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Daring to Bikini (Jen)

April 9, 2012

-37 years old, two pregnancies, children 5 and 7, divorced last year
-also a postpartum doula and freelance writer who spends most of her professional life writing about motherhood and encouraging new moms to be strong, proud, and confident, in both their instincts and their physical changes

My children were my lifeline through what turned out to be a hearbreaking, unhealthy marriage. Without the incredible experiences of natural childbirth, 5 years combined of breastfeeding, and motherhood, I may have seen earlier that my “love refill tank” was dusty and dry, but my children filled me up to such an abundant level, I kept on with my marriage–for hope and for them.

This photo was taking after the ground finally stopped shaking from the total life earthquake known as divorce. Amongst the rubble and the aftershocks, I found real, supportive, cellular love with the first boy I ever kissed…both of us transplanted in Minnesota, very far from our native homes. We left our work and our worries one weekend to go camping and river tubing with his sister–so juvenille, so fun. As he is not a biological parent and is not the one who gave me my pregnancy body, I did feel a little more self-conscious revealing my “extra skin” and dimples and stretch marks. Needlessly, so, as he loves me because he loves me…and LOVES the wonderful mother that I am.

As you can see, in the photo, I am laughing and having fun. I am clearly in good health and toned by exercise. This is actually the low end of my weight range, as I lost quite a bit through the divorce. Still, I look at this picture, and I feel imperfect. I feel frustrated with the belly which actually looks pretty good for my age and number of pregnancies. And that is RIDICULOUS. I am 37 and hopeful after heartbreak, lighthearted enough to stand on a tube in a moving river. I am a postpartum doula who truly knows the beauty of real arms, thighs, bellies, breasts, and hips. And yet, I do not love this picture. But I want to. Maybe sharing it will help.

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13 Responses to “Daring to Bikini (Jen)”

  1. Valerie Says:
    April 9th, 2012 at 8:44 am

    First I want to say your post is probably my favorite. EVER. Secondly, you look AMAZING. I’m sorry about your divorce, life can seem like it makes no sense at times. But, you’ve found someone who obviously is attracted to you, and loves you for YOU!.. God bless :) Good health & children who love you is far more important than a few stretch marks or extra skin anyhow.

  2. Cindy Says:
    April 9th, 2012 at 9:03 am

    You have a flatter nicer belly than me and im 26. I think you look great I would be too scared to wear a bikini :(

  3. Dee Says:
    April 9th, 2012 at 9:45 am

    First off, let me say I’m sorry about your divorce. Hopefully you are moving forward and it will have been for the best. I’m 18 years old with a 17-month-old daughter. I like my postpartum body, for the most part, but am worried what it will look like after more kids. These pictures give me hope that as I age, it doesn’t mean I will become less beautiful, but that my beauty will mature. You got better curves than I do, girlie, and I hope you rock them with pride cuz you seriously look wonderful. :)

  4. Mina Says:
    April 9th, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Beautiful post. Beautiful pictures. Beautiful mama. Beautiful woman. As a 39 year old mama to 3, I relate so much to your final paragraph. If you and I were neighbors, I would want to be your friend. Thank you very much for sharing.

  5. chris Says:
    April 9th, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    Uh, Ms. Jen, the only uncomfortable thing I see in the photos is trying to stand on an inner tube in the water. I hope your friend was watching because the antics might have been less than graceful, you are a BEAUTIFUL woman and definitely worth watching… even if you are not balancing on an inner tube.

    Keep the bikini. Wear it again this summer. You are a BEAUTIFUL woman and a LOVELY mom. Let your children know what real women look like and that they are BREATH Taking!! Seize this summer (and many more), and make it a fun one for you, your children, and your friend to remember for the rest of time.

  6. Sarah P. Says:
    April 9th, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    You should have been wearing bikinis all along! You look amazing!!!

