Three months ago I wrote about how my new, post-baby body was affecting me–how it was hard to have a new body that was hormonally and physically different. Now, three months later, it’s affecting me in different ways, but it’s still a very real, very palpable struggle.
Now, before you tell me that my stretch marks are badges of honor and that I should think of my baby first and myself last, let me say this: I don’t mind my stretch marks. I was lucky enough not to have very many, anyway, but they don’t bother me in the least. And of COURSE James comes first. I would do it all again, 1,000 times over, to have him. However, just because I put my sweet, perfect baby first, and just because I would do it all again to have him, doesn’t mean I don’t have some issues with myself, and my body.
Growing up, I had a poor self image. I thought of myself as ugly, fat, undesirable. For years I was convinced no one would ever have me, ever marry me. So, I dated whoever would date me and made more than a few terrible choices. Then I met Vince, and my life (and my opinion of myself) changed. He made me feel loved for the person I was inside. Don’t get me wrong, it was a struggle. There were fights, tears, a lot of denial, but I stopped focusing (as much) on the way I looked and the fact that I didn’t like it.
Then, we decided to have a baby. And let me tell you, being pregnant (thought difficult) made me feel good. I gained weight. A lot of weight. But still, I felt good. I was growing my boy, and that felt awesome. Again, I had bad days. The first day my feet swelled, I bawled because my feet were the only part of my body I ever really liked. When I noticed I had noticeable rolls of fat on my back, I started trying to actively hide them, because I was ashamed, but it still wasn’t anything compared to the way I used to feel. And I thought, “Weight gain doesn’t matter as long as my son is healthy.” And he was.
But then, I gave birth. I went home. I still looked six months pregnant. But I was expecting that. After a month or so, my belly started to go down. None of my clothes fit, but I knew that would happen, too. I was going to give myself a few months, anyway. I was on track and doing fine both physically and emotionally.
Well, it’s been six months now. Six beautiful, long, tiring, love-filled, perfect months. Six months was sort of the timeline I’d given myself for being back in my old clothes, closer to my old body. And guess what? That hasn’t happened. I’ve seen other women who gave birth two or three months ago, and they look like they’re back to normal. But not me. And while I’d do it all again, without hesitation, I’m starting to feel the weight of that, the pressure.
As a woman who’s struggled with a positive self image her entire life, this is the hardest part of having a baby for me (other than the lack of sleep and socialization, but that’s a different blog for a different day). I want to look like myself again. I want to feel like myself. I want to wear my clothes and feel confident, instead of walking into a room and thinking, “Everyone is thinking about how big I am.” (Disclaimer: I’m not self absorbed enough to actually think this happens, but it makes my point nicely.) I just want my body back–not the way it was, but at least the size it was. I’m tired of feeling self conscious. I’m tired of brushing my teeth at night next to my husband, and wanting to leave the room because I can see how big I am next to him in the mirror. I’m tired of thinking if he’s disgusted every time he hugs me or has to look at me. I’m tired of looking at fit girls and hating myself for not looking like them. I’m tired of feeling sad and defeated and just plain icky. This has been my biggest mom-struggle, (At least, that’s how I feel today. It could change tomorrow. Thanks, postpartum hormones!) and I don’t know how to fix it, except to diet (and try to keep my milk up) and exercise (because I have so much time to exercise).
Normally, I try to end my blogs with a positive spin, something to work toward, or something that says, “Don’t worry, everything is going to be ok.” And I do believe that even if I never lose a pound, everything will be ok. But I don’t want to end this blog this way.
Because if you’re a new mom, and you’re feeling this way, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. I’ve been told thinking this way means I’m not thinking of my child first, but all it means is that I still realize I’m an individual< a human being, and even though I brought a precious, perfect life into this world, I still have a right to my feelings. I still have wants and needs, and it’s ok to acknowledge that. And if you’re in the same boat as me, it’s OK for you to acknowledge that, too.