Some things change, others stay the same & that’s OK. (Marissa)

C-Section Mama, Married 6years to my BFF

I was 23 when I got pregnant. Being a very short and active young adult, I’ve always been a wild one at heart. My favorite joy is dancing. I love to just turn the music on and have fun! That was me before pregnancy.

Now I’m 24. I’ve had my first baby. I’m 3 months postpartum and I still don’t feel like that girl again yet. Somehow she’s me – but somehow she’s somebody else. Anyone feel that way? I know many have, but I have never in my life struggled to feel myself. I’ve always felt confident in my own skin. Sometimes I felt too skinny or non-curvy but… when I had my son… I suddenly felt foreign. I feel my tummy and it’s foreign. I feel my boobs – they feel foreign.

It’s okay to sometimes feel like things are different. They are different. We can’t hold ourselves to the old us because all through life we will change and morph into new women. I realized that this must be what it feels like to look in the mirror at 60, or try to run or when your metabolism just wasn’t like it once was and now you eat one piece of pizza and blow up. It all hit me. Is this real life? It may sound so silly and vain but seriously some people simply haven’t gotten there yet. Instead of me feeling like I need to catch up with others or feel sad that I’m not the same and other women get to feel hot … I just need to give myself a firm swat on the buns and say “listen up lady – you are a boss babe, the woman you were is still there but she has grown, she is strong, she understands life in a new way, she went through tough labor, she stayed in the hospital 5 days, she woke up all night and she cried, she wanted to be her old self but she also wanted to snuggle her baby with all her love, she birthed a new life, she is a mother, she is loved, she is valued and she is special beyond belief. Don’t you dare discount that. You are learning big things, and your mind and experience have went through something many women have not had the privilege of, and the challenge of.” Life is an experience and a gift. May we always remember that motherhood is nitty gritty, deep and emotional but ever so rewarding and we mature in massive ways.

To be honest… I still don’t feel like me. In some ways it’s coming around but in some ways I feel as though some parts of me will always stay. I will always feel my stretch marks and go “whoaaa that’s intense”. I will also think “hehe omg it’s so soft and cuddly”!

Let us give ourselves time, relax, live healthy and stay strong. ? You can do it ladies. We are the mama family.

Update here!

My postpartum body is horrible, and I have a lot of insecurities!!! (K. Evans)

Well for starters I have a lot on my plate. I’m a single mom, I work, and go to school. I just turned 20 last December, and this was my first pregnancy. I love my son to death I wouldn’t trade him for anything, I just regret having him at a young age. I feel like a bad mom sometimes because I get so down about my postpartum body, and it worries me so much I lose focus on what’s important. I’m 3 months pp and I thought I would be at least almost back to normal but I’m not. My stomach is very wrinkly and covered with stretchmarks as well as my sides, thighs, hips, even my calves. I don’t even want to date in the future because of it…its just that awful. The only thing that cheers me up about it is my son because he was well worth it. I just wish it wasn’t so bad ?

The first picture is me before pregnancy, the last two are me 3 months pp….

52 and Utterly Depressed (Anonymous)

Hi lovely ladies it has been some comfort to me reading your stories tonight, I am 52 and have 3 children, 31, 27, and 15 yrs of age. I was always a lovely C cup until I had my first child, whilst still fitting into a C, the top of the bra was unfilled.

2nd child not too much difference.

I had my 3rd child later in life age 37 with my new man who didnt have children, never seen a pregnant tummy and had never seen the aftermath. Sadly after this birth my boobs just caved in on themselves, they are horrid, I still cant stand looking at them 15yrs on. About 10yrs ago it really got me down, hubby says he loves me the way I am but one day when he was less understanding he said to me ‘why can’t you just accept that you are down there and not like an up there 18 yr old’.

I guess his frustration of me going on about my grievance got the better of him, but that was doomsday for me, so he thinks they are awful too. I have never gotten over this, when we are out I see him looking at other woman, one cannot help it these days, boobs are in your face so to speak. He actually lost conversation the other day when a woman walked passed us in the supermarket, I continued on with our conversation and he said to me ‘I have no idea what your talking about’.

