Two months ago, I gave birth to a beautiful little girl. She has my heart and she brings me more joy than I ever could’ve imagined before I met her.
She is also the reason my body is different. Very different.
I’ve lost about 15lbs since her birth but I’m still at least 20 away from my “pre-baby weight.” I have a lot more stretch marks than before. I have saggy skin. I have these new big boobs that come with leakage problems and boob sweat. My belly button is wrinklier inside. No seriously. I have a wrinklier belly button. It’s odd. Sometimes I leak pee when I jump or twist or squat. Not all the time. Just sometimes. I cannot move as fast as I used to or work out as intensely as I used to. I look tired (and am tired) around the clock.
This body doesn’t look or feel (or smell!) like the one I had before I had my baby. That’s been a tough thing to come to terms with, especially as my body continues to serve another human being. I don’t look like a supermodel. I didn’t “bounce back”. I still don’t always recognize the person looking back at me in the mirror. She looks much different than the person there a year ago.
But I can’t go back to that body. Not ever. Not really. And I don’t want that body. That body is untouched by pregnancy and birth. That body doesn’t know a world with the cutest little girl in the world. This body does.
After I got the OK from my midwife, I gladly jumped back into activities and exercises that made me feel good. I nuzzled my baby in her Tula and took her on walks, and now that the weather is warming up I’ll be wearing her up into the mountains. I get my sweat on as I wander around the mall with other mamas during Stroller Strides once a week. And, like in these pictures, most days of the week I squeeze an interval workout in at my home that’s now always a little messier than I would like. They’re always less than 20 minutes and some days I spend hours in my sports bra before I find a good time to work out.
I’ll work out while my little one is napping or while she’s playing next to me, and I have to be fine with cutting it short for baby snuggles and meals. This is my new reality. Getting up and active almost always involves my little one. Exercise isn’t just different logistically now. It also feels different. I’m in a much different mental space. A positive one.
I look at my little girl and I think about what matters to me and what I want her to see. I want her to see that I live an active life because I love it. Because it makes me feel good. Because it makes me happy. I don’t want her to think that I do these things because I hate my body; the beautiful body that brought her into this world. I try to eat healthy and stay active because I love my body; not because I hate it. The numbers on the scale do not define me and I do not need to hide my body.
Some days I forget that. Some days I give into the messages around me about what my body should look like and what I should want it to look like after giving birth. Some days I get down. Some days I really miss my old clothes. Some days I wish I was made of celebrity magic and could look fit and well-rested mere months after giving birth.
But then I remember why my body looks so different these days. I remember there’s a little girl watching and listening to me every single day and that I want her to understand self-love. I remember what this body is capable of.
And I will not be ashamed of this body.
This is the body that grew and nourished a life for 42 weeks and 1 day.
This is the body that powered through 44 hours of labor to give birth to a beautiful baby.
This is the body that continues to feed that baby every single day.
This body deserves love.
This body performed a miracle.
I look at my daughter and I absolutely refuse to believe that my body is anything less than extraordinary.