I would like to thank my friend Felicia for inspiring me to write this post. This is a reminder and an open ended letter to her, to me, and to all the other moms and moms-to-be out there. I want you to read this, learn it, live it… own it.
You, yes YOU, are beautiful. In fact, you are more than beautiful you are fucking fantastic. I know you may not see it, and you may never see it, but this is the truth.
Of course every woman should hear this, but right now I’m speaking to all those out there with a post-baby body. I know you because I am you. Just when you started to accept that baby bump and your changing body, BAM the baby is born, and you’re left with an empty shell of a body. No longer a vessel for a baby, your body is probably now a stranger to you. Depending on the type of labor and delivery you had you may not be able to work out for up to six weeks post-partum. I started at two weeks because working out for me is about sanity. As much as I thought I would hate it, I grew to love my pregnant body and my curves. I loved wearing tight maternity tops to show off my growing baby. I had a place to rest my hands and my cereal bowl. People would stare at me with a mix of awe and wonderment and friends and strangers alike would touch my belly. When I worked out, I knew I was inspiring others to try their best because “hey, if the pregnant lady can do it, so can I!” My body was a temple housing a tiny person and giving her all the love and nourishment and nutrition she needed.
Then after 39 long weeks I had a wonderful, natural, drug-free, quick 8 hour labor and delivery with no tearing. My body had done it’s job, and now I was ready to have it back to myself. However, the body I was left with post-partum wasn’t the same one I had going into the journey.
I was not prepared for how different my body would be post baby. I know it has only been nine weeks, and I must give it time, but it’s hard. I feel, since I’m not carrying the baby on the inside anymore, I should look the same as I always have. There are no stretch marks but there is extra skin on my stomach, which is not tight anymore. There are pants that refuse to fit over my thighs and buttons which will not close over my waist. Due to breast feeding my boobs are bigger, so my tops don’t fit the same. I’m in the purgatory of what to wear – not quite ready to fit into all my pre-baby clothing but too small to fit into maternity wear. My hair has started to fall out. Don’t even get me started on my bladder and how jumping and running are my new worst enemies.
Yet, like those I so admire who climb Everest, I refuse to give up. I drag my butt out of bed every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for bootcamp outside. I’m fighting for my old body with every burpee, box jump, squat, crawl, sit up and push up. I’m fighting for something that I’m pretty certain will never look the same again no matter how hard I try. I am learning to accept that this is OK. I hear people tell me all the time how good I look and how fabulous my post-baby body is, and I have a very hard time accepting their words. I look in the mirror and see something totally different than what they see. I feel my tighter pants and with them defeat and I know I’m not alone. So for all of us, I’m going to stop listening to myself and start listening to everyone else. And I hope you listen to me too when I say this… You are beautiful. You are fantastic. You are amazing.
Your body just gave birth to a baby, and that is an achievement. That, my friend, is one of the things your body is made to do. Your body is designed to be strong, to keep you moving, and at times in life to give birth. Whether you had a c-section or vaginal delivery you have to thank your body for creating and sustaining life.
So be proud of the body you have. It won’t ever look the exact same. You may have stretch marks, hemorrhoids, a leaky bladder, bags under your eyes from lack of sleep, wider hips or bigger thighs now, and that’s ok. It’s the new you… for now. When you realize how many women hope, pray, beg and cry and pay thousands of dollars for the experience of carrying a baby then you will be grateful. There are women who would take your complaining over your post baby body any day just for the chance to have a child. So thank your body and love it for it’s strength and fortitude. You may not look the same as you did before, I know I don’t, but I’m a mother now. And so are you.
And to me that’s a new kind of beautiful. Embrace it.
Because everyone looking at you thinks you look damn fine.
Trust me. Really, you do.
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About the Author: Natalie Magee writes a regular column for Happiness Series about what motherhood and beyond - from prenatal to postpartum. Her intention with her column, "Baby & Beyond - What No One Else Will Tell You" is to give practical advice and tips to the busy mom and mom-to-be. She also shares her experiences good, bad and ugly as a woman, wife, mom, flight attendant and fitness instructor. Natalie is also a regular fitness contributor on Happiness Series. She will continue to create great, effective workouts for anyone - including the busy moms out there - who wants to get fit and stay in shape.