I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not I should write this post. On one hand, I think it’s so commonly discussed and is such a hot topic I do feel compelled to share my story. On the other hand, I don’t love drawing focus to women’s bodies after they gave birth. On the other..other hand I really am unsure of whether or not I can even fully articulate how it actually is that I feel because truthfully… it’s complicated.
The only thing I ever wanted from this blog was to share my own personal experiences and feelings.. maybe strike a chord in another mom that feels the same way, and is just looking for someone to finally say “I see you and I get it”. So, with that being said, here is my (very ongoing) journey toward accepting my post-twins body.
Before babies I, fortunately, did not have a lot of self-image issues. I was mostly accepting of my body and didn’t give myself too hard of a time all that regularly. When I got pregnant it didn’t even cross my mind the changes my body would go through – obviously I recognized it would but it definitely wasn’t my primary concern. I had pretty well constant vomiting my entire pregnancy which was a permanent distractor from my, daily growing, enormous belly. It sounds ridiculous but it seemed like one day I woke up and I was huge. By the time I delivered I had gained roughly 60 pounds and in the last few months my belly and sides just got riddled with stretch marks, a lot of them were nice and deep purple and my abdominal muscles had just started to separate. Again though, it really didn’t worry me because I had no idea yet what happens when the big giant belly deflates and what you’re left with is loose, stretched, scarred skin.
To many, the perception was that I “snapped back” because at first glance I pretty much looked the same as I did before I had babies. My weight dropped fairly quickly and the closer I got to my “pre-baby” body size the closer I felt like I would get to loving my body again. I can’t say that happened – because the belly went away but the scars stayed, the skin stayed stretched out and I was left in a state of confusion about what I was supposed to feel. I get told all the time that I “look great for having twins” (which don’t get me wrong is nice to hear) but I haven’t necessarily felt great. Does the fact that I don’t have complete satisfaction with what pregnancy did to my body mean that I’m ungrateful for the fact that I could get pregnant? No. Does it mean that I don’t think every single stretch mark and scar was worth it? No. But for some reason those notions are to some degree perpetuated these days which has caused me so much confusion.
I think the biggest problem I have with this whole thing is that people feel the need to make remarks on my body. People didn’t seem to notice me before I became pregnant but once that happened people couldn’t keep their eyes, remarks and, astonishingly, hands away from me. I am not a petting zoo and I never asked for public opinion on my body… but seemingly by default when you get pregnant all of a sudden it’s up for discussion. Anytime a stranger mentions my body it starts this internal spiral of dialogue where I’m glad people are saying nice things but then I just end up internally listing the issues I have.
Either you need to be someone who is committed to the ‘snapback’ of your body OR you need to be someone that fills in their stretchmarks with glitter and intensely pushes the message that because your body held babies you have to love it and every single change it made throughout the process. Are either of those things wrong or harmful? Of course not. But are there also women, like me, who kind of sit in the middle where you aren’t necessarily in love with what happened to your body but you are also SO proud of what your body accomplished? You’re struggling with accepting that the changes your body went through are more or less permanent and how to wrap your mind around that.
Like I said, it’s complicated.
Maybe that’s what I’m only just now realizing by writing this… that maybe before my positive self-image and self-talk came from what my body looked like on the outside. Maybe now my positive self-image needs to come from pride of the accomplishment. Is it too cheesy to say that I have to focus on the journey and not the destination (yes, Hollie, it is). I think it needs to be said out loud that it’s ok if you don’t love your stretchmarks and it’s ok if you aren’t crazy about some of the pounds you gained in childbirth sticking around – just don’t get so focused on being discontent with what your body looks like that you forget to have a sense of pride for the accomplishment of literally creating humans.
I really don’t know who this is written for – it seems like just a really convoluted, mildly depressing, journal entry that I probably should have just kept to myself – but here we are!
At the end of the day, no matter what we look like on the outside, we’re all moderately paranoid, tired, generally over-caffeinated and tough as god damned nails for having to endure the greatest feat humans are capable of.