There is one memory I look back on from Baby G’s newborn days and cringe. It was our first family walk- I had the baby in the stroller, Marlo on his leash and my belly binder holding my C-section incision tight. My husband snapped a picture and the first thing I thought when I saw it was “my body looks disgusting.” Reflecting back on that moment makes me so sad. Instead of enjoying the first walk with my new family, I was focused on a barely postpartum body. A body that had given birth via major abdominal surgery FOUR DAYS prior.
While nobody admits it out loud, there is a huge amount of pressure on women to have their baby and get right back to their pre-baby weight and routines without skipping a beat. It’s normal in our culture to hear comments about someone’s postpartum period focused on their body. “Oh you look great” or “wow you bounced right back” are signs of a successful postpartum recovery and transition to motherhood while few too many new moms are asked how they are doing mentally or emotionally. Instagram feeds of new moms are flooded with influencers looking their best in the delivery room and “back to themselves” right after getting home. During pregnancy the body creates and pumps more blood, grows and sustains a whole new organ, creates a food source for your new baby and undergoes labor and delivery. All of these amazing (and big) changes happen yet new moms are expected to bounce right back to themselves within a few months, a time when many new moms are still breast feeding, sleep deprived and transitioning back to work.
The process to feel yourself again takes so much longer. I am fourteen months postpartum and just recently started to feel more myself. In reality, I will never be the same as I was before my daughter, nor would I want to be. My body will always look and feel different than before, a testament to the miracle of carrying and delivering my baby.