Body Image

With my smart phone glued to my fingers, especially during nighttime nursing, I have noticed myself compulsively reading new mom forums. Some of the posts or questions I find humorous or insightful, but others I find downright annoying. I am especially annoyed by young twigs who whine about their post-partum body.

Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t really want to be 250 during my pregnancy, for even at 6’1 that felt quite heavy and WELL over what my normal heaviest was. And despite the fact that I only lost a quick 25 and am would love to weigh less because it feels so much better, overall I am not condemning my body for the metamorphosis it went through to make me a mother.

Overall, I have always seen my body as rather functional and not something to hate, so when I read breastfeeding mama’s refer to their “gumball pink” or “floppy skinny” nipples disparagingly, I get annoyed…and then actually feel sad that is their perspective. When they complain about stretch marks I wonder why, as I had a growth spurt in HS and have always loved to touch my fading stretch marks on my love handles because it is a reminder that I grew from a child into a woman. Perhaps I am a unique woman in this way, that very rarely have I had any body image issues, least of all now postpartum. Of course I am not perfect and think it would be nice to have skinner jeans or perkier breasts, but overall I feel good inside my skin. My legs are strong to carry me. My hips wide enough to birth a child. My breasts full of life-sustaining milk for Potamus. It’s all beautiful, really…

Valentine’s Day

I think the biggest lie that we believe is that we are alone and that nobody else could possibly understand our inner fuckedupness, and so in order to not risk people leaving us, or judging us, we keep things hidden inside and inhibit the process of truly creating intimacy in romantic or friend relationships. For example, I have only disclosed to a few people (my husband, mother-in-law, midwife and one friend) that I am struggling with postpartum depression/anxiety and that I am taking medication for it (which is helping tremendously). I haven’t shared this with many others because of shame/guilt/embarassment that I am going to be judged for being a bad mom. After all, people could certainly judge a woman who has thoughts of hurting her baby or herself, as motherhood has this saintly ideal to it.

So I was asked to coffee by an acquaintence of mine (she’s a HS friend of my cousin), who gave birth a few days after me. We hung out a couple times before we had our little ones. We met up at the cutest little coffee shop and talk turned to all things motherhood. About halfway through the conversation she mentioned that she was thinking she had some “post partum stuff” going on, and that she might go and see her doctor. That little opening left me spilling my guts about my own experience being on meds, the events leading up to it, and how crappy I felt even having to go through all of this. It was a immediate connection. When you’re sitting there, about to sob into your latte, telling the deepest secret, that you even contemplated hurting your baby, you can’t help but feel connected, because before this you felt like you were the only one in the world who could possibly be in this dark place.

I am connected to another person now. And in my recovery we can support each other. And because of this, I have expanded myself. My heart has been opened to another, who I can call a friend. And the ripple effect is more love, at the end of the day, for myself, for Boof, our real life dog, and of course the sweet little Potamus.