Number of pregnancies: 2 complete, currently pregnant with #3
Current Weight: 130-ish
Dress Size: 6-8
Ultimately, I have always been my own worst enemy. As a teen, I worked perhaps a little TOO hard on showcasing my body. I got a lot of attention (both good, and bad). When I married my husband in 2005 – we started trying for a baby. At that time I was 112 lbs. and was a size 4 respectively. I had a cute belly, complete with sparkly navel jewelry. I wore cute clothes, sassy heels, I took care to look my best.
Pregnant with my first, I loved my pregnant physique. I liked my big round tummy, and felt womanly and special. After she was born, and I came home to find that no size 4, size 6, size 8 or size 10 pants would fit…..a change in my body perception forever changed. I was a size 12. 2 weeks after birth, I was weighing in at 146 pounds. “It will come off, it takes time” was what my mother said. But it wasn’t just that. My skin was saggy, stretched, lose. I looked in the mirror – and I didn’t recognize myself. Here I was, a new mother who was madly in love with my child…but I couldnt look in the mirror. When I showered, I hung a towel across the mirror. I didn’t even want to catch a glimpse of my reflection.
My husband waited, patiently, for the time to come when we could be intimate again. I think he felt I was scared…..but it wasn’t that. Under my clothing was a COMPLETELY different body than what he’d fallen in love with, what he’s married, what he’d last seen prior to a baby being housed inside. What was he going to think? What if he took one look and lost all desire? I did the best I could to cover myself, without being obvious. I felt awkward when he reached out to touch me.
I started reconnecting with old friends during my first few months of motherhood. People I’d gone to school with. People who were the same age. Looking at their photos, everyone looked…..the same. The beautiful girls were still beautiful. Now, I really WAS all alone. The first of my “group” to marry, then to have children, and then to completely “let herself go”. I felt disassociated with myself. With the world. My husband took a job working out of town 5 days a week, so it was just me and the baby. It was during this time that I made bad choices with my eating habits. Skipping breakfast, skipping lunch, and picking at dinner. The weight came off. I went back to 120lbs. But nothing really changed. There was still sagging and bagging….but I was happIER than I had been before. Then, the shock of my life when we found out quite unexpectedly just as my daughter was turning a year that we were pregnant….again. I was overtaken with joy, and excitment. But the next thought was, “I didn’t even get my body back. NOW what’s going to happen to me?”
I gained more with my second. 55 pounds. Pregnant, I looked ok. My sizable belly made it difficult to notice where all that weight was. Then, I gave birth, and i was staring, yet again, at someone I didn’t feel I knew. The stretchmarks were bigger, brighter and had spread. I had cellulite and sagging in places I didn’t even realize you COULD get cellulite and sagging. I was ashamed. I stopped wearing tank tops, or skirts, even shorts. I wore my black maternity pants for as long as possible. I tried to hide what I didn’t like.
What took place in me over the next few months was an acceptance of what I was, in a sense. I knew the stretch marks would never go away. I knew that my breasts would never look the same. I knew that losing the extra weight had to come with time. What I couldn’t accept then, or now, is that despite having two exquisite children and loving my role as their mother – I feel less like a woman than I ever have. I feel a loss of confidence, sexuality and femininity. In social settings with girls my age…I feel alone. I make up for a complete lack of pride in myself by making jokes about my forever changed body. “Yep, I have pregnancy service stripes” or, “sometimes I feel a stinging sensation and realize Im standing on my own titty”. It works, in the moment, to help make light of it.
I guess ultimately, all I really want is to turn that acceptance of myself into an actual LOVE for myself. My husband still tells me I am beautiful. One day, I want to see that too.
The photos below are from today…..2 babies in 2 years, and 9 weeks pregnant with my third.