So, I went to the spa with a girlfriend a few weeks ago and I cannot wait to go back!
Truth be told, leading up to the day I was a bit hesitant. I felt like I should be spending time with my husband and kids because I spend most of my days away from them when I am at work. But, my husband insisted I go. He said I needed it, and I did. So, when I got to the spa, stripped down to my birthday suit and put on the thin robe, all of my guilt went out the window. As I stood in the shower rinsing my body, it was like a layer of stress was rinsed away, and I was able to exhale. But the journey to get to this point wasn’t easy. I had 3 C-sections with 3 scars in just under 4 years and I found myself struggling after each delivery because I didn’t recognize the woman I saw in the mirror.
Before I got pregnant, I owned more heels then tennis shoes, always wore makeup, and put thought into my outfits. Sandals and flip flops were only for the summer or the beach, and flats were a last resort. After having kids, I found myself wearing the mom uniform. You know, the jeans, legging or workout spandex, and a t-shirt that you can easily move around in and don’t mind getting dirty when you are with the kids. The heels moved to the back of my closet and I found myself with more tennis shoe options than ever before. I have 3 kids so comfortable tennis shoes that I can chase them in is a must.
To a woman who has no children, you see a pregnant woman and think “Awe”. To a woman who has gone through pregnancy, we see a pregnant woman and think…hang in there. Let me be clear, there’s no one more beautiful than a pregnant woman, even if she doesn’t always feel so beautiful. The whole aspect of carrying, and growing a life inside of you from its inception is so beautiful. Pregnant women should be catered to and receive priority seating. The pregnant belly should be a front of the line pass, and a pregnant woman’s food should always be served first (after the kids of course). Though some pregnancies are easier than others, growing a life inside of you is anything but easy. And yet in many ways, it is the easiest part of motherhood.
Our bodies change so much when we are pregnant. My nose widened, my neck always looked swollen, my back hurt, my feet hurt…even my tongue got fat which led to me having a lisp. Okay, developing a lisp did make me giggle. My husband and I really got a kick out of it. I expected to have the type of pregnancy where I ate everything in site while watching Korean Dramas. Yes, I like Korean dramas but that’s for another blog. Instead, I threw up most of the time during my pregnancies. Because of my body changing so much with me having little control over it, I actually suffered from both prepartom and postpartum depression. and I didn’t even realize it. Postpartum depression was something that I had only heard referenced occasionally when a celebrity opened up about it, but otherwise, people only focused on the bright side of things. It was something that I never expected to experience first hand. Don’t misunderstand, my whole experience wasn’t bad, and nothing will ever have a more positive impact on my life than experiencing my little ones move and grow inside of me. But, around the 6 month of my first pregnancy as my body really started to change, things got difficult for me.
I had been suffering on my own for quite some time, and I wasn’t sure what was wrong, but I knew something was wrong. I wasn’t the only pregnant person at the time. You know, there is always at least 3. But, aside from the normal expected woes, it didn’t seem like anyone else was struggling like I was, or at least they weren’t talking about it, so I kept how I was feeling to myself.One day, while my parents were visiting, my mom came up to me, looked me in the eyes and asked if I was okay. I said yes and was ready to go on with my day. She stopped me and asked again. “Are you okay? You don’t seem like yourself.” I immediately broke down in her arms. I told her that I wasn’t okay and that I had been struggling for so long because I didn’t feel like myself, I didn’t look like myself, and I felt bad for being unhappy when i was so happy about having a baby. That I loved my baby but couldn’t stand to look at the person I saw when I looked in the mirror. I thought I was ugly and I wanted to look like myself again. I had never felt this way before and felt bad for feeling like this. My moms imperfection of always asking too many questions and if everything was okay way too much, saved me. In that moment, she was the most perfectly imperfect for me than ever before. I was drowning and suffocating in my own pregnant and unrecognizable body, and nobody knew it but me. But, a mom, my mom, having a mothers intuition knew something was off. I talked to her openly and honestly about how I was feeling and she helped me to realize that how I was feeling was okay and not strange at all. She helped me to realize that how I was feeling wasn’t something that I should be embarrassed of and that by talking about it openly with other moms or pregnant women, I would see that I wasn’t alone, and possibly even help someone else. By the time we were done talking that day, I felt so much better and most importantly I started to feel a bit less guilty about my feelings. When I looked in the mirror, I still didn’t see myself, but I wasn’t as hard on myself either.
A few weeks later, I found myself talking to a co-worker who had just returned from maternity leave and she was so candid with me about how much she loved her baby girl, but also how happy she was to be back at work and get a break from her. Initially I judged her. I thought, why would you want to leave your baby. I guess she could see it in my face because she said “You’ll see.” She was right. It’s not like you want to leave your kid (I cried every time I had to go back to work) but, it was also nice to have a reason to put on nice clothes, and to be around adults and have adult conversations again. In any case, because she was honest with me, I was honest with her. I took my moms advice and opened up to her about what I had experienced and guess what, she went through the same thing. I don’t want to say misery loves company, but it was such a relief to know I was not alone.
Having talked to my mom and subsequently talking to my co-worker shortly after, really helped me to find my way back to a comfortable place where I was able to be comfortable in my own skin again. It allowed me to really embrace the entire experience of pregnancy, the good and the bad, and it definitely helped to know that I was not alone. That’s why I have decided to share my experience.
Flash Forward, I had my beautiful baby girl, and after about a year I had shed enough baby weight to be able to recognize the woman in the mirror. Yeah, I was left with a horrible scar, but I was blessed with a beautiful baby girl and a husband who did not care. While the scar made me very insecure when it came to being intimate, It did not make him any less attracted to me and that was so comforting and reassuring. Thankfully the scar improved with every C-section, and by the 3rd one, the scar was so minimal that I sometimes forget it is even there.
For me, getting back into shape wasn’t about looking or being skinny. It was just as much about my mental health as it was physical. I wanted to be a mom without feeling like I was losing myself in the process. I was taking maybe 2 showers a week because I had just had my first baby and didn’t want to miss a thing. I wasn’t doing my hair. I wasn’t getting any sleep, and I quickly realized that If my weight dropped below 155 (my pre-baby weight was 140), my milk supply decreased as well, so I had to keep my weight above 155 while nursing. There was still so much going on that I couldn’t control that I needed to at least be able to see myself when I looked in the mirror. Every time I started to drop the weight, ended up getting pregnant and putting it right back on. Thankfully the second and third time around I had a better idea of what to expect, so the experience was way more pleasant.
I’ve been married for 5 years now, and I have not ever dropped below 155 because I have either been pregnant or nursing the whole time. It has been a journey, but a journey that I would not trade for the world because EVERY time I hear a sweet little voice say “Mommy” or I see them smile, I know the benefit far outweighs the cost of feeling like I had lost myself for a while. That very important fact led to me making up my mind that I needed to not be so hard on myself. I also needed to make sure that I wasn’t sending the wrong signal to my girls about body image, because those little sponges absorb everything. Lastly, I wanted to make sure that I started to love myself, my body, the scars I was left with because they were all indications of my transition into motherhood and joining this league of extraordinary women.
My oldest will be 5 this year and I finally feel like I am getting to be a mom. Not the pregnant mom but just a mom. The mom who gets to run around and play with her kids that I couldn’t be to my two oldest because I was pregnant. Guess what… I’m loving every minute of it.
Transitioning into motherhood wasn’t anything like I expected, but motherhood is more rewarding than I could have ever hoped and I am enjoying every moment.
The P.I. Mom