And that’s really what my stomach looks like three-plus years after giving birth. So it is with obvious trepidation that I approach being pregnant a second time. As a bellydancer, I use my body in my work, and when my body changes noticeably, I have to go on pregnancy leave. I taught classes all the way through my seventh month with my first child, and began teaching again when she was three months old, but there’s no performing in a restaurant and accepting bills in my belt when my belly is swollen with child.
I look at my pre-pregnancy pictures and stare in awe at the gorgeous line down my taut stomach, right down through the golden glint of my belly button ring—also gone with pregnancy. After my daughter was born, she split my abdominal muscles and left me with a little dimple right above my navel, but I’m not complaining. I feel lucky to have made it through without stretch marks, but I worked pretty hard keeping myself in shape and getting back down to my ‘fighting weight’ after giving birth.
Could I do it again?
I remember the slow, plodding walks I took in the first few months of my pregnancy, hoping just to make it home, praying I wouldn’t have to puke in the gutter, and leaving a snail-trail of spit throughout the neighborhood, since even my own saliva made me nauseated. I stayed in shape during my second and third trimesters by walking a couple miles or doing half an hour of prenatal yoga every single day, almost all the way up until the day I went into labor, which was almost an entire day before my daughter was actually born. I have to believe that this helped build up my stamina for my almost 23 hours of hard, on-my-hands-and-knees-in-pain labor.
Can I really do it again?
Armed with my jogging stroller, squeezing in two or three runs every week, and backed up by two hours of dance classes on Tuesday and Thursday, I’m hoping so– because it was sure worth it the first time around.