Almost one year later, I’m finally ready to talk about my postpartum body image. We all know that pregnancy does quite the number on our bodies. And I get it, I mean, you’re growing a human. That’s intense.
Immediately after A was born, I was in a cloud of exhaustion and shock. Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled to finally have our daughter, but the crashing of the hormones came on hard and fast. I remember the first time I saw my post-pregnancy body in the mirror of my lovely hospital bathroom. The skin on my stomach kind of hung there, sad and limp. I really didn’t have the energy to do much more than cringe.
Breast feeding came and went and as with most women, my breasts went from rock-hard and scary huge to kind of sad and a bit lack luster (though no longer scary). Kind of a bummer because, if I’m being completely honest, and I really want to be transparent about this so bear with me, I had some great boobs before all this!
What I wasn’t prepared for was the redistribution of my body’s fat. I’m pretty sure that even if I was able get into my pre-pregnancy jeans, they wouldn’t fit because of said redistribution. Very few of my old clothes that I can still wear fit the way that they used to. Some things were salvageable, but my wardrobe definitely needed some upgrades.
For months and months, I had been beating myself up in my head for not putting an insane amount of effort into bouncing back. Don’t get me wrong, J is always very supportive and has always been more than complimentary about my body and looks. In my mind it wasn’t even about the weight, more about how I looked and felt. Yes, I could have tried every crash diet on the market. And I could have hit the gym hard. But come on. I’m not a complete slug, but I love enjoying food in moderation and would rather spend my limited time with my growing girl than on the treadmill.
I knew that in a few short months, summer would be here and along with that would be many pool days with our friends and family. Friends who are all in fabulous shape and look awesome in anything they wear. What would everyone think when they saw my new “mom bod”?
You see, I’ve always been petite. The days of size two, or even four jeans were over long before thoughts of A were even on the horizon, but I’m a little bit below average. But that’s neither here nor there. I really think it’s relative. No matter what size you start out, it’s hard adapting to your new body when it changes. Even if other people don’t notice it as much (they don’t live in it, after all) it’s still not easy to adapt, especially with the “norms” that the media creates for us and likes to throw into our faces.
For the first time in my adult life, I purchased a one piece swimsuit. It’s totally ugly, and I (not-so) secretly hate it. Shortly thereafter, I went back to Target and found a reasonably flattering, possibly even slimming tankini. Still totally not my style, and I silently mourned all of the super-cute bikinis that are on the market right now. But it was a little better.
And then a few weeks ago, the day that I’ve been building up to in my mind finally came. It was Memorial Day and we were headed to the Paradise Beach Club on the most gloriously sunny day to relax by the ocean. I donned my tankini, and spent the time before we left making as many self-deprecating jokes as I could muster up. This was not for anyone else’s benefit, but for my own.
And when we got to our cabana and it came time to remove our cover ups, something happened. My girl friends who are all as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside, not only treated me just as normal as ever, but also made a point to compliment my swimsuit and try to lift me up. I think they knew that I was feeling a little down on myself, but they also are just really genuine people and I know they wouldn’t say something if they didn’t mean it. It’s almost as if their kindness was the kick in the head that I needed to wake me up.
For the first time in a long time, I really opened my eyes and took a good look around. On the beach that day, there were a ton of men and women of all different shapes, sizes and body types. Each and every person, no matter what their size was beautiful in their own way. They were all out there, rocking their swimsuits and just enjoying life.
I suddenly felt silly for spending so much time focused on how I look and assuming that people would perceive me differently based on looks. I was ruining a perfectly lovely day by putting myself down and completely ignoring all the great things happening all around me. People were out living their lives and enjoying this gorgeous day. They didn’t care if I had a little more gut than I used to. Why should I?
I’m not perfect, and I’ll never be perfect. While this is something I’m generally ok with, I’m almost ashamed about how hard I’ve been on myself when it comes to postpartum body image. Shouldn’t I just be able to ignore the pooch that will forever reside in my abdomen and be thrilled just to have my daughter? I am thrilled to have her and I would never trade the joy she brings for a slimmer figure. The rational part of my brain completely understands that in the big picture that pooch and the extra pounds really don’t matter.
Now, I won’t lie, I definitely still have my moments of insecurity about my body. I’m still trying to get the courage to wear a bikini. But I’m finally beginning to love my less-than-perfect body. This body grew the biggest miracle in my world and life is too damn short to spend worrying about whether this dress makes me look fat. If the important people in my life can love and accept me just the way I am, why should I?
So if you are out there, and feeling down on yourself please read this and take it to heart: no matter what your body type, you are beautiful. There are so many amazing things happening out there and amazing people to spend your time with. Life is just too short to spend worrying. It’s hard not to worry, I struggle with this too. But please, open your eyes and look around you. And take it all in.
Have you had times where you gave yourself a really hard time? Did it hold you back from enjoying the world around you? How did you overcome it?
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