3.12.2017

Postpartum Weight Struggle


I was listening to this coffee + crumbs podcast the other day and they asked the question "what do you love about your postpartum body?" I couldn't believe they were asking this question... does anyone love their postpartum body? I sure don't and have struggled with my body since becoming pregnant. The mommas talked about their strong bodies and curves and I just had to pause and listen because I was so shocked that women could love their bodies after giving birth.

Weight gain has never been my struggle. It just hasn't been my thing. Growing up I was always athletic and then in middle school/high school I was a competitive track athlete and worked out pretty much every day. I had intense workouts and competed at junior nationals. Sure, there were times I struggled with perfectionism and had struggled for a couple months with an eating disorder but I knew I was never fat, I had a six pack to prove it. The eating disorder was me wanting to be perfect, to do better at track and didn't have anything to do with weight.

I knew that carrying a baby inside of me for nine months would change me...maybe forever. Let me say outright that having Jackson as my son is the best thing ever but can I be honest and say that I struggle, I'm struggling.

I was leading a fitness class at my church when I was pregnant. My goal and thought was to lead that class all the way up to giving birth. I was so excited to stay fit and in control of my weight. I knew you could workout the same amount as you did before becoming pregnant so I was confident I could try and control the weight gain.

December 27 (the day before my anniversary) I got a call from my midwife telling me that Jackson was healthy but that I was getting close to placenta previa and that I would have to stop exercising among many other things. I was crushed. Stop exercising? Really? Obviously for the health of my baby there was no question in my mind that I would give up exercise but I no longer had control. Despite trying to eat healthy when you aren't working out the weight seemed to pile on and I gained more than the average pregnant lady.

Then insert pelvic girdle pain. I had intense, low numbing pain and immediately called my midwife. It hurt to walk, it hurt to stand and it was painful. After talking to her at length and with my ultrasound she said it was pelvic pain. The way Jackson was growing was putting large amounts of pressure on my pelvis causing low numbing pain. I stopped waitressing in February because it hurt. I wasn't on disability but the days were long and the weight continued. I actually stopped counting the weight gain because I was becoming obsessed with it and knew it wasn't healthy. It wasn't my fault I couldn't be on my feet for very long but still.. as the scale kept climbing I felt less and less in control.

After giving birth I was exhausted and walking hurt, everything hurt and Jackson didn't sleep all that well. I didn't bounce back like so many articles I read. I didn't even get out of the diaper the midwives give you because the bleeding continued for a month. Then my stitches started to hurt. It continued to hurt to walk (let alone exercise and loose the baby weight). I went to the doctors at two months and he told me my stitches had re torn a bit and were loosing up but he didn't want to re sew me, he assured me they would continue to heal and the skin would start to close naturally as long as... wait for it.... I laid low and didn't exercise.

I laughed. This was my story. I stared at my body in disgust. The massive stretch marks, the saggy skin, my fat face... seriously? How did this become me and my story? I had no control but to listen to my doctor and let my body heal. I wasn't stupid so I rested. I didn't walk and the weight stayed.

I fought the lies in my head that I'm not beautiful. I've questioned Mark countless times as he tells me how pretty I am that he is lying and just saying that to make me feel better. I've looked at pre pregnancy pictures and longed for my body and my skin back. I've had bitter thoughts of other mommas who just bounced back and lost the weight in the first couple months. I've compared myself to celebrities and other social media figures who post working out pictures days after their baby. I never realized how hard I would struggle with weight gain but I do, I am.

Jackson is now ten months. It's been nineteen months of working through these thoughts and body issues. Today, I feel like in our "love your body whatever size it is" age that I can't even share this stuff due to people saying "I'm body shaming" but I want to write about it because I want to be real. Every story is different. Every pregnancy is different. Every body is different. And from a girl whose never struggled with weight gain, this has been the hardest postpartum struggle. Not being allowed to exercise and then finally after three months feeling "healed" enough to start working out and then not seeing results is tough.

But loving my body? These mommas actually love their bodies. They weren't lying. They had positive qualities about their bodies from giving birth. Could I love my body again? I felt hopeful.

I'm feeling hopeful. 

Comparison is the thief of joy. I know that. I preach that. But I wasn't prepared for the comparison. By God's grace and loving kindness towards me I've been praying to love my body and after ten months I am finally starting to be OK with getting a new wardrobe and buying some new clothes.

Is it really the end of the world if I will never fit into my skinny jeans again? Can I accept that my body has made and carried a human and rejoice with these other mommas that I now have hips that my skinny jeans just won't sit over? Can I swallow my pride and buy a new pair a few sizes bigger?

I'm feeling hopeful that I can.

& I'm feeling hopeful that if you are a momma with this struggle that you can too. OR if you are a woman who has ever struggled with weight gain or ever struggled with loving your body, I'm feeling hopeful for you.

Why? Only because of Jesus. Because as we fix our eyes on Him, His kingdom, on eternity "the things of the world grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." Heaven feels close and real and my stretch marks suddenly don't seem to matter so much. As these nineteen months have passed I have struggled and will continue to struggle but am hopeful that as I work out, eat better and see my body the way God sees it I will learn to love it again.

And like I said, as I see my story laid out differently than other mommas I am hopeful to love my body again. I looked into the mirror this morning and smiled at my hips and stretch marks and thought "OK this is me and that is OK." I am hopeful for you too if this is your story.

Let's learn to love our bodies even if it takes some time. I'm on this journey with you friend and I'm cheering you on.

From a momma learning to love her postpartum body.
xo




2 comments:

  1. Jennifer ShouldiceMarch 12, 2017 at 8:04 PM

    The struggle is real❤ I too have struggled with this ongoing for the past 7 years since having all 3 of my babies. This time of life is constant weight changes and it's hard. I appreciate your honesty; you are not alone!

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    1. Thanks so much for the comment Jen! Mommas that have gone before me like yourself are so helpful and so encouraging so thank you for being such a great example. And its nice to know we are all in this together!

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