Involuntary Post-Pregnancy Weight Loss

IMG_2630

8 months pregnant

Let me just preface this by saying a few things.

  1. In putting this out there (and I already have in other ways) I am by no means trying to throw any shade on anyone else’s pregnancy or post-pregnancy or motherhood weight gain. I’m very aware that what I’m going to talk about can be frustrating to hear for people for whom things have gone the other direction.
  2. I have, in the past, gained amounts of weight that I was unhappy with and then struggled to lose weight and deal with the shock of a new body image. That is an experience that I have also had.
  3. I know that weight is annoying and uncomfortable to talk about in general.

That said…

I’ve lost, to me, disquieting amounts of weight since Littlest was born. To start with, I felt underweight at the beginning of my pregnancy; I had just dealt with the flu, which involves a lot of not eating, and also was nauseous through most of my first trimester. On top of that I didn’t gain all that much weight during the pregnancy—about 8.5 kg (19 pounds) on top of my normal pre-flu and pre-morning sickness weight.

Add that all up and since Littlest was born I’ve lost 16.5 kg (36 pounds). I went back down to my regular, “ideal” weight and then kept slipping. For a while it was unalarming—and then it was more and more curious. At a few points I tried to make efforts that seemed fruitless: eating avocados, peanut butter, allowing myself “unhealthy” foods that I used to steer clear of. Since I kept losing, I sort of gave up. But in retrospect think those efforts were actually making a difference because the weight loss seems to have just accelerated since I gave up.

Here’s the thing: I was happy weighing 15 to 20 pounds more. We make lots of assumptions about losing weight being a positive thing, or some sort of judgment on other people’s NOT losing weight. It’s a hard thing to bring up, and I swear I try to bring it up less, but my whole body image is changing and I’m starting to wonder if this is just, once again, the new way that I look. (But also, will I stop losing weight?)

I know it’s not a medical problem, since I went to a “bilan de santé” a few weeks ago and my thyroid and iron levels are normal. So it’s a lifestyle/metabolism/breastfeeding thing. I asked Littlest’s doctor about it and she said that lots of new moms actually do lose weight after they become mothers, because their whole lifestyle—sleep, for example—has changed. So I’m not convinced it’s just a breastfeeding thing. Moreover, I would hate to stop breastfeeding in order to gain weight just to find that it actually wasn’t the driving reason behind it.

So, I guess I’m writing this just to say that yes, this is also something that happens to new moms, and it is confusing. It may not be as soul-crushing as weight gain can be, but it is preoccupying. Part of me doesn’t want to get comfortable in this new body because I’m wary that the previous one will come back and I’ll have forgotten how to love that one. I looked good twenty pounds heavier. There’s nothing inherently better about less.

IMG_0208

Whose body is this?

Advertisements

He’s Here!

Ça y est, our little Paddy is here!

He arrived Friday morning at 8:34 am after an extremely rapid labor and let me tell you, rapid labor = not fun!

I won’t go into too much detail but we arrived at 3:30 at labor and delivery because my water had broken, and Paddy was in our arms five hours later. They let me into the delivery room at 7:30 when I was 4 centimeters dilated, and a half hour later I was at 10. So… I’ll just let you imagine how that half hour felt as we waited for the anesthesiologist to arrive to give me an epidural that MAYBE helped during the delivery but otherwise was just really silly by that point.

In any case Paddy made his debut with no complications and a nice round head with some hair and we are all now at home after a equally pointless fourth night imposed on us by the midwife* at the maternity ward (seriously, I cried when they said we had stay longer). He is quite small but already back to birth weight and speaks fluent English and French (ha just kidding).

*Otherwise, the midwife was great and managed to calm me down during some intense contracting (as a result of that 4-10cm business).

The last person we saw before leaving the hospital this morning was my OB, who stopped by to bring me my prescriptions and told me “De toute façon vous avez été parfaite.” Which is kind of just the thing you need to hear and endeared her to me forever.

img_2642

Still in my belly (just after we arrived)

img_2645

Out of my belly and getting warmed

img_2652

With Papa

The Past Week

So hey, turns out maternity leave is really boring. Everyone else is at work all day so there’s not really anyone to bug, and I’m uncomfortable doing a lot of things that involve excessive walking or standing. But I’m sleeping so erratically that I am really grateful for the extra sleep in the mornings.

