Seven years old. That was the first time I grabbed my belly in front of the mirror. I did not want to have a pool party and I certainly didn’t want to wear a bathing suit called the “In-Betweener.” Self-doubt and body shaming continued to stalk me through adolescence and adulthood. I’ve been “too skinny,” “obese,” and often didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. Shaun T narrated my dreams (nightmares) and I was the queen of crash diets. When I got pregnant for the first time, gaining weight became really triggering for me.
Stepping on the scale was nothing new for me, but providers constantly mentioning “the more you gain the harder it will be to lose” was daunting when this was the one time in my life I wasn’t completely in control of the pounds. I thought gaining 25 pounds was a win—bet I could do that during a weekend of takeout—but the doctor’s comments were threaded into the fibers of my relationship with my first postpartum body. I didn’t feel like I was losing fast enough, that I was good enough or worthy. I felt like I was failing and looking back, I missed out on making memories because of body image issues.
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When I got pregnant with my second son, I had barely lost my first round of baby weight. Before I let that sense of doom creep in and keep me from being present during my pregnancy, I vowed to switch up my mindset. I pivoted my perspective to nourish my body in a way that best nourishes my baby. I moved for my mental health and let my body do its thing. I think it’s time we all pivot and reevaluate the expectations we put on pregnancy and postpartum bodies.
Baby bumps get all the love. People spend months marveling over Mama’s magic but as soon as baby is out and belly is sagging, it’s a countdown to pre-baby body. Moms can still be waddling around with an air mattress-sized maxi pad between their legs, but as long as they’re cleared by their OB to workout, the focus quickly shifts to “losing the baby weight.” Fitting into this size—and eating this many calories, and doing this many squats while playing “Rockabye Baby” on the flutophone and nursing your newborn—are expectations that are creating boundaries and delaying, if not depleting, any healthy physical or mental progress. Moms are literally a portal into the living world, and are worth way more than a number on a pair of jeans.
My body will never be exactly the same because I will never be the same. I have spent too much time fighting with myself and missing out on things because of body image. Time I will never get back. Self-doubt will no longer steal time from my beautiful babies. It certainly wasn’t easy, but I’m at a place where I love the skin I’m in. This soft and striped body was home to TWO little dudes. I’m confident. I’m adjusting. I’m healthy. I’m happy. I’m beautiful. I’m a GREAT mama.
I’m giving you that nudge to just buy the next damn size up, enjoy an extended stay in your maternity jeans, wear an “In-Betweener” in the pool. Whatever you do, just don’t allow your insecurities keep you from making a splash.