Baby and the Beast

5.07.07: Pregnancy is beautiful. Post-partum--not so much.


Having a baby is a big beauty downer.

If you're pregnant right now, you'll have to take my word for this. Look in the mirror right now, and you'll probably be overwhelmed by your own magnificence. After all, chances are your hair is thick and luxurious, your skin is translucent and glowing, your lips are pinker than ever, and your belly is awesomely taut--you are a living goddess. In fact, you may be thinking you've never looked better. Pregnancy is a little bubble of hormonally gifted beauty bliss, the one time in your life you can carry around 50 extra pounds and have people say you look fantastic. (True fact: They'll even smile at you as you openly wolf down a hot fudge brownie sundae, and encourage you to go ahead and have a second one.) Enjoy it while it lasts. It's all good.

But if you're a new mom, you know just what I mean. Pop the kid out, and things suddenly aren't looking so good. All those hormones that were so kind to you mere weeks ago suddenly take a turn for the worse. Your hair falls out. Your skin turns brown. Your skin dries out; so does your hair. Your teeth turn yellow (mine even floated around in my mouth and got more crooked--thank you, relaxin). Your gums bleed. Your boobs are either bulbous and leaky (if you're still breastfeeding) or flat and droopy (if you've weaned the kid). You're flabby all over. And even after you've started losing weight, your stomach sags and bags. Add lack of sleep to the mix and you'll have sallow skin and baggy eyes to contend with, too. It's all bad.

A year after the fact, I'm still trying hard to put myself back together. It's happening, slowly but surely. But I sometimes look in the mirror, assess the damage, and think, "Who is this ugly old hag!"

align="right" width="200"> class="textsmbold">Awful after

I whine and complain about my plight often to the two people most likely to be in my throes as a captive audience: my mother and my husband. Neither one of whom gives me one shred of satisfaction. My mother's reply is almost always the same. "Yes, I know," she inevitably says. "But wasn't Truman worth it?" Yes, of course he was. Still, this is not what I want to hear from my mother. I want to hear from her that I look great; no, make that beautiful. Or, at the very least, that things will go back to being exactly as they were. But if I express these desires to her, she says something along the lines of: "Oh grow up and stop being so selfish." What a drag.

My husband, on the other hand, has been trained for 15 years to be supportive in any sort of beauty crisis. His response, inevitably, is a supportive (if somewhat robotic): "You look great!" Sadly, this is no longer what I want to hear from him. What I want to hear is more along the lines of, "Here's $500 for you, go get yourself some nice Botox." But he's a bit of a tightwad, so I don't see that happening anytime soon.

So I'm sticking as best I can to my healthful diet, exercise, and skin care regimen, awaiting the return of hormonal balance, normal sleep patterns, and my "old" self. At the very least, I can take comfort in one thing: Truman makes a fabulous accessory. When I'm carrying him around, no one is looking at my fine lines, age spots, or gray hairs. Except me.

Hillari Dowdle will fit back into her favorite pants one of these days. Check this column every week, and you will no doubt be among the first to read all about it!