Friday, May 29, 2009

A Woman's Right to Shoes

I am an avid Sex and the City fan. Before Lydia was born (and we got DVR), I would sit and watch episodes on DVD for hours sometimes. There are a few episodes where Carrie loses a pair of shoes. Once at a party, once at gunpoint, and once when her newly moved-in boyfriend's dog goes to town on one.

I now know her pain.

Last June, I bought a way-too-expensive pair of shoes. I had just learned I would be getting a huge bonus, and I fell in love with them. They were on sale, and that was the only way I was willing to spend the money, and I really loved those shoes.

Let's just say that they have died a sad, painful death, and I am having a really hard time.

It's not really about the shoes. Maybe a little bit. But not mostly.

I found out I was pregnant about two weeks after I bought these shoes. As I processed all of the feelings--excitement, anticipation, joy, fear--I also realized that this would be the end of splurging on myself, at least for a long time. That everything--our money, our time, my body--now was shared with the baby. Amongst all of the things I looked forward to, this was something I really struggled with. Maybe this makes me shallow or self-centered or materialistic, but that's a part of me I will acknowledge. I think we all have our little things that maybe aren't virtuous but make us feel good.

Having a baby is hard, and really, the sleep, the food, all of the things that people talk about, are the small stuff. What is truly difficult are the moments when you feel like your "self" has been usurped by this other being, albeit a beautiful, healthy, loving being.

Yes, the shoes were beautiful, but in a weird way, they represented this little piece of a former life in which I could stop in to a boutique, and if I really loved something, spend a little money on it without thinking of health insurance premiums, diapers, the double mortgage we are currently saddled with until the second house is sold, and all of the things I want Lydia to have or she needs to have. A life in which 80% of the clothes that I picked out because they made me giddy and excited were not packed in a box in my closet because they no longer fit the 34Es that have accompanied nursing Lydia.

I will go on record as saying that I know I have been blessed with an extremely fast post-partum weight loss, and I am very thankful for that. I am very happy with my 11-weeks-out-from-delivery body, and I am thankful that I have been able to start a work-out program that makes me feel a little more balanced and healthy. This just doesn't erase the very normal postpartum struggle with body image that occurs in the face of all of these other major life changes. The frustration with the stretch marks that somehow sprouted on my ass rather than my stomach, the skin that just got a little stretched out over the 9-plus pound Lydia, and yes, the gargantuous nursing breasts that are the price paid for a healthy, breastfed baby.

There are things people tell you before you have a baby. Some of these things are comforting, and others just end up not being "you." Before Lydia was born and I read things about pregnancy and body image, I would read quotes like, "When I feel sad about my postpartum body, I just look at my beautiful baby, and it all goes away." That after I had Lydia, my values would change so much that clothes and body image just wouldn't matter. For me, my body image and my love for Lydia are totally separate, and it irks me when people imply that one should erase the other. I look at Lydia and think she is the most amazing, beautiful, funny, adorable child ever. I can't even explain how proud I am of her. When I read other people's baby blogs and watch the growth of babies that I have come to feel so affectionate towards, I secretly think, "Not as beautiful or perfect or amazing as my baby," and I know that all moms do the same thing when they read mine--think that about their baby, I mean. But this doesn't negate the personal "stuff" that comes with such a major life transition.

I know that the shoes will eventually be "replaced" and possibly even repaired. (I am emailing with the designer, who is in Spain. We shall see.) But for now, I am trying to let go of the very symbolic woman's right to shoes.


  1. Wait, did I miss it?! What happened to the shoes?

    Cute new background, BTW.

  2. Laurie, this post is awesome. I have a story along these lines that I will tell you next time I see you in person (which hopefully will be sometime soon - we have your dishes). Thanks for sharing all of this. I am right there with you.