There’ve been a few final preparations for the baby as well as the last couple midwife classes. I have to say I’m pretty disappointed with what’s on offer in France in terms of bras for breast-feeding. I’m not a totally exceptional size but shops do not seem to have space for women with small rib cages, and maternity bras also seem to be sold mostly in places where you can’t try them on. WTF? So I’ve bought one at Auchan (not the best size) and I ordered another online… and I’m waiting for the second to come before deciding whether to return the first. Also did I mention they’re not very pretty? And lingerie stores don’t sell them? I think the idea of the French being good at lingerie is a big old myth.

Otherwise we put together the bouncer (finally learned what a bouncer is) that J’s family gave us and it’s sitting in the living room next to the couch just waiting for him.

img_2640

So enough about the baby, here’s what I’ve been reading to stave off the boredom:

Let’s Stop Posting These Kinds of Travel Instagram Pics Now

Hillary Clinton Was Every Woman During the Debate

Throw Your Top Sheet in the Trash: I have never used a top sheet with a duvet, but I only started using a duvet in France. So is the top-sheet-less thing European?

Obama Reassures Foreign Tourists: “No Other American Man is This Horrible”

The Weirdest Friendships You Find Yourself in When You Hit 30: I skimmed this because it’s pretty long and these didn’t all seem familiar to me, but some of them were pretty interesting.

What Is Up with Trump’s Ill-Fitting Suits? A World-Famous London Bespoke Tailor Explains: Seriously how can a man so rich look so terribly dressed.

Linguistics Explains Why Trump Sounds Racist When He Says “the” African Americans

When Your Old Life Becomes Someone Else’s Internet Sensation:  Fascinating, though it did not make me want to live in a yurt.

 

 

A Baby Shower (in France)

Baby showers are not a thing in France, though like everything American, I did discover they are becoming a little bit trendy among trendier crowds than mine. Who knows if they will soon be ubiquitous like wedding photo booths, or if they’ll go the way of Halloween.

In fact the French are mostly superstitious that it’s a bad idea to give a gift before the baby arrives, though lots of people don’t really believe that. It’s a common enough attitude though that I wasn’t counting on having a baby shower. But my friend Maggie almost immediately raised the question when she learned I was having a baby, and so we set out to make it happen.

The guest list was a mix of people who already knew what baby showers were (=Americans or people familiar with American culture) and people who had no clue but thought it sounded fun (the other French people).

I hesitated on whether to say no gifts or not, because I was inviting people to whom I hadn’t given anything when their babies were born—either because I didn’t know them very well yet or because I was just that dumb person who doesn’t get that it’s really nice to give a gift when a baby is born. (Kind of like how I didn’t realize till my own wedding that you can give a wedding gift even if you can’t make it to the wedding.)

In the end we left the question of gifts wide open and I let Maggie field questions about gifts, since both our e-mail addresses were on the invite. I did order real invitations which was fun and festive, including little “You’re invited!” stickers (in English) for the envelopes.

The shower was pretty low-key as far as showers go because there were no expectations since most people didn’t know what it was. We planned four activities:

  1. Decorate cupcakes
  2. Couple and baby trivia quiz
  3. Match the baby photo to the guest (I got them ALL RIGHT)
  4. Measure the belly

We had the shower at 2 pm at my place, which meant no one was hungry and the cupcakes were plenty as far as food went. We made a last-minute punch with vanilla ice cream which some of the French guests found very strange, but I had other Americans present to explain the concept of an ice cream float.

We decorated a little bit, putting down paper table cloths and blue table runners, buying pretty paper plates, but didn’t go all out by any means, and it was a uni-generational and small party so nothing needed to be very formal. Almost everyone did bring a gift and some of them were handmade which was really touching. I didn’t buy a special dress or anything though I did wear lipstick. We made little favors of candy bags for the guests and gave out condoms as prizes. I actually didn’t take any pictures except of the cupcakes!

