Loving Me, Postpartum Jiggles et al
I wrote about loving your body after a baby after my last baby. I had to re-read it since I’ve had this one. Postpartum is this awkward transitional time when your skin tries to remember where it was before the Great Stretching, and your breasts try to gauge how much milk to make for this baby, and your belly jiggles and your face has lost its color, and you’re just plain in the middle of it all.
As I write this, our little baby is almost three months old. I’m still so postpartum. I haven’t lost much weight since I had him. My body feels that heavy jiggle jiggle never-wear-a-bathing-suit-again feeling. My hair has clumped out on the side of my head, leaving the look of a bad side side bang job. I still occasionally slip into a hot bath when everyone is done with a day of needing to be held, loved, sternly glared at, fed, diapered, read to, praised, censured, hair patted out of their faces. The hot water like a deep breath for my skin, my motherly parts all tuckered out.
My girlfriend Blythe just wrote this beautiful post on her blog, The Fike Life, about loving the nursing mom who had to dash after her toddler, displaying her soft tumtum to the world inadvertently. And how it gave her permission to not be perfect, not worry about being beautifully put together. We need that permission.
“But one day I watched a veteran mother of many pop up from her shady spot under a tree to chase a wandering toddler away from the street. I watched her run with a newborn at her breast, soft, postpartum belly exposed, underwear bunched up above the waistline of her jeans… yelling, running, towards the 2 year old on the sidewalk. And I loved her for it.”
We live during a time when sexy (not motherly) is celebrated, and even the rare times a celebrity sort celebrates their motherhood, they do so in a sexy in shape way. Way to go, Olivia Wilde (whoever you are) for nursing your son in Glamour’s September issue. Do you also show your stretch marks or wrinkled belly skin that longs to dive into your belly button like a deep sea diving adventure but can’t? I don’t think so. That’s okay. You probably have a personal trainer and dietician and chef. Go you. The rest of us aren’t hating on you; we just probably don’t look like you.
Projects like the Fourth Trimester Bodies one are so important for me, personally. The project is crowd funded so check out sponsoring them if you feel moved to. I look at these awesome women who grew babies that are proud of their post baby bodies and think okay, if they’re proud, I should be too. Not that the pride means I shouldn’t eat healthfully and work out to maintain muscle tone and health. Not that the pride means I shouldn’t curb my insatiable desire for ice cream and dessert. Sugar addicts need to be kept in check, people.
But the pride means it’s okay that I will never look 21 again (oh! the difference a decade makes–haha) insofar as my skin is older, my face is wrinklier, and my tumtum has pushed out three times with a baby. Even if I get back in stellar shape (hopeful on this one), my body never won’t be scarred and changed. Double negative.
This sounds trite: “love your postpartum body!” But for me it’s not. It means accepting my changes, accepting imperfect older me. Accepting the physical external changes of being a mama that mirror internal changes, too.
I didn’t feel this strongly after my first, or even my second, but with my third, the body changes are more permanent, more real. I’m thinking about how I tore, and that I’ll probably tear along that scar tissue again. I’m thinking about how nursing three takes a toll on what was an upright upper chest. I’m thinking about how three kids’ worth of poor sleep has wrecked my face and puffed out my eyes for infinity. I’m thinking that, once again, I have to believe I’m beautiful and feel confident in order to embrace my new body // new reality. My perception of myself is really in my own hands.
So go hug yourself. And your kids. And mostly feel peace at your changes. Know me & others out there are working towards that too.
And find something to do for you as an outlet–a real break. For me, it’s sewing and knitting for my organic mama & babe goods Whole Parenting Goods on Etsy.
utterly lovely, just like you.
You’re such a love.
You know, this message is so important after every.single.baby is born. After #5 here, and 13 months, and I still have days of reminding myself that this body is a WONDER and beautiful, if not because my husband still thinks so, if not because my hair finally grew back in that bald patch I had on the side, but because it MADE babies. It has nourished all these sweet little beings, and the stretch marks, sagging bits, floppy other bits, are maybe not the “picture perfect” side of me, but they are lingering evidence of the amazing things this body did–grow other people and nourish them.
You’re a beautiful mama. <3
Beautiful reflection, Gina! Sagging bits and floppy other bits! Totally!
Love it, Nell.
Beautiful (both your words and your post partum self).
You’re so kind, Amy!
this is beautiful.
It’s nice to remember that we are beautiful, still, no matter what!
I’m six months pregnant with my first and already struggling with thoughts of postpartum and how my body will likely never be the same again. This was perfect and exactly what I needed. Thank you!
I’m so glad, Charlotte. Welcome! Your body’s changes will shock you, but they also will become a new norm. HUGS!
Beautifully said 🙂 My baby is 13 months old and I’m still dealing with weird/crazy postpartum hair.
What’s with the hair??? It’s so annoying!
So beautifully said mammas and you haven’t changed much since 21, lookin fabulous still 🙂
we make humans and milk, that in itself is amazingly beautiful. So we totally deserve that ice cream and 2 minutes alone in the bathroom 😉
YES. Ice cream and in the toilet alone. YES.
I’m 6 months post- baby #4, and my bits are just not the same. Each baby changed me, and my body. And now even more than ever, things are just different. My body did an amazing beautiful thing–> I try to remember that when I attempt to squeeze into clothes that just fit awkwardly nowadays, while I try to figure out at the same time what in the world is going on with my hair! I think I spotted a few more grey’s amidst the thinning!
It is so true–squeezing into old clothing is the biggest trigger for me of the reminder–oh, yes, I’ve had so many kids that my body is shaped differently. Gray hair is so distinguished!!
Distinguished! I’ll take that!
I love this.
I’m so so glad.
My toddler calls my stretch marks “boo boos” and kisses them. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to make me feel, but the kisses are nice.
It’s a bit harder because I know a lot – A LOT – of women in this area who have larger families (4+) and look relatively unchanged. They maintain their smaller sizes, their fit arms/legs, and a few even show at the pool that they are stretch mark immune.
I try so so hard not to be jealous or frustrated, but it becomes a barrier to friendships for me. I honestly just don’t want to be around people that remind me that is possible, and it makes me feel guilty, like I’m just not trying hard enough.
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So beautifully written, and you are lovely!
You are so kind!
[…] Well, because I didn’t bring a bottle or a babysitter. And I nursed without a cover. With my jiggly everything. This may have shocked some of the ladies, but as it was all ladies, I figured it wasn’t […]
I love your article. Being two months postpartum with my second baby, I needed this read. I loved being pregnant with both my babies – I felt beautiful. With my second pregnancy, I got those deep red stretch marks. After feeling beautiful and then seeing my soft jiggly body, I’ve had a hard time. It’s nice to have that reminder that so many woman are in the same boat and we shouldn’t be ashamed or sad about our bodies. We’ve housed these sweet babies. Thank you for being honest about your postpartum body.
Thanks, Jocalyn, for being here. It’s hard to accept we won’t be carefree about our bodies anymore. They’ve housed our babies, and that makes them sacred–you’re totally right! It’s humbling but really real, I think.