Having kids is a minefield. You think you know what’s about to happen, you think you’re ready. But you have no idea what’s coming your way. The preparation in the build up to their arrival, the journey you can take just to get to that glorious moment. So many changes; internal and external.
As a society we often revel in the expanding body of pregnant Mothers, commenting on how glowing, blooming, beautiful they look. Then they give birth. Their bellies, once full of blossoming life, slowly deflate. Their skin, that has been stretched beyond reason, forever marked with the lines of strength and determination. Their breasts full with sustenance for their new born child. They almost become invisible to some, as visitors focus on the baby. Almost invisible. Until the comments start about bouncing back. Reaching your prebaby weight.
When a Mother has spent 9 months growing a human, given her whole body over to lovingly making this life, her body shouldn’t be scrutinised. It should be worshipped.
We struggled to conceive initially. We started trying to have a baby on the run up to our wedding. The plan was to announce it in Dean’s speech on the day. But life never goes to plan, does it? We had so many tests, changed our diets, stopped drinking. They said we had ‘unexplained infertility’. Then, 4 weeks before we were due to start IVF, we found out I was pregnant.
I remember feeling so proud of my body for growing our baby. Feeling more body confident than I’d ever felt, even with all the changes that were happening to me. By the end of my first pregnancy, I was struggling to walk because my hips were out of place and my hair was falling out, but I still felt like Super Woman. I was creating a life. Growing organs, bones. Making a person.
Then, when Teddy was 15 months old, we fell pregnant with twins and I felt even more super.
My body has grown, birthed and fed three people.
Growing up without positive role models definitely had an impact on how I viewed myself. The Women I saw were perfected images in magazines, unattainable to the average person. Becoming a Mother, I realise how damaging these images are. Magazines and social media have a lot to answer for.
I am happy to admit that I still struggle with body image. I have to remind myself what my body has achieved over the past few years. That I should expect to be different, to feel different. I try to talk to my body how I’d talk to a friend who’s being negative. Isn’t that what we should do at all times? Be kinder to ourselves?
It’s taken until my 30s to understand that I need to fuel my body with nourishing food and movement to feel good. To aim for healthy and happy, not skinny. I’m never going to look like the Women in those magazines and that’s OK.
Society tells Women to have a baby, as long as they ‘bounce back’ and don’t look like they’ve had a baby and that needs to stop.
We aren’t the weaker sex. We aren’t meant to bounce back. We grow forward. We create the future.