Sometimes I look in the mirror at the woman starring back at me and I don’t recognize her, at first. I’m sure you’ve had the same feeling. She has unbrushed/unwashed hair. Hasn’t worn make up for days. Most likely has dark circles under her eyes and a crazed look from not eating or sleeping or both. Her body is soft and her skin is covered in scars.
How do you love a body that has been left with the battle wounds of pregnancy and childbirth?
First, kindness. It took me more than one try to get this right. Don’t force your newly transformed body into clothes that are uncomfortable and tight, just because it was what you wore before. Don’t pinch and squeeze the extra skin with disdain or despise. Treat your body the same way you would treat anything fragile: kindly and gently.
Your body showed incredible strength during the past 9 months and through delivery, it has undergone immense changes and transformation. I have learned you can’t expect the same things from it as you did before. Your time, energy, strength, and stamina are no longer just for yourself. They are being invested in someone else. Maybe you are no longer able to run 5 miles and that’s fine. Maybe it’s just one or perhaps none at the present. It’s ok to take time to heal and even find new ways of strengthening your body.
There is so much advertising aimed at new mothers for weight loss and dieting. But health isn’t about number it’s about longevity, what you can sustain over long periods of time. I have found as great as many of the latest trendy diets are if it can’t be sustained for more than 3, 10, or 30 days then it may not be worth it. If you put good fuel in then you will have good results.
You are your body and you are more than your body. We are not just arms and legs or hands and feet. We are thoughts, emotions, feelings and memories. Motherhood doesn’t just impact you physically. It also impacts you emotionally and mentally. You are not just your waist or shirt size. You are every experience you’ve had, step you’ve taken, dream you’ve dreamt and victory you’ve won.
The most beautiful, difficult, and wonderful thing about your body after becoming a mother is it no longer sustains just you. You grew and nourished a human being. And after our children are born we carry them, feed them, change them, bathe them, comfort them, kiss them, hug them, hold them. Now our arms and legs and body may no longer be our own.
But they do so much more than they ever did before and that is worthy of love and respect. Tina Fey said “ Being a mother has made me so tired. And so happy”. I think we can all relate.
Even on the days when we feel we can’t move a muscle in our bodies from sheer exhaustion. You see that woman in the mirror you couldn’t recognize? Her body may be soft but it is strong and a home for her babies. She may be worn but she is beautiful. She is tired but she is also happy.
There you are, and there I am.