Earlier this month I turned 37 years old. I know, it’s not polite for a lady to reveal her age, but hey, whoever said that I was a proper lady?
My birthday has prompted me to do some hard thinking about my body. Honestly, I’ve been feeling pretty down about the fact that I still have 10 pounds left of the baby weight to lose, the diastasis that I ended up with from my most recent pregnancy makes my stomach more jiggly than I would like, and I still have pain on most days from a pubic symphysis sprain that I sustained during that same pregnancy and delivery.
After my first baby I returned fairly quickly to running, exercise, and other activities. This time around it has been much more difficult. There are the logistical issues of caring for two children, in addition to the physical pain left over from my most recent pregnancy.
Our society is really tough on women at all times, but especially in the post partum period.
Blogs and work-out plans abound with titles like “10 Exercises to Lose the Baby Weight Fast!” and “7 Foods That Will Melt the Fat Away!” Magazines show photos of celebrity moms and celebrate how quickly she “got her body back” after having a child, as if she had somehow lost her body during the pregnancy. Marketing and advertisements try to capitalize on making women feel “less than” and “not enough.”
Well I am saying ENOUGH.
Today, this day, I am recognizing that my body has been through some amazing changes in the past 37 years. Yes, it is not the body that I had when I was 18, or 25, or even 36. Some parts are softer. Some parts are larger. Some parts hang a little lower than before. Some parts sway a little bit more. This is okay. This is me, and I am enough.
My body has done amazing things for me. My legs have taken me through eleven countries on three continents. My feet have run one full marathon and five half marathons. My ears have taken in music played by some of the finest orchestras in the world. My eyes have seen the Northern Lights and skies full of stars. My body has birthed and nourished two children. My hands have held little hands of kids taking their first steps and comforted those who were in pain. My fingers have wiped away tears of those who were grieving. My arms have held those who were dying.
Friends, my post-baby body is not the same as it was before, but my body is also not ruined or damaged.
I have no doubt that in time the pain from my most recent delivery will lessen, and I will begin to run and exercise again. Muscles will tighten up, weight will continue to go down, and maybe that diastasis will knit back together. But even so, some things will be different, because I am different today than I was before my babies.
My Birthday Promises to my Body:
- I will respect my body and the things that it has done for me.
- I will give my body the nutrition and exercise it needs to function well and be healthy. I will eat healthy foods and exercise because it makes me feel good, not because I need to look a certain way.
- I will realize that my body is different now than it was. I don’t need to “bounce back” or “whip myself into shape.” I will never “get my body back,” but that doesn’t mean my body is any less desirable than it was before. I am enough, right now, right here, just as I am.
- I will be careful in the way that I talk about my body. My children are listening. My boys will hear the words that I use, and I want to be a positive example of how they should think about their own bodies, and about the bodies of future women in their lives.
To all the moms out there, whatever the shape and condition of your post baby body, I hope that you can see how amazing you are.
Whether or not you hit a certain number on a scale or a certain waist size has nothing to do with your worth as a person. At the end of the day, this post-baby body is the one that carries your toddler, cleans your preschooler’s scraped knee, and holds your teenager after his or her first heartbreak. It may be different, but it is just right for the job it has to do.