What can I say, it’s an age-old complaint. My postpartum baby body is giving me the blues. I’ve always been very petite, maxing out at 125 lbs as my “big” weight. I spent the majority of my 20’s trying to gain weight in time for Texas Relays! As I approached and turned 30 I struggled with gluten sensitivity and bloating, but with some discipline, it was always an easy fix whenever I needed to be bikini ready for our annual Jamaica trip.
After my pregnancy with Shian, only 21 weeks I lost that weight pretty quickly. With Slade, I gained 27 pounds, not too bad, but it was mostly in my belly. Like a lot of other women somewhere around 24-26 weeks my belly button “popped”. No big deal I thought it’ll go back in after I have him. Once I gave birth to Slade I never really gave myself the “snap back” pressure. I’d just suck my stomach in for pictures like everyone else and lose the weight in due time. I noticed, though, close to my 6-week checkup that my belly button hadn’t gone in yet, and the shape of my belly stayed very pregnant. When I brought it up to my doctor, she nonchalantly said, it probably wouldn’t change much. I had an umbilical hernia and a three finger diastasis recti gap, which can only be corrected surgically. Then I, of course, compounded that when I got pregnant again. Post Shiloh my belly button is unrecognizable and the DR gap is now up to about seven fingers plus excess skin. In my doctors words, “the worst damage she’s seen in her career”. I guess being as small as I am and being pregnant three years consecutively was just too much for my abdomen wall to handle.
The “mommy pooch” the belly that keeps everyone wondering and that one person actually asking if you’re pregnant again. Adjusting your whole wardrobe around this new addition is no fun, to say the least. I’d say a lot of the “losing yourself” in motherhood can be attributed to these changes. Getting dressed up when you’re grossly unhappy with how you look, especially, if its opposite to what you’re accustomed to, is depressing. Fortunately for me, my husband constantly reminds me that what he loves most about me is above my pooch (heads out of the gutter) my brain, also below my pooch (heads back in the gutter) HA! His affirmation means the world, but when I’m undressed and it’s just me I can’t help but cringe at my reflection.
It’s not all pregnancies and babies though, I’ve also picked up a new found food addiction! I always held myself accountable based on a growing belly. So I’d eat, eat, eat. Mini diet, as it grew… let it go flat again then eat whatever I wanted again. Over and over. While I was pregnant, though, I ate everything that I wanted whenever I wanted because the growing belly in front of me had a glaring reason besides food to be growing! Now the struggle to drop that habit is kicking my butt, and you’d think it would be easier my husband eats really well for the most part, I tell myself I’m going to eat what he eats when he eats. But with a pantry full of snacks for the big and little kids I’m constantly picking at foolishness!
I can hear you now. “Your body did something miraculous, you carried and birthed two healthy children… be grateful”! “Some women would love to be dealing with post-baby bodies if it meant they could have kids”. “You’re so tiny, you don’t have anything to complain about. To those things, I say this: Firstly, it goes without saying the vast, vast majority of women, myself included, know that carrying and having babies is an undertaking that we wouldn’t trade for the world. Although not completely mutually exclusive, treat it as such. If having my innie back meant that I wouldn’t have my kids, without any doubt or second thought, outtie it is. On behalf of “petite” women everywhere our body concerns are no different than a woman who has wanted to lose weight her entire life, don’t diminish because its not your exact experience. As women if we can’t rely on each other to be a safe place regarding the things ONLY we can relate to then who can we turn to. Men don’t get it!
Having such a large gap in the abdomen wall affects me in ways I never considered. As you may know with a weak core usually comes a weak back. It’s difficult to lift heavy objects including my kids. I can’t pull myself up or balance without using my hands. Even exercising has its restrictions. I’m definitely considering fixing it, mostly for cosmetic but also for functional reasons. All worth it.
Although my tummy will never be flat again, (unless I correct it surgically) and I won’t even get into my boobs and where they sit now. On the upside, Slade loves my squishy belly, when he’s sleepy he lifts my shirt and lays his head on my belly and goes to sleep. A silver lining to the cloud I’d say. Going forward, like with anything you want, you have to work for it. Take it one day at a time and one meal at a time. The weather is warming up, get out of the house, go for walks. Create better habits and routines. Take it easy on yourself, loosen up but don’t let go. And most importantly DO IT.
Yesterday I posted my blog and deleted it within an hour. I fell victim to the very thing that makes me write my blogs from such a transparent place. In the original blog I had a picture of my stomach in its current state. It felt disingenuous to tell you guys about all this damage, show the before and leave you blind to the after. Especially when I’m certain I’m not the only one struggling with this problem, and we see a lot of women who have babies and their stomachs look the same before and after. I pictured strangers passing my picture around in group text mocking my current state and I couldn’t take it. It’s an awful pressure we put on ourselves and each other as women (most men don’t care). There’s a shame we carry as if we did something wrong. I replaced that photo with a photo that I can stomach (pun intended) for now. Hopefully, I too can remove that pressure.