In high school, I was always a slender and athletic girl. At 6 feet tall, it was easy to put on 5 or 10 pounds without anyone noticing. I played a sport every season and enjoyed food.
When I went to college, I was the cliché: about 15 pounds, but lost it quickly, before my wedding. I got married after finishing my freshman year, to my high school boyfriend, and weighed 153 the day we got married. I was a size 10.
The summer before my senior year of college, we discovered that I was pregnant. It wasn’t what we had planned, but we adjusted and were very excited to meet our baby in the spring of 2004. I put on 61 pounds, including 12 pounds in the last week of the pregnancy. My body was so swollen and puffy.
My daughter was born 9 days before her due date and weighed 10 pounds and was 21 inches long. Within two days of delivering her, I could see my ankle bones again and was down 25 pounds.
Luckily, I enjoy walking and other forms of exercise, so I was able to continue losing most of the remaining weight in a healthful way. The stretch marks (which were so shocking at the beginning) faded to a silvery pink and don’t really bother me much.
We conceived our second child in June 2005. I had put on 50 pounds by my 35 week of pregnancy when I stopped feeling the baby move. We went in for a routine appointment to discover that our daughter had died. I delivered her two days later, in February 2006.
It was hard for so many reasons, but one of the least expected problems I experienced was coping with the post-pregnancy body without a baby to show for it. I wanted to scream, “This is baby fat–I just had a baby, but she’s dead!”
Support of friends, a precious husband, and a healthy workout pattern at the local Y helped me through those early weeks, and I lost 40 of the 50 pounds I had gained before embarking on our third pregnancy in April 2006.
We were blessed with a beautiful baby in December 2006, just 10 1/2 months after our second baby was stillborn. I was pregnant or breastfeeding 57 out of 59 months (through May of this year). My body was hardly mine!
Since then, I have been relishing the freedom to appreciate and use my body for myself instead of always setting aside my own needs for my children’s. I adore them, passionately and without reservations. But I am glad to have my body back, even though it’s not the one I started out with on this journey.
I currently fluctuate between a size 12 and 14, and weigh about 180 pounds. I work out 4-6 times per week, and will be running my first post-baby 5K later this fall.
Since having babies (all girls), I am more committed to appreciating the myriad ways our bodies are formed. The love handles, stretch marks, baby apron, and mis-matched breasts have their own beauty and give me a feeling of accomplishment.
I revel in the beauty I see on this site and all around me, and hope that our daughters (and their partners) will have an easier time of loving the female form than we have.