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July 1, 2011

Because a Body Transplant Isn't an Option

Ever since I got pregnant with Nathaniel and my stomach became a roadmap for those bright red stretch marks, I bemoaned the loss of my black bikini. How could any self-respecting woman bare her stomach at a public beach or pool while it looked as though it had been clawed by a rabid tiger? I'm all for the occasional Halloween scare, but I try to avoid mass public panic when I remove my clothing.

So the black bikini was pushed into the back of my lingerie drawer where it nested comfortably next to a pile of thongs. Oh yes, try wearing one of those after an episiotomy. It's like flossing your butt. NO THANK YOU!

Last summer, I broke my swimsuit taboo when I blew up the kiddie pool in our backyard. It's true, the suit didn't really fit since my milk had come in and I was in full-blown nursing mode at the time, but the neighbors weren't outdoors and we were a mere three feet away from the house if any living soul came within a fifty-mile radius of my backyard.

Thus, I got to sit in the pool with my son. And it was awesome.

Now, despite the fact that I live in the land of perpetual ice and snow, we are currently within the 30-second window where it's actually warm outside again. I put my parka and long underwear away and tentatively opened my lingerie drawer when Nathaniel and I were invited to go swimming with a group of friends. Even though all of the ladies in the group were moms and too polite to run away screaming when I bared my belly, I still hesitated to wear that tiny, black bikini in a place other than my backyard. (Also, I was too cheap to cough up the cash to buy a maternity swimsuit that I will only wear for a couple more weeks. See, Jonathan? This is the effect that living on a budget has on me. IT'S DANGEROUS.)

But my son had never been swimming in a real pool and dang it, I wasn't going to let my own issues take away from his childhood. So the bikini went on and my cover-up came off. My belly saw sunshine for the first time in well over a year. And I made a beeline for the safety of the pool to disguise my embarrassment, making sure to keep as far below the waterline as humanly possible while still maintaining enough oxygen for basic brain functions.

The pool was great and by the end of our excursion, the toddler was happily dunking a toy truck while being swished around the water by mommy. (Also, he has now perfected saying VROOM-VROOM around his nuk, which was apparently an essential part of the pool experience.)

On our drive home, I realized that I had conquered one of my fears. I had worn a two-piece swimsuit out in public after giving birth AND I LIVED THROUGH THE HORROR. No one came up to me with a big white sheet telling me to censor my belly or asking me what type of disease I have. But then I started thinking about taking Nathaniel to a local pool and I asked myself if I was confident enough to conquer that hurdle.

The answer is a BIG, WHOPPING NO.

While I can muster the confidence to wear that swimsuit in the company of a few female friends and their babies, I can't say the same about going to a highly public location like a water park and baring myself to the scrutiny of hundreds of strangers. It's pathetic, but it's like high school all over again. What if they stare? What if they point? What kind of awful comments will I be forced to hear?

There isn't an easy answer to this issue. Trust me, I tried looking. And then so did my husband who also doubles in our house as the Ultimate Problem-Solver, Hear Him Roar. Sometimes life isn't as easy as throwing a tank top over your swimsuit to go to the pool when it will make you look as though you're falling out of the top of your suit. And it's certainly not as easy as running to Target to pick up a fabulous, new one-piece once this baby is born because no stores in this area carry bras in my size, let alone swimwear.

So I've done the only logical thing left, short of a body transplant which I hear is at least five years away from the capabilities of current medical science. I have informed my husband that a new item has been added to the Honey-Do list in the form of digging a giant hole in our backyard. While it may not be in our budget to install a pool right now, I figure an enormous mud puddle will do the trick. And any rain water that fills it up will only help hide my belly further. Who's up for a swim?

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