1 Year PP and I Still Disgust Myself (Brittani)

I married my husband on my 18th birthday. A little over a month after our first anniversary, we found out about our oops baby. We had been using condoms, and I guess one failed. We were scared, since we were so young, but excited. I knew my body would change, but I was fairly confident that my belly would bounce right back like everyone said it would because I’m so young. Then I developed preeclempsia. I am 5’7″ and started at 121 lbs before pregnancy, dropped down to 119 right after I got pregnant, and then barely gained 12 lbs in the entire first two trimesters. Then I started jumping up at least 5 lbs a week from water weight with preeclempsia. Nothing I did prevented this, not even the extremely low sodium diet I was put on. When I went to the hospital at 41 weeks to be induced, I weighed 189 lbs. I lost nearly all of the water weight within three months of giving birth. I breastfed/pumped until my milk dried up at 4 months pp, and none of the real weight (all located in my belly and lovehandles) went away. The rest of my body looks the same as it did prepregnancy (aside from the one saggy boob lol), but between my bellybutton and vulva I am stretchmarked, saggy, blobby, and jiggly. It looks gross and makes me a little sick to look at it. My stretchmark color isn’t what bothers me, they’ve faded to a light lavender/pink/silver, it’s the fact that most of them are a 1/4 inch wide, and I even have a few over a 1/2 inch wide. Not long. WIDE. You can physically see the tears in my tissue under the skin. My tummy skin is saggy and floppy and makes me think of Adam Sandler’s tongue belly on Click. My love handles FORCE me to wear mom jeans up to my bellybutton, because anything lower gives me a muffin top of colossal proportions. I can’t wear sexy underwear, because the effect is ruined by all the flab spilling out over the top and my cellulite and stretchmarked butt. I’ve dieted, eaten right, walked, done yoga, and every other exercise I can do without danger to my health (I have exercise induced asthma attacks so I can only do exercises that don’t make you breathe fast or hard). Now my daughter is walking and running, and I’m also chasing her around. Nothing helps. My husband says he loves my body, and tells me I’m beautiful, but I know it’s because he doesn’t want to upset me. He may love me for me, but there is NO WAY to be attracted to my midsection below my bellybutton. I have always been a person who hates clothing, and if given an opportunity I would never wear them, but it’s sad now for me to have to be fearful of wearing certain clothes because they make me look lumpy or gross.

Pregnancy also ruined my health. My immune system is shot. Before I got pregnant, I was the kind of person that got sick maybe once a year. I developed recurrent strep after I had my daughter, and get it at least once a month. I also get recurrent sinus infections, and catch any illness I am or am not exposed to. I exercise regularly, and yet normal everyday activities like getting off the couch and cooking dinner make me out of breath. I am not overweight for my height 5’7 at 132 lbs, but I FEEL fat. Not like the way I look, but the way I feel when trying to move around. Fat and old and unhealthy. I just want to be healthy and pretty again so much that I go on good sob fests probably every week. I can’t afford to go to the doctor to see what is wrong, and I am so sick and tired of being sick and tired. Does this ever end? Will I ever feel like a healthy happy woman again, comfortable in my body?

~Age: 20
~Number of pregnancies and births: 2 pregnancies, 1 birth at 41 weeks. 1 miscarriage at 8 weeks.
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 1 year old

15 thoughts on “1 Year PP and I Still Disgust Myself (Brittani)

  • Friday, May 31, 2013 at 7:31 am

    Dear Brittani,

    As I read your story I recognise a lot of the feelings you describe.

    I also have felt similar physical constraints around energy, and that my body didn’t move or feel the same after birth.

    However, I must say that in your pictures you LOOK fantastic. Very beautiful!

    I think a lot of the feelings you have can be attributed to the fact that you are dealing with a lot of these changes in your life at an earlier age that some.

    In my own life, and in the lives of my friends – it has taken years, and a lot of healing, to arrive at a point of empowerment and confidence in one’s new role as a mom, and the loneliness and yet power that entails – including a ‘new’ body. Sometimes a better body!

    Yes, motherhood comes with stretch marks, looser skin and a more feminine body afterwards. It also comes with the greatest responsibility and test of your patience at times – being a mother to your child.

    When you see your friends go out, without kids and responsibilities – it can be hard to feel like what you have is so much better. But it is.

    I’m proud of you when you write how hard you work to be a role model for your daughter, eating well and being active. Keep it up! It’s a journey for life to have health and happiness, soon your peers will be right there with and looking to YOU for answers to why you bounced back so easily and look so great! Next in line will be your own child when she has a little one, many years in the future. You are the heart of your new family tree, you hold the power to continue to be beautiful – like you are now, and spread love around you. Be proud of that new role!

