September 1, 2015
Okay Ladies, Let Me See Your Pants!
Let's do a little experiment. Go ahead and bop on over to Instagram. Enter "postpartum" into the search field. Tell me what you see.
Quotes about trying harder.
Side by side comparison photos of perfection progress.
Women working out with their children.
(Thank god for the woman holding her child on the beach, am I right?)
I have yet to come across photos of women at peace just as they are with their babies, or women with their families, or heaven for bid women being given a hand?! (News flash: Roughly 1/3 of births occur in our country via major medical surgery, can we give these ladies a moment please?!) Nope. We can't find these images, because they are rare. Not the moments, just our willingness to document them. Instead we are fed a steady diet of images of women who are trying to "fix" their bodies, to return them to their former pre-pregnancy state. Doing our damnedest to undo the damaged goods, we are good at putting that on our to-do lists.
Here are the most popular hashtags including the word "postpartum": postpartumfitness, postpartumbody, postpartumweightloss, postpartumbelly, postpartumdepression. Need I go on?
My baby is about to turn two years old. You know, the birthday where it is no longer acceptable to state your child's age in months, and the age where I am encouraged to chalk everything up to the "terrible twos," and the age where I should probably return to wearing actual…
...dun dun dunnnn…
...wait for it…
At this point I'm pretty comfortable with my leggings coming up to exactly the midway spot between my belly button and my breasts/tube socks. The idea of a waistline or for god's sake, a belted waistband, seems simply archaic. Here you go...
During our evening ritual of all 5 of us cuddled up for our bedtime story, the boys were tackling me on the ground as I read. They were taking turns bouncing on my belly/pillow. We were reading about a tired, over worked hen and her chicks. For real. Out of the blue one of them exclaimed mid-story,
"Oh, I get it! The reason you have such a big tummy is because you grew each of us in there! Now I understand why you are chubby!"
My heart skipped a beat.
My eyes fought a tear.
My breathing stalled.
Just one second prior I was drowning in love, both inside and out. I felt safe and secure and amazing, surrounded by these boys and so much joy! I was swimming in gratitude and admiration for all I have created and all the places they will go. And with my son's very honest and accurate words, I set all that love aside and let self-loathing take over.
Images in social media are counting on this weakness of mine. They are counting on me running out and looking for new pants. New shirts. New shoes. New bras. New underwear. New exercise clothes. New gym passes. New jackets to tie around my waist. New makeup. New anything that gives me a ray of hope that I will return to my former state. But here's the deal...
I don't actually want my former self at all. I wouldn't trade the new me for the world.
Birth is not only about the birth of a baby, it is profoundly and equivocally about the birth of a mother. The birth of a partner. The birth of a family. And I'm not willing to undo that in the slightest.
(and not the kind you take when you are lying on your bed and trying to squeeze into your jeans...)
Though it may take me all of my days to fully accept, cherish and exult in my forever postpartum body, I will do it. I will love this vessel, this creator, this friend, this companion, this leader, this lover and this teacher. And I will support you in doing the same for your outstanding self. And I will likely have words with anyone who treats you as less than the gem that you are.
It's going to take me more than two years. And today I'm loving my leggings. And I'm loving my children. And my partner. And I'm loving my work. And I'm not going to run and hide from just how large of a life-giver I have become. I whisper this so often to my clients, "This intensity is not stronger than you, this is you. This is how strong YOU are." And it is about damn time we all start whispering it to ourselves well beyond the room we give birth in.
Okay Ladies, Let me see your pants!