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.
Truly happy for you that you are at peace with your body and so enjoying your life right now :) I too felt a huge wave of contentment after giving birth, I thought it may be nursing euphoria, but now 10 months in I think it is also the huge amount of daily joy I get from interacting with my little one, I just feel so extremely lucky and grateful for the time I spend with her.
I’m so happy you are finding peace in motherhood. I too was a chubby kid and worked very hard on my body pre baby. I now have a 2 year old and still have 8lbs to lose to be my prepregnacy “ideal” weight. I have accepted I may never get there and honestly that’s ok. I want to put my energy into my marriage and kids not being a perfect size.
It’s refreshing to love someone so much isn’t it? It only gets better. And I promise Henry thinks you are perfection. Xoxo.
Thank you so much for being so candid about your struggles and your journey. I struggle with anxiety issues, as well, and it has been so nice to read about someone else’s experience, especially in the happy moments. I hope to be a mother one day and your posts have given me hope that I won’t be completely consumed by anxiety when that day comes! :)
Wonderful post. thank you
So happy for you. Body image is such a constant struggle for so many of us and I’m so glad you are content, fulfilled and and in the most amazing place.
We tend to put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect or what we think of as perfect. Even after losing 75 pounds and being at my goal weight I still find fault and critique my body even though I know I should be happy with where I am. It’s a struggle and your post makes me realize sometimes you just need to let go and realize all the good things you have and not worry about these crazy thoughts.
What an amazing uplifting post! Congrats to you on realizing your dream of becoming a mother. And extra congrats for “getting it”.
Isn’t it wonderful how our children expand our vision and hearts so much that what is not important just falls away? So happy for you and yours.
YAYYY FOR THE SHIFT!
It really IS amazing how many things you will say “Who the f*ck cares!?” about.
From belly flab, to not wearing makeup as much as I used to, to letting my child go out of the house in pajamas… it’s endless.
As long as your child is healthy, happy, fed, and somewhat clothed…you’re good. :)
It is funny how motherhood changes you for the better. Also, I’m kind of chuckling b/c you said the blog would not become a mommy blog. I like seeing family posts, so don’t freak by the comment. Keep up the good work!
? could not be happier for you!!!
Good for you, Erin! Thank you for being so honest and forthcoming about your experiences. You’ve got a rare voice and I know all of your readers are very appreciative of it. I’ve just entered my second trimester and although thrilled, I also have anxieties about what all these changes will mean for me and my husband, but it’s wonderful and affirming reading your account of your new life!
I’m so happy for you! Bravo for writing this! I experienced the same thing after I had my son. I even had to order bigger pants recently and was like, “Eh? Whatevs.”
Thank you for sharing this lovely sentiment of motherhood :)
BTW: One more thing that people might’ve tiptoed around … The impending hair loss. Prepare to lose copious amounts of that beautiful pregnancy hair. No one warned me about it and I freaked the F out when it happened!
I am so proud of you. You made a journey that has taken me a lot more years. There’s a deep internal shift that happens if you’re lucky. Alas, for, some, it never happens.
You and I are very different women in many ways (e.g. I am far from a perfectionist, I never clean, I don’t know how to decorate), but in this way, we are very similar. There are times when I think my children have saved my life by permanently reminding me that my weight is not the most important thing in the universe. I’ve never loved my body more than when I’m pregnant, but post-pregnancies, I’ve developed a true respect for what it can do. I’m genuinely relieved for you – I empathize with your former anxieties about body image issues after birth, and am thrilled that you’ve come out on the other side with a healthier approach to your body.
You are in the most amazing space right now! You are a new mom and appreciative of the opportunity. It’s beautiful to read and see! :)
Sadly, I have had to deal with PPD. It is misunderstood by both peers, their parents (including my own) and medical professionals alike. And sadly PPD can creep in months after you give birth, unlike the baby blues. The fact that you are openly discussing mental health in general is wonderful, but to have the ability to discuss PPD is beautiful. Whether or not you are afflicted by it.
It’s awareness and honestly, we need more of it.
I went to the my primary care doctor because I believed I had PPD (postpartum depression).
