“It’s the journey” is what I tell myself.
I’m 27 years old and feel so…old. I have a four year old and a 15 month old and have been breastfeeding for a total of four years now. When I was a young girl, middle school age, I remember women telling me (lots of women) to enjoy ‘what I have’ now while I have it. I recall them telling me I’ll never know how good I’ve got it until it’s gone. At the time I thought these were the stories of crazy “old” women who were likely blind because, I was fat. My belly was rounded out and my hips were curved and I was teased with the name ‘torpedo tits.’
Sure, I could still feel sexy (given the guy I was with found me sex-worthy).
Secretly, I’ll admit, if I was home alone and looking into the mirror I felt fucking HOT. I loved my curves and my fleshy bits.
Two children later and I feel soft. Stretched. Saggy. Old.
My first pregnancy at 22 was amazing. I never felt so confident, so sexy, so attractive. My belly was adorable and adorned with only a few light stretch marks and I only gained 25 pounds. My home birth with that baby was amazing and left me feeling in awe of my postpartum body and all of its wonders.
This was a short- lived feeling.
My partner and I were not prepared for the life of an unmarried, postpartum, needing to grow up some more couple. However, we were dedicated and smoothed our lives and our routines and did our much needed growing up. Then we decided to try for number two.
It took sixteen months to conceive our second child compared to a month to conceive the first. This secondary infertility was hard on our psyches and eventually we decided to give up ‘trying’ and started to plan a wedding instead. I was pregnant a week later.
This time, I gained 50 pounds and a highway of stretch marks, deep purple and red on my belly, thighs, and hips. My breasts ballooned as did the rest of me. The pulling forward weight of pregnancy seemed to bring out my Great Grandma Helen Hump on my neck. This birth was hard, baby presented with a nuchal hand and I was in much more pain than I had anticipated based on my first birth experience. I felt disappointed and let down with my body after this birth (despite it doing what it needed to in the end, delivering a healthy baby at home in under 6 hours).
15 months postpartum I have my good days and many bad. I have two amazing daughters that I want to be an equally amazing role model for.
I don’t shave. Razors are CRAZY expensive and it’s completely unnecessary. If my body was born and made this way then THIS is a woman’s body- bushy hair and all. I am worthy of love, respect, and dignity just as I am, without painting, plucking, and tweaking.
This is what I’m trying to teach my girls. Ah, there’s the rub. I am also teaching myself. I don’t feel this way and yet this is what I am trying to teach by living the example. I never ever verbalize that I feel fat and gross most days. I try hard to be naturally confident and therefore beautiful but I don’t feel sexy to my partner and I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin or hair or clothes.
We’ve resumed wedding plans. I knew I didn’t feel good but it wasn’t until shopping for a wedding dress that I realized how BIG I’ve gotten. At 22 when I got pregnant with my preschooler I weighed 135 pounds. Two children and 5 years later I’m a soft, apple shaped 172. My breast are huge and pendulous, my nipples like the erasers at the end of those giant pencils (my loving partner pointed this out),my arms are fleshy, my belly skin sags down onto itself, my thighs rub so much they chafe in the heat of the summer.
It’s hard to be an example physically and not be quite “there” yet mentally.
But I’m trying, I’m learning.
I’ll keep telling myself, ‘it’s the journey.’