Recently an image popped up on social media of a daddy holding a baby with mum in the background with a nappy on…oh how I giggled.
Not at the mum, but at the reality of it all. Before I had my son, James, I was the typical pregnant woman. I had cravings (Capri-sun and Lemon Pelligrino), I went to pregnancy yoga, I wore lovely maternity clothes and used the pregnancy card to get out of all sorts of things and, of course, go to bed a lot more. I was moody and snapped at my husband a few too many times. As I got closer to ‘the end’ I became more grumpy as the physical difficulties crept up on me. I could not wait for it to be over, to not be pregnant anymore, I could get my figure back, I could put my own socks on, I could see my lady bits again.
But as it turns out birth just fucks with your body more than you know.
The loveliness of pregnancy left me around 37 weeks as my body decided to fill with fluid and along with high blood pressure, I was closely monitored for pre eclampsia and felt like a bloody elephant. I was still under the illusion that once baby is born, it will all disappear. My mother told me this also, and a woman who birthed 11 kids can’t be wrong…right? WRONG! I was in labour so long that they had to give me IV fluids, as well as two epidurals and a spinal block. Yes I was high on a cocktail of drugs during labour. I was filled to the top with fluids. Baby James was born (eventually) and I left the hospital two days later. I had my going home outfit ready, and it was my comfiest maternity trousers that had been packed. I was under no illusions that I would be back in my skinny jeans post birth. Being told your bump would take ages to go down was one thing, but when your feet only fit in your slippers when leaving the hospital is another. My legs and my hips were bigger leaving than going in.
My ankles disappeared completely FFS.
The early days were a blur. I was more concentrated than looking after my baby (obviously) than thinking about my body. I spent the first two weeks in zombie land, running on adrenaline and chocolates. Then I started integrating back into society. Not wanting to wear my maternity clothes anymore, I was desperate to be back in normal clothes but still my pre pregnancy clothes were too small. Also, I was starving all the bloody time — people if no-one tells you anything about breastfeeding, it makes you hungrier (and thirstier) than you have ever been. I didn’t have time for me, or rather I didn’t make time for me. Lack of routine and feeding on demand means you eat when you can and whatever is in the cupboard. Don’t get me wrong, I was eating well, I had batch cooked wholesome meals before baby was born, I was eating healthy meals, drinking water and eating fresh fruit and veg every day. There were very few occasions that we actually ordered a take away. After reading many tips for getting through those first weeks, I can proudly say that take away was not the main dining option in our house with a newborn (although I don’t criticise any of you who do order in — whatever works for you etc). Still this body that was apparently mine, was not how I remembered it pre pregnancy.
Two months later I still was not in my skinny jeans.
I compared myself to everyone- the women in the doctors surgery taking their babies to the same vaccinations, the women in mummy and baby yoga and anyone on social media (including celebrities, who we all know to be just the same as us -NOT). All made me feel worse about myself. People said ‘give yourself a break’, ‘enjoy this time with baby and don’t worry’ and ‘it takes time’. Time was one thing, but my waning patience was another.
This all didn’t help, I was a different me, I didn’t feel like the same person from before pregnancy.
I was embarrassed and heard people (in my head) saying ‘she’s fairly put the weight on after having the baby’. My husband suggested personal training, but with the exhaustion and still doing night feeds I felt that this would be impossible for me at that stage. Also I wanted to kill said husband because all I wanted to hear was ‘it’s ok, don’t worry, you are beautiful blah blah blah’. Husband, if you are reading this, I now realise you were being supportive, trying to build up my confidence in whatever way you could. Sorry for the angry, crying, mess of woman you had to put up with when you were only trying to help.
Guess what… people were ACTUALLY right…time was exactly what I needed. When James was eleven weeks I was at Slimming World. I needed to take control and sort this out. My attitude had changed (especially when the kid decided to sleep the night). I did well, I lost half a stone within the first five weeks. But even though I had lost weight I still felt that my body was not mine.But this here is where things took a turn(for the better). My mindset changed. My body will forever be scarred by my pregnancy and will not look like how it did before. When I say scarred, I mean literally- my stretch marks and episiotomy scar (epiziotomy for the Yanks) are here for the long haul. What needed to change was me. Acceptance was my problem, or lack there of. I will still work hard at being healthy and try to get more exercise in, and enjoy the chocolates and wine when I want, but being kinder to myself was key. I have not come round to fully accepting this is me, because we are forever trying to live a healthier and fitter lifestyle (which does not mean purchasing a buggering Nutribullet btw), but understanding that new life brings change. A wonderful change and my body was the vessel which made this happen. Would I go back to the me before, with the perky boobs (as breastfeeding has made them go south), my tiny waist and flat tummy (which I didn’t appreciate until now)? I’d love to, yes, but this won’t happen. I do not know when I will be able to wear a bikini again, or even wear a low cut top, but obsessing over these things hold little importance over what my life is about now. What I find amazing its that even in my early morning haze, when I look like crap and my morning breath is rank, my baby still knows me, when I dress up (and by this I mean wear makeup and a well co-ordinated outift) I am still just mum. And that’s all I ever want to be.
And my loving husband is as keen on me as ever if you get my drift?!:)
Originally published at virginmum.wordpress.com