I promise this is not just going to be a post lamenting the reality of painfully slow postpartum weight-loss. I think that people only really complain about this because the tiny fraction of the population that loses theirs instantly is just so obnoxious in rubbing it in everyone’s faces that we forget that it is a very slow process. Though having a baby makes you instantly feel weightless because you are no longer waddling around with a massive beach-ball preventing you from seeing your feet or rolling over without fearing suffocation, it is still a long road back to those skinny jeans. And that’s ok. I gained an amount of weight deemed healthy by my doctor, and while half of it melted off within the first three weeks, I have lost a grand total of 1 pound since then, in spite of constant exercise, breastfeeding, and moderately healthy eating. Yes, this could make me cry if I focus on it too much, but that’s where sleep deprivation and inability to focus on anything not essential comes in handy.
The real injustice, and the real point of this truly pointless blog post, is to whine about my hair.
Y’ALL. MY HAIR.
Or what is left of it. I had heard people mention postpartum hair loss, but I ignored it. I have thick hair, long hair, hair that I spend a lot of time thinking about and styling because I really, really like hair.
Your hair gets so thick during pregnancy, they said. Liars, I thought, even back then. Instead of the universal thickness I anticipated, I just grew some strange layer of bangs that stuck straight out from my hairline. But it’s ok, I thought. They will fall out after birth. But no- my spike bangs are staying staunchly put and are instead intimidating the rest of my hair into abandoning ship. I find this in the hairballs littering my house, the phantom hairs that I feel on my arms when I wake up, the sad flatness to the top of my head when I pull my hair back. On two separate occasions, the source of Henry’s wails has been revealed to be a Hannah hair in his diaper, adding actual injury to insult.
You might be thinking that I am making this all up and overreacting, thinking Hannah, I have seen pictures on this blog where your hair looked fine. People, it is an illusion, carefully crafted by a fog of hairspray and dry-shampoo, with the occasional hurricane force wind adding further volume. You might say it is superficial to groom hair that much, I say it is a good Southern upbringing showing itself. One does not just sit idly by and let one’s hair be flat, but I am currently like Sisyphus, pushing the boulder of hair products forever up a mountain, only to have them momentarily work before new strands of hair fall around me, crushing my dreams.
The obvious solution? The mom cut, but I just can’t go there yet.
It is unfair, really. Dealing with the postpartum body, the sleepless nights, the hormonal changes – it is bad enough. But at least you feel sanctified by the struggle, elevated by the mighty thing you are doing. I am daily aware of my body being poured out to sustain my son, constantly in awe of this body that — while squishier and rounder than I would like — grew and produced life. It is noble to embrace the changes in my body. I tell myself I do not want my old body back, but instead want a new body that is strong and healthy and prepared to guide my child through this world. I can have grace with my body because I feel its new strength all the way through me and I see marks of the sacrifice I made to carry Henry.
But I draw the line of healthy acceptance right about where my hairline is currently receding. No one goes around praising the nobility of thinning hairlines and mangy locks. No one makes motivational pictures praising the strength of women while focusing on hair that hangs limp and lifeless. No one speaks of the service to our children that involves vacuuming endlessly lest he choke on a hairball.
And so, while I will proudly learn to love my new body… I would really like my hair back.
Until then, I’ll just stroke the thin red hair on the top of my son’s mostly-bald head and run my fingers down his tiny mullet.
You and me both kid, you and me both.