Learning to love your postpartum body can feel like an uphill battle. I am five months out and every week I tell myself, “This week I will box up my maternity clothes.” This is always a lie. I say, “I’m going to start dressing better!” and yet I live in frumpy nursing tank tops. I thought I would be the mom with a six-pack in time for her six week visit– this was not the case. There are moms who leave the hospital looking like Kate Middleton. For example, Kate Middleton.
I am not Kate Middleton.
My belly is like a waterbed. It jiggles in ways I did not know a belly could jiggle. It sags, it folds, it sloshes to and fro. My thighs are big tree trunks, their milky bark marred with stretch marks, like bony purple fingers reaching up towards my hips. This body does not move like my body. I lay on my side and I feel folding at my waist and back where there once was none. I get dressed and I look like I’m trying to smuggle a throw pillow out of a HomeGoods. This body does not feel like my body.
But it is my body.
It is my body plus. It is my body 2.0. This is the version of my body that grew two feet and two hands and a nose and a mouth and a heart and lungs from nothing. This is the version of my body that housed the love of my life for nine months. This body gave me the greatest gift I have ever been given. Of all of the everyday miracles in this world, my body carried out perhaps the biggest one: it created life. It created love. It created baby giggles and morning peek-a-boo and countless dirty diapers. My body 2.0 did that.
The world gives so little grace to new mothers. Mommy groups on facebook are inundated with “I fit back into my pre-baby jeans at only 6 weeks postpartum!” and “I hate my body!” We fixate on erasing the 9 months of hard work our bodies did instead of appreciating it. Motherhood can be a thankless job at times already without crippling self-loathing and yet here we are.
I would like to cancel my subscription to self-hate. I would like to be excluded from this narrative. My body is life-giving, it is beautiful. It may never be the same– no amount of low-carb low-fat no-sugar juice-cleanse crash dieting will change the bones that have shifted or the skin that has stretched. But it is amazing.
So I will vow, in front of the entire internet (and putting this on the internet means no takesie-backsies) to love my body in all its forms. I will nourish it with good food, I will refresh and re-energize it with exercise. I will laugh and dance and sing, I will eat a piece of cake and a kale smoothie and some cheese curds. I will allow myself to be human, to be happy, and to be healthy.
Mamas, I hope you look in the mirror today and see love. I hope you take a moment to appreciate how beautiful you are, how strong, how fiercely badass. I hope you remember that you are more than a number on a scale or a set of measurements. Your body endured nine months of stretching and growing, it ripened and softened and widened and pushed. It may have been torn apart or cut open and stitched back up. You are a warrior, you are a goddess. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Today between spitup and spilled cheerios I want you to bask in your inherent worth and remember this: you are beautiful, you are loved, and your body is sacred.