This is what I looked like two years ago this week. I was so hugely pregnant that I couldn’t go out in public without being stared at and talked to by strangers. It was like being a very uncomfortable celebrity. And I kept getting bigger for another three weeks after this photo was taken!
As you may have guessed, my body has not bounced back. I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight almost right away but things were not the same. My abdomen looked like a war zone. Two years later the stretch marks have faded but my skin is still loose and laced with a web of faint lines. Me pre-pregnancy weight was technically overweight but I still felt comfortable in a bikini. These days–no way. I think this is hard for me because I don’t have any visual references to compare my post-pregnancy body with. There are lots of images in our society of women being confident at varying weights but not of loose skin and stretch marks. I don’t understand how these celebrities get to look so normal after having kids. No amount of diet or exercise is going to fix the skin on my abdomen, and maybe that’s part of why I’m not really motivated to lose weight, even though I know intellectually that a healthy weight is more about health than aesthetics.
Every woman’s body responds differently to pregnancy. Some women gain a lot of weight, some don’t. Some get stretch marks and some don’t. Some women feel fabulous while carrying a tiny human in their abdomen and some…don’t. I seriously felt like I was walking around with 100 extra pounds strapped to my body, even though I only gained about 25. I ached with every step and I even passed out a few times. For a long time when I heard women talking about how much they loved being pregnant I felt guilty, like my love for my child is reflected by my experience of pregnancy.
There’s no point in comparing my pregnancy or my body to those of other women. My body will never be the same as it was before Jack, and that’s okay. My life will never be the same either! That’s kind of the point. Maybe my next pregnancy will be easier and maybe it won’t, but I have a feeling I’ll be much happier if I learn to just accept whatever the future holds (stretch marks and all).