My postpartum days were spent gazing into a closet of clothes that were either too big or too small. My postpartum body was somewhere between pregnancy and pre-pregnancy, so I felt like I had no place at all. It's hard to explain feeling like a stranger in your own body, but having children did that to me. As a result I wasn't particularly kind to my post-baby body, at least not initially. So while the things a postpartum woman really means when she says she hates her body may very from new mom to new mom, what I meant when I talked down to my post-baby body was usually something painful and eye-opening.
After the birth of my first baby, I didn't recognize myself in the mirror. My body had been through so much — massive weight gain, hypertension, bedrest — I wasn't sure I'd ever find my way back to confidence again. There was even a time I bailed on a friend's birthday outing because my postpartum self was so insecure and out-of-place it was impossible to pretend I felt anything remotely close to OK. Instead I drove the two hours home after dinner so I could hide. I wanted to curl into a ball and cry until my tears dried up.
With everything I'd gone through to have a baby, the way my badass body looked should've been the least of my worries. My postpartum depression skewed my view of both myself and the world, though, so every time I opened my closet doors I was reminded that my in-between body didn't fit into a predetermined narrative of what is an "attractive" postpartum body. I said I hated my body often, but at the core I didn't always mean it. If anything I wanted someone to tilt my chin up, look me in the eye, and tell me everything I was feeling was OK — I was OK. Here's some of the things a postpartum woman really means when she says such awful things about the body that brought new life into the world.