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The body changes over time. This isn’t a new concept. Male or female, the body changes and one accepts this as fact.
As a woman who’s had a child, my body has changed dramatically, in some ways. I’m not the only one this has happened to.
Sometimes though I wonder my place in the world when it comes to my changed body. These changes happened over time, but relative to overall changes a body undergoes, the changes happened in an extremely short period of time.
I’m still struggling to fully accept the changes my body has undergone as the result of carrying, birthing, and nursing a child. Am I glad I’ve been able to do each of these things, yes. Feeling thankful and even proud of my body’s ability to do these things, isn’t the same as accepting my body’s changes.Acceptance of my body is another matter altogether. Click To Tweet
I recently had the opportunity to see my entire body in a full-length mirror. The lighting may not have been the most flattering, this is true. What’s also true is that I don’t have much occasion to look at my body alone as I did on this occasion.
What I saw brought up some rather mixed emotions. There was a sense of disgust and disappointment, but also a bit of pride. I was proud of all that my body has been capable of. I was proud that my post-baby body is quite similar to my pre-baby body.
I have much larger breasts. I have a little extra skin around my thighs and hips. My abdomen is much flabbier. There’s a little bit of flap on my arms, too. Mostly though, I’m around pre-pregnancy weight and I can fit most of my pre-pregnancy clothes and shoes.
Although there’s a purpose for each of these changes and that sense of pride, I still struggle. I struggle in seeing the changes. I struggle with the idea of being even less perfect or less ideal than society says I needed to be. I struggle with what these changes mean to more as an individual, as a woman.
Then there’s the struggle to find clothing that fits this changed body I have now. Not quite “ladies-sized”, not quite “junior-sized”, and definitely not “petite” or “woman”.
Now that Baby Boy is nearly a year old, the changes my body has undergone are what they are.
The protrusion of my abdomen is mostly just the skin now. It’s quite flabby and wrinkly. It’s no longer discolored. The shape of it shows the evidence of having grown a child. Honestly, it looks as if my body is awaiting the next child. My abdomen has permanently changed. It will never be without the extra skin from stretching to accommodate the awe-inspiring growth of another human being. Often this is relatively alright with me. There are the occasions when it is not alright with me. There are even the days when I look at it in amazement. Mostly though, I haven’t accepted this changed part of my body.
The skin of my hips and thighs is different. There is evidence of stretch marks, ever so slightly. There is a jiggle that also tells the story of having been larger than they now are. My inner thighs are actually much closer together than they were before. Every pair of pants I wear tells the story of my legs’ redistribution of themselves.
All this essentially means the body I have today is not the body I thought I’d have. I’m not sure what body I thought I’d have after having a child, I just know I didn’t think it would be this body. I didn’t think my belly would look like I’d carried a child, even a year after. Maybe this means I’m vain. I’m inclined to say this isn’t the case, as I’m typically not vain. I do think it means that no matter how I thought I’d accepted reality, I’m still very much influenced by our society’s emphasis on perfection and disillusion of reality.
This was me before Baby Boy. These pictures were actually taken a few months before I got pregnant, while on a cruise with some friends.
This is me now. One from last year and one from about a month ago.
It’s really not easy to find pictures of just me (as it should be, now that Baby Boy is here), but even those pictures are more focused on Baby Boy. Many of the (few) pictures I did find which might give an indication of my post-pregnancy body are fully covered. No cute sundresses, bikinis, or (intentionally) slightly exposed cleavage.
What does all this mean to me? Well, nothing and something. It means nothing in that I (mostly) love having pictures of me interacting with Baby Boy as my life is not about just me anymore. It also means nothing that my body is more covered now, because I am not “in competition” with other women towards reproduction.
Yet, it also means something in that I don’t really want my body to be seen. It means something in that there are days when I’m more shameful of the body I have today. It means something in that society views me differently now that my body has changed. It means something in that I am constantly grappling with whether I want to be seen (at all) or not. It means something in that this post is even being written, because I’m not a shallow person who views physical beauty as primary. It also means that I’m a mom. I’m a mom whose body has undergone these post-pregnancy awesome and incredible changes!
And, that’s the dialogue I prefer to have. I prefer to talk about how awesome and incredible my body is because of these changes. So, today, no matter the struggle it is to reconcile these changes, I will relish in the awesome and incredible feats my body has accomplished!The body I have today is not the body I thought I'd have. Click To Tweet