Dear Post-Baby Bod,
This is neither a letter of celebration, nor regret. This is simply an acknowledgement of your presence; a simple note to say that, yeah, I see you, in all of your loose-skinned glory. I accept that you’re here. I know that I spent 9 months cultivating you, eating cheeseburgers when I should have had a salad, taking naps when I should have done a workout. But I was hungry. And I was tired. It’s not that I hate you; I just haven’t learned how to love you yet.
For some moms, you come complete with stretch marks that look like silvery middle fingers, defiantly stating, “I am the shredded skin that helped make room to grow a human life. Eff anyone who has anything bad to say about me. Slather that miracle cream on 6 times a day if you please, but I ain’t going anywhere.” For other moms, you bring a shedding of our luxurious pregnancy manes and leave baby hairs sprouting proudly out of our foreheads, never to be tamed, hairspray be damned. Many moms have tucked their “sexy” bras away in a drawer because their boobs (now two different sizes) are much larger than they were before. In addition to that, bras without plastic clasps to allow for instantaneous breastfeeding are of no use, so we trade Victoria’s Secret for Motherhood Maternity until the milk dries up. Some moms have seen an incision yawn wide enough to allow a screaming baby to be lifted from its mouth, and now a scar smiles across our abdomen as a permanent reminder of that moment. For many mothers, there is cellulite and skin that flips and flops and wiggles and wobbles where it didn’t a lifetime ago. There are extra chins, extra pounds and extra sighs when we step on the scale. There are dark circles under our eyes and wrinkles next to our mouths from frowning at ourselves in the mirror.
At first, nothing fits. Our old jeans don’t fit. Our old shoes don’t fit. Our old underwear definitely does not fit. But it’s not just the clothes that don’t feel right. Sometimes we feel like we don’t fit into our skin like we once did. The old us is gone and the new us looks different. Feels different. It’s because we are different. We won’t ever have that old life again. The way we used to live doesn’t fit anymore. There is no room for selfishness in this new skin, because it doesn’t belong to just us anymore.
Our skin is shared with our babies. They pull at it when they are hungry. They reach for it when they are lonely. They breathe it in when they need comfort. Our skin is shared with our toddlers. They hold our hands when they feel afraid. They kiss it when they see an “owie”. They hit at it when they feel angry. Our skin is shared with our partners. Together, our skin created new life, and together our skin nurtures it.
But slowly, things will start to fit again. Perhaps the pregnancy pounds will melt away and the old clothes will find their way back into our wardrobes. Or, maybe we will find new outfits to suit a body we have come to accept, and even adore. One day, we will look in the mirror and smile at the person we see reflected back at us, because we are proud of them. One day, we won’t be so tired. Well, maybe one day we will be less tired. Okay, okay, maybe one day we will still be tired but we either won’t care about the bags under our eyes, or we will be come experts at covering them up. But we won’t apologize for who we are, because this new body, whatever it looks like, is a symbol of what we have become and what we have sacrificed to become it.
So, my dear post-baby bod, maybe this is a letter of celebration after all. I may not look in the mirror and give you a high-five, but I love you. I am thankful for you and all that you have done to make me into this person I am today. Thank you for stretching and shifting and breaking apart and mending together to grow and recover from creating two beautiful babies for me. Thank you for learning how to survive on a few measly hours of sleep each night. Thank you for being the vessel that allows me to chase after my passions (and my toddler). Thank you for the skin that sheds and grows itself again to adapt to the challenges and triumphs of every new day. Thank you for the lines that have formed around my eyes from smiling so much (maybe that’s what the ones around my mouth are from too). You are miraculous and wonderful and beautiful and I am in awe of you. I hope I can learn to love you in all the ways you deserve to be loved.