~Age: 36 years old
~Pregnancies: 5 pregnancies/4 living children (one fetal demise at 21 weeks)
~Childrens ages: 15, 12, 10 and 5 weeks
Highest non-pregnant weight: 183
Weight 3 months prior to pregnancy (lowest adult weight): 125 (I put on 20 lbs before becoming pregnant at my husbands request)
Weight just prior to pregnancy: 144
Weight at time of delivery: 195
Weight now: 167
My story begins 16+ years ago with the loss of my first precious baby. I had difficulty becoming pregnant and was devastated when I lost the pregnancy at 21 weeks. I always appreciated my body and was thrilled when I became pregnant again. I was surprised when my doctor mentioned my stretchmarks being so bad. The grew and grew until they reached the top of my belly. After my daughter was born I was alarmed at the way my body looked. I didn’t recognize my belly anymore. My breast were large and sagging but I was so grateful to have her I didn’t care. I eventually began to realize and then somewhat resent that I couldn’t get my pre-pregnant body back.
Fast forward 4 years and 2 more children. Once the children were older and I had more time to focus on myself I began to really be critical of my body. I was going to school full time to become a RN and working as well. I was eating poorly and not exercising. I was unhappy with myself and my life. Once I graduated nursing school I weighed the most I’d ever weighed at 183. I lost 60 pounds and began marathon training and working out in excess. I was pushing myself to the limit, at one point even breaking my leg and continuing to run despite the pain. I was very proud of my new physique, yet when I looked in the mirror I could see flaw after flaw. Before my breasts were saggy, now they were small. Before my tummy was fat, now wrinkled. I took a step back to evaluate my life and realized the answer was not to be found on the scale or in the gym but in myself.
I changed my life completely. I separated from my husband and then reunited with a man I had known since 6th grade. We fell very deeply in love and quickly began a relationship. We decided to have a baby. He requested that I gain weight prior to becoming pregnant as he felt I was too thin. I had to agree. We became pregnant very quickly and enjoyed my pregnancy. He loved my pregnant body. I gained 50 pounds during the pregnancy. I’d occasionally fear the weight I’d have to lose after the birth but I enjoyed my body and what it was doing in a way I never had before. He and I decided to have our baby at home, something I had wanted to do with my 3 previous births but did not have a supportive spouse to help make that possible. I gave birth in a birth tub in our kitchen, surrounded by people I loved. It was the best day of my life. Ella weighed a huge, healthy 10 lbs and 6 oz. Her birth empowered me in a way I had never felt empowered before. I felt strong, capable and beautiful (her long birth story can be found here).
Now 5 weeks after her birth I love this sweet baby more than I can describe. And I respect my body in a whole new way but I don’t recognize it in the mirror. I have huge 38DD breasts again and my tummy is back to looking like it did when I had my third baby (10 years ago). I worked so incredibly hard for the shape I had before I became pregnant with Ella, to the point of obsession. It was difficult to admit that my happiness did not depend on if I wore a size 14 (my current size) or a size 4. But yet in these first weeks PP I told my husband I felt like I needed to look like I did before this birth because if I did not it was like false advertising. After all, he didn’t marry 167 pound me. What he said really made me pause to appreciate myself: He said, ” I wish when you looked at yourself you could see what I see. You are so sexy. You are beautiful. Inside and out. I love your body. It made our baby. I love you and just want you to love yourself too.” And I believe him and I do love myself.
We are so pressured by society to look a certain way. We’ve been conditioned to believe that beauty is skin deep. We feel like if we were a certain size or weight we’d be happy. We feel like we need to have plastic surgery to get “back to the way we were” before having babies. Fix our breasts. Fix our bellies. Fix ourselves. When we are not in fact broken. What we should be doing is celebrating and appreciating the amazing things are bodies do to make our babies and that we can make babies at all!
I’m so proud of all the women on SOAM willing to bare their bodies and souls for the sake of truth and beauty.
1. Pre-pregnancy after losing 50 pounds on WW (me in the stripes, my baby sister in the hearts)
2. at 37 weeks pregnant with my husband
3. smiling in labor at 40 weeks 5 days (tie dye sarong)
4. Us at our wedding (me 36 weeks pregnant)
5. Ella at 3 weeks
6/7/8. me now 5 weeks PP front/back/side