I Hate My Post-Baby Body, And No Feel-Good Essay Is Going To Change That
In our culture there seems to be just two ways to feel about your post-baby body:
1. I’m working out and losing weight and am stronger than ever, woohoo look at all these chia seeds I’m eating! (Every celebrity more or less falls into this category.)
2. My body is beautiful after having kids. It’s changed and I love my scars and curves and sags and stretch marks and this extra 15 pounds. I am a woman and my body did something extraordinary and magical and I LOVE IT!!!! #ACCEPTANCE
But me, I don’t fall into either of those camps. I have scars and sags and stretch marks and extra weight, and I hate it. Not to mention the aches and pains and other weird body quirks (Hello, bladder. Oh hey there, hemorrhoids.) that have ceased to go away even though I had my last kid in Spring, 2013.
I do not like my post-baby body. I’ve read every feel-good personal essay about how empowering it is to create life from our bodies and yay women etc etc, and while I totally get it on an intellectual level, I just can’t seem to change my mindset. I used to feel really guilty about this, because you know: I am a feminist! I have two daughters! I want all women to love themselves!
But fuck it, I am saying it: This shit sucks.
Yes, I know I am lucky to have a wonderful, working body and two beautiful children – I am eternally grateful for the many blessings in my life. I watched my mom die a horrible death of cancer; I know what it looks like for a body to stop working and how truly cruel that is. I understand it can sound flip to whine about a post-baby body when there is much greater suffering occurring in the world.
But I need to say it, because maybe someone else needs to hear it. This post-baby body crap is truly a bitch. I look like a blob of cookie dough about to be cooked. The feeling of my thighs rubbing together haunts me like a paper cut or hangnail – it’s nothing but it’s also just feels awful and relentless. My back pain that popped up in pregnancy is worse than ever and keeps me from getting a decent night sleep on the regular. I don’t have the time or interest to Gwyneth Paltrow it up to get the weight off, and all my jogging and swimming just does nothing. Also: Eternal hemorrhoids. Weird periods. I pee myself on occasion, still. My body is now the weird bizarro Clockwork Orange version of its former, functioning self.
I hate knowing that this is just how my body is now. I hate that I hate it. I hate that I feel bad that I’m not just eating LEAN PROTEIN for days to change it, and I hate that I wish I had the will to do so. I hate that I am not one of those amazing moms who has accepted her shape and form post-kids and is totally DOWN WITH IT. I hate that having kids has made me slow and sluggish, and hurt in ways that refuse to go away. My frustration is both in my appearance and in how I physically feel and I just hate all of it.
There is so much pressure to return to your pre-baby body after giving birth, and we all know that’s not going to happen no matter what you do. You’re forever changed after passing a human out of the tunnel that is your insides, even if people can’t see it with their eyes. Still, our cultural obsession with women who’ve lost their baby weight and how they’re doing it is atrocious. It takes the focus away from motherhood and self-care and makes how we look the most important thing. And while I admire and enjoy hearing from women who reject those constraints and learn to love the new shape their bodies take on after birth, I can’t yet relate.
The struggle to love my body has been lifelong for me, and at times I’ve felt better about it than others. And while I am working both toward accepting my new self and finding ways to physically become stronger and more comfortable (please someone cure this back pain!), I also want to be able to say that this is who I am and I don’t really like it right now, without feeling like it’s wrong. I’ve pushed two kids out, I think I’ve earned that right.