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My Body is a Battlefield (Anonymous)

April 21, 2011

18 months post partum
1 pregnancy
1 birth by C-Section
Age:24

First I have to say – THANK YOU so much to the creator of this site and everyone who has participated. You have all made me feel sane and normal when I thought for sure I was losing my mind. Women are real, strong, beautiful, courageous people who deserve far more than to feel belittled by the cover of Cosmo magazine every time we go to the grocery store. Thank you to everyone fighting the good fight.

This is my story…

My body is my worst enemy.

Seriously.

But I still love it.

I’ve had body issues as long as I can remember – normal teenage girl stuff like most women. But when I became an athlete most of that went away. I swam division one in college. I was strong, muscular and fast. My body was thick, my shoulders were broad, I was still bigger than some girls on the team, but it did what it was supposed to do: it won races.

Through swimming I tore both of my shoulders and had reconstructive surgeries, gave myself permanent nerve damage in my right arm, made both of my knees crooked and painful to walk on, and had injections in my hips from painful bursitis. I had to quit swimming when they couldn’t fix the nerve damage. Ever since I’ve felt like my body is my enemy. It is not functional. It doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. I’m still living with the chronic pain.

I got married to an incredible man – the love of my life – after my junior year of college. Five months later we found out we were expecting! I managed to finish my degree and graduate, but I wasn’t happy about being pregnant. I had my own plans. But not anymore. My life became completed absorbed into my physical experience. My body didn’t handle pregnancy well. From 16 weeks of nausea, to heartburn, sciatica that made me fall down, to knees and hips that felt like they were going to fall out of their sockets. I worked out for 2 hours five days a week, untilI had pre-term labor that put me in the hospital at 30 weeks, then bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy. Then I had prodromal labor for five weeks and went directly into transition phase with no breaks between contractions when my water broke. After two hours of screaming my brains out ignored by the nurses in the hospital they discovered that the baby was breech, his heart rate was dropping and I needed an emergency C-section. My spinal didn’t take, so they had to knock me out. I woke up to see my husband holding a little bundle. He showed me our beautiful and perfect son. But I forgot quickly because I was still coming out of the anesthesia and he had to show me again several times.

I still grieve not actually “giving birth.” I’m sad that I didn’t hear my baby’s first cry or see him come out, mess and all. I’m sad that my husband didn’t either because he couldn’t come in the room when they knocked me out. Once again, I feel like, my body failed me.

As much as I HATED being pregnant I equally LOVE being a mother. My son is the light of my life and a constant joy! From the first second I saw him, everything was okay. I love devoting my life to my family, and any earlier feeling of being upset at graduating college to immediately become a stay-at-home mom is gone. There is nothing that could drag me away!

Recovery was rough, but the worst part was that my nerve pain became far worse after giving birth. I felt like someone was putting cigarettes out along my spine. I still had (and have) sciatica, knee pain, and hip pain. Some days I can’t walk up stairs or pick up my son. I became so injured when swimming because all of my joints are naturally loose or hypermobile, so they banged up easily with 20 hours of training each week. When pregnancy introduced the hormone relaxin into the mix, I literally fell apart. Now I hobble around, have nerve pain spiking out of every joint, and will be having major back surgery to fix my scoliosis and relieve the chronic pain.

We’re very excited to be adopting our next baby, hopefully this summer!, as we work with doctors to try to “fix” my body. I’m not sure if I will ever get pregnant again. Maybe one day. But we are committed to adopting this year, then we’re going to start an international adoption to adopt siblings a year or two from now. Learning about adoption and the plight of 143 million orphans around the world has seemed to help all of this make sense. If I am in this much pain so that I will give a mommy and a daddy to three orphaned children – then it is all well worth it.

My body image after birth was (is still is) pretty awful. My breasts became about 100% stretch marks. My tummy has them too, but I don’t mind them so much. My C-section scar is crooked. I have a wrinkle over my belly button – though I’ll admit I actually think its kind of cute. I still struggle to let my husband see me naked because all I see is fat, stretch marks, and loose skin. I assume that’s what he sees too. He thinks I’m crazy and tells me I’m gorgeous every single days without exception. Nonetheless, sSome days I don’t want to leave the house because my pants won’t zip or my shirt is too tight. I know that’s stupid. But on those bad days it takes over my mind. But I know that I am healthy and I know that I am a mother. I’m trying to grasp the fact that I can lose another 10 pounds, but I will still have stretch marks and loose skin. I need to come to grips with that. But it is so hard.

Because my body is constantly working against me, being in shape and managing my weight is a major priority in my life. The stronger I am and less I weigh (to a healthy extent of course!), the less pain I should be in and the better I feel in general. I hate my body, but I love it too. I want to take care of it. I want it to last another 50 years. I was to be strong, functional, energetic, and ready to live life. I do at least an hour of exercise and physical therapy six days a week. I eat as healthfully as I can (with cookies on the side), cook everything from scratch, and my whole family benefits from that determination.

Posting these pictures is a major part of my accepting my body for what it is: the good, the bad, and the painful. When I saw my most recent picture next to my picture of 9 months pregnant I thought: Wow. How can a body even do that? That is really incredible.

