Anonymous Mom is a weekly column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this unanimous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity.
Like almost everything else related to my pregnancy, I did extensive Google searching and reading. I was trying to mentally prep myself for what my new “mommy body” was going to look like because I did not want to be caught off guard or disappointed if things were not quite how I expected after delivery. Essentially, I was preparing for the worst and assuming that my body would look something similar to “the blob” once little Jackson was born. I spent some time trying to mentally prepare for this and come up with a “plan of attack” if this be the case.
About a month ago baby Jack-Jack (as we have been calling him) was finally born. At first I was hesitant to look at myself and for the first 24 hours I avoided all mirrors -- this was not too difficult in a hospital. A wise nurse told me to give it two weeks before weighing myself. This I found funny; I wasn’t very eager to jump on a scale.
At the 48-hour mark, of course, curiosity got the best of me and I was standing in the bathroom, poking and prodding my squishy belly.
Fact: post-baby tummies resemble deflated beach balls.
However, aside from this I was more then pleasantly surprised. I emerged from the bathroom thinking "it is not a bad starting point."
This was approximately six weeks ago, and although I have had my fair share of moody moments over my new tiger stripe stretch marks, everything else has pretty much gone back to normal. In fact it has gone back to normal so much that I almost feel guilty talking about it.
You see one thing I learned while researching the postpartum period is that some women struggle for years to get their “body back." In most cases health, genetics and other factors can make it extremely difficult. Me, I actually feel slightly misguided in what the realities of a “mommy body” are because I look at myself today and I am fairly flabbergasted that I look this good a month after popping out one of those precious bundles of joy. Everything I read or heard had told me otherwise. I was bracing for disaster, selling myself short. I had premature low self esteem!
I am certain now that the idea of the “mommy body” is another socially manufactured fable meant to make women feel bad about themselves. My “mommy body” looks nearly identical to my other body aside from the fact my boobs are currently inflated and most days I haven’t the time or ambition to get dressed. The whole world seems to have this idea that having a baby ruins your body and will make you eternally desexualized. I disagree. I am extremely sexy now, even with leaky boobs and throw up on my shoulder.
Like all the other evil ploys out there that manipulate women’s body image -- the "post-baby body," "pre-baby body" stigmata is dangerous and cruel. The worst thing is it is something that we allow ourselves to buy into because it is such a widespread idea. The impression that you can’t bounce back easily from giving birth is what everyone wants you to believe. The worst part is, this is what we as women tell each other, like a campfire horror story.
I shake my head now knowing the reality of my own personal circumstances. When I look in the mirror or step on the scale today, I look exactly how I should look: like someone who had a baby a month ago but took care of herself. I was so afraid of this “mommy body” that I had limited myself on what I ate and walked religiously every single day. Take note these are two things I never did for my “pre-baby body" -- and now I look pretty much the same as I did before. Of course, things still aren’t perfect, but they really weren’t beforehand either.
I am actually willing to call bullshit on the whole "mommy body" thing. I am 100% confident now that there is no such thing as a "mommy body," just bodies.
I look at my son and I am astonished that he was ever inside of me, that through the wonders of god and nature he was created -- and now he is here and flourishing. It is truly fantastic how the female body is designed to endure the changes of pregnancy and birth. A new mom should never have to feel bad about herself; she should feel proud every single day.
I am 23 years old, and before I had a baby, I had low self-esteem days. I called myself fat, ugly, picked myself apart for no reason at all. Now I am 23 and I have a baby. I don’t think things have changed overnight because body image is tricky. There will be good days and bad days. There will be days I feel gorgeous or days where I feel like crap. There will be days when I swear I am going to hit the gym and lose that last 10 pounds. Eventually, I won’t be 23 anymore -- I’ll be an old woman still wearing the exact same skin and body I always had, and by then it probably won’t matter.
When that day comes, I probably won’t feel sad because I don’t look like a young adult anymore. I’ll probably just be grateful for my body that created my son. That is the truth about my “mommy body."
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(photo: Kamil Macniak / Shutterstock)