After taking a 12-week maternity leave where I wore v-neck t-shirts and Lululemon shorts every.single.day (no, really) I was ready to rediscover my closet when I returned to work. I hadn’t worn a lot of my clothes in so long that it actually feels like I’m wearing something new sometimes, even when I’ve had the piece for a couple of years (which is kind of awesome!) I’ve purchased new items recently too, but there’s nothing like mixing and matching new finds with old favorites.
Though all of my old clothes fit me, which I’m surprised by and thankful for (and so is my wallet), some fit differently. Not differently enough not to wear them anymore, but a postpartum body just isn’t the exact same as before, especially so soon after giving birth. After all, it takes nine months to put it on and even if you’re back at your pre-pregnancy weight, or even below it, your body doesn’t quite look or feel the same (and it shouldn’t).
What I recognize is that it will take time and a lot of hard work to get my body to where I’d like it to be. I definitely want to feel strong and be toned again because I have zero muscle mass right now (and darn it, I worked hard for it before!) so I’ve started to walk more often by taking Harper out in her stroller now that it’s cooled down a bit in the evenings (thank goodness for mosquito nets!) It’s a nice time for our family to just relax and talk about our days as we stroll along, away from distractions like TVs and laptops. I’ve also tried to do planks when I’m on the floor with Harper during tummy time, but lets just say those were a challenge and are going to require more practice.
Finding the time to actually work out is tough because by the time we do her evening bath time routine and Harper is asleep and I pump one last time, I’m exhausted. My fitness goal for the next few months is to start up Bar Method classes again and go every Saturday. Slow and steady. I know if I strive for more, I will end up disappointing myself so I’m starting off with the goal of once a week to get some strength and energy back. I’m also going to physiotherapy for my neck once a week and it’s amazing how much of a difference it has made after just two appointments.
I don’t like to give myself a hard time about my body because I’m incredibly proud that I grew and gave birth to an amazing little human life, and also because I’m quite okay with it. Is it the same as before? No. But I never claimed it was or would be (read more about that in my “post baby body” post).
What struck me to write this is actually a post by my online friend Anna Sacconne. She and her husband have a YouTube channel that chronicles their daily lives and a beautiful one year old daughter, Emilia. Anna recently wrote about her postpartum body (she is currently pregnant with her second baby) and how much criticism she received when she posted bikini photos from a family vacation. The comments ranged from “she should be ashamed to wear a bikini” to “if my stomach like that I would kill myself.” If you know Anna, you know she’s gorgeous and tiny. Not that it matters how tiny she is—but it puts into context how ridiculous and cruel many of those comments were. A lot of women would be thrilled to have a postpartum body like hers (myself included!)
I too have recently read some not-so-nice criticisms about my postpartum body online, though not quite at that level of harshness, so Anna’s post really struck me. I can’t say it better than she did so I encourage you to read it here.
What I agree with Anna about the most is that getting my body “back” is very, very low on my list of priorities. I want to focus on my family and spend time cherishing moments with my daughter especially now that I’m back to working full time. Every moment she’s awake is time I want to spend with her and devote to her. At the same time, I do want to be active and healthy so I can set a good example for Harper as she grows.
As a new moms, we’re all judged so much. Every decision is put under a microscope and everyone has an opinion. I recently blogged about the “I Support You” movement where moms are supporting one another about how they chose to feed their babies—so why can’t we support each other about this, too?
Postpartum emotions are full of ups and downs and the last thing women need to be doing is putting down other women’s bodies during a time where there’s so much else going on. A time when there are many more important things to focus on and celebrate.
To want or expect a woman to look exactly as she did before giving birth is asking her to pretend what happened, didn’t. It’s asking her to take back those nine months where her belly grew and stretched (and maybe other areas too) to make this new life she loves so much.
When I see photos of myself wearing my old clothes- I feel good about myself. Otherwise, I wouldn’t wear them. I wear them because they fit and because they make me feel good. For being just shy of four months postpartum, I think I’m doing pretty well. Like any woman, I have days where I feel lumpy and puffy but I don’t let those days define how I feel about myself overall.
The bottom line is that some women seem to want to find fault in other women and want to bash them for any reason they can find. I can tell you that in the four years I’ve been blogging, I’ve been criticized for being too thin, not being thin enough, having a “creepy” baby bump (seriously!) and also for my postpartum body. It’s really disheartening that women spend their time doing this, but it is what it is. As long as I keep sharing outfits, snippets of my life and family, etc, I know it won’t stop, but I love doing this so it’s just something I have to deal with.
I’ll leave you with part of Anna’s blog post that I think sums it up well:
“So please bear with me as I continue to share imperfect pictures of my current self and remember to hate less & love more…whether that be yourself or someone else. Because life is too short to spend under your own little cloud of negativity and critiquing other women’s bodies. What’s important is that you are happy with who YOU are.”
And I am. Sorry if that bothers you, but if it does, it says more about you than it does about me.
And just to clarify, I have never once said or “pretended” that my body was the same as before and I am not uncomfortable with my new body (please refer to this post, I’ve always been honest and forthcoming about it). What I’m not comfortable with is people making rude comments about my postpartum body—and it’s not because they hurt me (though they are annoying)—it’s because they hurt all mothers, especially those who are struggling to lose weight and are having a difficult time accepting their postpartum bodies. Think about the broader impact of your statements.