Motherhood Shaped Me (Joni E.)

~Age: 36 years old
~Pregnancies: 5 pregnancies/4 living children (one fetal demise at 21 weeks)
~Childrens ages: 15, 12, 10 and 5 weeks

Highest non-pregnant weight: 183
Weight 3 months prior to pregnancy (lowest adult weight): 125 (I put on 20 lbs before becoming pregnant at my husbands request)
Weight just prior to pregnancy: 144
Weight at time of delivery: 195
Weight now: 167

My story begins 16+ years ago with the loss of my first precious baby. I had difficulty becoming pregnant and was devastated when I lost the pregnancy at 21 weeks. I always appreciated my body and was thrilled when I became pregnant again. I was surprised when my doctor mentioned my stretchmarks being so bad. The grew and grew until they reached the top of my belly. After my daughter was born I was alarmed at the way my body looked. I didn’t recognize my belly anymore. My breast were large and sagging but I was so grateful to have her I didn’t care. I eventually began to realize and then somewhat resent that I couldn’t get my pre-pregnant body back.

Fast forward 4 years and 2 more children. Once the children were older and I had more time to focus on myself I began to really be critical of my body. I was going to school full time to become a RN and working as well. I was eating poorly and not exercising. I was unhappy with myself and my life. Once I graduated nursing school I weighed the most I’d ever weighed at 183. I lost 60 pounds and began marathon training and working out in excess. I was pushing myself to the limit, at one point even breaking my leg and continuing to run despite the pain. I was very proud of my new physique, yet when I looked in the mirror I could see flaw after flaw. Before my breasts were saggy, now they were small. Before my tummy was fat, now wrinkled. I took a step back to evaluate my life and realized the answer was not to be found on the scale or in the gym but in myself.

I changed my life completely. I separated from my husband and then reunited with a man I had known since 6th grade. We fell very deeply in love and quickly began a relationship. We decided to have a baby. He requested that I gain weight prior to becoming pregnant as he felt I was too thin. I had to agree. We became pregnant very quickly and enjoyed my pregnancy. He loved my pregnant body. I gained 50 pounds during the pregnancy. I’d occasionally fear the weight I’d have to lose after the birth but I enjoyed my body and what it was doing in a way I never had before. He and I decided to have our baby at home, something I had wanted to do with my 3 previous births but did not have a supportive spouse to help make that possible. I gave birth in a birth tub in our kitchen, surrounded by people I loved. It was the best day of my life. Ella weighed a huge, healthy 10 lbs and 6 oz. Her birth empowered me in a way I had never felt empowered before. I felt strong, capable and beautiful (her long birth story can be found here).

Now 5 weeks after her birth I love this sweet baby more than I can describe. And I respect my body in a whole new way but I don’t recognize it in the mirror. I have huge 38DD breasts again and my tummy is back to looking like it did when I had my third baby (10 years ago). I worked so incredibly hard for the shape I had before I became pregnant with Ella, to the point of obsession. It was difficult to admit that my happiness did not depend on if I wore a size 14 (my current size) or a size 4. But yet in these first weeks PP I told my husband I felt like I needed to look like I did before this birth because if I did not it was like false advertising. After all, he didn’t marry 167 pound me. What he said really made me pause to appreciate myself: He said, ” I wish when you looked at yourself you could see what I see. You are so sexy. You are beautiful. Inside and out. I love your body. It made our baby. I love you and just want you to love yourself too.” And I believe him and I do love myself.

We are so pressured by society to look a certain way. We’ve been conditioned to believe that beauty is skin deep. We feel like if we were a certain size or weight we’d be happy. We feel like we need to have plastic surgery to get “back to the way we were” before having babies. Fix our breasts. Fix our bellies. Fix ourselves. When we are not in fact broken. What we should be doing is celebrating and appreciating the amazing things are bodies do to make our babies and that we can make babies at all!

I’m so proud of all the women on SOAM willing to bare their bodies and souls for the sake of truth and beauty.

