Body Image After Baby

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Every mom can relate to feeling not so hot after you have a baby. Some mama’s struggle to lose those last few pounds and others shed the weight in what seems like overnight. Regardless of your situation, our attitudes about our postpartum bodies are usually the same – we don’t love it. In fact, it can be a huge struggle. You’re tired, you are hormonal and now your hips are a lot farther apart than they used to be. Why baby? Why God? On top of everything else?

For me, losing the “pounds” hasn’t been that difficult. I say pounds because the scale says I weigh what I used to, but my body does not look like it used to! I think recovery and sitting around nursing has caused me to lose most of the pounds in muscle because I’m feeling pretty….soft. Lately, I’ve been really down on myself and with a trip to Jamaica right around the corner I’ve been feeling the pressure to bounce back.

I was thinking (probably too much) about this the other day and a memory came to my mind. This happened way back when I was like 8 months pregnant and I always wanted to blog about it but never got around to it with having a baby and all but what happened and what I learned is too good not to share.

Before getting pregnant I always said I would be one of those pregnant women who would totally rock a bikini with confidence at the beach but when the time actually came it wasn’t that easy. I feel like all the women I saw pregnant in a bikini were tabloid photos of celebrities because in real life it was hard to even find a bikini top that fit my ever changing chest. I managed to find something that worked and headed to the beach with a close friend. I was super insecure and took forever to actually get down to wearing just the bikini but eventually I just figured “who cares” and went for it. Now this particular day at the beach there was an alarming number of what I can only describe as Victoria’s Secret models in training. I mentioned this to my friend and she said I was insane but my mind continued “When did everyone get SO hot?”

As I was laying in the sun, unable to lay on my back or front (side lying at the beach – awesome!) and feeling down on myself I spotted a particularly stunning woman in front of us with her husband. She was probably in her early 40’s and had a smokin’ body! I assume she was competitively into fitness because she looked incredible. Anyway, my friend and I joked back and fourth a bit about how we would love to look like that into our 40’s and how she looked UH-mazing!!! Instead of feeling motivated by this woman, I felt super insecure. I just felt mom-ish and frumpy. Hot, annoyed and tired of laying propped up on my side I headed down to the water with my friend. As I stood up this woman approached me. She asked if I was expecting, which I assume was out of politeness because lets face it, 8 months along, I was looking mighty pregnant. I told her yes and I’ll never forget what followed.

“I just wanted to come up to you and let you know that you are the sexiest person on this beach. You look so amazing and beautiful in your bikini!”

It was one of those moments where you want to look behind you because you can’t believe they are talking to you. At this point, I was in shock. I regret how shocked I was every day because I feel like I came across standoffish or creeped out when in reality I was  holding back tears and couldn’t believe that this woman had the boldness to come out and say that to me.

I think I muttered something about how SHE  looked amazing and that we were thinking the same about her. I honestly can’t even remember but it prompted her to share something with us..

With her husband behind her, she went on to tell me how she was unable to conceive . She said she had tried for years with no luck. As she stared at my round, white belly she said that she would trade her body any day to be able to look like me (meaning pregnant) and be able to have a child. I could hear the pain and longing in her voice. I couldn’t even form words. I tried to thank her and tell her that I was so sorry but it didn’t seem like enough and I was too overwhelmed to properly convey how I felt.

Here I had been, staring at all these women on the beach and while I was thrilled to be pregnant I found myself wishing for a body and situation other than my own. Never EVER did I think for one second that anyone (let alone the most gorgeous woman on the beach) would be looking at me, all of me, and wishing they were in my shoes. Wishing they looked like me, pregnant, side lying, and full of insecurities.

We as women spend a lot of time comparing and letting insecurity rule in our hearts. I was guilty of this at my smallest before I was pregnant, 9 months along and even now 5 months postpartum. But, every time this story comes to mind I am reminded that my body is amazing, it does (and did) amazing things and it might not always (or ever) look how I want it to look, but somewhere someone would give anything for my stretch marks and wide hips. Somewhere someone is looking at what you consider an imperfection and thinking that would be pretty great.

I let something as stupid and fleeting as my outward appearance overshadow the miracle and joy that was happening inside. And this woman’s perfect outward appearance easily masked the pain and longing she has inside. Our outward appearances are just a shell and while it’s important to respect and treat our bodies well it’s more important to understand that the outside doesn’t always give an accurate portrayal of what’s going on on the inside. True joy, security, and confidence can’t be seen on the outside.

