My Struggle With My Postpartum Body
When I got pregnant, one of my first worries was the fact that I was going to gain weight. It weighed on my mind so heavily everyday for a month after I found out I was pregnant. This was because when Tyler and I had first met, three years ago, I wasn't healthy. I was 5'8", 115 pounds, and trying to lose more. And I wasn't maintaining that weight in a healthy way. I would obsess over my calorie intake and abuse diet pills. I would stare at my body in the mirror constantly and pick out every flaw. The short version of all of that is that I had an eating disorder. Tyler was a Godsend, and he helped me tremendously. He loved me and told me I was beautiful no matter what, but even more than that he encouraged me to get help. Between Tyler and counseling I gained 15 healthy pounds in the first year that we were together. I was happy with my new body, but when I got pregnant all my old fears about weight gain rushed over me.
When I was 13 weeks pregnant, I looked in the mirror one night and saw that I had a little bump popping out. And to my great surprise, I LOVED it. I loved that I was showing and I loved seeing the proof of my baby grow. I was so excited for it to get bigger. For the first time in my life, I wasn't worried about gaining more weight at all anymore, and I took advantage of that. I was eating for two and loving it. I was gaining weight very quickly, and I probably would have gained much more if I hadn't found out that I had gestational diabetes and had to stop eating so much junk. Everyone told me throughout my whole pregnancy, that I was going lose my baby weight no problem. I was young, I was planning on breastfeeding, and since she's a summer baby I would be able to walk with her everyday. So when I gained 70 pounds by the time I checked into the hospital, I wasnt that worried about it.
When we got home, the only thing I cared about was figuring out how to care for my baby. I wasn't thinking about how unhealthy I was eating, I wasn’t thinking about how inactive I was being, and definitely I wasn't thinking about my weight and how was going to lose it. After I had paisley, my doctors told me to wait 8 weeks before I could workout or do any strenuous activity. And once those 8 weeks were up, there was always an excuse for me to not work out or eat healthier. I was too tired, or Paisley was sick or there was something else that I needed to do. For months I told myself, “It’s fine that I’m bigger, I just had a baby.” Long story short, 7 months went by and I had only lost 20 pounds, and I lost 12 of that from just having Paisley.
I couldn’t get below 170 pounds. I was struggling. I hated my body. I had never been so big before. I hated my flabby tummy, my stretch marks, my wide hips, and my saggy dried up boobs. I didn’t recognize myself. I cried every time I went clothes shopping and I couldn't let my fiance touch me. Even when we were cuddling in bed, if he moved his hand to my waist or stomach I would have to move because I didn't want him to feel my fat. I didn’t feel beautiful anymore, even though Tyler constantly told me I was. I would see other moms who had babies around the same time I did and they were all getting back to their pre baby bodies much faster than I was. It was a really dark time for me.
I started going to the gym and I changed my diet, but I knew that there were some parts of me that were never going to be the same. My stretch marks would always be there, my boobs would never be like they were before I breastfed, even my vagina would forever be different. I was at the lowest point one night. I was just sitting in front of my mirror crying, when Paisley woke up. I went into her room to get her and when I picked her up she smiled at me. I don't know what was different about that smile, because she smiles at me all the time. But in that moment, it hit me. I made her. I grew her in my tummy for almost a year. I had stretch marks because my body had to make room for her so she could be here. I had saggy boobs because I used them to feed her. I had wide hips and a saggy stomach because it was all necessary to bring her into the world. From that moment on, I celebrated my body. I was in absolute awe of that it was able to do, and I was so thankful that it was able to bring my favorite little person to me.
I am still working out regularly and eating much better, but I am doing it for the right reasons. I am doing it to be healthy, strong, and happy, not to be skinny. To all the moms out there who are struggling with their postpartum bodies, I hear you and I want you to know that you are not alone. I also want you to know that I celebrate you and your body and I hope that one day you will celebrate it too. Whenever you're feeling down about the way you look, take a peek at the perfect little human you created and remember why your body looks the way it does.
There is so much pressure on moms as it is. So much pressure to be the perfect parent, the last thing that you should need to worry about is how much you weigh. One of the most important things that I have learned when it comes to my postpartum body journey is to not compare yourselves with other moms and their journey. I recently met a mom who's daughter just turned one and I was so jealous of how skinny she was. She told me that she had been trying for years to gain weight, but her body just wouldn't keep it on no matter what she did. She said that when she got pregnant she was excited to gain weight and was hoping that some of it would stick when she had her baby, but it didn't. She hated her postpartum body just as much as I hated mine even though we were both envious of each others bodies.
Every postpartum body is normal and beautiful. Don't compare your journey to someone else's. So now to anyone who asks if and when I'll get my body back, my answer now is that I never lost it. And I hope that you say the same thing when you look in the mirror. Love your body, the proud of it mama, it’s incredible.