I recently realized that next month is the year anniversary of when I first learned I was pregnant. Just like pregnancy and delivery were experiences I didn’t fully understand until I was in it, so is life after baby. This postpartum life is all sorts of crazy. It’s crazy good, crazy hard, and then sometimes something in the middle.
I’m also learning that there’s no “bounce back.” My body is likely never going to be the same.
I loved being pregnant; well actually, there were definitely parts that I could have done without. The uncontrollable itching (to the point where my scratch welts would bleed) that I developed in the third trimester thanks to cholestasis, an imbalance in hormones that caused my liver to overproduce bile, the uncomfortable sleepless nights and the stretch marks that suddenly appeared, also in the third trimester. Of course, feeling my beautiful baby moving around in there and hearing his strong heartbeat at each doctor’s appointment made up for any discomfort I was experiencing. And don’t get me wrong, while I didn’t always feel that great, I loved my pregnant body. I thought my belly was beautiful and the bigger boobs didn’t hurt either.
However, flash forward four months and I’m still coming to terms with my postpartum body.
I knew my belly wouldn’t immediately flatten out, but I didn’t expect it to look as deflated as it does. I guess it makes sense though, there was a six-pound human in there and now there’s not. While I have started exercising more regularly and returning to a more balanced diet, almost all of my pre-pregnancy clothes still don’t fit. Case in point: I recently tried on a pair of favorite white jeans and ripped them. I knew I was still too heavy to fit into them, but I thought just maybe. I was wrong. I just had to laugh at the situation.
I definitely had distorted expectations of how fast I would lose the baby weight based on what I’d read about breastfeeding and other moms’ experiences. Maybe I did eat for two, when I should have been a little more conservative with my diet. I’m giving myself some grace on this one because this was my first baby, my first pregnancy and I had no idea what to expect — the cravings I would have or how I would generally feel. I mean, who really could?
I am working to get back to a place where I feel like myself. Especially because I was so active before I had my baby. Some days — where my son is the smiley, happy child who sleeps peacefully in his stroller so I can get a workout in — are easier than others. Then we have days where he refuses to go down for a nap, and works himself into such a state because of it… wailing at the top of his lungs until he falls asleep from exhaustion. Those days I have to fight back my own tears.
I’m taking it one day at a time though and learning to not be so hard on myself on those days when I look in my closet and absolutely nothing works because it either can’t fit or isn’t breastfeeding friendly. Hey, it took nine months to grow this baby, and I changed mentally and physically. It’s going to take some time to get me feeling like me again. In the meantime, I’m celebrating my wins: the six miles I ran on Sunday (the farthest I’d gone since I got pregnant!). I’m also thankful to have such a great support system, from my husband to our families and friends, who keep reminding me that I’m doing a great job on the hard days when I feel like I’m doing anything but.
Ravelle Worthington is a wife, momma to two, and the founder of Mommy Brain. Follow her on Instagram here.
Join the Mommy Brain Community where members can have open and honest discussions about all the parts of motherhood — there are many layers to who we are as women and as mothers. This is the space to talk about it all, not only with moms like you, but also with our collective of experts!
Story photos provided by author.