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10 to Twins

By Jessica T

About this blog: I'm a late thirties mother of a ten-year-old and infant twins. My family moved to Menlo Park 6 years ago from Virginia - where I grew up, went to college, got married, had my first born, and got an MBA (in that order). I'm a manag...  (More)

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Freedom and disgust: my first outing to Old Navy

Uploaded: Nov 4, 2013
Seven weeks after the twins were born, I ventured out alone for the first time. I was behind the wheel of my perky, bumper-sticker laden Mazda, no longer pregnant and fragile. In the cd player was a new mix from a friend. I sported my sunglasses with the windows open. The sun shone, and I felt free and 19 again and all that was missing from my teenage years was a nicotine buzz.

Eager to shed the 50 pounds I gained with the twins, I was heading quickly to Old Navy to get a cheap swimsuit so I could dive back into the pool. I had no more than 45 minutes to find something that fit before my husband would be burdened by crying, hungry babies in need of a nurse. I loaded a dressing room with every style of bikini and one piece they carried in a number of sizes. I wasn't completely unrealistic; I didn't reach for extra small, but I was disturbed to realize the following:

1) It might take more than 45 minutes to find anything at all that I could wear in public.

2) My bikini days were over. For good. (Indeed I was not 19, but nearly double that age...)

3) My breasts couldn't even fit in a small top (despite the fact that they barely filled an extra small pre-pregnancy). They had ballooned to a medium and they hurt.

4) The fluorescent lighting revealed that I had cellulite on the front of my thighs (in addition, of course, to the back) something I had previously thought not possible.

The ride home was quite a bit less celebratory. I did find a suit in a strange white and turquoise pattern that made me look like an out-of-shape pin-up model. And I tried to shrug off the fact that I no longer recognized the body I lived in. I wouldn't be out of my maternity clothes for a while, and to estimate when I might fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes was none other than cruel and unusual punishment.

I pulled into my driveway to the sound of anxious babies crying. My vanity dissolved, and I disappeared back into mommy oblivion.

Have you had a similar experience? How has your self-image and body image changed since becoming a mother?
What is it worth to you?


Posted by been there, a resident of Downtown North,
on Nov 4, 2013 at 10:49 am

Two words: Land's End.Web Link

Old Navy is for tweens and teens not for mature women who just had twins. Yes cheap, but how much is self-esteem worth? Some things you can never unsee.

LandsEnd lets you order whatever you want, as many sizes as you want, and then return the ones that don't fit. Free returns, free shipping. They are made to fit adult women and they know what to cover and where. If you swim laps for fitness be sure to get the material that is designed for that (aquaterra?) because most suits, including what you just bought from Old Navy won't stand up to the constant chlorine.

Online shopping is the only way to buy swimsuits after kids.

Posted by Jessica T, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 4, 2013 at 11:15 am

Jessica T is a registered user.

Dear been there,

Where were you when I was foolishly headed to Old Navy for a cheap swim suit? Readers, heed her advice. She is absolutely right on every count! The good news is that after the Old Navy suit fell apart, I'm now sporting a TYR tank suit.

Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Nov 4, 2013 at 11:52 am

A real bricks-and-mortar store alternative would be a shop that specializes in swimming: not just children's swim teams, but also for adults who are serious about swimming. There's an old-school sports shop on El Camino Real up in Belmont that supplies suits for local clubs on the Peninsula.

More interestingly, there's actually a store in downtown Palo Alto that has a great selection of *REAL* swimwear: the upstairs level of Palo Alto Toy & Sport Shop is entirely devoted to swimming: Speedo, Nike, TYR, etc. The swimming department got cleaned out the last time the FINA Masters took place at Stanford.

Anyhow, we're glad to hear you found the right suit.

Posted by Jessica T, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 4, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

Thanks, Jay, for the local suggestions too!

Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Nov 4, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Good luck trying to find a swimsuit off season apart from catalogs.

I bought LandsEnd at Sears, but now have to drive further for a Sears :(

I really recommend a tankini rather than a one piece or two piece. You can nurse in them, spend a day at the beach or pool with little ones and feel reasonably well covered with either a t shirt over the top or a pair of shorts over the bottoms. And, a trip to the bathroom is a breeze!

Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Nov 4, 2013 at 7:20 pm

I will reiterate that a swim-focused store like Palo Alto Toy & Sports carries swimsuits all year long. These are suits meant for people who swim laps, not fashion pieces that you wear on your Cancun holiday. NCAA collegiate swimming is a fall/winter sport; the NCAA national championships are over before the end of March.

If you want to support local business, buying a lap swimsuit at Palo Alto Toy & Sport is a good way to do it. It's a third-generation family business that started in 1930.

My guess is that there are several generations of local swimmers & water polo players whose parents bought their suits at this store, and some of them eventually ended up on the medal platform at the Olympics Games.

Posted by Mae, a resident of another community,
on Nov 5, 2013 at 8:00 am

I second Jay's recommendation about the swim shop on the second floor of Palo Alto Toy & Sport. I go there to buy my kids swim team things, but have bought a few really cute swimsuits for myself. They carry both racing suits and fashion swimsuits, in high quality materials and brands (Speedo, TYR). Sure, they are pricier than Old Navy but the suits last longer and fit much better than cheaper suits. Old Navy is a great place to buy lots of things - kids clothes, polo tops, flip flops, pants, but not swimsuits (unless you're 16).

Posted by Jessica T, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

I love the suggestions from Mother of 4 for a tankini being a forgiving (and flexible!) postpartum swim suit. Jay and Mae - thanks for keeping us honest about shopping local with our dollars. As a blogger for a local paper, I feel strongly about this (despite what my post may suggest.) I will definitely check out Palo Alto Toy and Sport the next time I'm in the market for a suit. Dear readers, you should too!

Posted by MarthaLee, a resident of Midtown,
on Nov 6, 2013 at 11:08 am

Mommy Oblivion? hah :) it's just a WHOLE new land, new world, new galaxy! Too bad gravity still exist though! :-) Hold your memories of looking good in a bikini to remind you of that phase but feel better knowing that you are able to move on. Life in all it's seasons it a beautiful thing. Enjoy your babes while you can still satisfy their needs so easily.

Posted by Jessica T, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

More wise words from my readers! Thanks, MarthaLee, for a beautiful reminder to enjoy all of life's seasons and what we learn from them.

Posted by Bryan, a resident of another community,
on Nov 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I just wanted to say how fun this article was, and how refreshing all the useful comments are! Very nice. :) I just randomly happened up this post.
- Bryan from Los Angeles

Posted by Jessica T, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 6, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

Thanks for stopping by, Bryan. Come back again!

Posted by Batia, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Nov 7, 2013 at 12:44 pm

I too am a mother of twins + 3 more. The good news is that your tummy can return to pre-baby size. Tummy tucks work wonders.

Posted by Jessica T, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Nov 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Jessica T is a registered user.

Hi Batia - Plastic surgery isn't for me, but I'm happy to hear it worked for you. Swimming, for the record, has been just what the doctor ordered. It's been gentle on my joints in the postpartum condition. (Although I'm not sure my belly will ever look pre-baby again!) More power to you for having 5 kids. Wow!

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