“So what are you having?” He asked while pointing to my belly. I laughed and replied that the only thing I was “having” was a big breakfast. 14 months after the birth of my daughter and this was the second time someone had asked about the gender or impending due date of my nonexistent pregnancy. In another life, these comments would have bothered the hell out of me. But in the past few months as I’ve grown into my role of mama and reflected on my own body image, I can (for the most part) shrug my shoulders and move on. Yes I weigh more and look different than before I had my daughter but that’s OK. My life IS different now, why wouldn’t my body change along with it?
This body is different. It’s got curves in places it didn’t have them before. My flat, taut stomach has been replaced with a soft, squishy belly that yes at times apparently can look several months pregnant. My thighs, once separated by a gap now sit cozily side by side, swishing together with every step I take. My breasts, once perky and medium sized are now heavy and droopy, decorated with tiny stretch marks throughout. My arms, once toned and lean, now have a bit of jiggle that bounces with every movement I make. My body is different indeed. Instead of focusing on the physical changes I choose to focus on the incredible power my body has. It created life. It supported life for 9+ months and continues to nourish that life through the milk my daughter drinks from my body.
That soft, squishy belly of mine? It housed my beautiful baby girl. It stretched and pulled in magical ways to create room for her to grow and thrive. My thighs may rub together but they are strong and powerful and help me squat and run and play with my energetic daughter. My breasts? They literally sustain life and provide comfort and soothing to my little girl — droopiness and all. Those jiggly arms are responsible for hoisting and carrying 21+ pounds multiple times a day without worry. They lift my baby up and throw her up in the air, they hold her close and envelop her in a hug. My body — OUR bodies — truly are pure magic.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have moments when I looked at older photos of myself and wished to look different, weigh less, fit into old clothes, etc. But luckily those moments are few and far between. Despite weighing many more pounds, my confidence, my feelings of self-worth are infinitely higher than prior to having a baby. I would never want my daughter to grow up and question her self-worth based on a number on a scale. I know I can’t protect her from everything but I can set a good example in myself. As a woman, loving my body, embracing it fully —flaws and all — and focusing on my body’s strength, power and grace is how I hope to show my daughter that she is always going to be enough. That is she beautiful inside and out and that things like weight are truly so arbitrary in the grand scheme of things.
We live in a society where women’s bodies are held to a ridiculous standard of perfection, where celebrities and influencers “bounce back” mere weeks after giving birth (not hating if that’s naturally how your body does things, some women do lose weight quickly while others struggle, everyone is different.) I work out, eat well and strive to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Whether or not I ever weigh what I weighed prior to childbirth is really irrelevant. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. Despite what the media tells me, I don’t want to have my pre-baby body “back.” It’s an incredible privilege to bring life into this world, and that privilege requires sacrifice. My body will never be the same; it pushed out an 8 lb human!! It has been forever altered by the beauty/pain/wonder and all other emotions/feelings that childbirth entails.
I am a strong, independent, confident and fierce woman, wife, sister, friend and most of all mother. I am *so* much more than a number on a scale.
I know these types of posts have been written before and I hope they’ll be written again and again because women need to genuinely embrace and love their bodies. Yes our bodies are different, but they are life forces. They are INCREDIBLE. To all the ladies and especially the mamas out there, LOVE your bodies, NOURISH them and most of all EMBRACE them for the powerful and amazing vessels that they are.