In two weeks my daughter will be 11 months old. 11 months since I gave birth to her after she surprised us all by turning up 9 days early. 11 months since my body became a postpartum body rather than a pregnant body. 11 months since I started feeling like I was invisible. 11 months of pretending I'm in love with my postpartum body, because if I don't I must regret having my daughter, right?
Wrong. I adore my daughter. I wouldn't change having her for the world. But that doesn't mean I'm not allowed to miss my old body. To grieve my once flat tummy and my smooth skin.
Toxic body positivity is real, and for mums it can be almost unbearable.
When you're pregnant, everyone will tell you "you're glowing" or you look incredible. Pregnant bodies are revered, sacred. But once that baby is out of your body, it's a leaky, saggy, deflated shell that perhaps you don't even recognise. I recall looking in the mirror 2 weeks after having my baby and feeling like I was looking at someone else. My belly still looked 6 months pregnant, my stretch marks were angry and purple, my breasts were lopsided after a marathon feeding session on one side, and my hair was dull and lifeless.
I looked at myself and I felt sad. Before getting pregnant I had worked for so long in the gym and on the treadmill to get my body looking the way I wanted it to. I was so proud of my toned arms, my flat belly and my pert behind. All that was gone, and I cried. As soon as the thoughts occurred to me, the guilt crept in. Surely I shouldn't be feeling these things about the body that birthed my beautiful child? I tried desperately to reframe my thoughts, to see everything as a positive.
That's the thing though, mama. You don't have to reframe those feelings. It's normal, and it's okay to feel sad. To miss your body and wish you could have it back.
The important thing though is to make sure you don't stay in that mindset though. Acknowledge those feelings, feel them and move forward at your own pace. Tell the people who matter to you how you're feeling. Tell them you need the space to move through these feelings.
I've been told that acceptance comes, but I'm still waiting for it. I went jeans shopping today and I got a little boost when I fit into the same size as before I got pregnant. Moments later I felt that sinking feeling again when I saw my little mum-pooch before zipping up the jeans. Happy days though, the jeans are super high rise so they makes my tummy look flat.
It's a journey, but it's important to go on that journey. I wrote a blog back in May about learning to love my postpartum body, and a lot of what I said there is still true. But there are days where it isn't. There are days where I just want to wear tights and my husband's hoodie. And there are days where I want to wear something nice, put on some makeup and feel like my old self again. I know I'll get there, but the important part is knowing that the journey is okay to be on.