Sadly, I had to fight for the appointment! I told every person I spoke to that I believed I had PPD and that I really needed to see someone. Everyone seemed very concerned with my believed diagnosis and pushed to get me in the next morning, however, all urged me to go to the ER if my mental state changed. Through my sobbing and tears I thanked them, and was so grateful for the appointment.
Until I actually had it.
Making an appt with my primary care doc was a BIG MISTAKE. Her medical assistant came in, asked me 10 questions from a computer screen, then the doctor came in and started speaking non-stop, I had to actually fight to get a word in edgewise. It was when she said…and I quote…”you are probably just dealing with a lack of sunshine…the winter blues, you know… it happens all the time” I was beside myself.
What the what???? Winter blues????
I hadn’t smiled in weeks. I felt sad. So so sad. All the time. And there was absolutely nothing that could bring me out f it. Worse yet, I wondered if it would have been better if I just disappeared from everyone’s lives.
But according to their computer…I was mildly depressed.
I just had a baby, and my depression was getting worse…and I was beginning to think about my children and my fiance living their lives without me…which at the time, in my mind, it didn’t seem like it would be so bad for them.
I was going into a very very dark place, very quickly and I was dismissed.
Thank the LORD for my fiance. He was appalled by the treatment I received, especially knowing what thoughts were going through my mind, they were so unlike me. (Sadly, the doctor would not know any of that, since she asked me a grand total of ZERO questions.) He had the frame of mind to find a psych for me to meet with. And it was that meeting that she discussed with me PPD and a real treatment plan.
And now I am a true believer in Xanax and counseling. I am better than I have ever been and my PPD is really on the mend.
There needs to be a major reform of how doctors are trained to diagnose, treat and discuss psychological diagnoses and HOW they discuss them with their patients affected by them. We are in the dark ages with mental health and our bravery as a society to speak of it. (Think “cancer” in the 60s.)
Until the day that reform starts to take hold…your ability to discuss mental health on your blog unabashedly is a major leap in the right direction.
Thank you so much for that.
All the best,
I love your honesty with all your posts. This one brought tears to my eyes.
This Mom is so happy reading this. Love you so much and having you lifted me to this same wonderful place.
Love this post so much! :)
This is so beautiful and true. I am so happy for you and for the wonderful gift of Henry who keeps on giving!
Erin, I’m so happy to hear this and so happy for you! :)
This posts makes me so happy for you and your entire family – I’m sure it’s a wonderful relief for your parents as well (these are the things we think about when we become mothers – our parents).
I think breastfeeding hormones have something to do with it. I have experienced the same blissful anxiety and depression-free state with both of my boys now. One is only 5 months and I’m still solely breastfeeding bc he won’t take formula.
It makes me think the anxiety and depression women deal with has a lot to do with hormones being off. Also, some women become depressed while weaning. Who knows but glad you are feeling great. It is sooo freeing and amazing!
You captured the blessings of motherhood perfectly! I found pregnancy and breast feeding very stabilizing from a body image and metabolic stand point and am so glad you are having a positive experience with what were previously challenges for you :) Children teach us so much, just wait until you rely on them to keep you up to date on current events and in house tech support.
So very happy for you, Andrew and baby Henry!!
ps we met briefly at your book signing in Atlanta. I gave your book to a friend of mine who is an interior designer and she loved it as I do mine
This is absolutely perfect :-) So happy for you, Erin!
I am grinning from ear to ear reading this beautifully, articulate, heart felt post. YOU have arrived!!!! Enjoy the rest of this wonderful journey with your little man.
Really a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing! Henry is one very lucky and blessed boy to have you!
All so true. I found out that after having kids it wasn’t all about me. Thus, I am a better person because of it! Seeing them now at 29 and 24 years of age, I feel so proud. So happy for you!
Completely agree with you on all of this. Now 6 months postpartum, I was looking in the mirror this morning and noticed some stretch marks on my chest and thought, it’s okay, they are just a by-product of creating the most perfect little boy.
What a beautiful post ! Thank you so much for writing this. I am 10 weeks pregnant and also has a serious eating disorder when I was a teen. Reading this really helped and inspired me. Being a mother is the best thing we will ever experience! Congrats :)
Goosebumps! Concentrate on healthy food and exercise just because it is good for you, and your body will be exactly what it needs to be. A shift in thinking is powerful.
