I’m much more superficial than I care to admit, even to myself. I’ve always talked a lot about how looks don’t matter, but it’s easy to say that when you’re skinny without even trying to be. When my husband and I started trying to have a baby, I was thrilled, but I secretly freaked out. I cried and had thoughts like, “I should have waited and had more fun before ruining my body.”
At some point I accepted that my body might never be the same. Immediately after giving birth, I was horrified by my body–my stomach felt like a deflated balloon, my bellybutton poked out, I couldn’t fit my rings onto my fingers. But I was also madly in love with my daughter and wondering how life could ever have existed without her. In the days after her birth, I told my husband, “If my body looks like this for the rest of my life, it will be so worth it to have her.”
Over the next few weeks, I was excited to find my body returning to normal. That was when I started hearing comments. Inevitably, it was “I hate you.” It’s always said in a meant-to-be-joking way, but with an undercurrent of truth. It hurts me more than it should and makes me feel like I don’t have a right to be insecure about the ways that my body HAS changed. My breasts are loose and saggy after a feeding and I know that’s how they’ll look when I’m done nursing. My old jeans give me a muffin top. I worry that when I get pregnant again in a year or two, my body won’t “bounce back” the way it did this time. Even more than that, it worries me that I care so much. I don’t want my happiness to be tied to what I think I “should” look like. And most importantly, I don’t want my sweet girl to learn from me that she has to look a certain way if she’s going to love herself.
Pictures: 37 weeks pregnant; 1 month postpartum; my daughter at 7 weeks
~Your Age: 21
~Number of pregnancies and births: 1