It's here. And has been since my sweet babe was born a month ago: that postpartum feeling.
I say feeling like we all know It & can see it rolling on in as we struggle during labor & coo at our newest creation, but every lady's feeling is unique to her.
Mine encases itself in my body. Oh, I feel physically good. In fact, I feel great. The weariness of pregnancy is gone; the aches that filled my movements every moment have exited, but the body has remained. The one I see peaking from the mirror before I remember to look away. The one I hide beneath high waisted panties & control tops. The body that turns away from the loving eyes of my husband. The one that gave me each one of my precious (& precocious) children.
You see I've lived my life pretty unconcerned with this here ol' thing. I never played sports or exercised in my youth. But it stayed pretty okay, despite that. I didn't have the graceful muscles of a ballerina, I had a slender softness.
After my first baby, I was horrified by what was left behind. Can this be my body? Why had no one warned me that this could happen? Will it ever be the same? And actually, no, mine wasn't to be. I lost the weight I'd gained, but what was left-in all honesty-disgusted me. Loose skin fell just above my bikini line & long, dark marks marred my stomach.
After my second pregnancy, I thought I'd get another chance. Maybe it would be different. Perhaps I can reset it all and look like "me" again.
Instead, I was left with more loose skin & more dark marks. I never let my husband see me completely. I hid behind anything I could, so ashamed that my body was now so...ugly. I felt angry at myself for ever feeling like my body wasn't good enough before pregnancy. What was I thinking?
It's no surprise to me now that my body has once again given me such a gift & left me with more of what I have come to hate. I knew it was like this. And yet it still hurts. Why am I so attached to this idealized version of myself that never truly existed, but that has been gone for nearly 5 years?
It is so difficult for me to see gorgeous moms who look as if they've never carried a baby (or more). All I want is to look my best for my husband, I tell myself, though I know this is not true. He loves me just as I am. Always. And tells me so anytime he sees that fear in my eyes. Fear of myself. Fear of catching a glimpse in the mirror when I'm not prepared for it. I need to put on my armor before facing this, I think as I turn away.
"Mommy, your tummy looks silly." My 2 year old says to me.
"Yes," I say, forcing a smile & a cheerful tone, "Yes! I carried three babies in there! And that can make some mommy tummys look different. It is silly huh?"
She nods and smiles at me.
And the next time she sees my tummy she says again, "Your tummy is silly!" But this time she adds, "because you had babies." And she lovingly pats that place I hide from, loving me in a way I can't.