Author: Heather Anne
I was depressed. I was in a dark place. I was holding this beautiful baby in my arms and I felt like the farthest thing from beautiful. I undressed at night and stared in the mirror at a reflection of a body that I didn’t know. I touched my skin and traced lines that had appeared overnight and led to places that hadn’t been there before. And I felt lost, and confused, and a little angry, because this body wasn’t mine. This wasn’t me. But here’s the thing. It was. And I needed to accept it. I needed to stop hating my body because it was making me hate myself. And that needed to stop.
I took a step away from the mirror and I started to acknowledge a few things silently to myself. That body that I hated… It created life. Within its now scar-filled skin, it held a child; the same child that I was now holding in my arms. And my body was now a road map of that child’s growth. A map filled with a few bumps, lumps, and lines that show just how long and hard the journey was. And after breathing those realizations in and letting them settle inside my heart, I began my own journey towards accepting my postpartum body.
So if you are like me, and struggling with accepting this new version of your body, here are 4 simple steps from someone that has been there.
1. Put your hands on your hips.
Now shake them. Shake those wide hips like a Polaroid picture girl. Why? Because they are there. And there’s nothing you can do about it. So just dance. It makes everything better. And as you sway those hips from side to side, thank them.
Thank them for doing their job.
Those hips, the ones that no longer fit in your jeans, they made you a mother. They grew in anticipation of making room to bring new life. And maybe they didn’t get to serve their purpose; maybe your baby came from an incision rather than through their canal. That’s not your hips fault. They just tried to do their job. Thank them for that. They widened to transport your child into this world; and now they are your child’s main transportation throughout this world. As you go about your daily life, with your precious cargo firmly attached to the side of one of your hips, be thankful that they are wide enough to make that possible.
2. Look at your stretch marks.
Feel them. Run your fingers along those red, purple, silvery, or raised lines.
And appreciate them.
Yeah. I said appreciate them. Because every line represents a moment of growth. A little twist. A little turn. A little line to show that at one point you held a living, growing, human being within the walls of your skin. Appreciate those lines. Rejoice in those lines. Find joy in those lines. Because those lines made you a mother. And there is a woman sitting somewhere right now that would trade her smooth stomach for your marbled one in an instant if it meant she would carry a child.
3. Grab that mama belly.
Wrap your arms around yourself and hug that excess skin or that tummy pouch. And love it.
Love that it’s there. Love why it’s there.
Think about the 9 months that you spent with that tummy. Rubbing it, talking to it, filling it with late night chocolate milkshake cravings. Remember the first time you felt a kick, a turn, a hiccup, a tiny elbow pressed against you from the inside. That bulge under your shirt, the one that you hate how it looks in anything form fitting, it was once a home. A warm, safe home that was occupied by your greatest gift. A home that grew as it’s occupant grew. Find love in that growth. Let it bring you joy that growth occurred within that home. And although that home is now empty, don’t be angry that it still stands, instead love that it was even built in the first place.
4. Look at your child.
You made that. You did that. Be proud of that. Pat yourself on your pudgy back and marvel at the fact that your body was capable of doing something that countless women will unfortunately never be able to do. And realize that they would love to have your wide hips, your belly flab and every single one of your stretch marks.
Don’t be mad at your body. Because it did it’s job. It grew and stretched and widened to accommodate new life. And that’s a beautiful thing. Thank it, appreciate it, love it.
Keep looking at that child and stop looking in that mirror. You are beautiful, you are amazing, you are wonderful. You are a mother.
This is my body. It is beautiful.