Lily stood in front of the full-length mirror in her bedroom, stark naked, staring at her body. Her four-month-old daughter stirred in her sleep, momentarily distracting her. The little girl looked angelic, beautiful, fair skin, light brown hair and the perfect mouth. Any mother would swoon over a cupid’s bow like that.
Lily again turned her attention to the mirror in front of her. She decided to start at the top and began to examine her hair, looking for the grey she hopped wasn’t there. She was, after all, only twenty-two years old, that color definitely should not be there. Finally satisfied after a few minutes of inspection, she lowered her eyes to her face. Leaning in a little closer, Lily scrutinized her skin. Fair and freckled, it still has the red marks and scars from her teenage acne that had just recently started to go away. It was hard to tell the difference between the pimples and the freckles, especially on her chin. Her eyes then wandered to her upper lip and what her father lovingly referred to as her mustache. Having nearly black hair and fair skin was not something to be desired when it came to body hair. Lily had tried waxing and plucking that area, but both had been horrendously painful. Her last resort had been bleaching but she was behind schedule. Next, she looked at her lips, the same lips that were mirrored on Aubrey. Voluptuous and picture perfectly shaped, they were one of her better attributes. She then bared her teeth. They were not bad, maybe a little horse like, but relatively straight and white.
Her eyes dropped again, this time to her bare breasts. She hated them. She hated them because they were constantly in the way. Her pregnancy had left her with a 38F cup size, bad stretch marks and discolored skin. And to think people actually paid for boobs that big, Lily just felt ridiculous. Her chest was so pale that you could see the veins through her skin and when pinched hardly changed color. Lily constantly regretted not breast-feeding, at least then they would have a reason for being so damn big.
Lily closed her eyes and took a deep breath. This was the hard part and the reason she was standing her in the nude like some crazy person. She had refused to look at herself below her chest for the last four months. Sure, she saw herself in the mirror but this was different. This was up close and personal, too personal. It had to be done though; things were getting out of control.
She had not wanted to get pregnant so soon after their wedding, but that is what happens when you are not careful. It had been a rough nine months. The first three she had spent worshipping the porcelain throne. Lily could not remember a time when she had ever been that sick. It was awful. And, whoever coined the term “morning sickness” was dead wrong. She had been sick morning, noon and night. Working had been a nightmare because being sick in a public restroom is not a fun experience. Every time she had to throw up, she thought about all of the bums that had been on that seat that was now two inches from her face. Then, very kind and well-meaning people would knock on the stall door to ask if she was ok as she was donating her lunch. Not fun. The second three months, Charlie, her husband, had been out of work and that meant out of insurance. No one will provide insurance for a pre-existing condition and so Lily called all over to find coverage, finally finding refuge in a program called AIM, short for Acts for Infants and Mothers. It was an absolute lifesaver, but the stress over it all had left her wiped out. The final three months were spent in the wicked Southern California summer heat waves, without an air conditioner. Several times she had sat in the car with the air on to cool herself off. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.
Lily inhaled deeply through her nose and opened her mouth to exhale through her clenched teeth. She made a fist with each hand as she again inhaled through her nose, relaxing her fists as she exhaled.
“One the count of three,” she muttered to herself, “one,” breath in, out, “two,” in, out, “three!”
Lily opened her eyes and stared, all of the air she had sucked in was let out in a whoosh. Things had definitely gotten out of hand. Her once hourglass figure was swollen and distorted. Who ever had named the side pockets of fat “love handles” needed to be shot for coining the term. She most definitely did not love them. She thought, “It looks like a life preserver under my skin!” Lily was horrified by the stretch marks across her belly; it looked like all of the Worlds Rivers had been mapped there. Each river was a shiny and scarred red. “My God, these are permanent!” “Remember to breathe!” In through the nose out through the mouth.
Going for the gold now, Lily lifted the flap of skin and fat that lay over her scar from the c-section. A five-inch incision had been made just above her pubic hair. It was an odd purple color, which the doctor told her, meant that it was healing. She eyed the now vast expanse of her hips and turned slightly to look at her butt. That had also reached unprecedented proportions and had hearty helpings of cottage cheese. She closed her eyes again hoping it would look different when she opened them again.
Tears stung the corners of her eyes and began spilling down her cheeks. Her body had betrayed her, and she had betrayed it. Disgusted, and with tears falling rapidly now, Lily pulled her clothes back on. Once dressed again in her “mommy uniform” of track pants and a baggy t-shirt, she faced herself again in the mirror. Crying always makes her face red and her eyes puffy. Lily stared at the face reflected back at her; she was angry and disgusted with herself. Not looking at herself had not made it any better but had made it unbearably worse. Snot was now racing her tears as it too flowed freely.
Vehemently Lily swore and berated herself for allowing it to happen. “This will never happen again, I will never let this happen again,” she muttered over and over again.
Aubrey suddenly wailed and startled Lily out of her anger. She wiped her face and made her way over to the infants crib.
“Hey there pretty lady! How’d you sleep,” Lily said softly. She had developed a habit of talking to Aubrey as if she were older, and often the two carried on conversations made up entirely of coos and babbling with Lily filling in the blanks.
The baby flashed a toothless grin and cooed a response to her mother’s questions. It never ceased to amaze Lily how her daughter could get loose from the tightest swaddle. The kid was a baby Houdini. She had to be wrapped tight in order to sleep but she could break free of anything. Aubrey grinned again and Lily could not help but smile and laugh as she scooped the beautiful baby girl. Though she still had traces of the tears she had shed, her anger was gone.
Lily had not wanted the baby, hadn’t really even wanted the marriage, but now that she had the little girl, she couldn’t imagine her life without that toothless grin or the babbling conversations they shared. The married she still could have done without.