Getting Used To A Post-Baby Reflection
I just went through my third pregnancy. If I could go back in time to my pre-pregnancy self, I would say: show off that stomach! That tummy will never look the same! Don’t cover it up. It looks amazing!
I gained the average amount of weight with each pregnancy, but with my second pregnancy, I noticed that my stomach was much more pointy (in other words HUGE) than my previous pregnancy. After I had delivered my second son, my stomach was not lying flat. I was wondering if my uterus hadn’t fully shrunk, because I still looked pregnant. (More like 20 weeks pregnant.) I was doing crunches before bed each night to try and get my stomach to flatten out more. And, instead of getting better, it was getting worse. Then, at my 6-week appointment, my doctor confirmed that I have Diastasis Recti, which is a separation of the abdominal muscles.
It took me a long 18 months to get my stomach gap to close from a 4 finger gap to a 1.5 with diet and exercise to really flatten my stomach. Then we decided to get pregnant again.
After I delivered my third baby (our first girl!) I noticed that my Diastasis Recti was still there; it had not gotten worse but was back to a 4 finger gap. There I was lying in the hospital bed realizing that I have 18 months of hard work ahead of me to get my stomach to look normal again.
After we got home, when people came to visit, I still had to wear my maternity clothes because none of my non-pregnancy clothes fit me. I just wanted my stomach to look normal again.
Now that I could finally lay on my back now that I was no longer pregnant (yay!), all I could think about was how bad my stomach was and how I wanted my stomach to look normal again.
Going out to the grocery store, I could feel people’s eyes on me wondering why I was still pregnant even though I had a newborn. I just wanted my stomach to look normal again.
Getting ready for swimsuit season is no easy feat for a post-partum mom. While trying on swimsuits, all I could think was, I just want my stomach to look normal again.
Trying on jeans… ugh. I just want my stomach to look normal again.
Meanwhile, the first two weeks at home with baby she went through a colicky period from 6:00-9:00pm. The only thing that would soothe her was walking back and forth in our master bathroom with the fan on and water running. I am not joking when I say that I was in there for 2+ hours some nights. I was willing to do anything to get her to stop crying! This bathroom has a long mirror that extends most of the bathroom, so your reflection cannot be missed. It just is there. So, while bouncing, shh-ing, rocking my newborn, I couldn’t help but notice my reflection and think: I just want my stomach to look normal again. And, while I was at it these thoughts came too:
My arms are looking flabby.
My legs! Oh man, they have gotten so much bigger.
I have dark circles under my eyes.
I mean… the list went on and on… every little thing I noticed was just there staring right back at me for two whole hours.
But, finally, I took the focus off of me and stared at my baby girl. This same baby girl grew inside of my broken stomach for 9 whole months. These same arms were capable of soothing her with their rocking motions. These same legs bent and bounced to shush her cries. Those dark circles came from my body’s ability to help her grow with the middle of the night’s feedings. This body, although now marked with its stretch-marks, wrinkles, and soft skin, created a baby that is so, so beautiful.
My baby still prefers the running water and fan in the bathroom when she gets fussy. But, now, rather than focus on everything I see wrong in the mirror, I stare at everything that is right. I notice my baby girl’s perfect lips, her round cheeks, her soft head, her long lashes, and I realize: she is absolutely perfect. So, now, I remind myself: do not be ashamed to show off that stomach! That tummy will never look the same because it isn’t. Don’t feel like you have to cover it up. It looks amazing because it carried 3 healthy babies!
And, now, the main thing I see reflecting back at me is that I am a mother. I can’t think of anything more beautiful.
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