Yeah, Those Are My Stretch Marks! And I Like Them!
"Oh Sorry- I Didn't Recognize You"
I always gain about 45 pounds with pregnancy. This results in months of feeling overweight, stretch marks, and skin that does not look the way it did when I was 19. And yes- people don't recognize me with fat face! Honestly, I beat myself up about it, contemplate starvation, and try to punish myself with work-outs.
Pregnant with my first, I just assumed I would be one of those women you see 3 weeks after they have the baby and they are back in their regular jeans. Instead I was one of those women who took 9 months to gain 45 pounds, and took 9 months to lose it.
I HATE Her!
Everywhere I go it seems like there is some actress on the front of a magazine or walking down the red carpet, skinny as all get out, while somebody else watches her baby (or babies) back home for her. Why don't I look like that a month later!?
Even though I intellectually know this isn't realistic for me (since I don't have access to trainers, cooks, and excellent photo-shop skills) I still spend a lot of time wondering why I do not get into that great of shape that quickly.
Recently a few things have made me rethink the hatred that I direct towards my post baby shape. First I read this blog about some flagrantly airbrushed pictures of an actress post baby, click here.
I also had somebody close to me get plastic surgery to correct the effects of aging. While I was talking about how horrified I was at their blatant act of vanity, it occurred to me that I show the same kind of distaste toward what childbearing has done to my body.
This Body Can Do Anything
All of this disturbing introspection made me think of how I felt about my body after my first child was born. I had a long labor and he was only born after 4 hours of hard pushing. It was the hardest I had ever worked for anything in my life. Even though I was baby fat and stretched out, I felt like I could do anything. I had no idea that my body was capable of that kind of physical endurance and strength. I felt like a female warrior.
I had never before exercised and I started to a few months later. When my baby was 6 months old I ran my first 5k and even though it was hard for me, I knew I could do. When I felt like giving up I just told myself "You spent 4 hours pushing out a 8lb 6 oz baby- this is nothing". And I did it!
Ignoring the Demons
Even though I once felt awesome about my female body post baby, I slowly lost that feeling of wonder. Two more babies later I found myself desperately trying to lose the baby weight again, wondering why my skin had to stretch out so much, irritated that I had even MORE stretch marks and - trying to not eat again.
Every time I look at the computer it seems like Heidi Klum is walking down a runway in her under ware 3 weeks after giving birth and I look nothing like her! And even though I should know better, I feel bad about myself and I hate this amazing body because it doesn't seem as good as the one that other women have.
Who cares?! I (and all of us) need to ignore the ridiculous portrayals of women in media who look like they have never had children. I am not saying that once you have kids you should never try to feel good physically again, I just realized that my focus was ridiculous. It honestly never occurred to me that their pictures were airbrushed and totally fake. I just kept wondering what was wrong with me. Why do we hate the way our shapes change with children anyway? Does our society constantly tear down motherhood and all symbols of on a daily basis? I think it does. Look at any magazine cover and you will see that this is true. It is time to rethink the way we see ourselves post baby.
So- even though I have been really disturbed lately about somebody I love altering their body with surgery, it made me realize that I have looked at myself the same way.
I forgot how incredible this body is. I forgot that all those scars and stretch marks and "imperfections" were earned with every pregnancy and birth. I also forgot that every little bit of it was worth it. My baby body flaws are not a sign of my weakness and imperfection. They are just proof that I have lived, given birth, and brought life into this world. I love them!