I won’t call this a love/hate relationship, because there is no part of my body that I hate, but I wouldn’t always call us best friends, either.
Prior to having a baby, I’d say I had a pretty decent body image. I was embracing the new curves that came late in my twenties, which fleshed out even more while in culinary school. After being all elbows and knees in high school and college, I welcomed the opportunity to look a little more…womanly. My husband has an amazing habit of complementing me and making me feel confident in my body size and shape, so that helped a lot. I was comfortable with my personal style and wore what I liked but also what I thought might flatter my body type the most. Just like anyone else, I did what I could to minimize the muffin top, but didn’t give much thought to my body beyond that. That was it—I thought about my body, but was comfortable enough to not give it a second thought.
Then, I had a baby. I remember those first few days home from the hospital, looking in the mirror at my stomach which resembled a deflated balloon. Did I hate it? No, I think I was too tired to put energy into hating it. But truthfully, I think I loved it, especially at its flabbiest and wiggliest. My body grew a human. That adorable, sleepy, cuddly baby in the next room? I made him. It felt unfair to hate my body for doing something so special.
What about now? Six months later, I still don’t hate my post-partum body. Sometimes I love my body, celebrating what it did. Sometimes I not-so-love my body, as I learn to dress a new size and shape, bigger boobs, and with enough comfort to keep up with my little guy. I love my arms, strong from rocking my baby to sleep. I not-so-love my hair, that has fallen out in clumps and is starting to grow back weird baby hairs. I love that spot on my shoulder that fits Lenny’s head just right. I not-so-love my dry lips, dehydrated from breastfeeding (and probably too much coffee). I even love my stretch marks, lasting evidence of the pregnancy we worked so hard for. I still haven’t quite bounced back to my pre-pregnancy self, but I don’t hate that, either. While I still try to dress to flatter my body, if I have some lumps and bumps that’s okay, too. I actually sometimes like when I know others can see my post-baby bump, especially when I’ve got Lenny in tow. Look at him, I think. Look at what this body did. I have to love myself for that.
Ladies, let’s go easy on ourselves. Our bodies have done something amazing, and we should feel proud of that. I’m not saying we have to be best friends with our bodies every day. No one in any relationship likes each other every single day. But try to not hate what you see in the mirror, either. Besides, you’ll need all that mental energy to keep up with your baby who, by the way, loves you just the way you are.