Thursday, August 3, 2017

I Will Not Fail Her

"You look like you're going to have another baby", my 5-year-old niece says casually.

I pause. I'm not prepared. I glance at my 7-month-old baby playing on the floor. I regret my outfit choice.

"Oh, really?", I say, keeping my voice as measured as possible.

"Yeah, look like you're going to have another baby", she says a bit louder. Conversationally.

I pause again. I'm not prepared. I lick my wounds. I look down at my stomach. I really regret my outfit choice. I think about the weight I've gained since the birth. I think about the cookies I brought. I think about how I used to look, how I thought I'd look, how nothing fits the same and my body doesn't feel like my own. How embarrassed I am. What a cliché I am. I'm still pausing. And then I think,

I will not fail her.

I will not fail her the way our mothers and aunts failed us. I will not teach her shame. I will not teach her to pretend she does not notice bodies and colours and shapes and sizes. I will not teach her my body is embarrassing. I will not teach her to be silent. I look into her enormous eyes, her trusting face, I see her perfect, tiny, body, and I take a deep breath.

I will not fail her.

"When people have babies in their bodies, everything has to move around to make room for the baby. The baby gets big in there and you need a lot of room! So after the baby is born, it can take a while for all of the parts of your body to get back to where they were before the baby was born. And so sometimes it looks like there's still a baby in there".

She pauses.

"Everything moves around, to make room!" she says.

"Yup", I say.

"So it just takes a while", she says, satisfied.

"Yup", I say, "It just takes a while".


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