When I fell pregnant, I did not think about how it affect my body post partum. I found myself frustrated at gaining weight the entire way through, angry as my thighs got closer, upset as my arms lost their shape and angry as my face filled out. I did not resent my bump; my bump was my baby, and that was a necessary part of having a baby, but in my own mind I couldn’t accept the changes that occurred across the rest of my body. My pregnancy body was not my body anymore, it was simply a means to an end: to have my baby, I would have to put up with being a ball for nine months. After those nine months, I would snap back and my pregnancy body would be a thing of a past. After all, in my head that’s all this was. My thicker thighs and undefined arms were part and parcel with pregnancy, when the baby left so would they and I could go back to calling myself fat at 110lbs. I never thought about my Post Partum body, because I never thought it would look the way it does. I hate my Post Partum body, but most of all, I hate the fact that I hate it.
Prior to having a baby, I repeatedly told myself I was fat, that I weighed too much, and that I wasn’t skinny enough. I think most girls do at some point in their life, i just happened to do it for the entirety of my teenage years and into my early twenties. I tracked my weight and what I ate pretty religiously from around age 13, and still have spreadsheets upon spreadsheets of months of daily weigh ins on my hard drive. If only now I could slap myself around the ear and force myself to accept my body the way it was – the whole 115lbs I was at the time. Despite telling myself otherwise, I wasn’t fat. I was a Size 6 and more or less straight up and down everywhere. I was not fat by any stretch of the imagination, it just happened to be my favourite word to describe myself; a throwaway term that I used without ever really meaning it. We all do though. How many times have you called yourself fat; not because of how you look, but because of what you’ve eaten. ‘I’ve eaten a burger so that makes me fat today.’ I was never fat. Fast forward, and I wish I’d appreciated my body just that little bit more back then. I wish I’d called myself fat a lot less, and reaped in the ability to fit into a 25 inch waist jeans without ever really having to try. Everyone says it’s difficult to lose the baby weight – and I can now completely agree.
Social media and celebrity culture thrives on the ‘Post Baby Body’, the ability to bounce back in months, weeks even – to have your pre-baby body back, or even more so, a better body than before you had kids. Not for one second did I think that I would be any different than all of these people. People don’t generally preach about the inability to bounce back; sure, it happens to 85% of people, but those people won’t be the ones to promote it. It’s not that it’s seen as a negative as such, no one expects you to bounce back immediately, but the ‘regular’ post partum body is not celebrated in the same way. Not on one front cover of any Reveal, Closer, Now, is there any celebration of the stretch marks, the saggy tits and extra 15lbs that can often accompany our little bundles of joy – in celebrity culture those aren’t positive things, and that deflects quickly onto those of us picking up the magazines. I’m conscious of using the word ‘normal’ as I write here – what is normal when it comes to a post partum body after all?
Prior to being post partum, I would have shouted to the high heavens that anyone who couldn’t lose the baby weight was lazy. They couldn’t lose it because they didn’t try. It was easy after all; prepare your food, go out walks with the pram, don’t eat crap. My naivety was laughable. What I failed to factor in was motherhood. My baby didn’t sleep for the first 3 months, the last thing I wanted to do was spend the 6 hours I get baby free a week measuring out chicken, if I had a spare hour I sure as hell wasn’t flinging on lycra and heading to the gym, and if I wanted a chocolate bar at 4am to get me through my 6th night feed, then I was damn well going to have one. I was lazy, sure. But what my pre-baby brain had failed to factor in was the fact that being a parent is bloody difficult, and sometimes we all just need to be a little lazy to cling to whatever sanity we have left. Celebrity culture told me that I was successful if I lost my baby weight in two weeks – so what happens 4 months down the line when I am still 11lbs up with no sign of it disappearing? I hate my post partum body, but it’s not down to laziness, it’s down to the unrealistic expectations I had in the first place. I’m not Kim Kardashian. My body is not my job, and I have all of the time in the world to decide whether or not I want to have my 110lb body back. I am not a celebrity, heck I barely care enough to brush my hair anymore, why do I care about the extra inch or four around my waist.
Following carrying a child inside my body for nine months, my boobs hang considerably closer to the ground. I’ve gone from having absolutely no boobs, to having small boobs that look a bit like deflated balloons. I have stretch marks, I still look 5 months pregnant and any waist is gone thanks to my expanded rib cage. My stomach is jiggly – it wobbles and stretches and long gone are the muscles I once worked hard for. My thighs still touch and I get out of breath walking up the stairs. I’m out of shape, I’m ashamed and I’m frustrated. But that is my body. It’s the body of a mother, and it is a tiny price to pay for a child. I can complain as much as I like about my postpartum body, but let’s face it, it is what it is. I grew a person inside of me – god forbid I gain an extra few pounds in the process. I can’t help but feel frustrated with my body, but then I always have been. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t obsess over my weight, or how my body looked in the mirror, it would have been nonsensical to think that those ill conceived thoughts would disappear the minute I became a mum. If anything, I’m more conscious than I ever was before. I hate my postpartum body.
Realizing that there is no expectation for me to bounce back anytime soon was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I’m still trying to adjust to motherhood; I’m finding myself again, and rebuilding the world around me as a mum. My body will repair itself slowly, and when I’m ready, if I ever am, I’ll reclaim the body I once called fat. The body I hate so much done an amazing thing, and the sad reality is that so many women may not have that opportunity. People would kill to have their body change in the way mine did, yet I’ll complain endlessly because my boobs aren’t quite as perky? It’s about time we all got over the concept of a ‘Post Baby Body’ and the ‘Bounce Back’, and just accept it for what it is – not airbrushed, not perfect, probably not like Kim Kardashian. I may hate my postpartum body, but it gave me Harrison, and therefore it’s the best body I’ve ever had.