I am a huge proponent of body positivity, and I especially love my own pregnant body. In a lot of ways pregnancy and childbirth make me feel great about my body. I truly marvel at the fact that I nurtured a child and continue to do so while I'm breastfeeding. I have three children, and I love being pregnant, because of the body confidence it gives me. Heck, I even love big fluffy postpartum bellies, because it is just an amazing reminder of the stretching and shrinking we can do. But since my last child was born six months ago, no amount of confidence in my body can totally erase the fact that I'm not loving the way my pants fit.
It feels sort of silly to admit this. You'd think after having three kids, I'd be prepared for the reality of postpartum weight loss, but this time has been different. One reason for this difference, I'm sure, is because that with my first two children, I didn't have to even try to lose the extra weight I had gained. Both of my first two kids nursed All. The. Time. And, yeah, producing copious amounts of milk means that you can go ahead and eat that doughnut and not think twice about it. Feeding them was a huge calorie-burner.
My third baby, however, doesn't seem to want to nurse as often as my first two kids did. If I offer him the breast when he only wants to suck, he gets annoyed, but he'll happily suck on a pacifier. I think the fact that he isn't nursing as often has something to do with the fact that it's been harder for me to lose the postpartum weight this time around.
Whenever I have these thoughts, I cringe. It sounds utterly ridiculous to say that you wish your child would nurse more often so you could lose the baby weight. Also, no one in my life seems to even be able to tell that I'm about 10 pounds over my pre-baby weight. And I'm tall, so that ten pounds is pretty evenly distributed throughout my body. But the truth is that my pants just don't fit as well as they used to. That's really the bottom line: I'm afraid of muffin top, and sometimes when I sit down, my belly folds over the top of my underwear. And I'm self-conscious about both of those things.
I don't want to be the person who wants to lose 10 pounds to feel better. I want to just feel awesome in my own skin.
I know these stupid thoughts bother me and only me. I know that maybe I'll drop the weight more easily when I stop breastfeeding and get my period back. (In fact, there is some evidence that breastfeeding actually does make losing the last 10 pounds more difficult.) I also know that if I stopped putting sugar in my coffee, or went cold turkey and gave up all breakfast pastries, I could probably lose some weight.
But the problem is: I don't want to be the person who wants to lose 10 pounds to feel better. I want to just feel awesome in my own skin. I want to focus on being healthy, not being thin. And I want to give a big "eff you" to unattainable standards of beauty. But let's be real: just because you're body-positive doesn't mean you feel good about your body all the time.
Most days, I feel good about my body. Most days, I can truly love myself and my body and honor the fact that it nurtures and creates new life. But other days, I try on those goddamn skinny jeans that don't contain nearly enough elastic, and I fall into a tailspin of loathing that always ends with me trying to eat less and getting a massive headache from low blood sugar. Like, every time. You know what's worse than hating the way your pants fit? A migraine. You know what seems to make my migraines feel better every single time? French fries and a Coke.
I know that I should just be feeling thankful for all I have. I'm healthier than I have been in a while. My kids are healthy and happy. But damn it, imagine if my kids were healthy and happy, and my stomach was also flatter. It'd be so rad.
I'm worried someone out there will read this and start thinking: wow, that lady has to eat better food to fuel herself and her baby. I know. I know I should. I should also exercise more often. But I have a ton on my plate these days. And I can only loathe myself so much for all the things I'm not accomplishing. A messy house, forgetting to plan dinner, still wearing maternity jeans, not making any time to write: all of these things fill me with dread.
I know that I should just be feeling thankful for all I have. I'm healthier than I have been in a while. My kids are healthy and happy. But damn it, imagine if my kids were healthy and happy, and my stomach was also flatter. It'd be so rad. The one thing I'm really trying to do is believe it when people tell me I look good. Because my kids think I do. They think I'm awesome. So no matter how much I loathe my muffin top, I'm going to try to listen to them.