This past weekend some very unkind things were said to me about my “new body,” and this person’s opinions about how I now look/should look. It caught me by surprise in a lot of ways and was super hurtful, but it also made me stop and think about how critical not only others are of women’s bodies, but how critical we as new mamas can be about ourselves. So as an exercise in self-care, I thought I would write my new body a love letter.
Dear Postpartum Body,
I stood in front of the bathroom mirror today, pausing to look at you and how different you look these days. I stared at your squishy, soft stomach that now lives where a flat, firm one used to be. My eyes ran over the extra pounds that haven’t disappeared and the new shape of my breasts, and for a split second I was tempted to stand there longer and pick apart each of these flaws I saw staring back at me.
Instead I stopped and tried to see you as the amazing creation that you are to have endured what you have over the last year. Almost one year ago exactly you created a home deep inside of me for this tiny little creation as he started his journey. You created a miracle inside of me and housed this life inside of you for almost 10 months, keeping him safe and healthy and nourished.
For years before I was pregnant, I waged war with you. I starved you, overworked you, picked apart ever flaw in an attempt to obtain the “perfect” body. I struggled for such a long time to love you and see your strength. For so long I thought I would never get to a place where I loved the reflection staring back at me… until I became pregnant.
I appreciate you more after birthing my baby than I ever did before. You kept us both safe and healthy as we navigated the unpredictable waters of pregnancy. You gave me a gift that I thought would never be possible: the gift of bringing another life into this world. I will forever be grateful to you for that.
You might never look the same again, and you know what? That’s more than ok. When I look in the mirror now, I don’t just see an imperfect and flawed body. I see strength, beauty and love. I see a body that grew and shifted and changed in a dozen ways while he grew inside of you. I see a being that endured the physical, emotional and mental marathon that is labor, and a woman that has kept pushing forward through insane hormonal mood swings, sore lady parts, bleeding nipples, and so much more that came after.
More than that, I see a mama. You, dear body, made me one, and I am so proud of what this body has accomplished. Because of you I received the greatest gift I have ever been given. My days may be spent juggling dirty diapers, never-ending laundry, and a host of other new responsibilities, but there is nowhere in the world I would rather be.
So from today on, I will be kinder to you as you work to heal and get back to your new normal. I will focus on your incredible strength and beauty, instead of the flaws. I will thank you for the sacrifices you have made over and over to not only bring my little one into this world, but to keep me moving forward. Thank you for adding the most wonderful little life to our family, for teaching me to love myself even when I don’t feel perfect, and for showing me that while this life is constantly changing, what matters more than anything is the way I choose to view myself and the path I take. Here’s to years of growth and change as I grow with you in this incredible new life as a mother.