I was afraid of my post-baby body long before I found myself in it. I was afraid I wouldn’t recognize it or feel comfortable in it or enjoy it. I was afraid I’d be judged for it, considered unattractive because of it, or deemed lazy due to its changes, despite the fact that it stretched and endured and adapted so it could grow new human life. I was afraid of this body because I didn’t know what this body would look like post-baby; I didn’t know what this body would be.
My hips are slightly wider, proof I’ve pushed new life through them. I have more of an hourglass figure and I find myself lingering in front of a mirror to admire it from time to time. Sure, perfectly fitting jeans are somewhat more difficult to find, and sometimes my hips ache in the middle of the night, but I feel sensual, seductive, and feminine, like a human Jessica Rabbit, only proportional. And real.
My hair is longer and thicker and while some of it fell out after the baby was born, the majority of it has remained. I resemble a shampoo commercial and, I’m telling you, I’m having just as much fun with my lovely locks as the models in those 30-second spots seem to have.
I have a slight scar on the right side of my stomach, proof my body can create even after it fails. I had to undergo a Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) to test for down syndrome and a slew of other possible conditions and complications after a troubling ultrasound. My body endured a needle, slicing through my stomach not once but twice, to take samples and help uncover any obstacles. These scars remind me of my strength and my tenacity, of my willingness to sacrifice my body and its comforts for my children and their needs.
My arms are stronger; toned and slim and capable. I carry a 25-pound 1 year old when he is tired or fussy or cuddly, picking him up and putting him down more times than I can count. I don’t need to pay for a gym membership when I have a pooping, talking, clumsy dumbbell at my side.
My breasts are larger but manageable. Unlike the size they grew to during pregnancy or breastfeeding, they are bigger without being overwhelming. I can buy the bra size I’ve always coveted and rock cleavage I used to be jealous of. My breasts have fed another human life and they give Victoria something to be secret about.
I was able to experience first-time sex all over again. Contrary to some fallacious beliefs and unfounded fears, my vagina was able to expand, contract, and regain its former pre-baby glory. In fact, to our elated surprise, my partner and I learned I was tighter than I was before my son entered the world. And they say you can’t lose you virginity more than once. Ha.
My legs are stronger and leaner. Chasing my son around, squatting to pick him up and put him down, and swaying back and forth while bopping in a way only a mother can do, has left them sturdy, athletic, and muscular. Walking in high heels is easier, holding yoga poses is simpler, and wearing shorts in the summer is no longer intimidating.
While wider hips and larger breasts and longer legs and better sex and stronger arms are all wonderful, the best part of my post-baby body is my knowledge of it. I have never been more in tune with my core and the limbs that stem from it. I have never been more aware of the power it has, the limits it can reach, and the praise it deserves. I've never been so sure of my body and the miraculous things it can do.
I've never been so proud to live inside of a vessel that can be tested and tried and stretched and contracted and pushed to its limits and can still endure.
And I have never felt more beautiful in my post-baby body, because it is my body that has done the most beautiful thing.