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Jennifer Garner’s Not the Only Mom With a 'Baby Bump'

Photograph by Getty Images

Jennifer Garner went on the Ellen show last week, denying rumors that she’s pregnant with baby No. four. "I am not pregnant, but I have had three kids and there is a bump,” Garner told the audience. “From now on, ladies, I will have a bump, and it will be my baby bump. It's not going anywhere. Its name is Violet, Sam, Sera."

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If Mrs. Ben Affleck has a baby bump, then I’m carrying triplets — and have been for the past decade. I’m just thankful that a slim actress whose professional prospects depend on her appearances is saying a truth that most women face after motherhood. Your body, especially your waistline, will most likely never be the same.

I’ve been congratulated for many a non-existent pregnancy. When it happened to me a few weeks after giving birth, it was mortifying … but realistically, I could see how someone could make that mistake. A year later, when I was asked at a party when the baby was due, I was not so amused. And then when I dropped off my “baby” at preschool, and the teacher pointed at my midsection and gushed, “Well, look at you!” it was embarrassing for everyone. Especially me. That tank top and pair of low cut jeans got donated to Goodwill right away.

I know there are plenty of celebrities who manage to look fit and flat tummied within months (maybe even weeks) of giving birth. Last year, fitness coach Maria Kang became the target of Internet hate when she posted a photo of herself in a sports bra and boy shorts, showing off her ripped abs and brood of toddlers. “What’s Your Excuse?” the meme read, as if suggesting that all us slobs would have washboard stomachs if we’d just get off our couches and lay off the chips.

I’m not going to skip tucking my kids in at night to squeeze in an extra workout.

Once upon a time, I had flat abs, too. I was one of those annoying people who took their pants to the tailor to get nipped in the waist. But after carrying two 8-pound babies and losing the pregnancy weight, I never gained back the same shape. For a while, I almost got rid of my baby bump. The spare tire. Muffin top. It took going to the gym three times a week and rarely enjoying a chocolate chip cookie, bowl of ramen or almond croissant. Then, I started spending more working in front of a computer and less time working out on a treadmill. A terrific frozen custard shop opened up in my neighborhood. I turned 40. And here I am, at the same weight I was at the end of my first trimester.

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Looking at my grandmothers, I see a genetic tendency toward becoming apple-shaped later in life. Not that motherhood has to be a life sentence of tunics and stretch pants. Life ebbs and flows. Waistlines grow and shrink (Right? Okay, I just made that up … but it sure does sound good).

I’m putting more effort into keeping the bulge at bay, walking two or three times a week and fitting in an occasional yoga class. I’m trying to eat more kale and fewer Kettle Chips. But I’m not going to skip tucking my kids in at night to squeeze in an extra workout. I’m not going to miss out on our Friday afternoon ice cream ritual. And if that means I have a bit of a bump, at least I’m in good company.

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