Learning to love my postpartum body

There is nothing quite like your postpartum body. Some days are so amazing and other days are just terrible. Some days you are in complete awe of what you just accomplished with your magnificent body, and other days you could care less all that it did, you just want SOMETHING to feel familiar again. There really is no way to prepare for what your world will look like after having a baby, and that includes what your new body not only looks like, but feels like. You always hear people saying, “you should learn to love your body in whatever stage, no matter how you look,” which I absolutely agree with! But how? Yeah, that sounds amazing in theory – but how do you begin to rework how you think of yourself, maybe how you’ve thought about yourself since you were a child, with only a few encouraging words written online? How do you show yourself a little grace with this topic when your whole world has just been rocked by this little human entering your universe? Well if you’ve been there, you know. It’s not at all easy.

It’s so easy to just push what’s going on with your body to the curb in the first couple of months. First – you just want the dang thing to literally heal so you can pee without it stinging or stand up without having to do breathing exercises. You don’t have time to really think about what about it is different, let alone wonder what parts are going to stay different. It’s not until you’ve completely healed and you have regained some kind of routine with your baby that you start to really do a mental check on your body – for me, I was like whoooaa ok this is different, this is different, this is REALLY different, but this is the same, which is weird but ok. Now what? In the beginning , all you see are articles telling you how to get back to your pre-baby weight so in my mind, when and if I got there, I would feel like my old self again! Right? Because I had to change my diet for Savannah’s intolerances, I got there pretty quickly, which I was super pumped about! But I realized almost immediately that even though I had got there, my body still felt completely foreign to me. I had heard that this would happen before I had Savannah, and let me tell you it was always in a negative way. I was told to brace myself because having a baby was going to ruin my body, my body will never be the same, and be fully prepared to some day want to get surgery to fix it some things. So, in my mind, everything that everyone had ever said was coming true and it was a living nightmare.

Everything is different – my stomach, my boobs, my neck, my face, my skin, my hair, even my finger nails! Even though I’m back to my pre-baby weight, it’s like everything has just shifted. My arms and back are pretty good from lifting and holding 7lbs-15lbs all day every day (which was something I’d worked on for years so SCORE!) buuuut my boobs are now in an orbit all on their own, and my stomach is like a water bed – when you push on one area, it moves to another area and just kind of flows all over. More times than not when I’m relaxing on the couch, I’ll look down and find that the two have basically become one which is a sight you’re never fully prepared for. My hair has been grown a lot but I am also losing a ton of it too and the ends are soo brittle, no matter how much water I drink! My skin – oh man. I mean, I have had to create a whole new skin care routine because of the dryness and discoloration. It feels like when I finally get it down and my skin is starting to look refreshed, something changes and I have to start from scratch again. And my nails. I absolutely LOVED painting my nails pre-baby! I started getting them done while I was pregnant because it was a little treat to myself when I was feeling like a balooga wale most days, but for the most part I did them myself! I have such a massive collection of nail polish that I would change the color each week based on my mood. But now! Savannah slobbers all over my hands and every time she sticks one of my fingers in her mouth I think about how easily the nail polish chips and how toxic it is. Also, have you ever felt what it’s like for your nail to hit baby gums? Ugh. The feeling is enough to make me PUKE. So, I’ve started clipping my nails every week – bye bye long nails! Like I said, everything is different.  Only thing that’s remained the same are my feet and my legs – but I’m not holding my breath that those will stay that way for long.

My clothes still don’t fit properly even though I’m at my pre-baby weight. Which has made this even more frustrating! What I’ve slowly realized is that even though I’m at my original weight – everything has shifted. Weight has left my arms and shoulders and migrated to my chest and lower stomach – which changes how all of my shirts and pants fit. The clothes that once made me feel confident and cute, now make me feel restricted and extremely uncomfortable. While I want to get active again and continually work on my health and body, I realized one day while I was trying to make my old wardrobe work and just feeling defeated, that I don’t really want to make this stuff work anymore. I’m tired of trying to make the same fitted jeans and shirts work with my body that day. Because who says that I have to make it work? If my body has changed, why can’t I use this as an excuse to change some things up too? I want to evolve with my body.

The moment I thought about it that way, that my body was actually just evolving, it changed my whole world. Why not try new trends and learn new ways to showcase different features of my body. Why not learn about what my body type is and find clothes that actually look good on my body and make me feel good! If you think about it too, this is the perfect time to try it because of the quarantine! There is nobody there to give me unsolicited advice  – Trev doesn’t count – so I can just fully immerse myself into finding out the new me. I don’t really want to buy stuff full priced, just in case I really don’t like how it feels or looks, so thrifting is my go to right now! Whether it’s at the goodwill or just taking old clothes off of my friends and families hands, I have been be able to find some awesome new choices for summer – which is my absolute least favorite season to shop for – that I honestly think are going to be staples in my closet! I have found that instead of fitted clothes, I now prefer loose fitted clothing. I like linen pants and loose cloth shorts, and as far as tops go, I seriously don’t care if I never wear a tank top again! I have always hated tank tops but wore them out of, I don’t know, obligation to the summer? Nope! I like button up shirts and crop top t-shirts because they both are excellent for breastfeeding! I have always loved denim but for now, I am forgoing the denim shorts and jeans because they just feel too restricting. Once I found what works and doesn’t work for me at this moment, I truly felt like I was regaining some old part of myself. I know changing your wardrobe seriously doesn’t sound like an amazing revelation of any kind, but feeling good in the clothes you are in is something that can easily be taken for granted. I just want to find things that fit the new me – whatever that means at this exact moment. And if I want to change my mind next week, I absolutely can!  Today I might love flowy crop top shirts because they’re excellent for breastfeeding, but tomorrow I may feel too exposed and want to wear a long, button up shirt! Allowing myself to live outside of any kind of restrictions has helped me get to know this new body of mine and find a new sense of self. Instead of thinking what does Alex, the 29 year old go with the flow waitress want to wear, I now think what does Alex, the 29 year old stay at home mom of a 6 month old want to wear? Depending how you read that, it may sound extremely depressing. But when I read it, it means I’ve just entered into a whole new world with whole new possibilities, and I couldn’t be more excited to explore it!

So, my advice to you is this: acknowledge the changes in your body and instead of trying to go back to how things were pre-baby, evolve with your body and don’t be afraid to try new things. I know that sounds pretty broad but what I changed for me, might not apply to you! Maybe it’s the simple act of breastfeeding in public – it doesn’t have to be about what you put on your body, it can be how you use it! Every body and personality is different, so it’s so important to find what works for you!  The end game for all of us is the same though – to be in love and to feel confident in our postpartum bodies <3

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