The time is upon us – swimsuit season. When I was packing for our year long adventure in the trailer, I had packed the suits I had purchased when pregnant. I’d bought nicer quality, better material suits and justified the purchase as none of them were maternity suits so I could wear them postpartum as well. “It would be fine,” I thought, “the suits are high-waisted to hide any left over belly.” HAHAHA. First time mom mistake – even IF you lose the baby weight, you will not have the same body type you had pre-pregnancy- specifically in all the parts emphasized in a swimsuit. So instead, the high-waisted bottoms I have just accentuate my broaded hips and belly into a nicely packaged muffin top. Excellent.
I wanted to share some perspective as we struggle to accept our new bodies. I’ve had a lot of time over the past few weeks to think about this as I struggled on what to wear to the beach and how to feel comfortable enough to have photos taken. Here’s where I ended upon the issue, my self worth is made up of more than my body.
Maybe that’s me deflecting the issue. But I’m going to chose to think of this as a “rise above” view point. I’ve been thinking of all the things I do for those around around me. The demanding amount of daily needs I fulfill for my family, the friends I extend a listening ear and a shoulder to, the causes I advocate for and donate to. I want to live my life in a way that when people look at me they see so much more than my physical features. In fact, I’d be disappointed to be defined only by physical characteristics. I hope to be seen as a strong, smart, compassionate and kind person. I’m still working on those things, and those are the “features” of myself I really want to spend time nurturing.
The other week, Tim took some photos of Evelyn and I playing on the beach. I didn’t take off my black sundress and the photos were not very flattering. When I saw them I was a little (a lot) disheartened. But I also saw how much fun Evelyn was having. She’s not going to remember my weight, or what I was wearing, but I hope she remembers the fun we had. Me being present and building sandcastles, not being afraid to jump in the water with her to splash around, and at the end of the day, while you won’t find these particular shots on social media I’m thankful she’ll have them to look back on.
One of my most engaged instagram posts I’ve had to date was a photo I’d taken of myself and Evelyn 3 weeks after she was born- posted below. It’s untouched and I got so many comments on how “brave” I was for posting it. Here’s the thing with our society – when a woman just has a baby she has about a three month “grace” period where outsiders are considered a total @ss if they say anything critical about a postpartum mom’s body. (However, super bonus points to the mom who instantly “snaps back.”) After three months, it’s sort of the critical look, and the comments start coming in with the vague “don’t forget to focus on your health too…”
As I prepped this post, I saw a photo on instagram of a side by side of a mom who was nine months pregnant and then three months postpartum WITH A SIX PACK. I’m not about body shaming, and her six pack doesn’t make me feel less (and I have done a total of zero crunches since having Evelyn. If you don’t put in the work, don’t expect the result). But still, I don’t think photos like those are helpful, that’s the one in a thousand mom, the outlier, not the norm and women especially are bombarded by pie in the sky expectations and its.just.not.helpful. That photo was not inspiring, it was discouraging. But I digress…
The other thing I think of when I have these body pep talks with myself (ya’ll know you do it), is how hard it was for us to get pregnant. And how there are so many women who are sticking needles into their belly day after day PRAYING for their muffin top. Being able to carry your own baby isn’t something that every woman gets, in fact a lot of women won’t get that experience. So if you are one of the lucky ones who did get to carry your own baby through term wear your body with a thankful heart, with appreciation and awe, with humility and grace.
Mommas, please know that you are enough. You are kind, you are smart, you are beautiful.