“Mommy, if your body doesn’t have Oliver in it anymore, why is it still big like there’s a baby in it?”
Motherhood Changes You
Becoming a parent changes you in ways that you never could of imagined.
Your life will never be the same.”
A new parent often hears this. It’s true. And until your little one arrives you will never realize the depth and scope of how true it is. I’ve never loved more. Worried more. Felt more joy. Felt more stress. Been more tired. Having children completed me and depleted me in ways I never imagined. When I had Imp, I anticipated all those wonderful changes, all the worthwhile sacrifice. I embraced the sleeplessness, the unspeakable joy. I was not ready to embrace my new body.
That last trimester, when you feel as big as a house, when strangers comment, “are you sure you aren’t having twins?” you bite your tongue. I can’t tell you how often I wanted to glibly reply, “No, I’m planning on having a baby elephant.” Every time I had to move the rearview mirrors just so I could squeeze between our cars to go to work in the morning, I would mutter to myself. “This is temporary. I am growing a tiny human. Just a few more weeks/days, and I will have my body back.”
I am here to tell you now, you will never have your body back. You may work out. You can nurse to burn those calories. You may join mommy and me classes. You may lose the baby weight- but you will never fit your clothes the same way. With each child, my thick, curly, frizzy dark hair has become fine, lighter, and almost completely lost its curl. My aunt swears that her feet grew two sizes and never returned.
Aliens Have Taken Over My Body
Or more specifically, two little aliens, Imp and O. I was desperate to feel like “myself” once my little love aliens exited my body. But there is no magical switch that turns you into your pre-baby self once your little one is in arms.
Don’t get me wrong, breastfeeding helps. In fact, when you nurse, there’s a hormone that’s released called oxytocin. This hormone tells your milk ducts to contract in order to release milk into a “let down”. It also allows your uterus to contract, expelling blood still in there, and pulling your uterus back to its former shape. Let’s not leave out one of the biggest perks to breastfeeding (for mom anyhow). Nursing burns a crazy amount of calories!
The fact is, your post partum body is just as foreign as your baby-body. You gush blood (and it doesn’t smell pleasant) for weeks. You wake in puddles of milk. You lose hair by the handful. Your formerly firm, rounded belly is soft, and squishy. Your stomach, breasts, butt, maybe even arms, proudly display tiger stripes of stretch marks. Still, 7 months post partum, I find myself quickly changing clothes so that my husband cannot catch a glimpse of my squishy, floppy belly.
Your Body is Amazing
No, your body will never be the same. Your mind, your heart, your hips, your hair. They are forever changed by the tiny humans you have grown and birthed inside of you.
Do you realize how amazing that makes us?
My rounded stomach that I try so hard to hide, GREW LIFE. My breasts, larger yet flattened and pocked with stretch marks, nourished and comforted my children in the first years of their lives. My now soft, fine hair is SO much easier to blow dry. It makes my son laugh as I brush it in his face. His tiny, chubby fists intertwine my Lyly hair within his dimpled fingers.
So when my sweet Imp asked me why my body hadn’t gone back to “normal” after having O, I bit my lip. My first instinct was to bluntly tell her the truth, that no, there wasn’t another baby in my belly. My belly was full of fat. Instead I told her another truth. Perhaps not as literal, but just as important.
Lyla, my belly did a really cool thing. It grew you, and Bubby. Do you remember how big my belly was when Oliver was inside of it? It took a long time for it to get that big. It’s going to take a long time for it to go back down again. But God made my belly special. It is soft, and warm. It makes it cozy for you to cuddle with. It made me a mommy to you and helps me be extra snuggly for you and Ollie. Mommy’s body, and your body; girls bodies, are really amazing. We are strong. We are fast. We grow our babies and make milk for them. We are soft to love and snuggle with. That’s why mommy’s belly is still big.
So while I still have moments where I am uncomfortable in my body, I am learning to embrace it. I may still hide behind my robe, struggle with feeling sexy in front of the Hubs. But my body made our family. It comforts my children. It feeds my son. So when I throw out societies definition of sexy, and I look at myself in the mirror, I marvel at myself, my body. I am a strong, feminine, mothering, woman.
And I am bringing a whole lot of sexy back.
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