So you’ll just have to believe me that the rest of it was fun and cute. I’m really glad we did it—everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and it was nice to see everyone again, especially some people I don’t see very often, before baby arrives in about a month (theoretically).

The Past Week

In this penultimate week before my maternity leave, I’ve been getting home and mostly thinking about when I can go to bed. But things are going well, and I’m still enjoying being at work and having a hard time imagining everyone being there without me. Colleagues are very supportive and interested and in turn I try to ask them about their pregnancy and newborn experiences (if relevant) so that it’s not ALL ABOUT ME ALL THE TIME.

We received a package in the mail from my mom this week that got hit hard with ridiculous French customs taxes. In short, they tax the value of the package (without adjusting for the exchange rate, as far as I can tell) PLUS the value of the shipping which is of course very expensive. Then they add 15 euros of “frais de dédouanement” for good measure—a tax just for it having had to go through customs. Next time we will have to be sneakier. But it was really nice unpacking things from the States that I knew my mom had picked out by hand.

In other news, I didn’t watch the presidential debates because 1) it was the middle of the night and 2) I actually hate the presidential debates. I think they’re important to have but I don’t enjoy watching them or all the media frenzy that builds up to them.

Some reading for this week:

These Are the Best American Foods, According to a French Person

The Making of an American Girl: About Addy, and it’s fascinating

Hating Trump Isn’t Enough: We need to talk about why Clinton rules

 

Pregnancy Misc, French Admin Version

The heat finally broke this week. Hurray! I’m now feeling pretty confident I’ll be able to keep working till October 8th so I called my doc Monday for an extension to push back my leave.

There are a couple of maternity leave related things people have told me over the past few weeks in conversation that appear to not be true:

  1. the congé parental pays well*
  2. you can get extra maternity leave for breast-feeding

It’s nice the dreams people feel like selling you on when they aren’t up to date on any current info. But I’ve been doing so much reading about this stuff over the past few months that as soon as they said these things I was pretty sure they weren’t true. Like the things people say to expats, be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true!

(*Congé parental or parental leave is something you can take after your maternity leave, or the dad can take it, but you aren’t paid a salary, just an “indemnity” of a few hundred euros a month. Needless to say that is NOT enough for us to live on.)

It’s been interesting realizing how fast pregnancy and leave laws change in France. Even as recently as two years ago, parents got a “prime de naissance” from the governement during the 7th month of pregnancy (or before an adoption) to help defray the costs of preparing for the baby’s arrival. Guess when it arrives now? Two months AFTER the birth. So… who exactly does that help? Only people who have the money in the first place. (Though I certainly won’t be complaining when it finally arrives.)

Then there are the people who ask questions that I have trouble making sense of. Like J’s mom, who as recently as last weekend asked me if I’d looked into the allocations. Umm, yes? I did that about seven months ago and there was no real reason to because for your first child you get a grand total of 2€50 per month. Woohoo.

At the beginning of the pregnancy I felt like I was totally uninformed about paperwork and health-related things, and as time has gone on I’ve realized that I (and probably all other pregnant women) am actually way more informed than all the non-pregnant people I talk to. Which, I guess… duh.

What IS interesting to talk to people about is the more human side of things, like other women’s experiences with pregnancy (no labor stories kthx), or things they remember from when their babies were very little. But the admin stuff is just sort of a waste of time, unless they had a baby in the past year or are actually a midwife or doctor.

The Past Week

Well the rentrée is now fully under way. Things are going well except for this ridiculous heat that just won’t stop. Hopefully Tuesday will actually be the last day because French schools do not have AC and I am carrying around a personal space heater all day from which I cannot detach myself (at least for another 9 weeks). It sucks.

Otherwise work is fine and I should be able to push back my maternity leave a little though of course I have to play it day by day. I have a date for a baby shower and I started parenting/labor classes yesterday so things are getting sort of real (I mean, sort of—it’s still almost two months off theoretically).

Not a whole lot else is going on. My mom made and sent us this beautiful baby blanket, which gave me an excuse to take a picture of the crib.

img_2627