What beautiful, brave women you all are for opening up and bearing your hearts, minds and bodies here on this site! I have been reading stories on here to learn and prepare for some of the physical and emotional changes I may experience after I’ve given birth since I have no previous experience to draw on. I look at you all with utter awe and admiration, and in my opinion you are as feminine as it gets and I feel so proud to be about to join your ranks.
I am only part way along the motherhood journey, approx. 6 months pregnant so far. I am 30 yrs old and this is my first baby. I haven’t developed any stretch marks on my tummy or breasts as yet, but I have gained some weight on my thighs and my bottom, and developed a few varicose veins on one of my legs as you can see in the pictures.
I don’t have a picture-perfect body by magazine standards, but it’s mine to live in and so I do treasure it, especially now that I’m pregnant – it constantly amazes me. I don’t really feel sexy in the same way as I used to, but I feel more womanly and powerful in my body than ever and therefore sexy in a whole new and much deeper way.
I have not always felt as free and loving toward myself and my body. I had painful experiences with my body image, depression and anxiety in my teens and early 20’s. Over the years since recovering though, I have come to see my body more as a way I can express my spirit and receive/share with the world around me, than a purely physical form that defines me, and is either “attractive” or “unattractive” to the world.
Reading many stories I really feel the grief expressed by different women about what they once were and are no longer since having babies… the permanent features that they can never change or undo (without surgery, or even with the help of surgery)… and the unrelenting sense of pressure/expectation from partners, society or just themselves to improve or restore themselves to their former glory, as if now they are less than they were and lacking in various ways, even though they have just become SO MUCH MORE.
I feel the pain particularly as many women talk about taking wonderfully healthy actions like being physically active, eating consciously, trying to be positive and proactive without experiencing any tangible results and the frustration, self-loathing and hopelessness that ensues. Wonderful, extraordinary women feeling like they need to take all sorts of extreme and harsh measures, even against their own intuition, to eliminate the ways in which they horrify themselves. I don’t judge one single one of you, because I have felt these things about myself in the past, without even having the excuse of having had a baby and the very real physical changes that come with that. I simply wish you did not have to suffer that shame/pain/grief/self-loathing, when you are actually so incredibly worthy and deserving of boundless honour and admiration.
My pursuit of perfection when I was younger, although I didn’t know I was doing it, eventually led to complete exhaustion, self-loathing, anxiety and ultimately depression. My self-esteem was blown apart and my perception of myself shockingly distorted. I shudder to think what effect pregnancy might have had on me at that time in my life and how I would have dealt with it.
I was fortunate to have a lot of professional guidance, loving supportive people around me and I was quite committed to being well again, but even still it was a long road to learn the lessons and tools for loving myself that I needed to be healthy and happy. I eventually was blessed to discover the power of a beautiful guided meditation process for healing called “The Journey”, which is all about uncovering the unconditional love that resides within you and allowing it flow through you. You learn to see yourself through the eyes of an innocent child/best friend/loving parent all mixed together and effectively let go of so many unhealthy ideas about what determines worth in the world – incredibly healing. Out of everything, learning this was what made all the difference for me, and still makes the difference for me now.
For someone who was ridiculously diligent, self-disciplined and compulsively trying to “fix”/”improve” myself, learning how to relax all that mental pressure, stop forcing myself constantly and just surrender to the knowledge of how extraordinary I already was WITHOUT BEING PERFECT was the most powerful key in my journey towards healing. I gradually learnt how to accept myself exactly as I was BEFORE I was better, healthier, more attractive, more capable, successful, etc. My life’s not perfect and nor am I, by my whole life has become much easier and more beautiful, and I feel beautiful just as I am.
A line in the post called “I Want My Body Back” (Anonymous) is what ultimately inspired me to share some of my story with you all here. The line was: “I just want to love myself for what I look like now”. I wanted to share the way that I learnt how to give myself that gift of self-love for her, and for all of you beautiful women who deserve that gift too, just in case it helps in any way.
I hope it’s ok to quote a couple of ladies who’ve posted here on this site – these are just some of the most beautiful and uplifting words I have read and I will hold them in my heart as I continue on my journey of becoming a mother:
“I was beautiful then and I’m beautiful now… Size does not equate worth, or love, or beauty…” (It’s oK To Feel Beautiful – Jennifer)
“Tears running down my face… This body was the look of true beauty, of work and reward, of suffering and love.” (My Post Partum Body – Courtney)
Thank you for all of your stories.