My Cesarean

I did not want a C-section.

I wanted to give birth the “normal” way, which is to say via a nickel-sized slit that had previously only been used for sexy purposes.

I also didn’t want an induction, but I got one of those, too. I was 43 weeks pregnant when “I don’t want an induction” turned into “induce me right now or I’ll slay you.”

I labored for 50 hours before they wheeled me into surgery. I was 5 cm dilated and decided I couldn’t labor for another 2 days before starting to push, if that’s what it came down to. My husband sat by my side and held my shaking arms down as they sliced me open and pulled out my daughter. That was birth.

Physical recovery was difficult. How does one recover from major surgery while also not sleeping and worrying constantly and feeling emotions that had not previously existed? Very slowly.

Emotional recovery takes even longer. While I’m grateful my daughter was born safely, I didn’t want this. I didn’t execute my plan. I failed to give birth the way I should have been able to. These are the thoughts that creep in and strangle whatever ownership I’ve managed to take of my experience. This is the shit that gets to me.

One night, I was laying in bed with my husband and just happened to brush my hand across my scar. I broke down in tears.

Shouldn’t I be over this already?

Does any woman, ever, anywhere, get over the experience of giving birth? No. You’re not supposed to.

This 6 inch slice that cuts across my abdomen exists to remind me that I cooked up Lucy right inside of there. Thanks for the sperm, but I did this myself. I made dozens of small decisions every day for 10 months about what to put in my body, how much to move it, and how to take care of myself in order to grow her exactly how she is. During labor, I made the best decisions I could through excruciating pain, tremendous fear, and piercing self doubt. When they carted me into surgery, I was unbelievably fucking brave. I meditated, I counted, I breathed deeply as they slit me open from one hip bone to the other. “You’ll feel some pulling,” they said, as they lifted my 9 pound baby up into the air. I did that.

Birth is birth, and it made me stronger, softer, braver, and better. And I got this kid to prove it.

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You can read my full birth story here.

Pregnancy Myths, REVEALED! (An Illustrated Guide)

People say a lot of weird things about being pregnant, and it mostly comes from those who are a) not pregnant at that moment, b) are a man, and c) should shut up. People need to stop giving you advice because it’s starting to cut into the 15 hours per day you have allotted to not sleeping and fanatically googling.

Here are some things you might hear around town that are wrong.

  1. You’re glowing!

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Unless “glowing” now means “fucking exhausted” and “bigger than Donald Trump’s ego” and “more terrified of what’s about to happen than a cat of a cucumber” then no, you are not glowing. Maybe you were glowing, like right after you had sex 9 months ago, or in your second trimester when you finally stopped puking and ate something other than fries for the first time in 2 months. But now? The only thing glowing is your attitude if you run out of Haagen Dazs. (Do NOT run out of Haagen Dazs).

  1. Eating for two is a myth; you’re actually eating for one plus a few extra calories, like in a light yogurt!

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Okay, this one might technically be true, but shhhh. The only way to describe the unquantifiably enormous amount that you will love your babies to a pregnant lady is in saying, “Imagine a platter of cheeseburgers that goes on for infinite, and then add coffee, various cakes, and sleeping.” You will love your baby a lot. Also, light yogurt is not that delicious. Also, lettuce is a vegetable.

  1. Don’t pet cats!

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That is, if you even WANT to pet cats. (If you don’t, feel free to use pregnancy as an excuse to avoid them like the plague). But you can actually pet cats, you just can’t change their litter boxes, which you shouldn’t be doing anyway, because that is why you got married.

BONUS: It is also a myth that any pregnant woman alive who is not insane would wear a button-up shirt and just casually only button two buttons and then let her giant stomach hang over a blanket while she pet a cat. But I’m trying to illustrate a point here, which is that you can touch cats, if you want to and are pregnant.

  1. You have to take at least one picture of your giant stomach with your partner’s hands in a heart framing your cavernous belly button!

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Myth! Feel free to take this picture, or feel free to ask people to NOT take pictures of you while very pregnant, like when you’re stopping at Dunkin Donuts for the second time in one day and people are giving you sad, sympathetic looks, even when you chuckle nervously at the lady ringing you up and casually mention how much everybody at your office loves donuts. Instead of staging photos, you can also just lie around in bed in a sweatsuit and demand that nobody touch you. Ever again.

  1. Your lopsided bump is indicative of your baby’s gender!

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Is your baby sitting a little to the left? Is your belly awkwardly misshapen? Did you do a special little dance during getting-pregnant sex? Did you google that weird “what sex is my baby” birthday chart that a million people swear works and IS REAL? Nope. Sorry! Your physical symptoms point to the condition of “being pregnant.” You’re going to have to wait to find out just like everybody else.

BONUS TIP: This one’s important: if anyone ever says to you, “wow, I can’t believe you’re still pregnant!” or “wow, you are HUGE” give them a black eye.

