Pregnancy and childbirth changes our bodies. The anatomical 'gifts' left behind are part and parcel of having children, but nothing can quite prepare us for those times when the transformations will be remarked upon with the raw and brutal honesty of our children.
I try to minimise the damage that words from the mouths of babes can do. Not one to walk around the house showcasing my wares, I feel there is less chance of inviting commentary or criticism if stay a tad prudish. However, my children have seen me in the shower - it's usually when they barge in with an emergency like, "Can I please have some milk?" or "Can I watch ABC Kids?"
One morning my daughter visited me in the bathroom, timing it perfectly as I stepped out of the shower. She assessed my body and finally asked, "Where did your boobies go, Mummy?"
She was a gorgeous and innocent three-year-old, but I still had an urge to hurl some swear words her way. Instead, I smiled sweetly and remained mute. In my head I answered, I don't know where the hell they've gone! Breastfeeding four children who sucked the life out of them is probably one good answer. But hey, it's not my place to turn her off a future which may involve her own pregnancy and breastfeeding journey. She may too discover the thrills of a post-baby body, one day.
When I put the question out to friends: 'Have any of your kids killed your self-esteem with comments about your body?' stories of body shaming by our youngsters ran like scolded children.
Meghan added her own shower horror: "My son burst into the en suite only to be stopped in his tracks by my full-frontal nudity. His lips contorted into a cat's bum and he turned away in horror crying, 'Grrrosssssssssssssss!'"
Then he watched his mother's ego deflate at the speed of the planned NBN.
Most women carry a smidge of baby weight after giving birth. If you're lucky enough to have an older child in the house, they can keep you on track with your weight loss goals.
"Don't worry Mum, you can be skinny again – you just need to try harder," said Nikita's children, who are clearly very encouraging.
Dana's two daughters, trapped in a change room with her as she tried on a few items of clothing, offered supportive commentary about her body. The five-year-old remarked, "Nothing looks good on mums but everything looks good on kids." Dana swallowed the punctured pride and patiently explained that mums have different lumps and bumps than kids. The five-year-old accepted this but the three-year-old wasn't satisfied. She couldn't work out these lump and bumps, finally asking "Why do your boobies point down?" As if the mirror wasn't harsh enough.
Some children like to comment on individual body parts, as in the case of Jacinta's son who "likes to poke my bum and tell me 'it's squishy'." A pointer for you kids (and partners, if you happen to be reading), don't ever use 'squishy' and a woman's anything together in a sentence.
Carly had the entire family join in on the body commentary game once. "My son was patting my stomach and announced to the whole family, 'Look it wobbles like jelly!' Everyone had a turn. Such fun." Indeed – I couldn't think of a more joyous pastime.
Or Nikita's daughter who asked, "Do all mums get hairy lips when they get old? Your whiskers are long." Or Meghan's daughter, who added her own query about facial hair by asking "Why do you have a beard? I thought only men do." Yeah, wow, thanks for the reflection. And just in case Nikita never looked in the mirror, she also had the handy tip-off, "When do you get your hair cut, because they need to get rid of the silver bits."
Sometimes we ask for it, though: kids look at the world from a much more literal perspective than us, and often their observations make us sit back and ponder. Or laugh. Or cry.
Julia shared her child's thoughts: "After watching me get on the scales then hopping straight in the shower, my son asked 'how much do you have to weigh to be able to shower Mummy?'" Fair question, I say – how much do you have to weigh? Sadly, 'less' is probably the answer most women would give, particularly after having a baby.
What soul-destroying comments has your child made about your post-baby body? Comment below or read what others have said in the Essential Baby forum.