Silver Lining: on beauty, and my postpartum body

July 30, 2014

on beauty, and my postpartum body

When I was 9 months pregnant, I remember looking in the mirror one day before I got in the shower. My belly was huge, I had gained 35 pounds, and I had stretch marks circling my belly button. Oddly enough, the thought struck me that I was more beautiful than I'd ever been before. The curves and extra softness were signs that I was growing a healthy baby.


Right then, I made a conscious goal to be kind to my postpartum body. I wanted to respect my body for what it's just done - grown and given birth to a fully-formed human being. Especially in these first six weeks before I have clearance to do anything but short walks and light stretches, I want to be gracious in my thoughts and actions towards my body.


So, here's my postpartum body (these were taken at three weeks postpartum). It's not back to its pre-pregnancy weight yet. I still have stretch marks around my belly button. I still have extra chubbiness in my thighs and around my face. Some of the clothes that fit me best are still maternity clothes. And you know what? I think I'm beautiful. Beauty isn't measured just by how you look. Yes, exercise and taking care of the way you look is very important, but it's not the ultimate measure of a person's worth (sorry Vogue). Bodies are good for what they do with what they are given. They are vessels to accomplish things - to learn, to grow, to reach new heights and help people. 


I hope I can have these types of conversations with my daughter as she gets older. There will be comments about her physical appearance. She already gets all the "she's so cute!" compliments that babies so often receive, and I personally think her eyes are gorgeous beyond compare. But I hope that's not where the conversation about her body ends.


I want my daughter to understand that her legs aren't beautiful because they're long or slender. They're beautiful because they can walk and run and hike and bike and carry her places. I want her to know that her arms are beautiful because they can throw and catch and carry things. Her face is beautiful because she has eyes that see, a nose that smells, ears that hear, and a mouth that can taste. Her hands won't be beautiful insofar as she puts nail polish or rings on them (although I like both and hope to paint nails with her someday). Her hands will be beautiful because she can use them to experience, to help, and to create.


So today, I'm making the choice to be beautiful.Yes, I still have some baby weight and those stubborn stretch marks, but I'm beautiful.  I'm making the choice to not focus on the imperfections, the limitations, what my body can't do. I'm focusing on what it can, and does, do. Today, I picked up my baby. I breast fed her and rocked her and soothed her and went on a walk with her. I saw and smell and heard and tasted and touched today. And so I will be kind to my body, because it has been so kind to me.



P.S. Sorry about the wacky camera settings - I had about a 30-second window of time to snap these pictures before baby girl started crying.

Last thing - I can't write this post about beauty and my postpartum body without mentioning infertility. It's a topic that is so near and dear to many of the people closest to me. Some of the most beautiful women I know are infertile, yet they use their bodies to help and nurture more people than you know. Whoever reads this, out here in this blogosphere, if you know of a child who needs a great home, please contact me. I'll send you on to the online profiles of some great people who would make fantastic parents. 

19 comments:

  1. Wow wow wow I LOVED this. Such true words about postpartum beauty. It's a hard thing to talk yourself through, I've been surprised at that, and it sounds like you're doing an amazing job. You ARE seriously stunning, and your baby is so precious! Congrats to your sweet family :)

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    1. Thank you so much Brooke. It's been way harder than I thought to have that positive self-talk. But I'm trying, and that's what counts! One step at a time, right?

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  2. I'm pinning this to read over and over again. You are so right! I hope to teach my girl just this. Thank you!!

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    1. Mikell, you are so sweet. Thank you dear :)

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  3. You are beautiful and so is your daughter!

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  4. This is beautiful... Every bit of it. I'm six months postpartum and haven't lost anything since my first week home. I started to make a conscious effort recently because I want my daughter to witness a healthy relationship with body image from me. And yes, we all need to be kind to ourselves. I think when we're more gentle on ourselves, we're more gentle on those around us as well.

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    1. I love that - I want my daughter to witness a healthy relationship with body image from me too. That's exactly what I was trying to express. Thank you!

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  5. This is beautiful! I feel the same way. I've always been uber skinny. I gained 35 pounds during my pregnancy and still have half of that. But, I feel I'm still beautiful and have more curves. So, because of that, it's very easy to patiently wait until the doctor gives me the ok to work out again. Love this post!

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    1. Thanks so much Tayler. And you are looking great!

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  6. I want the same thing for my daughter. And that's why I wrote my book. I hope all girls can get the same message.

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    1. I think that's why I loved your book so much. Such a powerful message. Thanks Julie.

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  7. love love love this post! I'm not always the kindest to myself about my body. it's such a good reminder to love my body for what it is.

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    1. I'm definitely still working on always being kind to my body as well. It's a hard fight, but such a good one.

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  8. I absolutely loved this post. It was beautifully worded with a wonderful message.

    When I had my son, I knew from around the 30ish week mark that I would need a C-section. I was worried about scarring and such. Of course I have my scar, and I do get a shock occasionally when I see myself in the mirror with this purpleish line below my belly but I'm not ashamed of it like I thought I would be - I'm proud of it. I produced a child, a blessing many don't get the opportunity to have, I'm thankful for it. I'm thankful for everything my body is able to do.
    :-)
    Bits & Bobs

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    1. I love this, Jade. What a great example. I love that your tiny line can be such a good reminder of how amazing your body is, and the miracle it accomplished. Thank you so much for this comment!

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  9. Beautiful post, very inspiring!

    Nydia

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  10. You are an inspiration. More women need to learn how to love themselves in this way so that they can reflect positively upon their daughters! Love this!!

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