I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my body. Mostly hate. I’m not sure I ever remember a time where I didn’t fantasize about thinner thighs or sculpted arms (or at least the non-wing variety). My hair was always that weird in-between – not really straight and not super curly. Coming from a long line of pseudo-giants, my 5’11 frame will never be considered petite in any way. I have thighs, I have a butt, I have a budda-belly. I always thought I wanted to be skinny or be smaller – not “stick out” so much. I have since determined that what I really want is just to be at peace in my body. I don’t need to love it at every turn but I need to be at peace with it. And all I had to do was have a baby. Who knew?!
That’s right. I had a baby and it actually IMPROVED my body issues. I’m as shocked as you! In addition, to the whole "miracle of childbirth" thing, seeing myself 9th months pregnant made me realize that my pre-baby body wasn’t as bad as I believed it to be.
When I found out I was pregnant, I wasn’t kind to myself. I constantly worried about weight gain, stretch marks, and nutrition. I counted calories, I monitored protein in-take, and I slathered on super expensive creams (even though stretch marks have nothing to do with keeping your skin moist, which I knew). As I grew my little nugget, I would envision how the construction workers would have to dismantle the one side of my house to get my fat, 9 month pregnant body to the hospital. (BTW, don’t worry – I gained the requisite amount of weight for my height/body mass, as determined by my doctor). I tried to stay in my pre-maternity pants for as long as possible, somehow seeing it as a ‘win’. My body issues were taking over this huge moment in my life.
As my waistline expanded, a weird feeling hit me. I’m not even sure what it was that lit the flame but all of a sudden, I wanted my old body back. Yep, the one that I had condemned and belittled, degraded and despised. The body I had criticized to countless friends and acquaintances, hell, even total strangers might have gotten an earful of how badly my body let me down! But now, I wanted things back to normal. I didn’t care what the tag said in my jeans, it really is just a pair of jeans. There was no bigger meaning in that dumb number. I wanted to look like me again.
That was when I realized that I was not Quasimodo afterall. Here I was doing the most important job on earth – making a baby – and let me tell you, baby building is a freaking miracle. She is perfect in every way. And my body did that. Granted, she has some pretty smart genes from her Daddy but I was the project manager, on site every minute of her little construction. It’s a pretty big deal.
3 months and some change later I am more confident than I have ever been about my body. Is it perfect? Far from it. But the freedom from not counting calories, or stepping on a scale has been worth it. I haven’t journaled my food or exercise habits in months. My husband loves me, Quasimodo body, 9th month pregnant body, and post-baby body. That feels fantastic. I feel free. I feel at peace. I feel like me.