    In my own life (34 yrs, 2 pregnancies: 3 yr old and 20 month old, both c-section, gained 50 lbs both times) I bounced back easily after pregnancy #1, then after #2 it was harder. I turned to Forks over Knives/ Engine 2 Diet for solutions to strech marks, mood swings, lack of energy, how to gain a flat belly afterwards.

    I don’t know what else to say: You look great! :-)

  • Friday, May 31, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I think you should believe your husband when he says he loves your body. Imagine he has some sort of inherently dangerous job and is injured, or gets in an accident, and has scars. Would you love him any less? Probably not. Would the scars affect how you look at him sexually? Probably not. He feels the same way about you.

  • Friday, May 31, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I agree with the previous commenter that from photos, from someone with 15 years on you, you look absolutely fantastic. However, hearing that isn’t going to make you believe it.

    Your description sounds more to me like you’re suffering from some depression. Post partum depression isn’t necessarily limited to the first year after having a baby. Having a HUGE life change like a surprise baby at a young age is a very serious mental adjustment, and bravo to you for finding your way through that and working hard to become such a great mom. On top of that, though, you had a very serious health condition develop. You listed a miscarriage as well at the end but didn’t talk about it in the explanation … miscarriages affect your self-esteem and sense of what’s right in the world too. To deal with all of that during a time in life when many of your peers are experiencing very different aspects of life has to be challenging.

    Regarding some of the things you note, I suspect that they might not actually be related to having had a child at all. I didn’t have my first child until I was nearly 30, but between the ages of 19-22, I began to experience allergies and sinus problems out of the blue, and was told by my primary care that it’s common for women to have a sort of secondary puberty during early adulthood where body changes like that occur.

    If you have access to a low-cost counseling clinic, I’d suggest trying to get in for a depression screening.

  • Friday, May 31, 2013 at 10:38 am

    I am sending lots of love to you. It might be hard to believe or hear, but you are beautiful. When I look at your tummy I think of sexy, feminine ancient Greek statues.

    A holistic dental hygienist recently told me that it’s possible to pick up the strep bacteria when we go to the hospital to give birth. Then it sits around in our guts and reappears whenever it gets strong enough/we get stressed/run down, etc. I don’t know if this insight is helpful to you, but it did make me think about the post-baby immune system and how many factors are at play. Also, when we have little ones who crawl on the floor, eat anything they can get their hands on, and attract germs like crazy, we are introduced to things we wouldn’t otherwise come into contact with. So, some of the change in your immune system might be a normal part of life with a baby/toddler/kid.

    I can say I was and still am disgusted to a degree that my belly/side “hangover” changed so much after giving birth to #1 (a c-section). I’ve since had 2 vaginal births, and was hoping that maybe my fat would rearrange, (? I’m pretty sure that doesn’t happen, but I hoped) but it did not.

    Be gentle with yourself. Listen to your husband. I have had some brutally honest convos with my husband, and I know that, while he wouldn’t choose my love handles if they were optional, we have developed a stronger, deeper bond, based upon how birth brought us together, how we have grown as individuals and as parents. This is far sexier to us than physical traits. Even with my sagging breasts, striped belly, and flat butt (thanks to my hips spreading during birth with #3, I think) he still can’t keep his hands off me. My point is, we think we know what our partners want, but sometimes that’s just based on what we want to be, and who we used to be.

    Take care, mama. You are beautiful.

  • Friday, May 31, 2013 at 11:00 am

    I was expecting something awful before I scrolled down to your pictures! That was not what found. Pregnancy and childbirth do change you, physically and mentally, we will never be the same, but then we wouldn’t have our children who make us who we are now. I too have a WIDE stretch mark, and bulge when i bend. But we all do, it’s hard not to compare yourself to all that we see telling us that’s how we should look, but we can’t do that. Your husband isn’t lying, they never see us in as bad of light as we see ourselves to begin with. And you look just fine to me.

  • Friday, May 31, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    I have a friend who developed allergies after having her son. I didn’t have my first child until I was 35 but developed allergies in my early twenties and was constantly sick, even though I had always been pretty healthy up until then. So…your change in health may be due to having child, but it may not be. Anyway, you sound like you’re under a lot of stress and that never helps. But truly, you don’t need to be stressed about your figure. As the other posters have said, you look beautiful and sexy. My husband was sitting next to me while I scrolled through your page and his comment was, “Wow, she looks great!” I said, “Well, she’s worried about having a saggy stomach” and he responded, “What saggy stomach?” So there you have it :)

  • Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Reading your story, I was not expecting those photos! You are HOT! I don’t think mom jeans or frumpy tops are required. You simply have to learn to work what ya got!

    The best way to lose weight is hard aerobic exercise and eating right. With your asthma though, that makes the exercise impossible. Have you talked to your doctor to see if he/she has suggestions?

  • Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 10:51 am

    I don’t know Britanny but you sound like you are in some type of postpartum depression. Your figure looks great, its summer time so dump the mom jeans. There’s so many beautiful dresses and skirts out there. I just turned 21 when we found out about our “oops” baby, only a month after the wedding. Back then I sobbed for days, it was hard to accept a pregnancy at such a young age. My baby just turned 1. I feel blessed, I feel healed and came to terms with my new body. I even feel sexy. I think you need some more time to accept your new body. You truly look beautiful, so feminine. I believe your husband is 100 % honest with you. Over time love becomes stronger and deeper. It’s not that we don’t see each others flaws, it’s just those flaws don’t lessen our love for our spouse. I hope you start feeling better soon, be blessed.

  • Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Check into your county health clinics and medicare. You need and deserve to figure out what’s causing the illnesses. Are you taking antibiotics for the strep? You may need a stronger dose to get rid of bacteria you’re harboring. Change out your toothbrushes every time you get sick, too. You could also need a tonsillectomy. I had to have one at 26 because I would catch everything and a cold would turn into a respiratory infection etc.

    It also sounds like you’re projecting your insecurities onto your husband. I think you look great and you could definitely rock mid-rise jeans.

  • Monday, June 3, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Dear Brittani,

    I had my son eight months ago, shortly after I turned twenty-two. I was relatively in shape then, gained the normal thirty pounds while pregnant, and dropped ten pounds in the first couple of weeks, followed by five more. Those five have come back and refuse to go away, leaving me with a better figure than I had immediately postpartum, but still heavier than I would like. When I look at the stretch marks and veins on my jiggly belly and sagging breasts, it makes me feel weird, like they shouldn’t be that way. Then I realize that I’m comparing myself to other women my age, most of whom haven’t had children. We have to remember that our bodies have done things that they have yet to do. Listen to your husband–mine says the same about my new body, and he’s not the sort to lie about how I look. He married you for you, not just for the youthful body you had at the time.

    I hope you figure out the best ways to feel better emotionally and physically, and how to exercise in a way that works. I don’t know if blues dancing would be too aerobic for you, but it worked for me even when I was full term with my son, and didn’t make me breathe hard. Good luck!

  • Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Your description set my mind up with an image exactly as you described but what i’m seeing is completely different. You are BEAUTIFUL. I don’t see cellulite and flab and nastiness, I see the body of a woman. A beautiful woman.

  • Sunday, June 30, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    i feel you on the stretched skin, but im told it tightens up alot, but it takes a few years… idk if thats true though, lol. but honestly, you look better than i do, i also suffered from preclampsia, 40 lbs of water weight and all that…. my husband tells me, that he doesnt think he would find my new body as beautiful as he does, if it werent for the fact that i gave my body to create our sweet daughter. HE did it to me, and he loves it… to me it almost sounds like a primal/territorial thing.
    i only recently started feeling a little better about how i look, i love my body, it created this perfect little person.. i would skin myself alive if it meant she would be forever happy. i think once you come to terms with loving YOU, you can learn how to love how you look. to me, its an honor not all women are lucky enough to have. i went through hell to get those stretch marks, im sure you did as well, your A BADASS. and a hot one. good luck

  • Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 10:49 am

    Hope you feel better about yourself soon. You are beautiful.

  • Saturday, August 5, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    UPDATE: It has been 4 years, and a LOT has changed. My baby girl will be starting school soon, and I’ve been through a divorce and am currently remarried to someone new. It turns out a lot of my feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing were related to underlying intuition about my husband at the time. He had in fact apparently begun cheating on me as soon as I became heavily pregnant, and continued to do so over the next three years, and I sensed the withdrawal that often goes with that situation, and attributed it to my changed body. I hung on for a few years before finally deciding that I deserved better than that.

    I divorced him last year, and married a long-term friend earlier this year. My current husband truly DESIRES me, and it’s an odd feeling because I’d grown used to BEGGING for affection and sex, and rarely getting it. I’ve begun to feel better about my body, even though I “gave up” for a while, and ate my feelings, to the tune of 30 more pounds of fat on my body. I actually feel like I can start improving on myself again, but from a better place.

    Also, those of you who suggested postpartum depression as a culprit were spot on. I continued to have that depression for two more years after the above post, and when I finally came out of it is when I desired to move on from the constant pain and struggle that went with that marriage. Now my daughter switches between our households every other week, a situation she finds desirable, and we are at an okay place.

    Now, I am at a better place body-wise. I now need to lose about 30-40 lbs to get to my goal weight, and I am currently struggling with infertility (apparently because of PCOS), but it is a good stress. A normal stress that is nothing like the constant obsessive pain I endured when I made the original post. I feel like myself again. Just a jiggly stretch-marked version of myself lol.

  • Tuesday, August 8, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    I love hearing that you have come such a long way and are in a much better place. <3 Thank you for updating!

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