7.13.2013

Carrying the Evidence, Ode to my Post-baby Body.

I am often surprised by how readily I am praised by people for my after-baby body.  I don't fault the givers of the compliments, I, many times am the one offering up similar comments, but I haven't felt quite right about it since I had Thea.  It's true, I weigh less now than I did when I got pregnant, and I weigh about 20 pounds less than I did when I was pregnant with Remy, but I can't take a lot of credit for the way my body looks at this point.  I just ebb and flow in the armor of my skin and sometimes I am bigger, sometimes I am smaller and for me, the actual pounds don't have that much to do with my food and exercise.

I have been a generally poor responder when people comment on how great I look for just having had a baby because I don't know what to give back except an awkward thanks and 'oh, we just do a lot of nursing,' which is really my only explanation at this point.  I've been wondering for weeks now why I feel a little bit sad every time someone compliments me and I think the reason is wrapped up in the common comment, "You don't even look like you had a baby!"  I want to respond, "But I have had a baby!"  I carried her in this meadow of a body for nine months.  She stretched me and rested her sweet head against my ribs.  We listened to each other late at night and tried to learn what the world would offer the two of us.  She moved her little legs when I lay still and in the end she came wailing into the world through the same c-section incision her brother did, and it was sacred.  I am not eager to erase the evidence of that for the sake of looking awesome.  I don't think we should have to ask our body to snap back into something it once was, because the fact is, after being pregnant,  it is not the thing it once was. I see so many friends who want to have children, but can't, and I think they would trade imperfection for the opportunity.

I remember when I was pregnant with Remy, I was looking through baby things online and came across a product for post-baby moms.  It was a band so tight the company warned you it would be quite uncomfortable, but they also promised that if you wore it for six hours a day for six weeks, your hips would again be the size they were before having your baby.  I guess that's fine?  But not really.  I remember laying against my grandma's chest as a little person and feeling like the world could never do me harm.  She was soft, and round as an old quilt, and I inherited that from her.  I know she didn't get that way easily though.  I've seen pictures of a wee college grandma before she had four kids.  I'm so glad she didn't demand her body into something other than a mother's body.  It served not only her children, but more than a dozen grandchildren.

I'm all for health.  I'm all for feeling good. I think we should eat right and exercise, I can certainly do better.  I know it's hard to be overweight because I've been there, but I also know that it is even harder to feel you should be something you don't need to be at a time when you don't need to be it.  When I was pregnant with Remy I had surgery to remove a tumor from under my ribs and so I have a terrible, jagged scare that stretched because I was pregnant down the middle of my belly.  It is not pretty, but it is.  I've grown to love the story my body tells.  I am not eager to erase the evidence of my motherhood.  It's something I've worked too hard for to pretend it isn't there.

So, I'll love this body.  It is marked, scarred, stretched out, bigger, wider and older than when I started out this journey, but it has also carried with it two other people, Remy and Thea, and someday, I want them to love their imperfect/perfect bodies.  I want them to carry their stories proudly and not shrouded in unreasonable expectation.  I want us to be evidence of very real things because I think that is part of our love.

11 comments:

Rachel Hunt said...

Thank you, Ashley, for this. My body is currently swelling. Some days I am able to bare it and be grateful for it. I think that my body and heart are selling wide as eternity, and making room for the babe I am carrying. Other days it is more difficult.

Mallory Paige said...

I decided this week that I wouldn't care if I got stretch marks through my pregnancy. The thought I have is that a changing body is beautiful and for those who think of it as a sacrifice - certainly the sacrifice is bounds beyond worth it. I really love this post because it is something I have given a lot of thought and something that is so important. if we just could see how beautiful our bodies are. man. i think it would be something really special.

Erin {Lavender and Lemon Drops} said...

Thank you for this! It seems, at times, that I am surrounded by women who are constantly trying to perfect and change their bodies. Morph them into that pre baby body they once had. I find myself getting caught up on this preset image that women "should have". My body is definitely not the same after birthing my two beautiful boys and I'll admit I sometimes miss those perky features. Becoming a woman and a mother is a beautiful thing and it's much more refreshing and encouraging to read your post than those that encourage you to do a few more squats! Thanks Ashmae :) You are a beautiful woman inside and out!

S & W said...

Love this post. I'm 8 months post partum and was just thinking how unfortunate it is that I'm not back to my ore baby weight. This served as a good reminder of the beauty my body created and that I need to be more accepting. Thanks!

Cait said...

You are a goddess, Ash Mae! I love your perspective on your body. I am more in love with my body post-two-babies than ever before. I think much of it is the mere fact I carried them with me for nearly three-quarters of a year each, and I would not trade the intimacy of our deep connection during those long, stretched out months for the flattest of stomachs or the perkiest breasts.

Ann Marie said...

So beautifully honest. I think about this often--how will I feel in my body after I have babies? Will I be ok with the change, whatever it is? What will others expect? This post is so refreshing.

Megan Lents said...

Thank you Ashley. This has changed my life more than you know. I'm so happy to know you and be a part of your life.

Amy said...

Well said. (I used to live in EV, so I think we overlap several friends.) Thanks for this.

Blue Cheese said...

Just saw this article on BBC.com:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23276432

Timothy Browning said...

Beautiful post. Thanks!

Amanda said...

I'm a friend of Lizzie and and was doing a little catch up on her blog-and she linked to this post from her blog. This is an incredibly well written and poignant post about our bodies! And I have felt so similarly as I have recovered from my last two pregnancies. I feel like pregnancy and motherhood has forever changed me-and I'm proud of those changes and love to be reminded of what an amazing thing my body did! hope you don't mind-but i'll definitely be following along on your journey. you have articularted so many of the htoughts i have had as i have been doing this motherhood thing-particularly your post on becoming a nobody and a somebody. brought me to tears. so just know that you are a somebody to this nobody out here in nyc too. you inspire me. :)