One of the hardest parts of pregnancy, for me, was what came after. I don't mean the hormonal roller coaster ride or even the depression because, let's face it, those are horrid beasts all on their own. Right now, I'm talking about the weight that's still there when the baby is long gone. There are basic rules for talking about postpartum weight; rules that, if not followed, can change a new mothers entire outlook on postpartum life (and beyond).
I've struggled with my weight since I went through early puberty, around age 9. Once my breasts developed, the fat just accumulated in pockets throughout my small frame. By my eight grade year, my weight ballooned to 200 pounds. I hid behind clothes, and food, because I didn't know how to navigate my low self-esteem. It was an endless cycle. The summer before my freshman year, however, I found my mom's old bike and started riding. I dropped a lot of weight and went into high school feeling more confident than I ever had (which, sadly, isn't saying much). When I look back now, I wonder how I could've been so concerned with my weight when I know I was smaller than I thought I was. I wish I could go back to my 16-year-old self and tell her she's beautiful, so she could accept and love her body regardless.
Then, when I finally began to accept myself, I became pregnant (and we all know what that means in regards to weight). Both of my pregnancies changed my entire body makeup. I gained so much weight with each respective pregnancy, things never fully went back to "normal" again in terms of my body shape. Those first few postpartum weeks were spent doting on my new baby, only sporting my maternity clothes that still fit. At some point, I started feeling how unhealthy I was, and decided to "get fit." I had no idea that no matter what I did, because my body had undeniably changed, I couldn't "fix" what I thought I needed to "fix." I could exercise and I could eat healthy, but I couldn't lose some of the "trouble spots" or, honestly, boost my self-esteem from the inside. I was down on myself and, as a result, I parented accordingly (i.e avoiding going into public).
Eventually, I discovered my love of running. That's the pivotal point in which everything about me finally shifted for the better. But for many years prior to that self-discovery and body acceptance, I struggled with snide comments about my size, my clothing, and the dip in confidence that resulted in ridiculous remarks about my post-baby weight. Postpartum life is hard enough without being made to feel less than. If everyone could follow the following basic rules, maybe more women could learn to accept themselves (and much sooner than I did).