Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror, shocked at what you see?
You pass by the mirror and take one glance and something catches your eye and makes you stop. Maybe it’s your thinning postpartum hair, or the bags under your eyes, but it hits you like a brick.
Your body is an awkward shape. But you don’t remember it ever looking like that before.
Where has the time gone?
Is that a waddle??
You used to be so adorable, what happened???
These thoughts swirl in your head and in that moment, you really don’t like your postpartum body. Maybe you never have, but especially now.
This happened to me not long after I had my second daughter.
After the initial shock wore off, I forced myself to take another long look in the mirror, hoping to find the ingenue that used to look back at me. As if on cue, my c-section scar, still healing, throbbed gently, reminding me of the beautiful and amazing things my body has gone through over the past several years, most importantly, conceiving, growing, birthing and nourishing two gorgeous and enormous baby girls (close to 9 lbs EACH, and I’m just under 5’0”).
My body is an amazing machine.
I stood there, poking and squeezing bulges of flesh that weren’t there before. Every single scar was once a deep, life threatening wound that has now healed. The loose skin around my midsection reminds me how strong and healthy and big my girls were when they were born. My stained teeth is every cup of coffee I drank when my babies were little and sleep was barely there. These stretch marks? My babies put those there – I earned every single one of THOSE stripes.
(I can do without the developing neck waddle, lol. But self-love is always a work in progress, right? And I still have time to love on it.)
I never thought I would feel this way about my postpartum body.
Our whole lives, women have been taught to hate their looks in an effort by magazines and TV to sell the latest weight loss gimmick/scam, not to mention the ridiculous expectations from the opposite sex. A guy dumbass once call me fat and deformed because of my misshapen stomach. Another one said “You really need to do something about that scar. It’s really unattractive.” And a fellow actor once asked me why I wasn’t embarrassed by it.
Ignorant deadbeat slugf*ckers. All of them.
It is a damn miracle that I didn’t develop an eating disorder, and believe me, I tried.
Here’s the thing, though: I would have died at birth if I didn’t have that operation. You see, I was born with intestinal malrotation, a congenital birth defect that affects the intestines, causing painful bowel obstructions and can lead to death if not corrected in time.
I survived that sh*t. So why wouldn’t I love my scar? Why wouldn’t I love my c-section scars? I got two babies out of it. It was their doorway to my arms.
This body, all of it, is a miracle.
And you know what else? YOU are a miracle. Every dimple, every stripe and stretch mark, every scar, and yes, even that forthcoming waddle is a marvelous creation. An entity made of so much more than you can even fathom, capable of infinite wonders.
Don’t listen to those monsters telling you otherwise.
Take care of yourself. Feed yourself. Love yourself.
If you are struggling with loving your body through all its transitions, the NEDA website provides this beautiful list of reminders by Margo Maine, PhD to help you through this challenging time.
When lockdown began, this dumbass meme started circulating.
I mean, good for him. He changed science. He probably changed the consciousness of a nation and got into The Good Place. He just mosey’d on back to the family farm and just science’d and chilled for weeks on end.
BUT he didn’t have kids
To make his life even easier, he had servants catering to his every whim. If you had nothing to do, no chores, no diapers to change, no home schooling, no making sure the kids don’t fall of the damn couch every time you try to go to the bathroom, then maybe you’d get something done. Maybe you’d write that web series. Maybe you’d finally finish that blog post you’ve been working on for 2 weeks already. Maybe if you didn’t have to toilet train your 2 year old and follow him around the house holding the potty, you’d have time to sit down at your piano for the first time since the kid was born.
But how do I manage to write in this blog?
I’m writing this at 1:45am, after the kids have gone to bed, after I’ve picked up the house, after I’ve eaten MY dinner, and AFTER I finished work from my actual job. Where was my husband? Don’t go throwing him under the bus. He is working a 12 hour overnight shift at the moment and has to attend a staff meeting via Zoom as soon as his shift is over at 6am. He spent the whole day sleeping against the rage of his circadian rhythm. Ask anyone who works the night shift. It fucks with your brain and body. Let the man sleep.