So today, for me, it is easy to fall back into that thinking. To let insecurity and comparison have a bigger part in my life than they deserve. It’s tempting to look at my body and see it as ruined and just different instead of looking at the healthy miracle that is our baby boy. I have moments when I don’t care and all I see is him and moments where I feel lumpy and miss the body I used to have.

Obviously, I’m a work in progress and always will be, but I am so thankful for the wakeup call I received that day. I believe with all of my heart that God was sick and tired of hearing me complain and beat myself up. I know he sent that woman up to me and gave her the boldness to share because I needed a slap in the face. I needed to become humble and stop giving my outward appearance more credit than it deserved. It is not who I am – not when I’m skinny, not when I’m pregnant, and not when I’m lumpy and still have a couple pounds to lose.

I hope that anyone reading this is encouraged by this little story. We as women need to stop comparing ourselves to others OR even comparing our new bodies to our old bodies. We need to stop hating the woman who lost all the baby weight right away and stop judging the woman who hasn’t lost a pound. We need to be like this incredible woman on the beach and have the courage to speak words of love and encouragement to each other. We’re all in this together and whether it’s obvious on the outside we ALL have insecurities.

Thanks so much for reading.

Britt

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11 thoughts on “Body Image After Baby

  1. aww. thank you thank you thank you for sharing this. this was such a good reminder to me of the power of what we say, and the power of voicing the compliments you’re thinking. I cried just picturing this powerful moment for you. and then the observation that God quite possibly had His hand in it happening. xx

  2. This is such a beautiful and honest post! I found myself relating to every word! With a Florida beach trip coming up in March, I’ve been dreading getting in a swimsuit. While I, too, am back to my pre baby weight, I in no way look the same and I have been having such a hard time with that. I always compare and complain, but if I’m feeling that way, other women must be, too, right? This was such a good reminder!

  3. This was a beautiful story, and I truly am inspired by what you’ve written. You’re such a beautiful woman and you have the greatest gift of life. You’ve got your son.
    Insecurity is nasty and can destroy yourself and relationships, but your words have encouraged me to just say “who cares” and really mean it.
    I once saw a picture of a woman with stretch marks, and it said “Your body isn’t ruined. You’re a goddamn tiger and you’ve earned your stripes” Thats incredible. You’re wonderful. Keep it up, mama!

  4. I think this is your best post yet. It was so well written, so easy to relate too and the honesty and message you are conveying are appreciated. Thanks.

  5. I’m so glad you shared this story! At 5.5 months pregnant I have already been struggling with being compared to my stick skinny sister-in-law 13 weeks ahead of me or the extremely active runner who’s “hardly showing at all”. I’ve let myself focus on comparisons and this brought me back to what’s important. The miracle that’s happening right inside of me. I really needed to hear that. Thank you!

    • Thanks so much Bree for reading and for the encouraging words!! I appreciate it so much and I’m so glad you felt encouraged as well! It can for sure be a hard time and it takes a while to adjust but it’s so awesome when you look at your baby and realize that he/she is the only thing that matters!

  6. You are amazing. The beach story was amazing. It is crazy how we can get consumed with our own situations and then it can get so quickly put into check when hearing someone else’s situation. I struggled with anorexia in high school and it nearly killed me, I don’t advertise this but I am so blessed to be alive and now enjoy the things in life god has given us. These beautiful bodies to have babies, to recover from things that we never thought possible. Women struggle with body image, we are wired that way. It’s like why can’t we be perfectly happy with who we are and with what god gave us? It’s easy:we are human. I look at you and think you.are.gorgeous. You are! Inside & out! I envy your flawless skin:) your a wonderful mama! Xoxo Kate

  7. I stumbled across your blog today and this post made me cry. Blame it on the 23 week pregnancy hormones, but this was such a necessary read for me. Being only 23 (almost 24) weeks pregnant, my body isn’t anywhere done with the changes it will be going through. I’m just at the beginning. And already, I find myself feeling like a whale and self conscious, which then proceeds to me feeling guilty because this baby is such a gift and blessing and I am so blessed by him already. Body image is hard. Thanks again for this amazing post.

  8. I just teared up. You are amazing. I love your shift of perspective. It is SO easy to get caught up in comparison but it is really true, we all have insecurities it is what we do with those insecurities that really matters. Keep embracing the gorgeous person you are, inside & out! xx SO much love, Eleni

  9. Great and honest post! Embarrassed to be thinking about this, but I think I spend more time bring worried that I won’t be able to bounce back into pre-pregnancy shape than I do thinking about the baby, the new family, etc. this helps to put it into perspective :)

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