Off My Chest

4.16.07: Sadly, breastfeeding was not my magic weightloss key.


When I signed up for breastfeeding, I wanted the whole package: the health benefits for my baby, the bonding, the convenience, the warm snuggliness, and—perhaps above all else—the weight loss benefits. Breastfeeding would be natural and fulfilling, they assured me. Breastfeeding would protect my baby, they said, and make him smarter. Breastfeeding, is what's best for mommy and baby, they insisted. Breastfeed, they cooed, and all that pregnancy weight will just melt right off.

Of course, it didn't work out quite that way—though my breastfeeding experience was beautiful in parts, it was also a struggle from start to finish (nipple confusion, thrush, mastitis, biting, etc.). It was—even on its best days—uncomfortable, awkward, and strange. What's more, I stayed fatter than ever the whole time.

Not that I can blame it on them; I'm not even sure who "they" are—a collective bunch of well-meaning women, I suppose, a group of breast-feeding advocates who are willing to overstate the benefits to mommy just a little to get the good stuff into baby in an ends-justify-the-means sort of way. (Or, as one girlfriend of mine calls them much less charitably, "the nipple Nazis.")

At any rate, it wasn't until I weaned Truman at 10 months that I saw any weight begin to melt away—and then it only melted away from my boobs. Whereas they had been fulsome and voluptuous, adding much-needed proportion to the top of my pear-shaped figure, they now look like little deflated balloons, much smaller even than my pre-pregnancy size. This strikes me as unfair on some sort of cosmic level. And now I look like nothing so much as a Weeble (who wobbles but won't fall down).

To compensate, I've been hitting the gym, doing extra upper-body work—which is paying off nicely. My arms are toned, my chest is buff, my shoulders have definition, my upper abs are actually kinda ripped. I'm still heavier, but from the waist up, I look a little like my old self.

Unfortunately, things are much messier from the waist down—squishier, really. I'm carrying a good 15 extra pounds of fat around, most of it hiding somewhere on my hips, lower abs, upper thighs, or booty. It's like the undiscovered territory down there. I'm doing my squats, lunges, and leg presses of all sorts, but I've realized that I'm just going to have to diet and cardio my way through all that fat, like an explorer hacking his way through the jungle with a machete. Sadly, it's slow going.

Still, I hearten myself with this thought—it's the carrot that keeps me going: If I can ever catch them, I'm kicking their ass. Yes, yes...I know it's impossible. There's no "them" there to catch. But in their collective nameless, faceless, peer-pressurey, do-goodery form, it's fun to imagine smothering them with my massive thighs (you know, the ones they promised would disappear immediately upon breastfeeding). Whup ass!

Just between you and me, I wouldn't trade my breastfeeding experience for anything in the world, and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. I do think the benefits to Truman made even the darkest days worth it—he's been healthy as a little horse. So even if I could beat "them" up, I wouldn't do it. After all, though I may be frustrated with the broken promises "they" made, I'm glad that "they" encouraged me to do it in the first place. (In fact, I now join with them in encouraging all new moms to try breastfeeding.) In the end, the only can I'm gonna open up is formula.

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!