Baby Fat

I just spent [redacted] hours watching the footage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leaving the hospital with their new baby. (Although since I guess I just said hours, plural, you know that it was more than one. So much for my ability to conceal information. This—along with about four thousand other reasons—is why I’m not a spy. Anyway.) So yes, I spent a long time watching it on a live feed, and listening to BBC anchorpeople desperately grasp at any straw they could think of to fill air time with chat until William and Kate finally finished packing up their toothbrushes and iPods, saying their thank yous and goodbyes to the hospital staff, and came out to show their new baby to the world.I

I will say right off that I love the British royal family. I don’t care that they’re outdated, I don’t care that they’re ridiculously wealthy and getting richer at a time when the government is choosing to slash budgets and eliminate services and blah blah blah. Sorry, don’t care. I feel for the people who are being impacted by those cuts, but I still love me some royals*. And I love Kate. I realize she has a team of people to help her look great, but at the end of the day, she’s responsible for those people, and they do the job she’s paying them to do. And I don’t think she’s lazy—I think they’re being very, very careful how they bring her into a job that has her living in a fishbowl, and in which she did not grow up, as William did. The family learned a hard lesson from Diana, and they’re taking it to heart with the next generation. They want William and Kate and their children to have a successful family life, because they may be royalty, but at the end of the day, they’re still human beings. Good for them.

But this wasn’t intended to be a rant in defense of the British royal family, nor was it intended to be a dissertation about Kate Middleton’s assimilation into said family. The subject of this is me, of course, and something of which I was reminded while watching Kate meet the press with her new son.

One thing I noticed about Kate during the whole exchange outside the hospital is that she still looks six months pregnant. Which is as it should be. Don’t tell me about that former Playboy bunny chick, the one  who named her daughter Rainbow Brite or whatever it was, who left the hospital in her size 0 jeans and was back to her original -2 size within a week. That’s a lot of bunk. I don’t care if it really happened, it’s not the norm. Most women walk out looking some version of still several months pregnant, and continue to do so for another six months to a year after the baby is born (granted, looking fewer and fewer months along as time goes by). That’s normal.

My first baby was a single birth, and so I followed said pattern of looking a bit expectant for a number of months after he was born, and gradually getting back to a reasonably normal size. My second “child,” however, was twins. I gained the same amount of weight with them as I had with the first (thirty pounds—which is the normal, recommended amount for those of you keeping score), but most of that was baby. (I am proud to tell you that my twins were 6 pounds 13 ounces, and 7 pounds 15 ounces at birth, which birth occurred at 34 ½ weeks, with 35 weeks being considered full term for twins. Thus, they were about as close to term as one could hope without actually being full term, and also very big and healthy. Go, me, right?)
However, because they were such big babies, and because I did, after all, gain thirty pounds, I was absolutely humongous. I have since said that I was visible from space, and that at one point NASA approached me to discuss the possibility that I could be used as a landmark to help guide the shuttles back in to the Earth’s atmosphere. The only reason the deal fell through is that I would have had to stand outside for multiple hours during the whole of the shuttle’s anticipated reentry period, and it was hotter than Hell the summer my twins were born (as it always is the summer one is pregnant).

I think you get the picture—twins, enormously distended stomach, weight gain. Right. So the twins are born (on the Friday before my scheduled c-section because of the early signs of preeclampsia, which bummed me out because I wanted to make it to my actual date, plus I’d eaten a bunch that morning and they made me wait eight hours until my stomach emptied out and I was hugely uncomfortable—no pun intended—the whole time I waited for that to happen, but that’s another story. Which I guess I just told. Moving on.) and because I had major surgery, I’m in the hospital from Friday to the following Tuesday, at which time they let me go home.
So we load up our new infants in their new car seats, snap them onto our new stroller, and head out. We’re on our way down in the elevator, and the maternity ward in that hospital is on something like the 8th floor, so we have a short ride. There’s another guy on the elevator, along with an older woman who, you can kind of tell by their chemistry and the way they interact, is his mother in law. My husband, being a reasonably friendly sort of fellow, asks if they're visiting a new mother. “Yes, my wife,” the guy replies.

Alex looks at him and says, “Your first?” The guy nods.
“We have one at home, and these are our second—twins,” he tells the guy.

The guy glances at the babies, and at me, and a strange look crosses his face.
“Wow,” he says, “One older kid, two new ones, and another one on the way?”

His mother in law is horrified.

“Jim!” she gasps, “This woman just had twins. You can’t expect that she’s going to look anywhere near her normal self! It’s nothing like having only one.”

I, on the other hand, am about ready to bust my c-section sutures. Because any second I’m going to start howling with laughter. Are you kidding me? Dude, these babies are three days old. Do you realize what you’ve just described isn't even biologically possible? How could I possibly be pregnant again? What do you think? That I was actually carrying triplets, but one of them wasn’t cooked enough, so they left it in there for a couple more months to finish off? Priceless.
To this day I giggle about it. I know his mother in law was appalled, but I wish I could tell her how much pleasure that story has given me over the years.  What was to her a major faux pas (“Not only did you reveal your complete lack of understanding of the human reproductive system, but you basically just called this woman ‘fat’ to her face.”) was downright hilarious to me.

I was reminded of that whole episode while I was watching Kate show off her new baby, her puffy belly still intact. I hope Kate can maintain her sense of humor as the eyes of the world watch her (now descending) stomach. I’m sure she will, and I’m sure she’s very grateful. She has a beautiful new baby, and is lucky enough to have all the time, resources, and physical help she wants or needs. And I’m guessing there was no one going down in the elevator with them, either.
*if you’re not already aware—or can’t tell—I am an American. I sympathize with the plight of the British working classes, and those affected, but my love or hatred of the Queen and her brood will in no way impact their circumstances. I have zero power to bring about change in the British social system, since I have no say in the British social system, not being a British citizen. I just wanted to make that perfectly clear.