I worked really hard after my first son was born, committing to find meaning in a fit life to not only preserve my health for the future, but also to demonstrate a lifestyle choice that favored exercise over lethargy. It was mostly successful, as I dropped a lot of the baby weight and then some. Before I had my kids, I wore a size ten, but just before I learned I was pregnant with the second, I had gotten down to a size two. It felt nice to finally be in the body I had worked for, and the wardrobe I had reflected it.

But as I packed away the things I began to outgrow, I put them in a box and brought out my stored maternity clothes. The thing about maternity clothes, that although they are generously sized in the belly area, you’re supposed to wear your “pre-pregnancy” size. Since I’d lost so much weight, my maternity clothes didn’t really fit, so much of them got donated. I wish that I could say that I didn’t gain as much the second time around, but that just isn’t true. I ended up topping out around 200 lbs at the 40th week, just like last time. Only one extra pound was in the baby, so who knows where the rest of it was?

Afterward, I recovered much in the same way, working out as a priority, but less so because our schedules were so different now that we had two kids. Still, I’ve been able to unpack about half of my aspirational pants as my baby turns 6 months old. And that feels pretty good. My body doesn’t look the same, and it won’t, I think. I’m okay with that too.