I almost spit out my double-fudge Oreos when viewing these photos of 32-year-old model Anna Freemantle. The one on the left is Freemantle at five months pregnant, the one on the right is Freemantle pre-pregnancy. (Can you spot the the difference?) But that’s not even what got me all worked up. It’s the fact that this model walked the runway nine days after giving birth to her second child, a boy named Leo.
Now before you go accusing me of judging Freemantle – who has modeled for everyone from Louis Vuitton to Valentino – know that I’m not. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I think she is one lucky woman to have such awesome genes (I’m jealous), and I think it’s cool that she’s doing what works for her and not succumbing to what she’s expected be doing. But what I can’t wrap my head around is how any mother, no matter what her circumstances, could have the energy and mental capacity to work so soon after having a baby.
It reminds me of a former boss who, exactly eight days after giving birth – via c-section, no less – to her second child, showed up at work (at a woman’s magazine touting a healthy work-life balance). I figured she was there for a meeting, or maybe even a quick ‘hey, I’m still alive’ visit, but she was actually there to work – that entire day and every day following. It was mind-boggling for the entire staff (keep in mind that in Canada, where I live, we’re entitled to a 52-week maternity leave). Again, I wasn’t judging her but I was irritated by the fact that she was setting a dangerous precedent. It’s like, if she can show up for full-time work eight days after having baby (and major abdominal surgery), why can’t everyone?
The reason is because we’re human. Some of us have postpartum depression. Others are simply blue. Some of us have long and painful recoveries (from c-sections, of course, but anyone out there had an episiotomy? Traumatizing). And all of us, as far as I know, are exhausted. And irritable. Oh, and maybe, just maybe, we actually want to hang out with our babies, get to know them a bit, bond.
That said, if a woman chooses to work right away for whatever reason, that’s her right and I respect it. I just hope that instances like these don’t make people assume that every mom can go back to work nine days later. And I hope that pregnant women don’t aspire to do the same – or think it’s a sign of weakness if they can’t. Or simply don’t want to.