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Learning to Be Kind to Myself (Rebekah)

August 17, 2010

My age: 29
2 pregnancies, 1 miscarriage, 1 birth
10 months postpartum

First I want to say thank you to all the brave women who have posted their stories and photos here. You have helped me to heal.

I also want to say to any women out there who are struggling right now: Your thoughts are powerful. I have brought myself to some dark places with negative thoughts. But you can choose to be kind to
yourself!

Here are some of the negative thoughts I have had (maybe you can relate):

I am ashamed of my body’s ugliness. I compare myself to other women who are more beautiful than me, who were lucky to have better genes. I grew up being told, as if I needed reminding, that I was not a “real
woman,” that I had scrawny legs, no hips, no butt. Pregnancy did not improve my body. I gained an embarrassing amount of weight and since having my baby I’ve worked hard to lose it all. But now I am covered in stretch marks and flab, and left with a belly more grotesque than I ever could have imagined. I had no idea all this would happen to me just from having a baby.

I gained more than 60 pounds in my pregnancy because I wasn’t careful. I was lazy. I over-ate. I was stupid and now I’m paying for it. My wrinkled belly is mushy, like an empty bag. Its texture is like a
wrinkled, doughy brain. It’s alien; it’s disgusting. It’s the belly of an old decrepit woman. My belly button was once cute; now it’s a deep, droopy hole. My breasts are pendulous—they hang down like tube
socks full of sand. They are asymmetrical, unattractive, saggy, and covered in blue veins. They’re not supposed to lie down on my stomach like this.

Why didn’t I appreciate the smooth belly and perky breasts when I still had them? Why couldn’t I have been one of the lucky ones who got to keep their youthful bodies? It is so unfair and I am so angry!

What the hell has happened to me? My body is disfigured, destroyed, no longer youthful, no longer sexy. I feel so sorry that I’m not desirable for my husband anymore, because he deserves better. I know he doesn’t feel the same passion for me anymore, and why would he?

I will need to hide my belly for the rest of my life now, under long shirts. I don’t want anyone to see me because I know I’m not normal. Nobody else I have ever seen in my life has a belly like this! It’s
not just a few little stretch marks—my skin hangs in big loose wrinkles—my skin is DESTROYED. Nothing I do short of surgery can fix it. As if the loose skin isn’t bad enough, my butt, hips, and thighs are covered in scars—stretch marks so deep they have left deep grooves in my once-smooth skin.

I would like to wear a bikini proudly but I’m afraid that people will stare and wonder what’s wrong with my belly, give me pitying looks, suggest a tummy tuck. Other women will secretly take pleasure in my
disfigurement because it places me below them. Men will look at me with interest until they get close enough to see the details, and then they will be horrified and turned off.

I look fine with clothes on, with a bra holding my breasts up where they’re supposed to be, with clothing covering all the wrinkles, and I feel like a walking lie. Other women compliment me on losing the baby
weight, and tell me they’re jealous of my figure. I accept the compliments and feel like a fake. I purposely project an air of confidence but it’s all fake, fake, fake. What would everyone think if they saw me naked? Any man who saw me naked would be disgusted. Why would any man, my husband included, choose to look at ME when there are so many perfect women to look at? I am a has-been, not even 30 yet and past my prime. I no longer matter and I am so ashamed, so depressed.

And HERE is me choosing to be kind to myself:

I am a BEAUTIFUL WOMAN! I am petite, but with a curvy and feminine shape. I am healthy, sexy, voluptuous, lush, long, limber, strong, soft, admired and even envied for my lovely body.

When I was pregnant my body did exactly what it needed to do, in its innate wisdom. I was a good mother from the start, and I took good care of my baby and myself while I was pregnant. I walked and did yoga. I spent so many hours reading and researching. I carefully planned my meals to make sure my baby got the nutrients he needed. I didn’t do anything wrong. I suffered through great discomfort with grace.

I celebrate my beautiful belly, my womb, and what it has done. I gave birth to my strong and healthy son, breech, at home, with a 7-hour labor, only 30 minutes of pushing and no tearing—that is a feat to be proud of! My body has everything it needs to bring new life into the world—to nurture a tiny cluster of cells and help it grow into a fetus, into a happy little boy, into a new PERSON in this world! That in itself is mind-boggling. I have given birth to a child. I have been a vessel for NEW LIFE. I am directly in tune with all the creative forces of the universe. My feminine abilities are pure, raw, and intense. I am creative energy in action! I am in awe of my womanhood and my body. I am so BLESSED to have been born female.

My belly is normal. There are many different types of postpartum bellies, and many other beautiful mothers have similar soft layers and networks of wrinkles. The skin of my belly is delicate, velvety and interesting. I am happy to bear the marks of motherhood (and such unique and fascinating marks at that!) The stretch marks on my thighs, butt, hips, breasts and belly are starting to fade to silver. They are gorgeous tiger stripes. The grooves of the deeper ones create a sexy texture on my thighs, like built-in fishnet stockings.
They’re cool!

My breasts are full and sensual with a pleasant weight to them. They make sweet, nutritious milk for my baby. He drank nothing but the milk from my breasts for 6 months and it made him grow big, strong and
healthy. At 10 months old, he still gets most of his nutrition from my milk, which keeps him happy and secure. My breasts are a source of delight, comfort and nourishment.

My husband is not bothered a bit by the changes to my body. He still finds me as irresistible as ever, and more importantly, I am the mother of his child. He now views me with a new kind of pride, love and respect. He sees me as a beacon of strength. I am his lady, his rock.

