I have three children, two girls and boy, ages 5, 3, and nine months. My girls were born only sixteen months apart, and the toll on my body was huge. The space between my second girl and my little boy- almost three years- felt luxurious and long, and thankfully, the recovery time for my body has been much quicker this time. But even though I feel like I’m looking pretty good these days, nine months after his birth, I still get people asking me if I’m pregnant quite often. That prompted me to start exercising (I got a bike and surprise, surprise, I still remember how to ride…) and I got a few intoxicating “Have you lost weight?” comments, followed by another dissapointing question about my nonexistent pregnancy just last week.
I wish I had some pictures of my belly after my first two births, but I guess it wouldn’t have occured to me to take any, because I found my body too upsetting- the stretch marks, the awful fold-over flap in my belly, the general spread-out-ness of my whole torso. After each birth, my belly really was deflated- I was huge each time, so much so that people thought I was six months pregnant when I was two, or nine months when I was five. I can’t count the number of times people asked if I was having twins, or said “So, you must be due any day now!” when I had several more long months ahead of me.
Finally though, and in large part from seeing all these pictures of all these beautiful, brave mothers, I’m finding some self-esteem again, and realizing that the body I have now was strong enough to birth and nurse three big, healthy babies, and that’s worth infinitely more than tight abs. I actually like my body now- when I went to take some pictures to send in, I was surprised to see that they actually looked kind of sexy, and that I looked MUCH better than the image I had in my mind. And even though I thought that my immediate-post-birth belly was here to stay, and that I’d better just accept it, it’s firmed up considerably, the stretch marks are light, and the fold-over has subsided to an acceptable level. The pictures here are of my 39 week belly with my son, me looking very, very tired and overdrawn from carrying my big boy, and two shots from a few weeks ago.
Thank you “Shape of a Mother” and Bonnie! This is what the Internet should be used for! This is social change and it’s revolutionary! Vive la belly!