A Mama’s Body Image Series: My Postpartum Body

Two weeks postpartum, and I swear, I still look pregnant!

As moms, we’ve all the been there, the joy right after your baby is born and all the wonderful moments that follow until you realize eventually you’ll have to get up. You’re exhausted; in fact, you’ve never been so exhausted. You’ve been riding the high of seeing your little one since they popped out, but the tired and achy sore muscles are catching up to you. Someone helps you up, for me it was an OB nurse, to get cleaned up and changed into fresh clothes. They tell you that you’ve got to go pee. For me, I was thinking,  “You’ve got to be f-ing kidding me. My lady business just suffered a huge trauma and I’m mentally not ready for the pain peeing will bring.” They tell you if you don’t go pee that you’ll have to have a catheter put it. “Oh, I’ll go pee right this second.” And it’s not nearly as bad as you expected it to be. Somehow you manage to maneuver yourself off the toilet and back to a standing position, which is a great feat because the toilet was so low to the ground that pushing off of it hurt like the dickens. As you’re washing your hands, you look in the mirror for the first time since delivery and release you didn’t just feel like a warrior woman after giving birth, you looked like one, too! If you’re like me, your hair was wild to match the crazy eyes expressing, “Yeah, I just did that without medicine!” But, you also notice that you look a little tore up. To be expected since you just pushed a baby out of your lady parts, but man, I was just not prepared for my postpartum body. I remember the awkwardness of walking, more to the point waddling. I remember the way my empty belly just kind of hung there. No longer perky, tight, and full of a baby, but just loose skin. It felt so strange! Right away, I disliked it. Isn’t that fascinating? I had just done the most amazing thing a female body can do and I was already worried about my appearance. What is that about?!

I’ve got plenty of stretch marks. I like to think of them as my battle wounds. Proof that Logan and I once shared one body. I’m grateful that I don’t dislike them because I have them everywhere! Seriously, all over the hips, thighs, butt, belly, and boobs. As usual, the stretch marks that bother me the most are the ones on my belly. It’s vain, I know, but I really loved bikinis and right after Logan was born, I thought there was no way that I’d ever wear one again! Luckily, the stretch marks on my belly have actually faded a lot! I’m amazed at how they look a little better everyday. I remember being told that it took ten months for my body to change to carry Logan and that the change back couldn’t possibly be instantaneous. It would take just as long if not longer. That actually helped me put all my bodily changes in better perspective.
Shooting from above hides fat! LOL

And while I’d like to say that I’ve come to accept the extra skin and small pooch on my belly, I haven’t. I can’t seem to come to terms with the fact that my once flat stomach is now ‘lumpy’! Though, I do get a kick out of Logan blowing raspberries on my squishy belly and the way he analyzes it. I like to tell him that’s where he came from even if he doesn’t understand me yet. In those moments, I don’t mind the pudge so much.

Since delivery, I have tried all sorts of clothing in an attempt to draw focus away from my midsection. All of my pre-pregnancy clothes have been pretty useless since I’m bigger everywhere. My hips are wider, which is logical since your hips literally spread to make room for the baby. My boobs are bigger and yes, that’s kind of nice. But breastfeeding does some bizarre things to boobs. It drives me crazy when I find an item of clothing that looks good and I really like, but it’s not breastfeeding friendly, so adios. Ain’t no breastfeeding mama got time for that. When a baby is hungry, you need the boobies out! I’ve had to total change my style of dressing. It’s been a process, and some of it has left me fairly indifferent. I work hard to hide my imperfections, but not to the point of upsetting myself anymore. If I can’t get an outfit just right, jeans and a t-shirt it is!
When in doubt, layers! And scarves.

 

I wish that right after Logan was born I had known about the postpartum wraps that help your stomach muscles in going back to normal. I didn’t start using shape-wear until about six months postpartum and I think by that point, it wasn’t very helpful. I mean, sure, it was slimming, but it wasn’t really helping to repair the damage. Of course, the self esteem boost that it provided when wearing fitted clothing was well worth it. In fact, if I’m going out fancy, I like the smoothing effect for fitted dresses. For awhile, I wore the shape-wear everyday. But the summer in Texas is brutally hot and any extra layers make it unbearable. So, I had a decision to make; I could continue wearing the shape-wear to stroke my ego and possible die of heat stroke or I could stop using it and learn to love and be comfortable with my body. The latter won out. I’m so glad it did because not using shape-wear and still wearing the clothing I want to has been very empowering! I’m learning to love every extra inch of me because, after all, this body created the most amazing thing in my life.
In my opinion, learning to love your postpartum body is an uphill battle; some days you gain more ground than others. Not too mention, postpartum hormones don’t make it easy. When I’m feeling overwhelmed or disgusted with my appearance, I try to take a step back and remind myself that I spend my days caring for my son. No, I don’t make it to the gym and no, I don’t diet (though I do make a conscious effort to eat healthy and avoid sweets), but I’m doing my best. I’ll get my ideal body back after Logan gets older and that’s okay. It’s okay that after a long day I don’t have the energy or inclination to go workout. I don’t have to beat myself up about this. Thinking it through, I calm down and realize I just got hit with a hormone attack. Sneaky, sneaky. After that, I’m usually much better. Thank god for rational thought!
I’m a work in progress and that’s okay. I’m a little squishy and that’s okay. I’ve got stretch marks and that’s okay, too! And that’s the most important part–that I’m okay because I’m a healthy and happy mom and wife, which I think makes me way better than just okay!

**I was desperately trying to find a picture of myself postpartum that showed my body, but of course, I’ve gone through painstaking means to make sure those don’t exist. And as my husband reminded me not so politely this morning, I wouldn’t let him take any and deleted the ones he did take. Okay, so I regret that now. But at the time the idea of those postpartum pictures ever getting out made me super self conscious! With the next baby, I’m taking all sorts of postpartum pictures! So there!**

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