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My postpartum body isn’t pretty. It isn’t strong. In fact I wasn’t really prepared for what I would look like during all the stages after birth. Coming to terms with the after effects of pregnancy is a difficult and confusing part of the postpartum lifestyle.
Learning to Be Healthy
I am no fitness guru. With my 32 years on this earth I have done so many things to try to lose weight, shape up, and become fit. I’ve definitely done things that do not work. And I’ve definitely done things that were not healthy or helpful to my body. It’s only in the last ten years or so that I have found healthy things that do and do not work for me.
This morning I put on sweatpants that I wore at my heaviest weight nine years ago. I was 171 pounds at 23 years old. I’m only 5 foot 4 so that was a lot on my small frame. I was in college at NC State and I was in a terrible place with my body. It wasn’t until about a year later when I found the motivation to get healthy.
Today I weighed in at 171.4 pounds. Bigger and heavier than I thought I’d be at two months postpartum. I know almost all moms struggle with the weight loss after a baby. Getting back to a “pre-baby” body is something that entire books and programs have been written about.
Me, I refuse to call it getting back to my pre-baby body. It feels disingenuous because I don’t want anything pre-baby. With how everything went during my pregnancy and Christian’s life, I feel like I’m being unfaithful to him to want anything pre-baby. I want the life I was supposed to have with my baby, postpartum body and all. So instead, I’m focusing on my new body, the one with the c-section scar that has a saggy mommy tummy and larger love handles. But I digress.
Why is it so Hard to Get Fit?
You would think in some ways it would be easier to lose since I’ve got the whole day to myself. I can focus on my nutrition and movement. I can tailor make my day around my fitness goals. And yet, I have to push myself to make it to 10,000 steps on my Fitbit each day. I have to carefully track what I do for my health and fitness. I’m tediously tracking my points on my Weight Watchers app.
The real problem is I struggle with apathy now. Without Christian I don’t have a real reason for getting into shape. I can’t take him for walks in the stroller or for trips to Disney. He was my motivation for everything. I don’t want to care about what I’m eating or doing. I am just trying to keep my brain busy for as long as possible every day.
In the Mirror
When I look in the mirror I see a body that served its purpose, carrying a child, and yet has no more of that purpose left. I no longer carry my child and I can’t feed him. In fact, when I was still pumping every few hours my weight was easier to control. I was lighter than I am now. And those big full breasts I had always wanted but never had, they made me happy when they had a purpose, giving nutrition to my little man. But now they’re just another product of the weight gain.
I hardly even recognize my body anymore. It doesn’t look or behave the same. I’m struggling with what has become of it, as I know most new mom’s do. But probably more so because I feel like I have nothing to show for the mess it has become. I’m not walking around sporting bigger hips and a baby wrap. I don’t have cup-filling breasts with a well-fed babe in arms. It’s just me, exhibiting the battle scars from a lost war.
Giving Up All that Makes Me Feel Like a Mom
The physical aspect of postpartum life is just as difficult as the emotional and mental mess I find myself in. I’ll be brutally honest. Drying up my milk supply was one of the saddest things I have ever done to my body. It felt like the termination of the entire journey, pregnancy and birth. I didn’t want to continue with the inconvenience of pumping every few hours, but there was something so final about no longer producing milk.
It’s so difficult to describe the feelings. My first foray into pregnancy and motherhood is over. I’d wanted to be a mom for so long, and had always wanted to breastfeed my babies. I’d imagined feeding Christian for another year. And when I couldn’t feed him directly, at least I could pump for his feeds to keep him from having to take formula. But now my breasts are lacking purpose, just like the rest of me.
I am thankful for the purpose my body served and the life it held for so long. It did amazing things. But I still struggle with the mess of it and the mentality of loving my body even while trying to improve it. It is a journey that I have to be conscious of every day. I have to give myself grace and forgiveness while I’m nowhere near where I’d like to be.
It’s a lesson that every woman should learn. Your body is amazing. While it may not look the way you imagined it would, give yourself grace and love on that body that has done so much for you and for the babies it has carried. Take it day by day, or even hour by hour. It’s worth it to love the body you’re in whether it’s your idea of perfect or not.