10 Jul Learning to love my postpartum body, all over again
I’ve been meaning to write a BoPo inspired post for quite some time, but if I’m being very honest – I haven’t been feeling very positive about my body lately, and maybe that’s exactly why I should be writing this post because while I accept and respect that not every day is going to be a good body day, lately my bad days outweigh the good and I realize that something has got to give for my own well-being.
I haven’t gone into too much detail, but I have mentioned briefly that my pregnancy was riddled with less than ideal situations. Just before falling pregnant, I was in such a good space – I had finally gotten out of the initial binging stage and in a place where I had learnt to listen to my body and what it was telling me it needed. Intuitive eating means that you acknowledge that there are no good or bad foods because food is just food and your body needs all types of foods. It also means that you allow yourself to enjoy food, and maybe even celebrate it. Food can be such an experience and not just for your taste buds but it can link cultures, bring people together and create memories. Food should be enjoyed, and I’d gotten to that place.
I had also managed to unlink exercise from dieting and had started to enjoy going to the gym. I no longer thought of gym as punishment or a way to change a body that I hated. Instead, I started to think of gym as a way to escape from life for 30 minutes, where I was left to be alone, listen to some music and get moving. Gym had taught me a new respect for my body – suddenly, I could do things that I wasn’t able to do the week before, I could feel it growing stronger, I could feel the increased energy. I felt great. And on days that I didn’t feel like gym, because my body said, “Nah, not today.” I listened and respected its limits, instead of seeing it as a failure or a reason to feel guilty (previously, guilt would drive me to binging, which would leave me feeling more guilty and discouraged to ever go back to gym, at all).
Overall, I felt like I was generally in a good place with my body. I no longer felt persuaded to try new diets or pills, I no longer believed in food exclusions and for the first time, I started to feel like a more confident me.
Pregnancy had both positive and negative effects to this mindset. The last time that I went to gym was the day that I found out that I was pregnant. My morning sickness and low sugar left me feeling ill and weak after a session at the gym, so I decided it was best to listen to my body, and maybe return after the first trimester. But even then, I was still debilitated by morning sickness that would quite literally sneak up out of nowhere. Each week, I’d say, “next week.” But each week, I felt my body growing heavier and weaker, and before long I was half way through my pregnancy and feeling like a whale.
Realizing that this may very well be my last pregnancy, I made a point of documenting my growing bump. My new found confidence made it easy, and when I was feeling particularly brave, I even went on to share bare bump pictures where people commended me for showing my stretch marks. It’s weird though; the stretch marks, pigmentation, swollen boobs with giant flying saucers for nipples and my growing bump never bothered me, through my pregnancy. I saw these changes and embraced them for being the sign that my miracle child was growing, despite me feeling limited by what I could and could no longer do with my body.
Real talk: A few days ago, I posted a photo of some pigmentation on my face, as a result of pregnancy. Soon after, I found myself deleting a comment about me being shallow and ungrateful for my health. Here’s the thing though; this pregnancy hasn’t been picture perfect and unless you’re immediate family or in my close circle of friends, you probably won’t know that. I refuse to pay too much attention to the challenges that I’m facing, as I believe that these things are in His control and while I have made peace with it not being the best of circumstances, I choose not to add further stress to myself by focusing on small things, things that I can control. Call it a distraction, if you will. My pigmentation isn’t a huge concern, it just gave me an excuse to trial a range I had never thought to try before & anyone who has been following me & my blog for the last 4 years will know that I LOVE a good trial, but do I feel my pigmentation or stretch marks define me or this pregnancy? Hell no! They’re just a little reminder of the miracle baby growing inside my bell-eh. I’m ever grateful for getting this far along in my pregnancy & even though I’m tired, sore, and overly emotional, I can’t help but smile when I remember that in just a few more weeks, it will all be worth it.
