Well, I did it. I survived through three pregnancies, had three natural births (just what I wanted), and have three beautiful children to show for it. I am blessed indeed! However, a sneaky struggle has made it’s way into my life that I didn’t expect to have a hard time with; my body image.
With babies one and two, I never had any trouble with bouncing back by doing relatively nothing. This time around, the weight is not falling off quite as quickly and my body feels, well, different. I definitely have that dreaded extra layer of skin on my belly and I’m a little rounder all over.
Turns out that I am more vain than I thought I was. Which was a huge disappointment! Being honest, I have had to truly re-evaluate where my worth lies. There was about a week or so around eight weeks postpartum that I was down and out in a small pity party I threw for myself. It was during that time that I turned very introspective and had to give myself a few swift kicks in the butt!
My girls are such treasures to me. I wondered what I would say to them if they were worried about their body image after they had their babies. Would I agree with them in their insecurities? Encourage them to work-out more and harder? Suggest a yo-yo diet to drop the pounds faster? Ask them why it has taken so long for them to get the baby-weight off? The answer is HECK NO! I would be ashamed of myself. So, it occurred to me to tell myself what I would tell them in their journey to embracing their bodies post-baby. This is what I would say:
I am so proud of you. Look at the amazing gift you grew all those long months. You endured through pregnancy woes, a beautiful but exhausting birth, and now you get to love on that little one with a love you didn’t even know you possessed until now.
Please don’t worry about how you look. You are beautiful. More than that, you are strong and brave. This isn’t a journey for the faint of heart. It is heart-wrenching and exhausting, but amazing all at the same time. Please don’t worry about your body. It may not bounce back right away, but the love in your eyes, your smiles, and snuggles are more radiant than a flatter tummy or trimmer legs. I’m sure your sweet one loves his mama a little cushy in all the right places. When you look in the mirror, remember that we all love you just as you are. Your value in your baby’s heart and our hearts is so much more than the number you are reading on the scale or the size printed on your pants.
Be gentle on yourself. When you have a few minutes (which don’t come too often), light a candle, take a bath, read a book, but please, PLEASE stop pinning weight loss plans on Pinterest.
Don’t get “back in shape”- get healthy. Overall health is in every area of life- your mind, body, and spirit. Don’t focus on one and forsake the others.
Don’t be duped. Don’t give into lies that others or the media may have for you. Know that your character is more mesmerizing than your waistline, your smile can light up the room, and your kindness is what attracts others to you.
A special thanks to my girls for yet again teaching ME. One of the biggest lessons in parenthood is that our children often refine us more than we refine them.
Photo credit to Stacey @ Dream Photography Studio