One of the most cliche things new moms hear is "Baby changes everything." If I had a nickel for every time some well-meaning person told me to get ready for life to be turned upside down, I'd have a whole bunch of nickels. One thing I wasn't quite ready for, though, was how much baby would change my body. My husband wasn't quite ready for that either, and there are several things I wish my partner knew about my postpartum body, without me having to say it.
I have always been curvy, sporting a big butt and big hips. I was never super thin, but never particularly heavy, and it was a good look for me; I liked it and felt comfortable. I was confident in how my body looked and comfortable with its curves and familiar with how my clothes fit. In other words, body positivity and body confidence weren't issues and I enjoyed the form that carried my brain around.
After my first pregnancy, however, it all started to change. Now, and thanks to three pregnancies, my waist has outgrown my hips, and my breasts no longer fit in my pre-baby bras. For me, my new body has been one of the more difficult #MomLife things to accept and adapt to. When you go through life with a certain body type, enjoying more than 30 years of having things a certain way, a sudden change can make you feel like those "things" aren't yours anymore. In other words, it takes some getting used to. All the changes have been difficult for my partner to wrap his head around, too, but I wish there were a few things he knew about my postpartum body without me having to tell him.
I'm Proud Of What It Did...
This body did something incredible. It created and nurtured a life. An entire person was formed inside my body and lived there for an extended period of time. That's amazing. Like, miracle-level amazing.
...But I'm Ashamed Of How It Looks
Despite the miracle, I'm left with some "extra body" that I'm not entirely thrilled about. I don't feel pretty, I don't feel feminine (which is stupid considering I just did arguably one of the most feminine thing a woman can do), and I feel sweaty and saggy and gross. I'm embarrassed of my extra weight and stretch marks, even though they're the outward manifestation of a miracle.
I'm Unfamiliar With All The Changes
My body doesn't even really feel like my body anymore. It's been through so much that we're in unfamiliar territory at this point. All the new curves and rolls and soft spots that were never there before make me feel like I've jumped into a suit that doesn't quite fit like it should. The only problem? I can't take this suit off.
I'm Sensitive About The Way It Looks...
All those new curves and rolls and soft spots have got me extra self-conscious. I'm not used to how I look. I'm not used to having this flap of a belly or the extra jiggles in my thighs, and each time you comment on it, or mention it at all, I want to hide it even more.
...But Protective Over What It Accomplished
In spite of my feelings about my body, I recognize that I'm a freaking beast and what this body did and is still doing, is hardcore. I may have a flappy stomach, but that stomach grew a life. I may have a big soft belly, but that belly helps comfort and cuddle our baby as he nurses from the breasts that make milk for him to thrive on.
I Want To Look Like I Used To...
I really do. I want to go back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but I am so tired and so spent and so exhausted. Working out is at the bottom of my priority list right now, so no matter how much I want to be slim again, it's just not in the cards for me. Not at this moment in my life.
Chances are I'm not going to the gym and reminding me of that just makes me feel worse about myself.
...But I Also Want To Be Able To Accept My New Shape
I want to be thin again, but I also want to be able to be OK with how I look now. I don't want to look in the mirror and feel shame, or even refuse to look in the mirror at all because I don't like what I see.
I want the pride I feel in what my body did to translate to pride in how my body looks. That's hard to do when I'm being reminded that I need to go to the gym.
I'm Not Buying New Clothes Because I Want To
I'm buying new clothes because I need to. None of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit anymore. I'm not engaging in retail therapy, I'm not shopping for the sake of shopping, I'm shopping because if I have to squeeze into jeans that are too small one more time, I'm going to cry and never leave the house again.
It's Going To Take Time For Me To Feel Like Myself Again
Everything is different. My butt is different, my boobs are different, my belly is different, and even my vulva is different. My entire body, inside and out, has been affected by pregnancy and birth. I'll get back to something like "normal" eventually, but it may be a new normal.
I will never look exactly like I looked before. I will never feel exactly like I felt before. It would be awesome if you learned to adapt, like I am.
Even Though My Body Is Different, My Heart Is The Same
I'm tired and dirty and probably smelly and I'm bigger and softer, but I'm the same person you knew and fell in love with all those years prior to me having our beautiful babies. I'm still me.