But my body was in pain. I didn’t mind how it looked, but it started wearing me down how it FELT – how I felt. The weight on my pelvis made it feel like if I laughed a little too hard, my baby would pop out to say hi. My groin hurt when I tried getting up from the bed or out the car, and it’d take a minute or two before I could actually move because the pain in my lower back, pelvis, and groin was so unbearable. In those last few weeks, I spent most of the day in bed and going out always resulted in me having to sit in the middle of a shopping aisle while I tried to avoid vomiting or blacking out, caused by the constant dizziness and nausea. My body was tired but I couldn’t stop – I had work to do, I had to get things done and my body would just need to wait. I didn’t listen to it when I really should have.
Throughout my pregnancy, I faced low blood pressure and low sugar but at 36 weeks, my blood pressure started climbing which is when they put me on tablets. I came home in tears, feeling like my body had failed. The medication put my body through hell and while I was sad to see the end of my pregnancy, I was relieved that it would mean the end to feeling this way. And then at 38 weeks, my doctor decided that I’d need to have an induction and that was the news that just about broke any BoPo that may have been left inside of me.
I so badly wanted to have a natural labor, where I could listen to what my body needed and when it needed it. I wanted the gradual build up of contractions, not synthetic hormones that take you from 0 to 10, in 15 short minutes. Once again, I felt like my body had failed; failed to do this pregnancy and birthing thing all over again. Unlike my first birth (which was also induced) I didn’t feel empowered by my birthing experience – I felt like I failed over and over again.
Truth is, I did fail. I failed my body.
- I failed to acknowledge how strong it was, carrying another human.
- I failed to recognize how amazing it was, growing a perfect human despite being deprived of love and rest.
- I failed to listen to it when my body told me that I needed to slow down and let it recuperate.
- I failed to fuel it with the things that it wanted and needed because I was scared that it would make bouncing back that much harder.
- And when it labored my perfect boy in 4 short hours, I failed to thank it for being a rockstar body, that knew exactly what to do and when to do it.
I wasn’t even cleaned up yet when I poked at my deflated tummy and told D to feel it. It no longer homed our baby boy and it looked different to before. With Axl, I never noticed it. But this time, I felt that familiar hatred for my body and the way it now looked. What is wrong with me? How can you hate something that managed to grow someone, so perfect – how dare I not praise it for being an awesome body?! It IS an awesome body.
I believe very strongly in the power of words and I realize that I feel the way that I do, about my postpartum body, because I have been fueling it with negative thoughts, instead of praising it for the good job it was doing, I was knocking it down, when it needed to be built up. So I’m making a conscious effort to get back to where I was in my BoPo journey.
- What does this mean?
Despite me really wanting to know how much weight I have lost in the last month, I refuse to stand on a scale – no good comes from it and numbers do not mean a thing.
- I will stop myself from binge eating and overdosing on sugar when life becomes too much – I may not be in control of the circumstances around me, but I can control how I react to them and become more proactive in my approach.
- I will clear out my cupboard and donate all my clothes that no longer serve me. I’m throwing out all the clothes that are for when I finally lose X amount of weight, clothes that don’t make me feel confident and beautiful, clothes that no longer work for my life and its demands of being a be mom who crawls on the floor to race cars, or one who needs to pull out a boob to keep the baby quiet while I simultaneously take a call, and do some work.
- I will invest in new clothes that do serve me and make me feel confident and beautiful.
- I will start being kinder to myself and accept that it took 23 years to get to this place, and 39 weeks to grow my baby. My body and mind aren’t just going to bounce back – all things take time, and that’s okay!
- I will feed my body and stop depriving it of what it needs. While it may be done growing a human, it still needs to provide nutrition for my son, and that nutrition comes from what I put in it.
- I will listen to my body and its limits – I will take time to rest, sleep in on the weekends, and stop pushing it to the point of no return. My body can’t serve its purpose if it’s not being taken care of.
At the end of the day, I am a mom. And I need my body to do that job well. I can’t keep running on empty and I certainly can’t be in charge of raising confident and independent boys, when I am not in that state of mind, myself. So it’s time I make changes, and this is me taking the first step.
I am Megan Kelly, the creator behind By Megan Kelly, mom of two boys, named Axl and Eli, and local business owner providing digital marketing solutions. I live on copious amounts of coffee, can be bribed with chocolate and will never admit to having too much makeup – although, I probably do.