Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Shape Of A Mother

I came across a website recently that's a celebration of the beauty of our bodies after babies - and I had tears streaming down my face as I clicked through some of the photos and the stories that go along with them.

(Full disclosure: I totally skipped over all the teenage and early-20s moms, because I honestly believe that my body, my skin, and my metabolism were so much better off when I was younger...)

But it opened up a can of worms that I'd been shoving back down beneath the surface for a while, and more this week than usual. Just the other day, Geoff found me in tears as I sat on the edge of the bed wrapped in a towel after my shower and completely immobilized at the thought of finding something to wear. I confessed to him that it wasn't about what other people think about me when they see me, or even what he thinks - it's that I am disgusted by myself looking like I do. (Was that too honest? Too late.)

It's been fourteen months. And I can't imagine a better reason to have gained a whole mess of weight and changed my body than to have carried a big healthy baby full-term (especially one as beautiful and absolutely delightful as Briony). I loved being pregnant with her and I love being her mom. But I honestly thought that I'd look different by now. Is that completely naive? Everyone told me to give it two years - or even three - but I'm starting to have moments of panic that this is as good as it gets. Yes, I'm losing weight. It's slooooow, but it's coming off. I weigh more than 25 pounds less than I did when I was 42 weeks pregnant. But I'm still wearing the same size jeans I wore the week Briony was born. No one tells you that mommy 'weight loss' is really more like just redistributing stuff. And it really is STUFF.

As a side note, for some weird reason, I have absolutely no issue with my stretch marks. It didn't take me very long at all to accept them as beautiful - though that acceptance definitely came post-pregnancy... I'm willing to bet that I'm the only formerly pregnant lady EVER who didn't take a single photo EVER of her pregnant belly, and it's my one and only regret about my pregnancy. Today, I'm actually kind of proud of those stretch marks because - to me - they represent what my body was able to do by growing a healthy baby.

But the actual shape of my body is another story entirely. It's not like this is something that has taken over every single moment of every single day. Just a lot of them. More than I want it to.

But I'm working on it. Because I don't want to spend the rest of my life crying every single time I see a photo of myself with tummy hanging over my jeans. I want to see the beauty that I know in my heart is there.

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At January 25, 2010 1:08 PM, Blogger Nikki + Shane said...

I hear you on all of these feelings. And I was with you - not ONE belly shot with Palmer. I don't necessarily regret it because I still remember all to well how I felt about it at the time.

I think though that that place of acceptance that you had with your stretch marks post pregnancy is what I felt with my body once I was pregnant again that allowed me to take those belly shots with √Čloise. Maybe you'll feel the same if you have a second??? Okay, I admit that was my "revenge" for the 3rd baby comment ;)

You are *so* right in saying it's a redistribution.

You know what I find so sad? Is I will often delete pictures people send of me and then months later when I see those pictures elsewhere I think, gosh, I didn't look as bad as I thought. I'm trying not to delete quite so quickly these days because I know so much of it has to do with the moment I'm in when I see them.

Hang in there Lindsay. You are more beautiful than ever because of the sum of ALL your parts - even the ones you may not be so happy with right now. But feel what you feel, because it's important not to ignore those feelings either - sometimes they motivate beyond words.

At January 25, 2010 1:27 PM, Anonymous Elin said...

At January 25, 2010 1:49 PM, Anonymous kendra said...

I can relate. I'm constantly getting pee'd off at the way I look still. I actually weigh the same right now as I did when I went in at 41 wks with Harper:( Ouch! Oh and the worst part is when I hear girls say that they are wearing their prepregnancy jeans like a wk after they pop a kid out. I want to freakin' scream! Anyways, I just want to let you know that I'm thinking of you and you look great!

At January 25, 2010 2:14 PM, Blogger Nikki + Shane said...

OMG did I seriously start a sentence with IS??? I know I don't generally care about my blog grammar since it's more conversational than anything, (ie: starting sentences with AND or having 2 word sentences, but that is a new low. Feel free to delete me from your blog roll :)

At January 25, 2010 10:04 PM, Anonymous Marilyn said...

I always thought MOTHER meant a warm, softly shaped, laughing, talking woman who hugged, kissed and sang to me a lot. So you have the exact fit:) Briony won't know if you haven't lost extra weight and she is the most important person to impress just now.

At January 29, 2010 10:38 PM, Blogger Lindsay said...

Oh Lindsay I feel your pain. It's hard to understand the hows and whys our bodies change to such an extent. As you say, the redistribution. Duhn-duhn-duhn! It's completely true and completely painful. My body just isn't the same anymore either. I do feel though that at some point we have to break free from the high standards we set for ourselves. We really have to be kinder and more accepting of our bodies, just as we are for the ones we love.

Over the past several months, I've had to continually remind myself that "I carried a child". Not to be used as an excuse per se, but in hopes of finding acceptance. My own acceptance. Because really, we aren't teens, we aren't early 20-somethings, we aren't women without children. We are mothers who carried our children, and we should now be carrying THAT proudly on our sleeves (or whatever other body part that may be :-))

I hope you continue to see the true beauty you possess. Not just the outer beauty (you are gorgeous my dear) but most importantly the inner. It is what, more than anything, makes us our true self.


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