I know my body before I carried my daughter, and I know my body during pregnancy. Despite the weight gain and the discomfort, I fell in love with my pregnant belly. I actually miss it very much. I miss feeling Cadence move around and kick me relentlessly. I do miss that.
I remember watching my body change. In the beginning, it was just sore boobs and nausea. I waited a good 4 months before my belly started to poke out. And from there I grew and grew and I fell in love with my changing shape. I remember when the first hint of a stretch mark appeared I was horrified. I used all the lotions and creams in the world, but there was nothing I could do. By the end of my pregnancy I was done caring about my appearance. I had retained so much water my hands and feet looked animated. My face was so puffy I didn’t even look like myself anymore. I didn’t give a shit about the stretch marks or how much weight I had gained. I admitted defeat and turned control over to my body and the baby. I raised my white flag.
As someone who has been extremely self conscious about my appearance my entire life, I really thought I would be more critical of my postpartum body. I used to wonder every day what I would look like after giving birth, and told myself I was DEFINITELY going to breast feed so I could lose the weight quickly. But really, the weight came off on its own. And now, I breastfeed because it benefits my sweet baby, not because I know the weight will come off if I do. The face I see in the mirror looks like a complete stranger compared to the one I had come to know over the duration of my pregnancy. I look just like I did before I got pregnant with the exception of my stomach. I remember the first time I saw my belly after giving birth. All of the stretch marks that were previously sitting under my cute baby bump now crept halfway up my torso. The incision from my c-section rested under my deflated stomach. I was so deliriously in love with my newborn that I couldn’t bring myself to care or criticize, but once I got home and checked out my naked body, I felt defeated. But, who cares? No one is going to see me naked except me and my wife, and she makes me feel so beautiful all the time, she would never make me think of myself otherwise.
It took me so long to love my body BEFORE I got pregnant, and now all the hard work that had gone toward loving myself had been reset. At least that’s how I thought it was going to feel. Honestly though, I kind of love my new body. I kind of love all the crazy stretch marks and I most certainly love my crazy battle scar from which my daughter was born. I have lost almost all the pregnancy weight, but my belly is forever changed. And I really just love it. It’s a painting of the time I had my daughter safe inside me. It’s a beautiful picture that I will never be ashamed of. I will never wish for my smooth, flat stomach back because this one tells a story. And it’s the best story my body has ever written.