Among the things pregnant women should probably avoid, besides alcohol and cigarettes: any accounts of Beyonce's young motherhood. What new mom isn't going to feel like a relative loser hearing about Beyonce's rapid weight loss and full-on return to a show business career in the months following the birth of Blue Ivy? A major sensation of slackerdom is all but assured.
The upcoming MTV Video Music Awards will mark the one-year anniversary of Beyonce--who turns 31 on September 4--first revealing her baby bump to the world, as the knockout conclusion of an already highly impressive dance number last August. But it feels like so much longer than 12 months, between the lead-up to the birth, subsequent mania over every sighting or official mention of the royal child, and then Mama Bey making news since then in dozens of ways not even related to her Bey-by.
"This is crazy," Beyonce said this past spring, while learning new dance moves before a series of high-profile concerts in May. "I'm enjoying being a mother and going back to my old job is a little strange. But it's important that you don't lose yourself and still have your own passions. And I'm back to work, I'm back to business. What I'm trying to say with this show is: yes, I had a baby, but it just makes me even more grounded and like you...Getting this show together and learning choreography and directing something so huge, for me to do all of this four months after giving birth, I feel like I went from zero to ten, and it was really hard. But I did it, so I'm hoping that somebody out there can be inspired by that."
Some new moms might be inspired by the superstar's immediate return to fighting form. But a severe case of Beyonce-induced postpartum depression seems much more likely.
"Y'all have no idea how hard I worked," Beyonce told the crowd when she took the stage for a four-night stand at the Revel in Atlantic City in May. "I had to lose 60 pounds. They had me on that treadmill. I ate lettuce!"
Speaking of lettuce...Let us take a look back at the year since the hardest working woman in showbiz unveiled her bump, both before and after Blue Ivy made her way into the world:
August 29, 2011: On the red carpet at the VMAs, Beyonce reveals that a kid is on the way. Most of the world didn't hear about it till a couple of hours later, when she told the audience "I want you to feel the love that's growing inside of me" and proudly rubbed her belly at the end of her "Love On Top" performance. Details about the pregnancy were not immediately forthcoming, but millions of viewers were at least able to quickly ascertain that she had not been put on bed rest.
September 21: Not even visibly showing under her long white gown, she launches a new perfume, Beyonce Pulse, at a party in New York.
October 10: Beyonce appears on an Australian TV show called "Sunday Night HD," and her belly appears to "fold" as she takes her seat. The obvious explanation: She is wearing some sort of panel under her dress that briefly contorted into an awkward position. The even-more-obvious explanation, for conspiracy theorists: Beyonce is faking her pregnancy! Even today, some scoffers refuse to believe that Beyonce gave birth, creating a cottage industry of the kind of rumor-mongering not seen since the Zapruder film. Much later, Beyonce will address the rumors: "That was crazy. It wasn't hurtful, it was just crazy! I [thought] 'Where did they come up with this?'" Mother Tina says it was hurtful, however:. "It was a fabric that folded—does fabric not fold?...I thought it was very unfair and very cruel that someone would think that someone would be that diabolical to keep up a charade like that for nine months," Tina said.
October 31: Attending a Kanye West Halloween party, Beyonce dresses up as a bumblebee and, finally showing some girth, does bear a slight resemblance—below the neck—to John Belushi in the old SNL bee skits.
November 3: Kelly Rowland lets it slip that her ex-partner's child will be a girl. This instance of loose lips probably puts off any chance of a Destiny's Child reunion by years.
January 7, 2012: Blue Ivy Carter is born at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital. Later, Beyonce tells People magazine that she did some primping for the occasion. "I did have a fresh eyebrow wax. I got my nails done, I got my feet done, had my hair done, and I had a little lip gloss...[But] I didn't feel that I looked beautiful during birth, but who does? After being pumped with all those fluids and gaining so much weight...I barely recognized myself. But after many hours of labor, I could care less about about anything but my child. I didn't care how I looked...I felt more powerful than I've ever felt in my life. I felt connected to my body. I felt like I knew my purpose in the world."
January 8: As word of the blessed event gets out to the media, rumors fly that Beyonce and husband Jay-Z blew a million bucks on building a private wing just for the occasion, but the hospital assures the media that the couple were billed the standard rate for a standard executive suite. But the crush of security leads some new fathers and even mothers to complain that they had trouble seeing their own children. "It looked like the president was on our floor," said one complaining mom. A New York state senator calls for an investigation.
January 9: The baby's daddy, Jay-Z, gives the world a new song, "Glory," about their daughter. In a possible classic case of oversharing, he not only reveals the place of conception (Paris—where else) but reveals that they previously had a miscarriage: "Last time the miscarriage was so tragic/We was afraid you'd disappear/But nah baby you magic." Proving that even the mighty Hova is capable of corn, he raps, "You're my child with a child from Destiny's Child." The credits list a contribution by "B.I.C.," which apparently refers to the sound of crying at the end of the tune—Blue Ivy making her recording debut in less than 48 hours out of the womb.
