I’d never really mastered the art of self-acceptance before growing a little human, and I’d say that twelve months into raising that same toddling being, I’m still not there yet. The difference is, I’m happier.
On the day of my wedding I weighed exactly 7st 12lbs, my Grandma used to say that there was more fat on her little finger than there was on me. In hindsight, she was probably right (her fingers are quite porky), but in a world filled with media who brainwash you into thinking you can always be thinner, have the perfect complexion and do little else but exercise or use your purse to achieve it, I just wasn’t content. Then, after only two weeks of marriage to find out my body was busy baking a bun a surge of mixed emotions flooded through my veins. First of all the excitement and the ‘oh I can’t wait for...’ moments, closely followed by the ‘Oh no I’m going to grow bigger than I have ever been’ moments and rapidly followed by the ‘I don’t think I can push a baby out’ moments.
Sure enough as my belly began to blossom, my fingers started to swell and my face became as round as the bulging belly, I began to complain. ‘I look fat’, ‘I’m huge’ or ‘I can’t grow much bigger, surely...’. Of course I was reassured by my husband and friends that this was supposed to happen and then by others who would I’m sure have thought they were helping, but I’m not sure telling a heavily pregnant lady that ‘her body will never be her own again’ isn’t exactly beneficial. I’m sure if you’re reading this you are probably nodding along and know exactly what I’m talking about, I’m sorry, I’m sorry that that ever happened to you, that you were made to feel like that.
The truth is, just as I forgot the pain of childbirth (almost) immediately, along with it fled the fears about my body image. When you’re lay in the most undignified of positions, the nurses all around you have quite possibly seen you have a number two amongst many other things, you’re image is the least of you worries, that said I did want my pearl earrings back in the very moment that I could.
And just hours after birth as I stood up for the first time with baby on the outside of my body rather than the safe cocoon of the inside where he’d set up home for the last nine months (and one week), the jelly belly swishing and swayed along the corridor to the maternity ward with me. How did I feel? Absolutely content. As my swollen feet waddled almost needing stabilisers after having to reconfigure the new weight they were carrying, As visitors came and went taking photographs of me without make-up, my new hospital pyjamas the only freshness about me, how did I feel? Happy, and not once did I think ‘I hope those pictures don’t go on Facebook!’
My body is my own, and it always will be. But it can be shared with my son because it tells the wonderful story of how Mummy grew him inside her tummy and that will be a story that is just ours.
I don’t look in the mirror and think ‘Wow!’ I really, really don’t. But neither do I look and think ‘Eww!’ I see changes that tell the story of love, hope and joy. That’s how I’ve come to accept my post-partum persona. And if someday I manage to lose the weight that I want to, I’ll never want to forget to remember the time when Mummy and Noah shared just one body and the difference that made to me.