Pictures:
9 months pregnant – wow I was huge, but it was all out in front and you couldn’t even tell from behind
5 days post partum – all see is monster boobs! Milk is coming in!
2 months post partum – check out those bright red stretch marks on my breasts!
7 months post partum – still nursing. We just moved – its a mess!
18 months post partum – breasts went all the way back down
18 months post partum – stretch marks are all silver

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11 Responses to “My Body is a Battlefield (Anonymous)”

  1. Jenny W Says:
    April 21st, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Sorry to hear about all of your pain, but you seem to have your head on straight. Congrats on the baby and I hope the adoption works out for you as well. Keep your head up and the positive attitude, and hopefully we will all learn to accept ourselves one day.

  2. bea Says:
    April 21st, 2011 at 10:35 am

    i hear your pain and can relate but: oh my gosh. you have the best body ever! what do you do for abs? our boobs are very similar but yours still have such a nice roundness to them. man i miss my pre-baby boobs most of all. seriously though, you look amazing. amazing! congrats on your decision to adopt too:)

  3. Elissa Says:
    April 21st, 2011 at 11:14 am

    First you look fantastic…I too HATE being preggo but here I am again pregnant! My body does not handle it well..>my gums receed, my teeth get weak and I get cavities, I puke and get sick for 7 months…I had preterm labor with my last and had contractions so terrible starting at 7 months with her. My eyes suck now and that was just after ONE pregnancy. But coming from someone who is broad…you do NOT look broad to me at all…I have big shoulders (Thanks to my grandma’s side) and I cannot lift much weight because I will look like a big huge wrestler chick. Your body is very slim and dainty. Good luck adoption. I have thought about it because I will NOT have another child after this second pregnancy as my gums are receeding again and I am terribly sick!

  4. JanuaryMama Says:
    April 21st, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I am sorry to hear that you have so much pain but I think you look amazing! Seriously your stomach is so flat, I would have never guessed you even had a baby. Congrats on adopting another baby this year. I know what you mean about your body being your worst enemy, but you truly look amazing. Believe me :) I had a baby 2 years ago and my body looks nothing like that

  5. Lauren Says:
    April 21st, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement everyone. Sorry to hear that others of you are in pain :( Elissa – I have not met someone with so many dental issues from pregnancy – I am so sorry for that! Pregnancy just doesn’t work well for some bodies… I used to be much broader – I weigh about 10 lbs less than I did when I was a swimmer because of muscle loss! Almost everything I do has some aspect of ab work in it because I have such a bad back I do a lot of core strengthening – planks, stability ball planks, leg raises, a bunch of shoulder/upper back exercises with bands and I’ll stand on one foot to work my core while I do them, and lots of balancing on a bosu ball to help my knees, ankles and hips. I rarely do crunches – it hits more areas at once to just make sure that all your exercises have some aspect of core stability in them. It good for everyone to do – not even because you’ll ‘get abs’ but because it will help protect you from back injury when you are always lifting a child!

  6. Lauren Says:
    April 21st, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    oh, and I realized that I misquoted…the latest statistic is 143 million orphans worldwide

  7. eric Says:
    April 21st, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Not going to lie…these are some incredibly beautiful photos. You are absolutely stunning, during and after pregnancy :O

  8. shannon Says:
    April 21st, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Sorry about your pain. Both of my pregnancies were so bad. I threw up all the time, had to crawl sometimes because my back pain was that bad, and had heartburn like crazy. It is so worth it though. Oh, and I would kill for your body (not literally!). I had cesareans with both…I am working on my body, but still 2 months pp hate it :(

  9. Holly Says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Sorry to hear you had such a hard time with your pregnancy, and that you still have pain issues.

    I relate to the body image issues. After pregnancy I had a totally different curvy body. It took me a while to feel whole in it and realize it was beautiful.

    I hope that you come to the realization that your body is beautiful as well, because you are stunning. I hope that the pain issues can be managed :)

  10. M Says:
    May 17th, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    I had a similar birth experience-I had to be placed under general anesthesia for an emergency cesarean when my son was born. I woke up to the nurse telling me that my boyfriend was holding our baby and I don’t remember much after that until I was in the recovery area. I felt cheated too that we did not see my son’s first moments. I have spent a long time being disgusted with myself for not being able to give birth and for a long time I told myself I had not actually given birth. My son is 5 years old and I would love to have more children, but I am petrified of having the same thing happen again. I know that’s not how I should feel about the situation, but it still bothers me after all this time.

  11. Deborah Says:
    July 3rd, 2011 at 7:13 am

    I can’t help but wonder if you have body image issues. There is no possible way that you could be construed as broad figured.
    You have regained your pre-pregnancy abdominal muscle core and your breast look fine-the streych marks will fade to silver and then, just fade. They don not look deep, like you could put fingernail inside them and they seem to be underneath-how many people, other than your husband see the underside of your breasts?
    I am sorry for your pain, if it continues to be dibilitating you may consider subuxin or suboxin.
    I’m sorry that you see ugly when I jus see beauty.

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