Every time someone tells me, “You look great for just having a baby!” my heart sinks a little.
Don’t roll your eyes; of course, anyone—with or without a new baby—likes to hear she looks beautiful. It’s the deeper context behind these comments that evokes a range of emotions. What a world it would be if women were revered and distinguished for post-natal physical changes, rather than pressured to erase every reminder of this special period.
Pregnancy is hard. Let me repeat: PREGNANCY IS HARD. I was blessed with a very easy one and I still view it as the most taxing thing I’ve ever experienced. You’re carrying around an extra 30 pounds, constantly sweaty, emotional, swollen and exhausted. Back pain, morning sickness, heartburn, you name it. Your body becomes a utility to sustain a second life, and the punch line is that you’re expected to work and be generally pleasant while this occurs for 40 weeks. Childbirth is a beautiful and holy experience, but one that can initiate a separate series of physical changes and strains.
Despite the myriad of challenges, any mother would endure it again a million times to experience the joy of motherhood.
Can we change how we regard womens’ bodies following pregnancy? I don’t view my body in pre- and post-baby terms, and don’t understand why society urges such a distinction. It’s still me; I have just one body. No matter what it’s been through or where it looks different, it’s amazing.
Every day when I look at my daughter I reflect on the pure miracle of her existence. I am deeply awed with how my body nurtured and sustained her. I love and respect myself in an entirely new way, and am grateful for my good health like never before.
Our society is so consumed with physical appearances that we denigrate pregnancy and childbirth—the most sacred miracles in a woman’s life—into something that mustn’t leave a trace. These are events that should be forever celebrated, rather than rushed into memory.
Instead of comments on how much weight I’ve lost or my fitness levels post-baby, I wish someone would acknowledge the fact that I showered today, got to work without spit-up on my clothing and am functioning on 3-hour stretches of sleep. That’s the really impressive part, and the stuff we should compliment.