18 months post partum
1 birth by C-Section
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.
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.
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