January 10: Beyonce and her husband and child leave the hospital. Among the reported presents in tow, or waiting for them at home: a trunk's worth of children's books, from Oprah; a Bob Marley onesie, from Kelly Rowland; and a $20,000 Posh Tots Fantasy Crib, from dad himself. Later, ?uestlove will make good on his promise to give the baby an iPod, though he only filled it with 4,000 of the 12,000 songs he'd promised and "ironically, I only got to the letter J." You know what that means: No Yanni.
January 26: Blue Ivy's parents file an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark their daughter's name.
February 6: Less than a month after giving birth, Beyonce attends Jay-Z's concert at Carnegie Hall, wearing a red dress and sporting a figure nearly any mother or non-mother in the world would die for. The "this was all a hoax, where's the surrogate?" theories pick up steam.
April 12: Beyonce cements her status in a mutual admiration society with Michelle Obama, writing an open letter (and making an accompanying video) in which she states, "I'm proud to have my daughter grow up in a world where she has people like you to live up to." The First Lady tweets back: "Thank you for the beautiful letter and for being a role model who kids everywhere can look up to."
May 1: Beyonce is named People's Most Beautiful Woman Of The Year. In the cover story, she says, "I lost most of my weight from breastfeeding and I encourage women to do it. It's just so good for the baby and good for yourself." She says she gained 50 pounds during her pregnancy—20 of those during its final month—but is now back to within a few pounds of her previous weight. No incredible bouncing-back secrets are revealed. "I counted calories. I worked out maybe three to four times a week. I did a lot of walking in the beginning and now I'm running. But I had to work my way up. I couldn't just go right from being pregnant to running...I'm proud that my waist came back so fast. I'm proud of that and happy, but that was mostly from the breastfeeding." She says something is left over in her physique, even if it's not the poundage: "My hormones are still in my body. Your body produces the hormones that make your body soft. It's just magical. It makes me so proud to be a woman because it's just unexplainable what happens to your body—it's incredible."
May 15: Beyonce wins an award from the New York Association of Black Journalists for a personal essay she wrote for Essence magazine titled "Eat, Play, Love." On top of everything else, she's now an award-winning journalist...ensuring that even ink-stained scribes feel their own sense of Beyonce-inspired inadequacy. The African-American site NewsOne called it "a slap in the face to journalists everywhere," but the president of the NYABJ reacts by saying, "As far as I am concerned, Beyonce won fair and square."
May 24: Beyonce posts a video on her website in which she is seen saying, "This is why I did not sleep last night. This is why I was up till 5 in the morning." Early-morning baby feedings? Nah. Just obsessing over the visuals for her Atlantic City concerts, as seen in a video segment subtitled "LED screen content meeting." The "making of" video documents the lead-up to the shows, with a choreographer early on in rehearsals saying that Beyonce is "starting small, baby steps" (no pun intended). "Will I be ready?" Beyonce asks out loud. "Trying to become Sasha Fierce again! She's there. But I'm trying to bring her back to life."
May 26: She takes to the stage for the first of four nights at Ovation Hall in the Revel casino and resort. A surprise outside song choice: the Whitney/Dolly classic "I Will Always Love You." It is here that she reveals her alleged "lettuce" regimen for post-baby weight loss, while wearing predictably form-hugging Ralph and Russo designs, and she blurts: "Now tonight I'm gonna get chocolate-wasted!"
May 31: 20th Century Fox announces that Beyonce has been cast as the animated character Queen Tara in Epic, a 3D/CGI action-adventure-comedy set for release in May 2013.
July 1: At the BET Awards, Beyonce wins for Best Female R&B Artist and Video Director Of The Year. She and Jay-Z sit with the latter's Watch The Throne partner, Kanye West, and girlfriend Kim Kardashian.
July 17: Although the couple have successfully kept Blue Ivy under wraps and away from prying photographers' shutters, even on outings, a fan finally gets a good snapshot of the non-scarf-shielded child during a shipping trip at Bergdorf Goodman and tweets it. It's the first good look at the infant since her parents released photos months earlier.
August 10: Beyonce performs before the general assembly at the United Nations to promote World Humanitarian Day, singing "I Was Here," which she subsequently releases as a video to promote the cause.
August 22: She reveals a new series of fashion photos, taken by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, for the ad campaign for her mother's brand, House Of Dereon.
September 6: Beyonce's videos are nominated for three VMAs this year: Best Editing, Best Choreography (both for "Countdown"), and Best Female Video (for "Love On Top").