Dealing With My Postpartum Body Image
This is me 2 weeks postpartum.
I remember this day vividly. Squeezing into those joggers. Throwing on a big black hoodie to hide my body. Walking slowly because getting around was incredibly painful.
Going for a walk around the neighborhood that day was the first time I had done anything intentionally active, since giving birth to my second child. I recall feeling weak, and after just 10 minutes, I was ready to return home.
50 Pound Weight Gain
When I came home from the hospital, and looked at my body in the mirror, I felt gross. I had delivered a beautiful, healthy baby boy, but if you were to see me, you’d think I was still carrying him. I knew it was stupid of me to obsess over my body just days after my delivery, but I did.
I did not expect to put on 50 pounds this pregnancy. Truth be told, I had optimistically thought that my healthy eating habits that I had adapted prior to conceiving would endure through the pregnancy. Nope!
When I visited my gynecologist for my postpartum checkup, she had nothing negative to say about the weight gain whatsoever. She told me that I was fine, and that I would lose the weight as I had done before. I think every woman could benefit from a doctor like that. I honestly needed to hear it, because I had been silently beating myself up about it.
Insatiable Postpartum Hunger
Immediately after returning home from the hospital, I went back to my routine of weighing myself on the scale daily. The pounds started dropping off quickly. “Great!” I thought to myself. “This breastfeeding really works.” I figured since the milk production was burning so many calories, I could eat whatever I wanted.
Staying up all night with my fussy newborn, I began snacking unhealthily around the clock. Chips, cookies, sandwiches, oh and I had even started drinking sweet teas and soda, which is usually a HUGE NO in my book. I don’t typically drink my calories, but all of my strict rules went out of the window in May. When the numbers on the scale finally reversed upwards, I realized I was eating entirely too much.
This crazy eating went on for about 2 months after pregnancy, and I actually ended up gaining back 8 of the 20 pounds that I had already dropped since being discharged from the hospital. I started feeling hopeless. I WAS HUNGRY. To make it worse, my doctor hadn’t cleared me to work out. Being a couch potato made me feel like a big ole failure.
Not Feeling Like Angela
It sucks not feeling like yourself. Even more overwhelming is feeling like you have no control to get back to yourself.
No, I don’t base who I am off of the numbers on the scale, but my confidence had been shot. I felt undisciplined and unmotivated. That’s not me at all. I always adjust quickly. I always keep it pushing. Why couldn’t I just get back into gear. I had salad in my refrigerator, but I reached for the bread instead. One night I made 2 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and even put granola on them; then I swallowed them down with a huge glass of whole milk. I had started doing unnecessary, out of the ordinary, unhealthy things. It was strange.
People Stating The OBVIOUS
While drowning in my own self-loathing, other people took their jabs (disguised as jokes) at me. I was told that I looked bigger than I did when I was pregnant. That comment made my blood boil. Maybe it hurt so much because there was too much truth to it. My terrible diet had me bloated all of the time, and it made me lazy and sluggish.
While I wasn’t supposed to participate in strenuous exercise, I could’ve at least gone for walks, but I was too tired. The overeating, my nocturnal newborn, my energetic toddler, and the OxyContin I was prescribed, left me completely spent. For the first month I became a sedated, snack-a-holic, lounging around in my maternity clothes, loving on my newborn, while letting the weight pile up . But who really feels like explaining these hardships to someone “joking” about how you “just need to exercise.” Wouldn’t want to come off as oversensitive or hormonal, now would I?
Feeling Self Conscious In Public
I had so many events and celebrations to look forward after giving birth. I was going to be graduating with my Masters in June, attending graduation events, having a grad party, and going to a wedding. I was slightly vexed that I wouldn’t get to look my best for these festivities. I had to buy new clothes, because I couldn’t fit anything in my closet. Even when I bought new clothes, I didn’t feel beautiful in any of them. Spanx was my best friend at each event. She made sure that my belly didn’t runneth over.
Reminiscing About My Fit Body
I felt like I was back at square one. I had been in the best shape of my adult life this same time last year. After years of working hard to get in shape, and then reaping the physical, mental, and even social benefits of getting in shape, I was back to being fat and insecure.
As a blogger, I try to post regularly on social media to keep up my engagement with followers, but lately I haven’t had the courage to post a full body photo of myself. I keep thinking about how I looked before, and I didn’t feel comfortable with such a juxtaposition of my body weight and size online.
Everybody talks about the “snap back.”
Let’s face it. Every woman’s experience with her body postpartum is different. She may or may not “snap back.” Some women have a baby, and have a flat stomach within a day or 2. Some take a few months to get back to “normal.” And then there are those who never really lose the weight, and take a on a completely new shape. There’s a great deal of pressure to not fall into the latter group. To be honest, I’m affected by this societal pressure. Deep down, I feel like I’m too young to “fall off.”
Okay, Pity Party Over
So, when I was finally done feeling bad for myself. When I was finally done shoving down bowls of creamy pasta, eating cheese and crackers, and going out for peanut butter sundaes… I gave myself a good talking to, because one thing about me that I can and will brag about is that I’m highly self-motivated.
I had to remind myself that I had just given life, and that my body had served such a wonderful and beautiful purpose – and that every pound I gained (even the unnecessary ones) was worth the birth of my precious son.
I had to remind myself that everyone has to start somewhere. I had to think about what I had written about “not having to look fit to get fit,” and to get in the gym even if I was little more jiggly now.
I had to remind myself that I’ve been on the weight loss and fitness journey several times before, and that I can and I will successfully get back to it again. I encouraged myself to look forward to improving my body, and also set realistic expectations that my body may not look exactly as it did last year, but it will be fit and healthy…periodt. Lol
I had to tell others if they didn’t have anything supportive to say about my weight loss journey, to please leave me be. I started drawing the boundaries. I couldn’t handle the weight gain jokes, so I “kindly” put a stop to it. I’m sensitive about my size. Sorry, not sorry.
I’m going to lose the baby weight the right way. Slow and steady, and love myself all the way through.
It’s okay, and totally normal to feel down about your body after having the baby, just don’t stay down.
Always keep in my mind that you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others.