I’m with Susanna on this one.
The next academic dude who posts about how much work Isaac Newton or whoever got done at Cambridge during the plague I’m coming over to their house with my snotty 4y and staying there to develop my genius while he deals with the kid and then we’ll see who discovers laws of nature
Please, before you remind me he had a wife and kids, let me remind you he HAD A WIFE who probably took care of the damn kids by herself while he was holed up in his office with a thousand feather pens or something because that’s just what women were *supposed to do* back then.
I see them, my single and childless actor friends, on my Facebook feed, churning out video after hilarious video. Posting pictures of their clean AF kitchen and pristine notebook next to a cup of coffee and yeah, I’m a little bitter about it. I’m straight up JEALOUS. I wish I had the time. I wish I could sleep and take care of my skin and maybe do a yoga video. I just simply do not have the time. It’s not their fault. It is just what it is right now.
We can’t hire a babysitter for their safety and ours.
Our kids are too small to leave unattended for any amount of time.
Playgrounds and schools and libraries and shops are closed.
I won’t be shamed or feel guilty for not indulging my creativity during this time of utter chaos, or throwing screen time limits out the window. And you shouldn’t, either.
You’re busy trying to keep the ship afloat in a storm (fine, TEMPEST, whatever) that has no foreseeable end.
You are stressed and anxious, possibly financially insecure, and probably don’t have the support you would have if it were just a normal day. This whole thing is hella scary.
The kids are fed? You’re doing a great job!
The kids only cried 2 times today? You’re doing a great job!
The TV babysat them for 30 minutes while you gave yourself a much needed coffee break? YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB.
No time for self care? The least you can do is show yourself some grace. #selfgrace
I’ve made progress on a lot of things. Reminding myself of that fact keeps the guilt away. I got a PO Box and set up my mailing lists and e-mails for both my sites (blog, pro). Not really sure what went wrong. Did discouragement sneak in somewhere? Did the mundane tasks of every day life get in the way? Racking my brain over it and there’s nothing there. Sitting at my desk in front of the computer and just…blank. Perhaps I’m suffering from a bit of writers’ block. It’s not for lack of trying. I did reach a lot of my goals for this month, so it’s good! The chores got done and meals were cooked and appointments were kept…but there were nights I had free where I could have spent more time on the design or more time writing. There were some afternoons I could have spent making jewelry or drawing, things I haven’t done in a long long time. But I didn’t do any of those things. I colored with my daughter, I watched a movie with my husband, we attempted potty training (oh boy), I gave my daughter her first voice lesson (singing vowels and she would copy me, OMG so cute and off key!)…these are really the sweetest days, and they must be loved and lived and experienced before they’re gone.
A few updates…
I interviewed my friend Lora Nicolas on the delicate balance of motherhood and working in the entertainment industry. I don’t know how she does it. She told me and I have proof and I still don’t know. Maybe as I continue to write her feature, it will come to me. Piece to follow.
Got some exciting news regarding a potential upcoming project, but as nothing is finalized as of yet, I don’t want to jinx it by spilling the beans too soon. Hopefully everything goes as planned!
What I’m thankful for…
A few years ago I used to write down what I was thankful for each day. Trying to get back in that habit and improve my outlook on things a bit. I’m not a negative person but it’s too easy to let the poison creep in if you don’t arm yourself with joy.
Choosing to spend time with my daughter and husband instead of pouring all my spare time into extra projects. Everything else and this blog will survive a few days or weeks hiatus. My family is the center of my heart and nurturing them fills me.
Reaching many of my goals for the month, doubling my views (albeit very small), created mailing lists, brainstormed posts and continued getting myself organized.
Flexible employment and powerful female co-workers and supervisors.
My daughter’s lilting laugh. Her laughter lifts my mood instantly.