Photos included:
1. Pre-pregnancy after losing 50 pounds on WW (me in the stripes, my baby sister in the hearts)
2. at 37 weeks pregnant with my husband
3. smiling in labor at 40 weeks 5 days (tie dye sarong)
4. Us at our wedding (me 36 weeks pregnant)
5. Ella at 3 weeks
6/7/8. me now 5 weeks PP front/back/side

16 thoughts on “Motherhood Shaped Me (Joni E.)

  • Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 8:48 am

    What a great story! Congrats on your new baby and being a strong lovely woman!

  • Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 8:59 am

    I LOVE your story. I think it’s beautiful. And so are you. Both inside and out.

  • Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 9:25 am

    One word. Beautiful. You are such an inspiration! You look so blissfully happy. I hope to one day have a love story like yours :)

  • Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Your husband is right, you are absolutely beautiful! I think you have an AMAZING pp body especially after having a 10lb baby! Your breasts have a great shape, your waist is nicely defined and your bum is nice and perky! You have a beautiful family, adorable baby and wonderful husband. You are very blessed! :)

  • Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 11:04 am

    You are so beautifully gorgeous in all of your pictures! You will lose the weight over the next couple of years if you put your mind to it, but what’s the rush? You have lovely proportions and beautiful skin right now, and at only 5 weeks pp! And your hubby sounds wonderful. Congratulations on your family!

  • Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 11:19 am

    you are the cutest thing i ever did see! your body is adorable, your baby is adorable, and your husband is adorable. There’s too much cuteness going on here, there’s no space to feel bad about anything! Congrats mama.

  • Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    You have one inspiring story :) and an AMAZING husband ..I too struggle with body image infact we have almost the same exact body look amazing listen to your husband …

  • Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    inspiring story & amazing pictures. I love the shot of You and Your husband: You look blissful!
    Congrats on a beautiful baby

  • Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Awesome post! I’m 36, have a 3 and 1 year old, and my flabby belly is my toddler’s favorite play thing, especially while he’s nursing. I’m glad it’s good for something! Congrats on the home birth (I had one too) and enjoy falling in love with the woman your husband cherishes. :)

  • Friday, November 5, 2010 at 2:08 am

    your husband is rite you have a lovely body great breasts and curves, i’m surprised your doctor said you had bad stretch marks as i can hardly see any? i had a 10 pound 4oz baby and have very bad s marks id love my stomach to look as good as yours you have a beautiful body :)

  • Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Thanks for posting. You’re gorgeous inside and out.

  • Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 1:24 am

    u look good for 5 weeks pp. by 16 weeks i reckon you’ll be back completely!

  • Thursday, January 6, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Your story is so much like mine!!! I think your words are an inspirationa to all women who think that they aren’t beautiful after having a baby!! I stuggled with my body image as a young mother just like every other woman on this forum…now, as a 37 yr old new mother I embrace the changes in my body and appreciate the fact that it still gave me another child with my new love…after only one month of trying and that he was healthy and I am able to nurse him successfully. A woman’s body is an amazing thing and I am thankful for the 4 beautiful children mine has given me.

  • Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    What a beautiful story, congratulations on your baby! I think you look phenomenal!

    Also, the picture of you and your hubs in bed? Greatest picture ever. Seriously, EVER. I love it. Will be stealing that during my next pregnancy : )

  • Friday, February 18, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    you are beautiful!! so is your baby and husband. congrats on your family. My body after my kids is similar to yours. i do diet and exercise trying to get in to that size 4 which i feel is unattainable because of my bone structure and build.. but i still strive i guess. But your words made me cry and i ruined my makeup lol. what you said about ” we try to fix ourselves because society tells us were broken.” THats the story of my life. I feel broken everyday because i got stretchies and and a flabby stomach but I forget i HAVE two beautiful preschoolers running around who depend on and love me completely. If it wasnt for my belly stretching and nurishing them they wouldnt be here.. thank sfor the perspective. and all your photos are gorgeous!!!!!

  • Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    BEAUTIFUL. And im not just talking about ur body. The way u view things and i know it took you time to get to that thinking. I commend you; your beauty inside and out and strength. Thank you for sharing your story <3

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