Courtesy of Elizabeth Broadbent

Honestly, I Hate My Postpartum Body

Ad failed to load

My family knew me as the skinny kid. “You’re so skinny! Skinny-Minnie!” said my mom and aunt, the perpetual dieters. My sister was the cute one, with her long blond hair, but I was the skinny one, and everyone reminded me of it. My body has gone through so many iterations since then. I have become a mother and had children of my own. And now, I hate my postpartum body. But back then, back when I sat in friends’ laps, they would complain that I had a boney butt. I was so small that my butt throbbed after sitting on wooden bleachers. I was smaller than my 16-month-younger sister, smaller than my same-age cousin, smaller than my three-years-younger cousin. I didn’t get hand-me-downs, I got hand-me-ups. I had deep hems on my school skirts. I was the skinny one.

Then, in college, I was the hot one. My best friend told me that, along with a girl named Emma. They said I was tied for best body in the dorm. My residential college regularly threw Gatsby-inspired parties and I dressed as a flapper, all flat chest and belly, narrow hips and slim legs. I have a picture of myself in grad school: I am standing in Death Valley, in a shirt that’s hiked up over my navel. You can see the line of my hipbones, my flat stomach. I was the small one. Then the hot one. And now I am the one who hates her postpartum body.

Courtesy of Kathryn Catanese
Ad failed to load

I know, intellectually, that small and skinny aren't the only ways to be beautiful. I’ve seen women with curves on curves and thought, Wow, she’s gorgeous. I believe every body is beautiful. But I had three kids, two years apart each, and gained a huge amount of weight with each: 50 pounds with my first son, 60 pounds with baby number two, and a whopping 100 pounds with baby number three (I was also diagnosed during this pregnancy with gestational diabetes). Every body might be beautiful, but mine doesn’t feel like it. It didn’t feel like it pregnant, and it still doesn't feel much like it afterwards.

My body no longer matches my image of myself. So I struggle, postpartum, to accept myself the way I am.

Take the basic etchings of pregnancy: stretch marks. With my first son, they began to spiderweb over my breasts. With my second son, they crackled over my belly. By the third baby, my inner thighs rippled like a strange cheese, all bumps and rips and tears. They turned white, of course, and because I’m so pale, you can’t see them. But you can feel them, can see their texture. I hate the loss of my smooth skin. I know stretch marks supposed to be the mark of some kind of strength, a reminder of the beauty thing you did in carrying a child. But for me, they just look like cheese.

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Elizabeth Broadbent

I’ve always been able to lose most of the baby weight — all but 10-to-20 pounds with each kid. But that 10-to 20-pounds sat in places I’d never dreamed of. I had breasts following my births: 32HH, to be specific. I didn’t even know that was a possible bra size. They’re about the size of my head, and I’m not even breastfeeding that much anymore. My husband loves them. But I wish I could buy bras at the mall again.

Then there’s my belly. After baby comes out, there’s always a pooch in the space he’s occupied for 40 weeks. For my first baby, I wore a belly binder religiously, night and day, for six weeks. My stomach tightened up. For the other two babies… well, I had a lot on my mind, and I didn’t like the visible ridges the binder left under my shirt. So I’m left with a pooch of fat and skin under my ribs. Lately, I’ve gained some weight due to medication, and that pooch now sags down like a bulldog’s jowl. I hate it. I hate it.

Ad failed to load
Every single day, I look in the mirror and see a woman who is not me.
Courtesy of Elizabeth Broadbent

My boobs are bigger. My hips are wider, my stomach fatter. My thighs rub together now — there is no thigh gap in sight for me. I remember how traumatized I was during my first pregnancy when they first touched; now, I’d settle for them touching a little bit less, rather than not at all. I swear I even have a little bit of extra fat under my chin, but my husband denies it.

Ad failed to load

I also hate that my stomach developed this weird, crepe-y skin on the bottom. It’s wrinkly and strange, a mark that I’ve definitely had kids, sure as my hooded belly button. The crepe-y skin obscures my mons pubis when I look down, which just makes me feel fat. There isn’t anything wrong with being fat. But fat isn’t my self-conception, and I find it very hard to accept myself this way.

Every single day, I look in the mirror and see a woman who is not me.

Courtesy of Elizabeth Broadbent
Ad failed to load

I’m not the Skinny Minnie my mom and aunt sighed over. My body isn’t that unattractive, truly. My husband says I look great. I disagree. The belly, the boobs, the hips, and the stretch marks combine to make something I don’t picture when I think about myself. My body no longer matches my image of myself. So I struggle, postpartum, to accept myself the way I am. I don’t like it.

I’d like to say I’m learning slowly to accept it, but I’m not. Instead, I put on makeup and wear dresses to make myself feel better. I hide. Cover up. Keep the parts of myself hidden that I don't recognize. I don't love my body, but I don't begrudge any other woman who does. I love my three sons, but they sure have changed the way I look and feel about my body.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

6 Early Signs You're Going To Have A Short Labor, According To Experts

As far as I'm concerned, a short labor is right up there with winning the lottery in terms of lucky life events. (And when I was actually in labor, I would absolutely have traded a bucketful of lottery winnings for a speedier birth.) While some women…
By Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In March

You can always count on Netflix to keep it fresh: though there are already so many movies and shows to choose from, every month there's an influx of new content to keep your entire family entertained. As February enters its final weeks, it's time to …
By Megan Walsh

Here Are 10 Ways To Boost Your Baby's Immunity To The Flu

As I'm sure you've read in the thousands upon thousands of articles written about it this winter, the flu is spreading like wildfire and it's bad. Really bad. This strand of flu is the worst we've had in a very long time and it's the most widespread,…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Khloé Kardashian Asked Twitter About Her Bump, & Moms Totally Delivered

Like her younger sister Kylie Jenner, Khloé Kardashian managed to keep most of her pregnancy a sort-of secret. But unlike Jenner, Kardashian chose to publicly announce her pregnancy several months before the baby's due date. While there's no wrong wa…
By Sophie Hirsh

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

An Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the t…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack