly when doctors or midwives would exclaim over my beautiful preggy-belly. However, during literally the last few days of pregnancy, when I could no longer see my own feet, I got a horrible itchy feeling around my belly-button, and sure enough, those crazy little lines were running all over the place. Not only that, but when the babies were born, the deflated sack that was my tummy looked like a popped balloon, and felt pretty similar too. Now, I seem to have replaced one six-pack of muscles with another: in clothes, it looks like I have an actual six-pack (i.e. of cans of beer) strapped to my midsection.
My hair, I realised, was actually quite straight before I was pregnant - I now know what frizzy hair is all about. In fact, if it is loose and brushed, I often comment that I am modelling my hairstyle on that of the Sphinx. And don't even get me started on the more unpleasant changes in a body after pregnancy!
But (luckily there is always a but - hmm that's another thing I forgot to mention: my butt) there is an upside to all of this - the happy and contented little baby. I learnt that breastfeeding does not diminish the charms of your breasts: it fulfills them, giving them a purpose beyond merely the decorative. They start to look useful - like the house that is lived in rather than one that merely appears on the cover of Home and Garden. Breastfeeding for me was the realisation of motherhood, a bonding, a gift not only to my baby, but to myself.
Being fat and pregnant lasted for nine months, but the joys I discovered through being a mom have lasted forever. So that beach-babe body is gone? Who cares! Not me (anymore!).