He works in the mines with loads of promiscuous young ladies, I’m really at wits end. Now I have hit menopause and dont even feel like a woman, I feel like shaving my head and cutting my boobs off so I havnt got the burden.

I absolutely hate myself and hate myself for hating myself.

Our marriage is almost in ruins because of this.

I tell him that when men wear their cocks on their chest and some have enhancements that will make him feel embarrassed compared to what he has then he may understand. Life is not reality anymore, men dont see fake, or proportion, they see BOOBS and dont give a hoot where they have come from. I have even contemplated suicide but wouldnt do it to my children.

I feel so selfish.

Depressed and Confused (Anonymous)

I am 21 years old and pregnant with my 3rd child, I had my first when I was 17 and second when I was 19. I am currently engaged to the father of these three beautiful babies. But things are rough. I am so uncomfortable with everything about my body. Before I got pregnant I was 115 pounds, after I was 160 I stretched everywhere and I have so much extra skin on my belly it just hangs and even though I’m 6 months pregnant now it’s still there. After being pregnant the first time my areoles stretched so much, I’m still uncomfortable having my fiancé see my breasts. He tries to joke about it because they sag, but it really just hurts. I can’t take it as a joke because I feel disgusting and he doesn’t understand. He just says if he doesn’t care what I look like then why should I? But just to have your body change so much and none of your clothes fit at all.. It’s heartbreaking. I go months without leaving the house at all. Not even to the grocery store. It’s been like this for 3 years. I cut myself secretly for a long time because I dont know how to deal with the pain. I feel like nobody understands, over the summer everyone would ask me why I dressed the way I did.. We would go to the beach and I would wear an oversized t shirt and men’s swim trunks. I don’t even own a bathing suit. I would love to have a daughter but I am terrified that if I do she is going to go through what I am now. How am I supposed to teach her to love her body when I can’t love my own?

A Male Perspective (Anonymous Dad)

I am a man, and I while I know this is a site for women, I have a story to share. Whether you chose to post it is at your discretion, but I am hopeful you will read what I have to say and perhaps offer some advice.

My wife has given birth to two wonderful, beautiful children. She is an amazing person who is absolutely devastated by the state of her breasts. She rarely takes her shirt off when we make love, and putting on a bra or a shirt can send her into an emotional tailspin that takes her days to recover from.

Her body recovered remarkably from the first pregnancy, and she became pregnant again quite quickly again. The second pregnancy was the one that really changed her body. Her breasts became hugely engorged while breastfeeding. I cannot say what the size was, but they were gigantic. She was a B cup before the kids.

She is five, almost six years PP, and her stomach is completely flat. She has very few stretch marks and they are all very short and thin. She has a tiny spot of cellulite on one butt cheek and a few more stretch marks on her hips but really, nothing you wouldn’t notice unless you were being intimate with her. She looks the same as when we met which is athletic, healthy, beautiful and super sexy.

I recognize that many women define a great deal of their femininity through their breasts. Hers have lost their perkiness, their firmness, and they are more saggy than they were before she was pregnant. I also cannot even begin to fathom how she feels or what she is thinking outside of what she has told me, or what I have gleaned through her body language.

She has said some of the same things I have read here. She feels gross. She hates her body. She has even said that she would rather cut her breasts off than have them be how they are.
As for me, I can only tell her what I honestly feel, and my hope is that the other women on this site will hear these things from the men in their lives.

When you look at yourself you tend to only see the flaws, the things you want to change. the mirror is lying to you and telling you to conform to the ideal set forth by the media. Real women do not look like the lies you see every day. Real women are not photoshopped pieces of plastic. Real women have saggy breasts. Real women have stretch marks. Real women have cellulite and wonky nipples. Real women come in all shapes and sizes.

But most of all real men know this. Real men understand that what counts is what is in your mind and in your heart. Sure. I am a man, and I have visual queues that peak my interest, but that does not mean I have the expectation that my reality has to conform to the fantasy.
When I see my wife, I see the most beautiful woman in the world. I see the woman who suffered the scars to birth my babies, who nourished them, who gave her body to them so they could grow and come into the world and bring me all the pride and joy and wonderment I could ever imagine.

