After 9 months of weight gain, stretch marks, and spreading hips, you also have the joy of pushing a bowling ball out your hoo-ha and wondering if that will ever be the same. As Jenny McCarthy puts it so gently in her book Baby Laughs "blow out your vagina". Perhaps I'm being superficial in my assumptions that women worry about these things but I sure did.
I debated whether or not to share this story as there have been many times I've wanted to write about it but couldn't quite find the words. I've been embarrassed, ashamed, felt guilty, felt like I wasn't "good enough at it". But I feel like now is a good time. I'm in a happy place where sharing doesn't feel like I'm admitting defeat.
Ever since I can remember, I've had bad body image. Not just a fat day. For 14+ years I've struggled with anorexia and bulimia. Prior to my pregnancy with Brantley and after my first pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage at 11 weeks I was struggling. I was pushing myself to the limits by over exercising and starving my body because I felt like it had failed me at the one thing a woman feels she should be able to do, have a baby. I, like many women who have lost or had problems getting pregnant, blamed myself and for that reason I took it out on myself. In a moment when I felt I had no control over my body I decided to regain that control with my eating disorder. I'm not going to go into details about that but it's been a long drawn out and mostly private battle for so many years.
When I got pregnant with Brantley I was mentally unprepared for the changes my body was going to go through. I knew I'd gain weight and that was a scary thing for me. I knew I had to keep my child healthy and that was enough to get me eating healthy again. For a body in starvation mode every little bite you take, your body desperately clings to for nourishment. So I panicked when I gained more than the recommended amount in the first trimester. I mean what did I expect? I steadily kept gaining but as I started to feel the kicks and jabs reminding me of the little miracle inside me it started to not matter so much anymore.
Like many women whether they've struggled with body image or not, I worried about what my postpartum body was going to look like. Would I have stretch marks? Would I be plagued with weight that would seemingly never fall off? Would I ever fit into any of my clothes again? Would my stomach ever look normal again? Would I even have the time to workout to regain some of my pre-baby fitness?
So here I am 6 weeks postpartum. Am I my former self physically? No. Am I okay with that? Yes, 100% yes I'm okay with that. Do you want to know why? Because I was blessed with the gift of a child, my body grew this perfect tiny human that I get to look at every day with unconditional love. Not every woman is this lucky and I understand that. I know many women who would give their right arm and welcome all the stretch marks under the sun just for the precious miracle of a child. I'm not going to sit here and moan and groan about some extra padding because I know better. I know that my body did something amazing, it brought life into this world. A tiny life that I am responsible for.
With that said, I'd be lying if I said I was 100% satisfied with how my body looks at this point, but it's been 6 weeks and I'm being realistic with myself. Hey it took me 9 months to get this squishy it's going to take more than 6 weeks to get unsquishy. If you're the lucky few that bounce back immediately congratulations, relish it because you are one in a few. Although unscathed by stretch marks, I still have weight to lose, I still have some jiggle in my middle, and I still have a ways to go to get my previous fitness level back. But I'd do it a million times over to have my beautiful baby boy. Not once since he was born have I thought about returning to those habits. I need to be healthy and happy for him to be healthy and happy as well.
He's nothing short of a miracle for so many reasons. Sometimes things happen in your life that make you wake up and realize what is important. Right now what is important to me is my sweet boy, not six pack abs.