Sunday, October 5, 2014

on post-nursing bodies

I have a rather rough history with body image. I struggled with that and eating in college so, so much (another story for another day), but after a few therapists, a nutritionist, and by the Grace of God later, I literally re-learned how to eat, and I made it through relatively unscathed. Though, to be sure, there were a number of years that if you'd told me I'd be where I am today—so, so free from the haunts of calorie-counting and toilet-hugging and having to pad my seat belt where it hit my hipbones and being consumed with thoughts of food and weight and numbers—well, I wouldn't have believed you. For a while, I couldn't see what life out of that tunnel could look like.

Being pregnant was fine. I felt like, I would imagine, mostly anyone else with a balanced concern for weight gain in pregnancy would be. I gained well within the recommended amount, ate well, listened to my body, and had a very healthy pregnancy. I was proud of myself. I wondered at my body and the miracle of it holding and growing another person inside. More so than any other time in my life, I felt comfortable in my own skin.

Postpartum, in the beginning, was also fine. I was recovering from a c-section, and between that and getting the hang of nursing and being sleep-deprived, I basically didn't give much of a thought to my body other than once again, being amazed at being able to bring another little being along. Also—and this is important—I loved having a little more in boob area from nursing. I've always been really small in that regard, and it's not like by any stretch of the imagination that I was well-endowed or anything while we were breastfeeding, but it was a nice change to have a little more going on in that area.

I had heard women lament that once they stopped nursing they ended up smaller than before, but I didn't give much thought to it, honestly because I didn't think I could be any smaller than before.  Like physically, I didn't think it was possible.

But how I've been proven wrong! And while I'm in no way looking in the mirror and crying, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that sometimes as I look in the mirror I'm sighing.

I read a really great essay this week over at Coffee + Crumbs about the postpartum body and weight and self-care and raising a daughter, and I found myself nodding along so emphatically all the way through. And I really feel all of that, and I don't much rue the ways my body has changed in the way of more: a little more soft around the middle, a few more lines on my face.  But I realized today, as I was shopping for new bras and pulling ones off the rack with names like "ego-boost" (really!), that what I'm struggling with—for the very first time in my life—is the way in which my body went from more to now, in this one place, decidedly less.

So it seems, as usual, that motherhood, in all its glory and beauty and heart-exploding joy, never ceases to serve up a hearty dose of you-win-some, you-lose-some.

Which, said from the land of ego-boosting push-up bras, will just have to do.


  1. On Friday I ready your little five minute brain dump post and felt so inspired to just write something, anything, because I enjoyed that post from you so much. (So I did.) and last week when you posted about how you were beginning the whole complicated baby-making journey again, I meant to comment and tell you that I hoped everything would go well and that I'm rooting for you from way over here, that I admire you for being so open about your journey. But this post is what, I think, did it for me. Yours is probably my favorite blog on the Internet at the moment. I'm enjoying it so much.

    1. Suzy: THANK YOU. You have no idea how much I needed your comment today.

  2. Found your blog via Design Mom and I had to chuckle when I saw this you, I didn't ever worry because I thought I couldn't get any smaller...but apparently I could! But in counting my blessings, I'd rather be this way an overly endowed...I'm a distance runner and I always remind myself that if my chest was much bigger, running would be miserable, as I know from painful experience (running while nursing means two sports bras...awful!)

    1. Rachael—yes, I know exactly what you mean! I'm not a runner but ride same thing. It's all about finding the silver lining, I guess. :)