Now, go eat a pizza in a pair of sweats. Dribble a little tomato sauce down the front for me. If anyone dares enter your nest(flix), start screaming at them in Elvish and crying, alternately, until they fear for their lives.

The 10th Circle of Hell: Postpartum Yoga

Welcome to class! Find a comfortable position, close your eyes, and relax.

It is so great that you finally got away from the baby, not that you would ever, you know, not want to be near your baby for five minutes. You read that article about attachment parenting, right? So good. I think we can all agree that going to the mailbox without your baby will probably cause severe emotion problems and bipolar disorder. I slept in my mother’s bed until I went off to graduate school at the Institute of Graceful Bending, and now I’m dating Jude Law’s younger brother who has hair.

Relax and remember, you are in a safe place. The great thing about Equinox gyms is that no one really sweats here? Well except you, but maybe that’s because you wore such a large sweatsuit. Is somebody wearing… barbeque sauce? It smells like ribs in here. I hope no one brought food into class, because I’m allergic to dairy, wheat, alcohol, soy, tree nuts, farmed fish, cheap textiles, and scientific literature. I love juicing so much!

Okay. Surya Namaskar, sun salutation time, guys. Stand at the front of your mats, and then hop or pedal your feet back, coming into downward dog.

Very strong pose, Pringle, just tighten up those hamstrings a little. I’d move them for you, but you’re just too tall! You look amazing, by the way. How old is little Taylee now? 4 weeks? Wow! Well of course she’s sleeping through the night already; your breastmilk is powered by flax, chia, and walnut oil. It’s definitely all about the omega-3’s. I can’t believe you’re back to a double zero size already. Thank Buddha you can get your Lululemon’s customized these days.

Focus on the breath, and exhale into Warrior 1. Nice, guys.

It’s okay if you’re the only person in the class who needs to go into child’s pose every 5 minutes. No one here is judging you. We are just all looking at you to make sure you’re okay. Are you still breathing? It’s really hard to tell with that huge sweatsuit and your more elaborate size. By the way, I think you’re so brave for coming here. Namaste. Oh, you have a little something in your hair here. Ohmygod, is that baby feces? I’m going to need you to buy that mat, okay. Wow.

Core work! Did anyone here have a C-section? No, right? I gave birth at home in a tub of organic eucalyptus flowers, which bloomed the moment my son crowned. I was in labor for THREE HOURS, which sounds so long but really was okay because I just meditated and let my inner goddess guide me. I had a huge orgasm when he came out, and then I had the best quinoa salad. He breastfed no problem.

Oh, really? You had a C-section? I believe we are all entitled to let our intuition guide us, so okay, but wow that really sucks for you huh? Did you try to have a real birth first at least? I should send you this article I read in The Homeopathic Guide to What You’re Doing Wrong, though. I have a monthly subscription. It might change your life.

Savasanah, guys. Lie down in corpse pose, and just totally relax. I’m going to come around and rub some essential oil on your temples, because this room is really starting to smell like lasagna. Seriously, does someone have food in their bag? Because I read this study about why carbs are bad and basically, they stop your brain from functioning. It’s like your neurons see a bagel and are just, bye.

Begin to bring awareness back to your body, like, all of it. You guys did so good today. Most of you seem to really love this new motherhood thing, and are really great at it. If it’s still super hard for you, maybe try reading some more articles and getting more exercise. It’s a really bad time to be so lazy.

Ommm.

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19 Things I Said I’d Never Do Which I Did Within 3 Months of Becoming a Mom

  1. Think that 5 am is a reasonable time of day to get up

  2. Consider a sweatsuit to be a practical, flattering outfit

  3. Own 3 strollers, because they all serve very different purposes, ok?

  4. Have someone else’s poop touch my body and not run screaming into a bathtub full of Lysol

  5. Consider four hours of sleep in a row to be “a real improvement”

  6. Sing Daniel Tiger songs in the shower, and occasionally hum them in public

  7. Have an Instagram feed of entirely pictures of a bald wrinkly blob with eyes

  8. Let a human being drag their hands around on the floor gathering dog hair tumbleweeds and then stick them in my mouth

  9. Memorize a mental checklist of 47 things I need every single time I leave the house

  10. Bite a black bean in half and feed it to someone

  11. Have porn star boobs

  12. Join a bunch of Facebook groups and participate in thoughtful discussions about what kind of rash that is

  13. Get peed on

  14. Post photos to the internet of someone covered in disgusting foods and sauces

  15. Eat dinner in restaurants at 4:30pm

  16. Invent a song about a washcloth

  17. Go to Starbucks with barf in my hair

  18. Tweet a cute garbage can company

  19. Think that one hour alone with a book and a breadbasket is afterlife-level paradise

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An Earnest Celebration of the Mom Bod

It’s great that this “Dad Bod” thing has gone viral. My husband has a dad bod; he spends his free time with our daughter, not at the gym, and has the inner and outer core softness to prove it.

