I recently read an article called the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying and must tell you that not one regret had to do with looks or weight. I read this article a week before I went to the doctor for my 6 week post-partum check up, which was also a week before I stepped on the scale post-baby. If you know me or have read anything I’ve written while I was pregnant you will know that I never felt as good in my life as I did during my pregnancy. I never was so confident and radiant about my body. Pregnancy did something to me that made me feel beautiful and amazing – big belly, weight gain, and all. It did occur to me however, that once I gave birth to my baby, and then had no excuse for the weight gain or belly, that I might revert back to my old habits and start judging my body and the way it looks harshly. (Seriously, sometimes we can be harsher than a Russian Olympic’s coach!)
So, fast forward to my checkup where I had to step on the scale… I told myself before I even walked into the office that no matter what the scale said I need to be ok with it. I need to remember how good I was feeling during my pregnancy and that I now have an amazing baby that is so much more important than how thin I am. It’s just a number.
And so, I stepped on the scale and must have fallen into a deep amnesia, because I immediately looked over to the nurse’s chart to see what weight I was before I was pregnant. I knew that not only would looking not make me feel better if it wasn’t the number I was hoping for, but there was nothing I could do about it right then and there. Still though, I was compelled to look.
Of course you want to know what it said, right? I’m ashamed to tell you the number, because I know so many of you are going to roll your eyes and say, “is she crazy?!”, but if you struggle with your body image than you need to understand that it’s not the number that indicates a problem, but your reaction to it that does.
5 pounds. Yup, you heard that right, 6 weeks after I gave birth to my baby I am 5 pounds over what I was before I got pregnant. I’m even more ashamed to admit that no matter how hard I tried not to bring it up to the doctor, I couldn’t contain myself, and in a bit of a panic, which I tried so hard to make her think wasn’t there, I caved. If all the fluid was gone and my uterus shrunk down to it’s original size, and I gave birth to a 6.8lb baby, then what could possibly be the explanation for this extra weight!
My doctor reassured me that it can take up take up to a year for my body to return back to its prepregnancy state (of course I knew this), and that breastfeeding means that I’m carrying around milk, which weighs quite a bit (I definitely knew this, because my boobs are damn heavy at the moment!), and that nursing also means that my body needs to keep some fat reserves to maintain milk production (I knew this too). None of that made me feel better. I knew it wouldn’t even before I asked, because I know that what I’m feeling is insane.
And that’s what pisses me off more than anything? That I care so much. It’s not the 5 pounds that are the problem it’s that I care. You know what it is though? We are so ingrained to size up people and compare ourselves, and all throughout my pregnancy the first thing people would say when they saw me was how good I looked. And now when they see me, they say how great it is that I don’t look like I even had a baby. (You’re probably rolling your eyes again saying, “what is she complaining about? She’s really annoying!”)
The thing is though, when you’re trying not to let the way you think you look effect you, but everyone around you keeps commenting on the way you look, it’s kind of hard not to think about it. It makes you feel like you have to live up to the standard you’ve set. It becomes pretty powerful. And no matter whether it’s 5 pounds or 50 pounds the way you feel is different then the reality when you have body image issues.
So, here’s what I’m doing to fight the little monster in my head:
1. Remind myself that Lily is so much more important than anything else in this world.
2. Remind myself that I never want Lily to go through this, so I need to do everything I can to not let feelings like these get to me.
3. I don’t look in the mirror if I need affirmation, because that is a losing battle. I only look in the mirror when I know I am not going to judge myself or if I need to check how I look for practical reasons.
4. Remind myself that 5lbs is ok not just because it’s only 5lbs, but because in the big scheme of things my weight isn’t important.
Remember, you are not going to leave this world wishing you were thinner or prettier. It’s just not that important.