The Post-Baby Body

When I look at my body, why don’t I see it for what it is?

My body has changed too much. It is too fat, too white, too stretched out. I feel shame when I see myself in the mirror. I don’t want anyone to look at me.

These bags are under my eyes because I stayed up half the night, breastfeeding a waking baby so that she would stay asleep and get enough rest to grow. They are there because I crawled out of bed before the sun rose, bleary eyed, to start the day with my girl. My once toned body now spills over because I haven’t exercised in the better part of a year – too busy, I have been, nursing a high-needs baby who has wanted to breastfeed every moment she could since the day she was born. My skin is stretched out, stripes running down my stomach to mark the place where she grew.

Who told me these were flaws? 

When my friends who don’t have children yet confide their fears of their bodies changing, I tell them it doesn’t matter. “I’m a mum now,” I say. But then why does it matter to me? 

I want to shake myself, slap myself in the face, and say to myself “Remember when you brought Madelyn into this world, and you were proud of yourself? To have done it so fast, to have coped so well. What satisfaction you felt! Where has that pride gone? Where is that satisfaction in having tested the limits of your body and mind and finding it triumphant?”

The average woman gains 3kg per baby. Why do I view this as a challenge? That better not be me, I think, I better stay the same size. Is there not more to life than I how I look?

I hope so. I hope that what really matters is what I have accomplished using my body. I hope that my body is merely a tool that I use to succeed in that which is important to me. I hope that I am more than what I look like.

When I look at my body, why don’t I see it for what it is?

This is a body that has created and sustains life. 

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6 thoughts on “The Post-Baby Body

  1. Oh, I think you are not alone! The first year post partum is the worst! Don’t compare yourself to anyone else’s experiences of loosing weight, or looking good straight after having a baby! You know… being pale is a good thing! Tans are only ‘in’ now, but it used to be that having browned skin if were white, didn’t look good. Also… have you heard of ‘cry in arms’? Most babies who wake all night long constantly are waking from a result of accumulated stress from not being able to cry during the day from their hurts and frustrations. Crying allows babies to heal from stress and as a by-product, allows them to sleep better at night. Don’t worry, I’m not some crazy cry it out fanatic. Cry in arms means just that: holding a child lovingly in your arms and allowing them to release negative emotions. I’ve done it with my two girls and they’ve both slept really well at night and they are in my bed with me.. I have a bunch of posts on it on my blog :)

  2. You know what – in many ways my body is better nearly two years after having my second than it was beforehand. Sure my boobs sag, I have a few stretch marks and my body shape has changed, but it’s not all for the worst. I actually love that my boobs are now a B cup instead of the out of proportion 10DD they were pre kids (and lets not even mention the size afterwards!). Mainly though, I appreciate my body so much more now. I was so self conscious before having kids and not at all appreciative for the body I was given. That is not the case anymore.

    In hindsight, I find it strange now the things I worried about before having kids. I really had no idea of how life changing they are. It’s probably better to worry about the stretch marks than the fact that you may not sleep for years which to me is a far bigger and more horrible problem than any potential weight gain.

    Mostly though as parents we need to be kind to ourselves. Fight the battles that matter. A few kilos is not one of them :)

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