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Why I'm Counting Down the Days Until I Get My Post-Baby Body Back

I should know better. It took me exactly 362 days to lose the baby weight I put on with my first kid (all right, maybe 363) so I'm aware that postpartum weight loss doesn't happen quickly, especially when you're north of 30. But I can't help it. I'm already dreaming of my post-pregnancy body.

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I have a secret drawer in my bedroom where I keep the catalogs that I've dogeared featuring the fantasies of how I want to dress in my post-baby body. Forget the fact that I'm solidly built and will never be willowy; the me in my dreams looks like and dresses like a J. Crew model, nonchalantly thin, boyishly angular, never enraged by the discomfort caused by her backfat peeking out over her waistline. This new me won't even care about all the pasta and sugar and alcohol she's not ingesting because the satisfaction she gets out of thinness will so outweigh any pleasure she got out of treating herself, especially now that her body belongs to her and her alone.

Because really, that's what all this is about—not how I look or what I weigh, but knowing I have control. If I train for a race and my lower back is stiff or it feels like my hip bone is chewing up my tendons, at least I know I did that to myself. Probably because it's my second pregnancy and the magical mystery is no longer there, I dislike how not-my-own my body feels. My breasts, my bladder, my back, my wrists, some things I'm too ashamed to even mention—because that's sort of what it comes down to, just feeling gross and ashamed.

The joke is, of course, is that being a mom already, I should know better than to dream of control over my body, or over any aspect of my life.

I would say something like, "I know there are women out there who just adore pregnancy and feel beautiful throughout it" but I won't even pay that idea lip service because I think very few women really feel that way—at least, all the way through pregnancy. It's nature's way of tamping down our fear of labor and delivery: The more ready you are to be done, the less scared you feel, because hey, at least this will end eventually. Once it's all over, it won't be an ordeal to turn over in bed, and your feet and back won't ache when you get up to go to the bathroom five times a night and your hands won't be numb and your body won't be working overtime to produce skin tags and boogers and you'll be able to sleep (or "sleep") on your stomach.

The joke is, of course, is that being a mom already, I should know better than to dream of control over my body, or over any aspect of my life. I'm not sure when I'm going to magically come up with the time to work out or create healthful make-ahead meals that the whole family will love. I know that the first few weeks after a baby is born, your body is even more out-of-control than it was before you gave birth.

But at least the body will be mine again. Even if all I get is five minutes to sit peacefully, I can do it without somebody trying to break through my ribcage. And I feel optimistic: I was so rocked after giving birth to my first son that I felt I deserved to eat and drink whatever I wanted, for a long time, as I acquainted myself to my new reality. This time I feel more ready to hit the ground running (not literally, of course). While I look forward to post-baby happy hour, I think I can hold off from having it 5-6 nights a week. Maybe this time it'll take me a mere 360 days to lose the weight.

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If I'm truly lucky, if I escape pregnancy in one piece and I'm fortunate enough to be walking and talking and cognizant and have a healthy family alongside me, I do hope I remember what a luxury it is—pregnant or not—to have any control over my body. That—fat and farty and creaky as I feel—it's a blessing to be healthy and upright and that I don't waste my luck after the baby comes. I'll never look like a J.Crew model but I can still feel better about myself. The time will eventually come. And I'll try to remind myself, nothing tastes as good as not being pregnant feels.

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