  7. Stacy Says:
    April 9th, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    This is a beautiful post. Blessings to you on your journey for the discovery of self love. You are beautiful, and floating the river in an awfully pretty place. Continue to enjoy life!

  8. Passerina Says:
    April 10th, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Hi! I’m a long-time lurker on this website. I just wanted to come out of hiding to say how awesome you look!
    I don’t have children (I’m 28), and I’m ambivalent about whether or not I will. Seeing all of the brave posts on this site has given me a much better idea of what to expect both emotionally and physically. Thank you!
    So, anyway … Jen, you look beautiful (and like you are having a lot of fun)! I say DON’T keep the bikini. Buy a new one to celebrate your strong, sexy body! You are so toned that you could rock a more minimalist or athletic-style suit easily. Screw the skirt!

  9. Kit Says:
    April 11th, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Always wear a bikini. You look like an Amazon warrior. Twenty years down the line your children will probably come across this photo and think what an awesome, adventurous, fierce lady their mama was/is. Don’t lose that.
    I’m glad you’ve found love and happiness.

  10. Lauren Says:
    April 14th, 2012 at 11:37 am

    You look so young and HOT – not “pretty good for your age and number of pregnancies.” You also look like someone who could carry 20 extra lbs well too, you just have that kind of body. If you hadn’t said you were 37 I’d guess you were like 25.

  11. Cade Says:
    April 18th, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Wow, you are so awesome, your ex missed the mark there. Don’t worry…..with that body you will have no trouble finding a man to love and respect you !!!

  12. Tonya Says:
    April 20th, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Jen,

    I am a 36 year old, mother of two beautiful girls (ages 13 and 11) and have always been weight/health conscious. It was a real struggle for me to gain weight with my pregnancies and even more so to accept my post pregnancy body! I have to say, you really do look amazing. The areas you are self-conscious about are similar to mine and on you they are nothing! I also never would have guessed you’re 37! After my second daughter, I had a tubal ligation and the destruction it did to my abdomen was far worse than simply post-pregnancy. I have now learned that my belly and “apron”, as my fellow tubal mom’s call it, is “normal”… though it doesn’t make it any easier to accept.

    I too suffered through divorce and all that encompasses and am currently preparing to marry the love of my life on the tropical island of Jeju, South Korea in 2 months! YAY!!! except…. flaunting a swimsuit in public! No thanks! I work out 4-5 days a week and my fiance’ and friends tell me I look amazing. Thanks to Bob Harper (and Biggest Loser Cardio Max) and Mari Winsor (and Ab Sculpting), my body is shaping up beautifully…except the apron!! Thankfully, I do not have the stretch marks some women do, only having them on my sides and hips, but they are very there. I purchased my first tankini online the other day, as I only own bikinis, and am waiting for it to arrive (Dallas Cowboys, of course!), desperately hoping it will give me the confidence to frolic in the surf with my very in shape, very sexy, 31 yr old Army LT hubby (and the aesthetics are truly icing on the cake. He has a heart of gold!). I just wish I could feel like he deserves this! He is a biological father from a past relationship with a woman who had 5 children. I have never seen her unclothed body, but she sure looks good with clothes on! She has breast augmentation (I have “low”, 36 yr old mother of two breasts) and she is very pretty. Although he says I am gorgeous and is obviously attracted to me, I can’t help but wonder how to “see myself” the way he says he does?

    I can’t say how thankful I was to stumble across this site and view other beautiful mom’s who struggle also. Seeing pictures like yours and knowing you have the confidence to have fun, laugh, and release your inhibitions, enjoying the sun and water gives me courage! Here’s to taking a deep breath and embracing Jeju! Cross your fingers for me!

    Tonya

  13. Jessica Says:
    April 24th, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    You look amazing and definitely look a lot younger than you say you are. I wish I had the confidence to wear a bikini! Maybe one day in the coming months I will; your post gives me hope and determination that I can be confident and carefree too :)

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