This post makes me so happy and empowered. I am so happy for you and this big breakthrough!
LOVE THIS! I am so happy for you and your family!
Amazing post, Erin! I too deal with HIGH anxiety issues and I can only hope that I have the same post-partum experience as you…I am so happy for you!
This was so beautiful, Erin! As a long-time reader, it genuinely made me tear up with joy for you, Andrew, and sweet Henry… especially after enjoying your past posts where you’ve been so honest about your struggles. As always, thank you for your honesty, transparency, and keep enjoying that sweet boy! He is such a doll!
When I had my first child about 2.5 years ago, I too was concerned with postpartum depression since I had heard a lot about it. Interestingly, I had quite the opposite, something I likened to a postpartum euphoria. I was happier than I had ever been. I think that the hormones from breastfeeding had something to do with it. I gave birth to my second child about 2 months before Henry was born, and while I did not have any feelings of postpartum depression, I did not have the same euphoric feelings I previously felt. I think part of that was due to the fact that every feeling was not new to me the second time around (which made everything a little less magical, sadly), and I was also having to be a mom to a 2 year old so I had less time to dwell in my feelings.
Enjoy this time, the feelings, the wonder, the amazement. It is the most wonderful, indescribable feeling.
Michelle…I literally felt the exact same way with my first and then my second. Total euphoria, don’t know how I lived without him for so long, etc. with my first and a much muted version with my second. It makes me kind of sad but I also chalk it up to having never known that love when my first arrived and…all of the added stress of having an older one to chase, a tougher pregnancy the second time, etc. Funny…we’re going through the exact same thing at the same time (my second arrived in September too)!
Amen! I hope all mothers can get to this place. I know I am there right with you and it is so freeing. I am most thankful for “regular” days and absolutely flip inside out when I see my husband and boys enjoying moments of happiness. Everything else is second to health and happiness. Period. So glad you feel the same way!
I was depressed for 15 years..until I got pregnant 10 years ago. Being the center of my own world was the WORST!
I used to be a Pilates teacher and ducking gorgeous. Yesterday my 7 yr old saw my stomach and retched. Hey, I still workout and put effort into getting back to myself but I just had my 4th baby. It’s not going to happen soon and it’s not going to ever be exactly as it was before. I never expected to be ok with that. Every pregnancy was a battle. It’s amazing we are all alive and healthy.
SO happy to hear this, Erin! There is nothing like motherhood to give you perspective. If your family is healthy, nothing–truly nothing– else really matters. Thanks for sharing your joy!
This is my favorite post you have ever written. We are two weeks into the amazingness that is having a new baby. Thank you. Love to you and the fam!
Well this is just the best. THE. BEST. Amazing how a little life can change your perspective, isn’t it? :-) Love.
Thanks for sharing…
You did a great job of expressing how profoundly the seemingly “common” act of becoming someone’s mother can change you.
How wonderful a gift that your little baby has reflected the love you have for him. He needs you and loves you just as you are – to him, you are perfect. And that’s all that matters.
Very happy your journey has taken you this far, and it has been so generous of you to share your story!
what a lovely lovely post. Kudos to you for overcoming some huge milestones with your personal demons. we all carry them in some way or another and i agree that motherhood seems to shift that balance and re-focuses things in your life. the love and eternal gratefulness never go away – mine are 17, 13 and 11 and i thank god every day for them:-)
Love this! Thank you so much for sharing! I am so happy for you and your family!
xo Annie- All Things Big And Small
I felt the same after I had children- my anxiety decreased considerably!! It’s like you are no longer the center of your world- and for someone with anxiety- it takes a lot of the pressure off!
So glad his presence has given you insight and a new purpose. Such a blessing!
Hooray for you Erin! Babies are humbling and they have a magical way of putting everything else into perspective. Nothing else matters now. I wish you and your family much joy.
Loved hearing this!!!
This just makes me so happy. So happy! All the best for you and Henry. Thank you for sharing.
Your post made me cry. I am so very happy for you and your little family. You hit your nirvana.. your joy, your pure love.
I am so happy for you and your little Henry.