There are many surprising things about motherhood- how much spit up one little baby can produce, how much crying you can listen to without actually going insane and how possible it is to love something so much you feel like you might just float off into space (or fight tigers to the death with your bare hands to protect it). I expected the sleepiness, the exhaustion, the adoration and the amazement that I had heard came along with this major life change. But I also expected that it would exacerbate my anxiety and body image issues. People had been tip toeing around post-partum warnings and the discussion of how pregnancy would affect my dormant eating disorder since I was deep IN that eating disorder at 15 years old. I feel like everyone expected me to just capital-L LOSE IT once this baby was born and yet, I am happy to report that the exact opposite has happened.
The past few months I have been so much calmer, happier, present and less anxious than I have been in a long time (other than when I was pregnant, which seemed to be a stabilizing hormonal shift for me- even Andrew was like “why are you so nice to me now?”HA!) I had thought that having this little human dependent on me to live and yet unable to communicate it’s needs by no means other than crying was going to be so massively anxiety producing. And it was for the first couple weeks when we had some weight stabilization issues and I was worried about his health, but since then the perspective little Henry has brought to my life has been such a gift. Running late to a meeting, an argument with someone or having a chair not fit correctly into a space are not tear inducing “whyyyyy meeeee” events. Nothing is life or death other than, well… life or death. As long as my baby is healthy and happy, I am okay, the world is okay, and there is plenty to smile about.
Including my post-partum body. Before I got pregnant the slightest hint of a muffin top would make me uncomfortable and bummed out. I wasn’t restrictive or an extreme exerciser as I had been in the past, but my body was always something I still felt I had to fix and perfect. I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with it my whole life, it never measuring up and even failing me on occasion. My inability to get pregnant on my own put me at odds with it in a big way- I didn’t trust it and felt immense resentment towards it. And throughout pregnancy I felt like I had somehow “duped” it into doing what I wanted it to- carry a child- and at any moment it would figure out my trickery and go back to being “broken”. Up until I saw Henry come out of me, I didn’t believe it would actually ever happen. I did not believe in my body to actually triumph.
And then it did. In a big, big way.
This beautiful, wonderful boy is the product of my body, and I am able to nourish him from it successfully as well (which I was nervous about). It has rendered me AMAZED and grateful. So grateful that I could not give two shits about my flabby tummy or that certain things don’t fit the same. I know that may sound shallow and silly to you, but before having Henry I thought I would have been VERY bothered by my post-partum figure, even afraid it might cause some old eating issues to flare up. But when I was in a dressing room the other day, the unkind lighting was enhancing my belly in the most unflattering of ways, I stood there a minute and looked at myself and literally shrugged and said “Who the f*ck cares!?” and sauntered out. You guys, this was my Oprah “A-HA” moment!!! Like, for real. It was like a weight had lifted after decades of bullshit.
Now, when I want to go to the gym it’s because I want to stay healthy and strong for Henry’s sake (and also it feels good to move and stretch and have some “me” time!) I’m not there to tighten something saggy or burn X amount of calories (and hey, if a little firming happens too, great!) But if I don’t make it to the gym I don’t feel like less of a person or a massive guilt, I see it as extra time with my boy. It’s so damn freeing, I can’t even tell you. This is a complete game changer for me.
I am now someone’s mother, and that has rendered everything else into second place. This shift in attitude has been one of the most wonderful things about Henry other than Henry himself. So thank you little guy, for making your mommy a much better, happier, healthier person.