As a doula I am all babies and pregnancy and birth. I’m constantly reading something about breastfeeding or parenting styles. When I get on social media most of my timeline is the same. I see so many images of women during and after pregnancy.
I’ve written about the “snap back” before. But lately it’s really been on my mind. One moment I’ll see a woman flaunting her pregnant belly or crying after just giving birth. Then I’ll see an image of a celebrity who is flaunting her unmarked flat tummy or her waist trainer.
I think back to my own pregnancy. My memory tells me it wasn’t pretty. Or rather I wasn’t pretty. I start to wonder why I felt this way. Was it the changes to my body that were unfamiliar? I quickly gained a lot of weight and ended up on bedrest. I was told to eat more and move less. Umm what?!?!? Needless to say I struggled between feeling like I needed to do this for my baby and I wanting to preserve the version of me that I liked more.
But honestly before I got pregnant I remember weighing 126 pounds and feeling like I needed an intervention or to be hospitalized like I was on an episode of “My 600 Pound Life.” So when I found myself weighing 190 pounds postpartum I just about lost it. I obsessed over working out, personal trainers, boot camps. I was determined to get the weight off. Then I hit a plateau. 135 pounds. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a big deal but I’m 4′ 11″ and I was still quite chubbier than I was used to.
Two years of working out and I still had another ten pounds to go that would not come off. So I got pretty pissed off and threw my scale away. I focused on myself, made a lot of selfish decisions and bad ones too. But I felt good. I was happy in my skin because I felt like I was somebody I would like to be friends with. I can even look at pictures of myself when I was pregnant without spending the rest of the day loathing that image.
Yet when I see posts on my timeline of pregnancy photoshoots I still don’t see any that look like me. I see a nicely touched up smooth silhouette of a pregnant woman who is beautiful. I would describe my pregnant self as bumpy, discolored, stretched, flat-bottomed, swollen, and tired. But that was still beautiful because it was the ultimate sacrifice and most unconditional love I’ve ever experienced. It made me a better person. It made me more confident. It made me vulnerable yet strong.
Most of all it made my experience mine. One that I can learn from. One I can look back on when I’m having not so strong moments. What I learned most from my experience is that I have no control over what happens, but I have control over myself and how it affects me. That means more to me than the numbers on the scale.