I have lost twenty-four pounds. Most of it seemingly from my breasts.
“They are like teenage breasts,” my husband says. He quickly adds, “That’s a compliment.”
I have my doubts.
Why do the breasts go before the potbelly? Yet that, too, has shrunk. I pull on my old jeans and look down at myself with amazement. Where did I go? Where did my new-mother-full-blooming-woman-body go? Am I a girl again?
Someone at work says, “You dropped a lot of weight!” I resist an impulse to look around my feet for something fallen. Where have I dropped it? Where has fifteen percent of my former self gone?
Since birth my baby daughter has been growing and I have been diminishing, month by month, pound by pound, until now we hold each other in balance. I lift her and feel the heft of the poundage I have lost. I place her on my hip and dance; I put her back on the floor — Instant Weight Loss! No, nothing is lost. Each ounce that has disappeared from me has materialized in her plump flesh and hard bones.
One day my eight-year-old remarks that although her chest may look flat, it isn’t. Her breasts have started to grow. Oh? I feign nonchalance, screen the shock of her statement behind informative chatter about the slow growth rate of the body, how it takes, oh, twelve or thirteen years before breasts develop. At a check-up two weeks later the doctor scribbles on a clipboard, glances over at me and says, “Her breasts are growing. She could menstruate at age ten. Buy her an antiperspirant.”
“Um, okay,” I mutter, stunned. Is her child-body already leaving? Across the room I see her profile, the same heart-shaped jaw she had at age three when she told me our bodies were joined together by the world’s longest wire. It was stronger than steel. It could reach anywhere, out of the room, out of the house, all the way to France. She said our bodies would always be connected and I believed her.
Now she turns away and starts to get dressed. The baby twists and arches in my lap, bruising my breastbone with her head. I let her slip down. There they go. The one enclosing herself button by button within a white blouse, the other scuttling away towards the door. And here I sit, small in my chair and getting smaller. Suffering the loss of so much of myself: the breasts that fed them, the belly that was their first romping ground.
Rasma Haidri is an American writer who grew up in Tennessee, spent childhood summers in Manhattan, studied in Wisconsin and France, and lived in Hawaii before settling down on the arctic coast of Norway in 2001. She is currently at work on a non-fiction book for children on Native American cultures. Read about her at at http://www.rasma.org or her blog Rasma Says.