Something strange goes on after having a baby. Perhaps it happens even before having a baby..
When I was pregnant, I honestly felt sexy. I felt proud that my body was doing what it needed to. I felt powerful too. I wasnt oblivious to the fact that I was swelling to bursting size like the girl from Willie Wonka. Gaining weight and getting bigger just wasn't what I was most worried about.
Postpartum, there was little that I could do to prevent (even more!) swelling after delivery. I weighed myself 5 days after delivering her and I weighed the same as I had 4 days before her birth. The exact amount. Like I hadnt even had the baby.
At 4 weeks postpartum, I went for my first long walk with Margot. I literally cried. I was so happy. I could still feel my incision pain but I thought about all my body just did, all my body did for me and my girl, and I just wept. I told Heavenly Father how thankful I was for my health and for my body and all I was able to experience the last 10 months.
The strange thing I have been noticing is the negative way many women talk about their bodies and complain about their weight/scars/stretch marks/saggy boobs. Now THIS is not particularly surprising. But what is strange is that I keep finding thoughts that creep into my own head that i'm suppose to hate myself. Like I should not be okay with my recoverying body. I see passionate posts on instagram of loving your post partum body and 'life after delivery' and I think to myself-- 'oh! I didn't know I should be struggling with that!' Just seeing things like that or hearing women complain or having my grandma repeatedly ask me how losing weight is going sparks the thought that I should reconsider what my body even looks like right now. It seems acceptable that many women are ashamed and do hate their shape and flab. I mean.. I do not love my jiggly belly that I can grab wads of chunk of. And I dont LOOOOVE that I can actually feel my thighs and butt move separately from my body when I run. But I'm okay with it. How could I expect anything different? How could I detest my body after growing a full blown second human?! My body has done great things! I should feel nothing but proud!
Two weeks ago, I left a clothing store crying because it was the first time I wondered if I would ever be small again. I didn't like not fitting in my wardrobe and needing to buy all new pants. I don't like not wanting to show my arms. I felt embarrassed and ashamed.
What my body looks like shouldn't be something I dread or even dwell on post partum. There is PLENTY of other stuff to get through with a newborn. Feeling discouraged about my less than model like body SHOULDN'T be something I spend my now precious energy on.
I am beginning to see that there is a serious temptation and almost expectation to hate your postpartum body. I feel it creep around me in the many voices of the world.
I sat nursing Margaret tonight and wondered, if I was on a deserted island and had no social media or other women to compare myself to or hear other women talk about themselves -- would I still have the temptation to hate my body? Does that come naturally? Or is it a product of the culture of our society? Would I have known that a changed body is a bad thing?
Is a changed body a bad thing?! Im not preaching an acceptance of an unhealthy lifestyle--I am on a plan to work myself back into a half marathon and more balanced eating so I can be an example for Margot. BUT I am preaching acceptance of my postpartum body--back rolls, stretch marks, and size large clothes and all. I'm setting a goal to express thanks for my body daily, to ponder all it does for my baby, and to stop even my thoughts about disliking any part of it right now.
Im learning health starts with healthy thoughts.