Having a baby comes with a lot of changes. I realize this is like saying “water is wet” or “Viola Davis is an amazing actress” but still. Changes.
Lifestyle changes are the ones people seem to joke about most, which I largely don’t mind. Yeah, sometimes I wish I could just go to a movie or out shopping on my own but I did that for 35 years. Part of inviting a child into your life is making compromises like that. And stuff like not going to the movies and leisurely shopping are only temporary (well, theoretically).
Some things are more permanent. The changes in my skin, hair, and outlook are going to be with me until I shrug off this mortal coil. Emotionally there have been so many intense shifts I’ve felt a little like a ping pong ball.
And then there are the physical changes. Women are supposed to want to “bounce back” after pregnancy as quickly as possible, get thin, be “MILF’s”. That hasn’t been a priority of mine.
I’ve had body dysmorphic disorder since around the age of thirteen. It hit when puberty hit, like some kind of hormonal train derailment. I haven’t liked my body in any real sense since then. I don’t remember caring about it one way or another before then.
Nearly all of my body loathing focused on my belly. It hasn’t been flat since I was a pre-teen, and it was made clear to me that it wasn’t acceptable at the same time my hormones went haywire. It wasn’t a great combination. I really believed, for decades now, that my body was “wrong”. Monstrous in some way.
And then I got pregnant. I was really terrified about how I’d feel about the body changes and I won’t lie: the distortion of pregnancy was hard. I didn’t feel well, I was depressed for most of the 9 months (and post partum after was rough). I was heavier than I have ever been in my life and I felt drained and enormous. I’m not a big person at a towering five twoish and my body felt like some weird ballooning alien.
I’ve dropped nearly forty pounds post baby and I’m still not thin. My belly isn’t flat, it droops a bit. My stretch marks are still purpley and I have hips and saggy boobs.
And I like my body in a way I’m not sure I ever have.
As “imperfect” as my body may be in terms of comparison to our beauty ideals, it’s healthy. It’s strong. It carried my daughter for 9 months and gave birth to her. It has comforted and held her, nourished her, gotten up with her when she’s not feeling well and danced around with her and rocked her to sleep.
So I’m going to do something I never thought I would; share a picture of my belly on the internet.
This is how it looks, unfiltered, no attempt to make it look less than it is. It’s a small, personal thing in the grand scheme of actually Important Thing, maybe, but it’s a big deal to me.
I'm sure there are people who will think my belly is gross or the pic is TMI or whatever. I don't really care. I'm owning it the way it is and loving it for what it's done. Especially the way those stretch marks over my belly button look like horns. They are fierce just like my daughter. Just like me.