It is wonderful to be alive. It is wonderful to experience the gift of motherhood, and I am blown away with gratitude for my life and my family. I am capable of a love that transcends words. I am capable of far more than I realize. My body is beautiful, but my spirit is even more beautiful, and it shines through. I am beautiful!

I have been through a lot of changes, and feelings of loss and self-doubt are to be expected. They are a normal and healthy part of new motherhood. I am allowed to feel them in passing, but I will not let them rule me. I can choose a positive attitude.

I am only 10 months postpartum and the transformation my body has undergone, from small to gigantic to small again, is nothing short of incredible. My body, even now, is still changing. I must be patient and gentle with myself. I choose to respect my body and take good care of it. My many hours of hard work exercising and eating healthful foods are paying off. My healthy glow is apparent to all who see me. I choose to give myself and my body the same unconditional love and reverence I give to my beautiful son as I watch him grow.

And I may have to work up to it, but I KNOW in time I will have the courage and confidence within me to rock that bikini, in public, in the full light of day. Other people and their twisted cultural standards be damned!

Pictures 1-3 are my beautiful, pre-baby body. Picture 4 is my beautiful 37-week pregnant belly, full of life. 5-7 are my beautiful wrinkly belly, beautiful droopy breasts, and beautifully tiger-striped hip at 10 months postpartum. 8-10 are me rocking my bikini! (This is in the privacy of my back yard, in front of only my husband. I have yet to show my belly in public but I will get there!) And pictures 11-12 are my son, at 2 months and 7 months.

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14 Responses to “Learning to Be Kind to Myself (Rebekah)”

  1. bree Says:
    August 17th, 2010 at 8:15 am

    umm…HELLO! you are gorgeous, i can certanly see why other women would be jealous that you lost the baby weight and can still fit in a bikini! you look really great you really do, not just saying that so you feel better, i read your story and expected to something much dif than the pics yu posted and I wish I had your breast, MINE look like tube socks with sand in em, yours dont! trade me!

  2. Shannon Says:
    August 17th, 2010 at 9:11 am

    You look BEAUTIFUL!!!!! Go and rock the bikini NOW!!!! You even make me feel brave. I have the stretchmarks and saggy skin just like you…only I also have a little ledge from 2 cesareans, your tummy does not have that! You look great! Your negative thoughts are just like mine, and so are the positive…minus the home birth :) Beautiful lady!!!

  3. jean Says:
    August 17th, 2010 at 9:19 am

    how did you not get stretch marks on your boobs? i got so many everywhere but my boobs took the most beating.yours look amazing! you are a great writer, and your pictures are fab! we need a national “this is real mom day” at the beach and we can all go out in our bikinis with confidence! i wish the shape of a mother were a magazine so others could see just how normal our postpartum bellies really are:)

  4. Anna Says:
    August 17th, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    You look great, Your so-called wrinkly belly is actually pretty darn adorable!

  5. Lucy Says:
    August 17th, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    I too read your story and expected different pics, you are curvy and beautiful!

  6. Catherine S Says:
    August 17th, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I love your post, especially the being kind part. And you are a lovely woman.

  7. Lulu Says:
    August 17th, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Check out the pics of my belly. My story is entitled “The ever-elusive belly button.” When I was reading the descriptions of your stomach, I thought I’d find someone with belly skin like mine. I’m a little sad now, because your skin is far tighter than mine, and I am almost 14 months post partum. You also have far fewer stretch marks.
    I too lost the weight fast, but my belly looks like it’s melting like candle wax.

  8. Anna Says:
    August 17th, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    You look fabulous :) I’m fairly sure your husband isn’t complaining, and if he is it’s just to keep you all to himself ;)It is tough to avoid envying other woman,but in dealing with our scarred bodies we develop stronger spirits and learn compassion. I find the women with perfect post baby bods aren’t always the nicest people.

  9. Skye Says:
    August 17th, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your post: ) you are very beautiful, both inside and out… as is your little boy!
    Congratulations for your BREECH homebirth!!!
    You are proof of the amazing strength and knowledge held within the female body… yes, we are so blessed as women to have the oppertunity to experience the power of birth, it is an extraodinary gift.
    I hope so much that you take that amazing body of yours out to the beach in a bikini! you are gorgeous: ) Stretchmarks are a part of life, my husband has them all over his hips, butt, thighs and arms and you know what? it makes absolutely no difference to the way I feel about him, to me he is THE most beautiful man I have EVER seen!!!

    By the way, your boobs are most certainly NOT pendulous, full and sensual is a much more accurate description!
    I have also had a hard time dealing with the “droop effect” but have come to a happy acceptance, a feeling of pride and have decided they look exactly how thay are suppose to after 17 months (so far) of breastfeeding!
    I would’nt trade them for a perkier set as they bear the marks of one of the best gifts I could give my precious little boy: )
    All the best to you and your little family x

  10. i Says:
    August 19th, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    i prepared myself for extreme pregnancy aftershock before i saw your pictures. ummm, girl, you’re crazy. you look good! sure you have some stretch marks and your boobs are probably lower than they used to be. you still look awesome. and you got a great bum. dang.

  11. Susie Says:
    August 25th, 2010 at 2:07 am

    You have an great body. You have amazing breasts and look great in swimsuits.

  12. Alicia Says:
    August 30th, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    You are incredible. Your child is so lucky to have a woman like you in his life. He will grow up to appreciate beauty within a woman, and have realistic expectations of what to expect when his wife has their first child.

    Everything you’re doing – keep doing it.

  13. Rachel Says:
    September 21st, 2010 at 12:16 am

    You are BEAUTIFUL is spirit and in body. What a great boldness you show to share your story.

  14. Jan Says:
    October 20th, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    You’re perfect.

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