Real men do not want a manufactured doll that never changes. A real man wants a woman that grows into her mature womanhood. A woman who is lovely because of the emotion and intelligence she develops through the process of becoming a mother.

I know not all men are respectful or kind, and I know this is small condolences when the mirror is lying to you, but please. Ladies. Sexy is a state of mind, not a matter of dimensions or expectations.

I promise.

Getting Better (Alice)

Age: 34
Pregnancies: 1
Births: 2
Age of children: 14 months

I posted an entry five months ago when I was feeling pretty bad about my body and health post-partum. I gave birth to twins last summer and suffered a prolapse not long after, and was feeling despondent about that and about how much my body had altered. I wanted to post a follow-up to say thank you for all the lovely supportive comments that other women left; they cheered me up immensely! This is a wonderful forum which made me feel much less alone.

I am in such a better place now, both physically and mentally. The girls are sleeping through the night (huge. just huge. I had no idea how much sleep deprivation would kill me), and I’m slowly losing the baby weight. I have about 8-10 lbs to go, I breast fed so have been very careful not to diet as I didn’t want it to affect my supply what with feeding two babies at once.

I know that my body will never look the same. BUT the thing that has really changed is the way I feel about that. Some of it is having had time to get used to my new body. I see the stretched, saggy and wrinkled skin on the front of my belly (an area about the size of my splayed hand placed on my stomach) as a scar. Being alive and truly living in the world means that we’re all going to get scars, one way or another. Now when I look at that skin I can see it as a symbol of how hard I worked for my girls because I love them so much, and wanted them so much. I worked to eat plenty of healthy food so they would gain weight and have everything they needed to grow. I worked to carry them and nurture them for 36 weeks and then I worked to birth them naturally because I felt like it was the best way for them to get here. I’ve worked, worked, WORKED every day since then to keep them warm and safe and fed and loved, and it’s been worth every single blemish and scar and 3am moment of desperation.

My prolapse situation now at 14 months after the birth is much improved. I found a fantastic Pilates teacher who’s been working with me for about four months now and most of the time I don’t think about the prolapse at all. The diastasis has got smaller but is still there. My stomach is a little flatter which I like. I still don’t know whether I’ll need surgery for the prolapse in the future but I do feel much more hopeful about it all. I would really, really encourage everyone out there who is dealing with similar issues to keep trying different things – Pilates, Mutu System, Hab It Pelvic Floor, I’m sure there’s lots of others. There’s a ton of help out there once you start looking.

I honestly never thought I would feel this way, and I’m ashamed to say that I used to think that other mothers who said they did were just saying it to make themselves feel better about how much their bodies had changed. I get it now. I’m not ashamed of my body in the least little bit, and I am absolutely going to wear a bikini whenever I feel like it! I was diagnosed a few months ago with Lichen Sclerosis, a skin condition of the labia which is sometimes brought on by pregnancy. Although I was very upset about it for a while I’ve since realized that all of the health challenges I’ve been faced with are just that – challenges to live better and more healthily. I’ve given up sugar and wheat to help manage the Lichen Sclerosis, and I’m committed to what basically amounts to a lifetime of Pilates to help deal with the prolapse. I used to push myself very hard physically; now I’m kinder to myself and am trying to take a more balanced approach. I’ve always been quite an extreme person and I think this has been a very valuable lesson for me.

I Feel Like They Can’t Be Fixed (Adria)

20 (age)
Pregnancies (1)
8 months post partum by cesarean.

