Sunday, January 31, 2010

Body Image

I was sitting at a cafe with a friend yesterday, having lunch and enjoying getting out of the house with Raphaela. We started discussing my dating in the post-birth era, and I realized that I am not yet ready, and that frightens me.

Except for two women I know in Jerusalem (my Pilates instructor and a lesbian who got pregnant when already in a committed couple), all the people I know who underwent insemination and chose the status of jsmbc have not had a serious relationship, and don't seem to be going there any time soon. Some of these women have a child well out of diapers, so baby sitting is not the issue; they remain content in their situation.

I have never in this whole process believed that my child makes the possibility of a husband extinct.

For myself, it comes down to body image, two areas in particular: one, while I look forward to intimate physical contact, I don't want anyone touching my breasts. I am nursing or expressing pretty much all day, my nipples can get sore and my chest, for the moment, is under long-term rental by Raphaela. I would feel extremely uncomfortable and unattractive if milk started spurting out while I was making out with a man I wanted in my life.

Second, before I gave birth I was running four times a week, enjoyed stamina and was in rockin shape. I have lost weight since the birth - there wasn't that much to lose from the pregnancy - and am technically skinny; but naked I am mushy and have all sorts of left over marks from the hormonal drop. Again, I don't feel attractive, though you would not guess any of this from the outside, when I am clothed.

I know that if I am holding myself back in any way, a relationship cannot flourish.

If I wanted myself and Raphaela to feel secure with a non-biological father, I only have a window of several years, while she is young enough not to remember any other state.


Abandoning Eden said...

i think expecting you will be able to find someone you love and marry them before raphaela remembers anything else is putting too high of an expectation on yourself, and putting high expectations on yourself/any relationship you get into is a sure path to relationship failure.

There's no reason she can't bond with a dad at a bit older age ex's biodad left his family when he was less than 2, so he doesn't really remember him, and he didn't get a stepfather until he was 8 or 9, but he calls his stepfather 'dad' and has a really close relationship with him (closer than my relationship with my dad- who was around from my birth- ever was).

Anyways, no need to push yourself to do something you are not ready to do. Although if you are not dating exclusively because you are afraid of how you look, you might need to push yourself a bit to get out there.

Also I heard the general rule is that it takes around 9 months for your body to fully recover from pregnancy..9 months of pregnancy 9 months of recovery. And your body will also hang on to a bit of extra fat until you are done breastfeeding. The good thing is that a lot of guys out there actually prefer women to be a bit mushy and soft. :) There are also guys out there who for whatever reason can't have kids of their own but want kids, plus a whole bunch of single/divorced dads who many childless women will not date, who are probably especially interested in dating single moms. In fact, you might be able to meet some of them at stuff for children that you go to with raphaela.

Singlemommyhood said...

I came here via Solo Mother, and I'm so glad I did.

My daughter's father split town when she was a baby and I've been raising her on my own for almost a decade. I used to think I had a window to meet someone, too... and it made me a bit desperate.

But like Eden says, if you do meet someone later, the bonding might be different, slower. But no less loving.

Good for you for taking care of yourself and your baby! Everything else will come along with time.

Amy Charles said...

I agree. Do not run to marry on a timeline. Remember that old saying, Marry in haste, repent in leisure?

Also, I have good and bad news for you. Bad news first: your bod is not ever going to be what it was. I have an elem-age child. I'm in rockin' shape. I can do chin-ups, run seven miles, do man-style pushups, the whole thing. I'm not at all fat. But I'm 41 and have had a baby, and my midsection is loose and stretched-out, my skin isn't what it was, I have turkey neck, and if I let go of the upper-body workout I get the batwings.

The good news: The men don't care. Don't sweat it. When you find the guy, he won't be able to get enough of you.