Utne Blogs > Literature

Baby Belly Blues

 by Lisa Gulya

Tags: essay writing, motherhood, body image, surgery, Melissa Stanton, MotherVerse,

Pregnant SilhouettePost-partum depression and body image woes are part of the psychic price new moms pay for their bundles of joy. Delivering seven-pound, six-ounce twin girls took a hefty physical and emotional toll on Melissa Stanton, which she describes in MotherVerse (excerpt only available online), a journal of writing by moms. 

Stanton learned the only way to regain her former figure would be a tummy tuck, which required too long a recovery for a mother caring for a preschooler and infant twins. Without surgery, Stanton faced scrutiny from strangers and surgeons. “Looking pregnant after delivery is a cruelty few first-time moms are prepared for,” she writes. “But with the twins, the balloon-like remains of my pregnancy were so pronounced that a doctor sent to check on me dared to declare, ‘Are the twins still in there?’ ” 

Though her “wobbly belly” caused Stanton stress, she managed to find a use for it. “When the twins are teens, I fully intend to show them photographs of my expanding—and by month-nine torpedo-like—pregnant belly. I’m hopeful that seeing the images will make my daughters sexually responsible and cautious. Girls! If you have sex, this can happen to you!” 

Eventually, Stanton decided to have surgery to repair her abdominal damage, “if only to keep my uterus and innards in place.” She did, however, refuse the cosmetic trims and tucks the first plastic surgeon suggested: “…as I really looked at my changed body, which for years I had shied from seeing, I wondered at what point does one generation cede youth to the next? ...I’ve come to realize and accept that I’m now of an age when it’s more important for my body to be healthy than fashionable.”

Image by Mahalie, licensed under Creative Commons.