When i first became pregnant, during my first trimester i lost 20 pounds. Than the rest of my pregnancy i only gained 10 pounds. After i delivered i then lost 25 more. This is what alot of people would call “bouncing back” and yes in some ways i did. Two weeks after delivery i could fit back into my pre pregnancy clothing. 3 months after delivery though i developed a condition called body dysmorphic disorder, it took over my life to the piont of suicide. At around the same piont my husband wanted to leave because he couldnt understand why i felt so horrible about myself, he got tired of trying to help but with no results. Ne never left though he stuck by my side and continued to try, much to my appreciation. If it wernt for him i wouldnt be here to write this post today. I went to counciling and i am no where near as down as i was thankfully. With exersize i got some of my old form back. The only thing hindering me from total and complete love for my self again is my breasts, they make me sick. To rememeber what they used to be and what they are now is dissapionting. I weigh 118 pounds now, i think im ok with the rest of my body now. I still have my days i just hope one day that i can accept the changes my son did to my body and any future children as well. Included is a picture of my handsom son, hes keeping me going :)

Updated here.

Glee’s Rocky Horror Episode

Spoilers abound for this week’s episode, read on at your own risk!

I just finished watching Glee’s Rocky Horror episode and beneath the incredible music (I am not always into Glee’s music, but this episode was possibly my favorite ever) they tackled not only the usual theme of misfits in society, but also body image in more than one capacity.

Mercedes is one of my favorite characters. She’s chubby, but doesn’t think it makes her un-pretty. And it doesn’t – she is gorgeous. They never force her into frumpy clothes, instead they show off her curves in form-fitting style that reflects the personality of her character. For those that haven’t watched it inthis episode, she requested to play the role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter and she rocked it. I loved that they twisted the gender of the role for her; it worked within the story and I loved the different style she brought to the music. Her body shape has rarely held her back from being incredible in every way and I strive to be more like her in that regard. She is, I think, one of the most excellent role models for young girls on TV.

In a somewhat related subplot, two boys struggled with body image. I know this is an issue that’s not often discussed, and while this could easily have come across as petulant, it didn’t. The writers and actors made it not only believable, but also quite natural. Sam worried about having to maintain his perfect body, and Finn had to work on becoming comfortable with something unconventionally handsome. My only beef – and it was, rather, a large one – was that it seemed that Finn’s character was considered chubby by all around him (smacks of Tracy Gold’s character on Growing Pains) and he is so clearly not chubby even a little bit. Such an assumption by the rest of the characters gives real bodies and the diversity of shape and size a blow once again.

I’ve always loved the way the show breaks social barriers, and not only did I love the music this episode, but I REALLY loved the subtopic of body image and how it was dealt with (mostly).

What did you think?

Behind Enemy Lines (SMS)

Age 30
1st pregnancy, 1 year postpartum

My body has always been the enemy. This shape which outlines the whole of who I am, encapsulating the parts of me both seen and unseen. Somehow, with time and age, it had come to represent me, a personal definition of who I am, carefully crafted for the world to see. The “me” that existed behind the lines of my body was lost in my attempts to measure up to a cultural ideal.

Before my daughter, I was constantly at war with my body. It never did what I wanted, when I wanted it, how I wanted. Having internalized so many of the messages my culture had fed me, I never felt thin enough, shapely enough, sculpted enough. I starved myself for years on end, adopting strange diets in the name of being healthy, and obsessed that it was never enough. It seemed, my body was always bound to fail me. Years of my life were spend battling body dysmorphic disorder – no matter what I did, it was never enough.

When we decided we were ready to have a baby, my body failed me again. The first few months passed. Then a year. Then another year. My body was failing me on a whole new level. Not only did it fail to measure up to some abstract standard of beauty, but apparently its functionality was also impaired. I spent nights lamenting over a loss of my future family, tears wasted after our Re told us it wouldn’t happen on our own. In the war between me and my body, my body was winning.

Shortly before the three year mark of trying to conceive, we finally did just that. And as my body began to change, so did I. For the first time in my, my body had a purpose. It had a purpose greater than myself. In the first three months I gained 20lbs, and I stopped getting on the scale. My best guess is I gained at least 45lbs during my pregnancy, but that was just a number. I felt free. Free to exist as I was, as a woman bringing life into this world. My growing curves stood as testament to the amazing thing happening inside my body and the only standard of comparison was in my heart.

