Pregnancy may be a nine month sprint toward motherhood, but it’s a slow crawl toward a whole different body than the one you started with. I’m not talking about the growing baby bump—that part is expected, and actually kind of fun. It’s the weird, little stuff that changes so gradually you barely notice it, until one day you wake up and there it is: a funny looking vein, a freckle you never had before, a hair that may or may not be gray, depending on the light. And wait…is that a stretch mark? Say it isn’t so.
Not much is under my control these days. Type-A personality that I am, this is not OK with me. I like avoiding potential problems, or at the very least, finding reasonable solutions. I’m a big fan of magic potions, new exercise regimens, vitamins and superfoods and essential oils. Spend enough time online and there’s a potential cure for everything. Some work, some don’t, but at least I feel like I’m taking charge of the situation.
But there’s no solution for my hair falling out, or changing consistency, or refusing to behave no matter how much styling gunk I dump in it. My Achilles tendons are wound up tight as guitar strings, and no amount of stretching can convince them to chill out. There are these tiny veins on the inside of my knees that appeared out of nowhere. They scare me. Why are they there? Are they going to get worse? Are they varicose? What is a varicose vein, anyway? All I know is I don’t want them.
I get that I’m trading my pre-pregnant body for something amazing—my very own child to cherish and raise. And my expectations for life post baby #2 aren’t unrealistic. I refuse to listen to tabloid cover moms who lose all their baby weight in four and half days without dieting—and especially those who believe every mother should do the same. I live in the real world. My waist will probably be thicker, my boobs lower, and my hips wider. That’s part of childbirth. I’m not happy about it, but I’m reconciled. My best option is to live and eat healthy, run around after my kids like crazy, and not let pictures of my 18-year-old self in a bikini get me down. Those days are gone forever. Sigh.
However zen I pretend to be, there’s still a loud voice in my head chanting “DO something about it!” But what? My options are limited. Until I discovered the “mom’s health” section on the website I order E’s diapers from. There it was, an arsenal of products designed to minimize skin damage, stretch marks, even weird bondage-looking things to help shrink your tummy post-partum.
Magic potions! Miracle solutions! My favorite things. If only I could try them all…My control freaky self is practically drooling at the possibilities. A couple of online searches revealed more websites, more award-winning tricks and talismans. There’s a whole world of consumer products out there designed to help expecting mamas fight back against the ravages of pregnancy. Why didn’t I know about these things before? Granted, probably only a handful of the lotions, oils and “butters” actually do anything—but as a writer and a chronic researcher, isn’t it my duty to find out?
To keep things under control, I’ve limited my experiments to stretch mark creams—I don’t have any stretch marks from my last pregnancy, and wouldn’t it be lovely to keep it that way? I may never look as good in a bikini as I did before, but at least a smooth, stretch-mark free belly might mean I can wear one again one day without being too self-conscious. So far, I’ve tried one that made me unbearably itchy, and another that made my belly smell like moldy chocolate, which was so offensive to my super-sensitive nose I had to take a shower immediately (and then tossed the bottle in the trash.) The third in the lineup, which I’m still using, has an amazing fragrance, but I’ve yet to determine whether it does anything other than smell pretty.
I’ll keep you posted on my findings. I figure if my experiment works, not only will I win at least one battle over post-partum physical decline, but I’ll be doing a service to pregnant women everywhere. (I’m sorely tempted to order the corset bandage things for afterward—but that’s a different post.) Does anyone have suggestions for products to try? Potions that really did work like magic, or ones that were a waste of time and money that I should stay away from? Any advice for my quest is greatly appreciated. I may just be tricking myself into thinking I have control in a completely beyond-control situation, but at least I’m having fun…