Baby F(Ph)at Winner #3: Gettin' Your Fitness On

Robin O'Bryant is hard at work making her writing dreams come true while dealing with the realities of Motherhood and Women's Sizes. Read her Baby F(Ph)at essay and nod your head in understanding. I know I did. Trying to get back in shape after having a baby isn't near as fun as it sounds. I only like exercising once I’m leaving the gym with a smoothie in my hand. But I’d rather be somewhat thin and miserable while exercising than fat and miserable every day, so I exercise. After having Emma, my second child in twenty-two months, I put the pedal to the metal and lost my baby weight plus a little extra padding I had been carrying around since college.  I worked with a fitness instructor and kept food logs. I went to the gym five or six days a week every week. I looked good, but I felt even better. It felt so good to have to buy new clothes because even my “skinny jeans” were too large.

Right before I got pregnant with my third child, we moved from Savannah, Georgia to Charleston, South Carolina. I joined a gym the first week we were there. I didn’t want to give myself the opportunity to backslide. My self-confidence was at an all time high. I had two sweet healthy babies, my husband’s career had taken off and I was able to quit my job to stay at home with my girls, and could wear the same size clothes I wore in high school. Life was good.

I was flying high, until I walked into the gym one morning for a Body Pump class. I got all my equipment together and was admiring myself in the floor length mirrors, not too conspicuously of course, just thinking how fabulous I looked and how hard I had worked to lose almost forty pounds. When the fitness instructor sauntered up to me, leaned in and whispered with a cute little wink, “Did I see a little baby bump?”

Lord, help me. I felt all the blood rush out of my face and I stared at her in shock.

Was she raised by wolves? Did her Momma not tell her that you never ask a woman if she’s pregnant? I don’t care if the baby’s head is hanging out, you never ask a woman if she’s pregnant! Play dumb and if she screams, “I’m pregnant YOU IDIOT!!” Then and only then is it OK for you to say, “I thought I saw a baby bump.” (And quite possibly, not even then.)

I looked that skinny little tramp with her twelve-pack and toned thighs, straight in her eye and said, “NO, as a matter of fact you didn’t! But thank you SO much for asking!” She gasped and took a step back.

I ended up staying in class partly to punish the little wench and partly because just getting to the gym with two toddlers is such an inconvenience.  You have to pack everything your kids may possibly need or want for the hour you will be exercising. You also get the pleasure of discussing every grunt and/or nuance your children might have and interpret these communications to a nursery worker who can't quit texting her boyfriend long enough to pay attention anyway. On one of my first visits to the gym after our move to South Carolina, I took Emma, then around eighteen months, to the nursery. I hopped on the treadmill and started to sprint...OK, jog. I was five miles into my run…fine, one, when the nursery worker came out to tell me Emma had a dirty diaper. "Her diaper bag has her name on it," I said as I gasped for the extra oxygen I needed to keep my pace and talk. "Oh, we don't change diapers." I stopped so abruptly on the treadmill I was almost flung across the cardio-room, "I'm sorry. What?”

"We're not supposed to change diapers." I had to get off the treadmill to change my child's diaper. My child, who had just stopped crying for the first time since I had left the room. She clung to my leg and screamed as I tried unsuccessfully to extricate myself to finish my run. Wouldn’t it just have been easier on everyone for her to change the diaper? “What exactly are these people getting paid for?”  I wondered. Shouldn't they change the sign from “Childcare” to “We're Just Going to Make Sure No One Dies While You are Exercising?” This is something I would like to have known before I signed a contract that included “childcare.” Seriously, half the reason moms go to the gym is so someone else will take care of our kids for a couple of hours and we don’t end up in a padded cell or on the 11 o’clock news! For this and many other reasons, I have purchased hand weights and an exercise ball to exercise at home when it's too much trouble to leave the house. I prefer to go to the gym; I need someone yelling at me to work harder. Left to my own devices, I would stop at the first beads of sweat, pat myself on the back, say “good workout,” and head to the juice bar. I got the weights out recently, and started to workout. Aubrey, my four-year-old, and Emma, her two-year-old partner in crime, jumped right in with me. As we started doing sit-ups, Aubrey said, “Look Momma, it's easier if you do this,” and propped her elbows up on the floor underneath her.

I laughed. “Yeah, but that’s cheating. You can't use your hands.”

Aubrey glanced at me then put her hands under her head mimicking me. After about two more crunches Aubrey said, “But Momma, this HURTS my tummy. Can we stop now?”  It sounded like somebody was ready to hit the juice bar.

Robin O'Bryant is a stay-at-home-mom, humor columnist and author. She's got a hilarious blog, a twitter account you must follow, and book and an agent, so I'd suggest keeping my eye on this Southern Mama-Belle. Me thinks she's going places.