My daughter was born a mere 5lb 10oz. Complications at the pregnancy caused her to stop getting adequate nutrition – one last attempt from my body to fight my new empowerment. But my daughter was strong and healthy. And next week my tiny peanut will be turning a year old. My body shows the proud signs of mommyhood. A handful of stretchmarks adorn my tummy and thighs, my hips are ample, my breasts have nourished my daughter for these nearly twelve months and they show it, and I’m still carrying some baby weight around because my life is too busy chasing my daughter around to obsess all that much. I still won’t get on a scale. This is not the same body I had a few years ago. This body is better. And I am not the same woman I was a few years ago. I am stronger.

Some days are rougher than others. Some days the drive to perfection revs up again. Then I look at my daughter, and I marvel at how this body could do something so amazing. And I remind myself that how my daughter will look at herself starts with how I look at myself. I never want my daughter to fight with her own body, because she is beautiful and incredible as she is. I have learned that one of the best ways to love my daughter is to also love myself.

Why Do We Treat Ourselves With Hate?

I’ve noticed a certain sort of recurring comment here at SOAM. It goes something like, “Wow, mama, you look GREAT! Your boobs/belly/bum looks way better than mine – I look like crap and I’m much farther postpartum/younger/had fewer kids than you did.” This comment starts off lovely and supportive but quickly turns dark and self-abusive. Why?

In the past I have posted an entry or two which I had hoped would help bring out the positivity in the women here. I have asked them to share things they loved about the way their bodies changed or simply things they loved about their bodies. Very few people responded to these attempts.

So this week, I decided to do a simple experiment. On Monday I asked for you to share the things you wished you could change about your body. As I expected, I was flooded with comments – 74 here at SOAM and another 46 over at Facebook in just about 24 hours. What I didn’t expect were the comments that answered this question on a much deeper level. Comments like these:

Becky Says:
I could make my cesarean scar darker. It’s been 5 1/2 years now and it’s mostly faded. I don’t want to forget. It was a dark, dark time in my life and if I forget I’m afraid I won’t fight hard enough to keep it from happening again.

Adrienne Descloux Says:
I want to know why she’s only interested in my body. I she a man in disguise? If I had a fairy godmother what I’d *really* want her to change is my yard to being self maintained, more time to play crafts with the kids indoors. ;-)

Samantha Says:
I wish she would change my mind, to give me the ability to love my body/myself as it is/as I am. Seriously. My biggest most hideous flaw is how much I hate my appearance.

Michelle Says:
I have scoliosis. I want my back fixed.

Erin Says:
I wish I didn’t have such a long list of things I want to change about my body. Physically there is a lot I would LOVE to change: brow lift, flat tummy, smaller arms, smaller nose, bigger booty, tan, no acne/scars, better toe nails, etc… But I think deep down, most of all I would ask to learn how to love myself just as I am. Also how to be loved by others. I think if I had that then the rest wouldn’t be as important.

krystine Says:
I would ask the ferry god mother for the ability to smile. Something so simple that I struggle with every day, that my oldest (nearly 4) is starting to notice that mummy is sad alot.

These women, despite the pain I hear in their words, speak from a place I hope we can all understand one day (preferably with as little emotional trauma as possible). The idea that our bodies truly are superficial; they are a means to experience life, they should not be our lives. This isn’t to take away from the very real pain we, as women, have to deal with when it comes to loving ourselves and our bodies, but I hope that one day each of us can come to a place where we have moved beyond that pain.

The next day, Tuesday, I asked for you to share with me the things you do like about your bodies. I guessed that fewer people would contribute when forced to speak nicely about themselves and, again, my suspicions proved accurate. Only 40 comments here at SOAM and ten at Facebook. (On the other hand, ten people “liked” this, compared to only 3 from the day before.)

Why is it so much easier to beat ourselves emotionally senseless than it is to lift ourselves up? It takes work to change this way of thinking, but we must do this work. For ourselves, our daughters, our friends, their daughters – indeed for every woman living in this society. But it is not impossible and it can be done one step at a time.

This week, I ask you to take this step: refrain from bashing yourself when lifting up another mama here. When you leave comments here, please do not hurt yourself in the process. I’m not even asking you to compliment yourself here (yet), I ask that you simply don’t insult yourself. Believe it or not, it’s the beginning of the road to accepting yourself.