Today Anna contemplates (and is terrified of) the changing body she is told to expect following pregnancy and childbirth.
Like many women, I have spent a lot of my life begrudging my body. At the ripe old age of 33, I still don’t know why we do it – it’s exhausting to say the least. I seriously waste so much time with my head stuck in the back of my wardrobe trying to find something to wear when there is simply nothing to wear. It’s ridiculous. I could spend that time doing so many more fabulous things – like drinking French Martinis. Or getting massages.
I remember being as young as 9 years old and comparing my features to my best friend. Why did her legs look so much nicer than mine in her sports uniform? Why did she have such fancy hairstyles tied up with beautiful ribbons when it was all I could do to get my hair in a ponytail by the time I got to school? Why does she have the most beautiful brown skin, and I have THESE freckles. I HATE freckles!
Throughout my teens and early twenties I was exceedingly in tune to my differences and especially conscious of how boys seemed to veer towards everything I didn’t have. Namely boobs, blonde hair, and tanned legs that went on forever. It was therefore only natural for me to get caught up in the rituals that attempted to bring me to the same playing field as my friends – namely clothes including the blessed push up bra, and make up. Lots of make up. I completely bought into this world of cover-ups and I became reliant on trying to appear different to what I was.
In my twenties, I started to fit in my skin a little more. A couple of serious relationships also gave me the confidence that not all boys were attracted to the same thing. But at about the same time as this happened, I had a new problem – My good friend chocolate was no longer a good part of my day. I used to be able to consume it and it went unnoticed. But now, my body seemed to be changing again and I no longer had the luxury of eating what I wanted. Damn it. Panic and a whole new set of body challenges set in again.
Now in my thirties I look back and cringe at how ridiculous I was. I didn’t have problems… A woman in her thirties has PROBLEMS!!! Cellulite, wrinkles, and a heap of sun damage from trying my hardest all those years to get that elusive tan are now visible for the world to see. The pressure to ‘fix’ everything remains the same as it was in your twenties – it’s just a hell of a lot easier to ignore it when you finally have more emotional maturity to realize our differences are what make us uniquely lovable. In other words, I try to pretend it’s not happening.
I thought I had finally gotten my head around the body image and ageing dilemmas – I finally accepted that change was natural and I just had to deal with it. But this past few years have seen a lot of friends having babies. And now, thanks to information shared (that I didn’t ask to hear), I find myself stressed about a new body-change challenge: the changes that follow pregnancy and childbirth. And it leaves my teenage insecurities for dead. One of my friends said she looks in the mirror and literally feels like she has her head on someone else’s body it is that unrecognizable to her.
And then there are these fascinating quotes. Tell me, what am I supposed to do with the following information apart from wanting to grab my ovaries and to run to the hills?:
“Your body will never be the same. And it will be no longer ‘yours’.”
“I can’t believe how good I used to look. If I could have my time again I would have worn a bikini to do the grocery shopping!”
“Take a photo of your stomach…it will never be the same again. Seriously. It really won’t.”
“I lost my hair, my boobs, and my butt. Gone. Forever.”
“Things shift, fall out, fall sideways, get sore, and just don’t work the same”.
“It’s cruel. With breastfeeding I had boobs like cannon balls and felt fabulous. But now they are saggy sacks and I don’t even fill out a B cup bra.”
Apart from it being difficult to hear, it all sounds rather terrifying and almost fictional to the point I don’t believe it could be THAT bad. It is such a natural thing (albeit bizarre) for a woman to go through the process of pregnancy and child birth. I can’t (and don’t want to) accept that your body really gets this out of control and unrecognizable? But if I am one day lucky enough to become a mum, you’re going to tell me it’s all worth it? Right?
At least I’ll have some nice maternity sleepwear to wear I guess….
Has your body dramatically changed following pregnancy?
Do you have any advice for Anna on how to best accept a changing body with motherhood?