How amusing, though, that the most famous examples of this newly heralded physique, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jason Segel, are not actually dads? Their dad bods say, “the gym on this yacht doesn’t meet with my standards, so, more fancy burritos please.” They also both date notoriously tiny women.

In contrast to dad bod, the mom bod is not a celebrated viral phenomenon. Many celebrity mothers shy away from the spotlight postpartum (for many reasons, I’m sure- a spit-up drenched top probably doesn’t photograph well). They emerge back into the public sphere months after giving birth, perfectly svelte, all of their parts arranged back where they used to be, through a mix of gentle starvation and aggressive cardio.

Enough with this shit.

Where the dad bod says, “I’m 35 and still play a lot of video games,” the mom bod cries, “I gave birth to a human and haven’t slept in 6 months.” The mom bod is about praising what the female body can do.

A Brief History of My Body

I never quite fit into my body. I have a clunky, awkward spirit, one that never settled quite right into its soft but lanky musculature. I was bullied for years as a kid, mostly because of a wonky eye, high-water hand-me-down jeans, and two front teeth that stuck out at attention. The simplest survival tactic I found was to detach from my packaging.

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Since feelings mostly hurt, I tried not to feel at all. I ignored my body, and entertained my brain instead, usually by watching hours of TV. I wanted to exist in a world where Clarissa could explain it all directly to me, or I could morph into a silver puddle just like Alex Mack. It’d be a lot harder to pick on a puddle.

Some of my earliest experiences with men were psychically devastating. My first couple of boyfriends were loving and respectful, so I assumed other men would be, too. I learned the hard way, repeatedly, for more than a decade, that other people don’t always have your best interests in mind. The first time a man assaulted me I was drunk and sixteen. I learned that in addition to not liking my body, others were capable of abusing it, treating it like a trash can.

Unfortunately, my body came with my brain into my twenties, still feeling all wrong. I learned how to eat less, drink more, and smoke like a forest fire. I’d diet, get rail thin, and still not like myself. I’d wear strategic outfits, make my hair bigger to smooth out the proportions, have beer for dinner. I hated beauty standards, knew better than them, but couldn’t escape the easy path they offered as another way to despise my own skin. The way I saw it, my body was the source of my problems, and my brain was just along for the ride.

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Pregnancy changed me.

First it changed me in the way that I’d walk the dog around the neighborhood listening to Cat Power on repeat, sobbing hysterically at the thought of my poppyseed-sized baby, while pinching dog shit into a baggie. I knew I was pregnant before the tests even registered it, because I immediately went insane.

My first trimester I was nauseous and wobbly, commuting four hours a day, working ten, wanting nothing more than to lie down and be fed french fries. I felt relentlessly horrible.

The second trimester, however, was a revelation. A belly started to emerge, round and hard, and with purpose. I could imagine my girl in there, swimming like a tadpole, feeling for the warm landscape. By twenty weeks I could feel her fetal karate practice. I’d assign autonomy to her movements: a kick to the ribs meant “eat less curry,” and a quiet day meant she liked the book I was reading. I felt inexorably connected to her, a fat jellybean on a placental string, and by default was linked back to my own body. I was forced to cherish myself because I’m where she lived.

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Her birth was transformative because I survived it. I had no idea how strong my body or mind was until I endured fifty hours of labor followed by awake surgery. At the end of it, I had her on the outside. Seeing her for the first time rearranged every particle in the fabric of my being.

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My body became about her. I used it to feed her, hold her, sing her to sleep. My body birthed her, and then kept her alive.

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My body cooked this up: a mundane miracle (happening everywhere, endless species propagation, and rarely special until it’s your DNA). I have to be grateful for this.

Now, too, I have to think about which of these lessons to pass down. It haunts me to think of her enduring the nastiness of other 5th graders, the agendas of seedy men, or the difficulty of having her voice respected as another woman.

She deserves to be treated carefully: nurtured, listened to, respected, and loved deeply. It’s only possible if she learns to treat herself this way, first. I have to show her how to do that, by doing that, by loving myself, body and brain.

What Mom Bod Means to Me

It means I love my daughter with an unflinching fierceness, and my body is the soil she sprouted from. Every part of my body is useful now: for holding, soothing, feeding, teaching. Instead of a jutting, angular hipbone or clavicle, the result of calculated hours of abstaining from real food, she feels the softness of my stomach, a perfect pillow.

My softness is everything, indicative of my entire transformation. The battle scars of my younger years are fading into a gentle roundness, a more delicate way of moving in the world.

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I am part magician, now, a miracle worker. You should see her face when I pull a pack of crackers out of my bag.

The Sweatshirt

I created a sweatshirt for glam | camp in celebration of the most all-time powerful bod. My Mom Bod is nothing short of a fucking triumph, and I intend to let everybody know it.

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I encourage you to share your story, too. Let’s nudge the next viral phenomenon in the direction of honoring the sorcery and squishiness of mom power.