Thursday, January 28, 2016

How motherhood taught me to love my body

My body is not my own.

It used to be though. I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I could work out once in a while, or even never, and not look terrible for it. I could have more than a few drinks and feel fine, even the next morning. I slowly started to gain weight, but my metabolism hadn't really caught up with me yet. 

Freshman year of college
And then I finished college.

And then I got married.

In a way, my body now belongs to my husband. I vowed myself to him that day, in front of God, our priest, and many of our family and friends. I gave myself entirely to him, body and soul. Our given tasks then on were to love one another and do what is best for one another. That included loving each other enough to force us to live a healthy lifestyle.

And then we found out we were expecting.

20 weeks with baby #1
I was warned about morning sickness (evening sickness for me). I knew it was a miracle to get anything down. I fought off the nausea by constantly snacking on anything. Trail mix, ginger snaps, saltines, granola bars, and oh, the goldfish. The first trimester passed and I welcomed in the wonderful second stage: the not-too-big-to-be-miserable-yet stage and the bring-on-the-fatty-cravings trimester.I used my pregnancy as an excuse to continue to, again, eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. After all, the baby was getting everything from the prenatal vitamins, right? There's tomato and lettuce on burgers, so there are my veggies! Needless to say, I gained a lot of extra cushion. "Just keep up your normal exercise routine" my doctor said. I just thought, "Jokes on you, guy, I just walk back and forth to the fridge." Anything beyond that, I'd pull the "I'm too pregnant for that" excuse.

My daughter was born, and my body got weird.

I leaked everywhere. I constantly needed pads of all sorts and extra clothes just in case. I soaked my sheets every night with sweat. I somehow still functioned on nights of broken 3 hours of sleep. My stretch marks weren't going anywhere and were soon joined by wrinkles in my squishy tummy.

Three months post partum 
And then we found out about our second pregnancy.

"Welp, what's the point? I'm just going to get big again anyways. Ice cream!" ...was more or less my mindset. I nursed as long as I could, but my body couldn't keep up with the changes. I had quite a few minor but painful and untreatable complications, so by the time I figured out that a little activity would help, I was already over it (or in too much pain to try). Again, I was tired and large.

My second daughter was born, and my body was still weird.

I started to shed the baby weight, but not nearly as quickly as I'd hoped. It's four months later and I still feel big, especially when I see myself in pictures. But it recently hit me that my body belongs to my girls too. I carried them, I bore them, I nursed them, I hold them in my arms as long as they let me... but it's more than that now.

Four months post partum, one month ago
My baby depends on me for each and every one of her meals. If I only eat burgers and ice cream, she only eats burgers and ice cream. Her healthy diet depends 100% on my healthy diet.

My toddler mimics everything my husband and I do. She wants to eat the same food we do, but even when we do eat fair food (or whatever) I pick off the fried or oily parts and give her the healthiest bit I can. But then she sees me eating the rest. I give her milk, I drink pop (soda).

If I am not healthy, they will not be healthy. If I don't take care of myself, how can I expect them to take care of themselves? If I look at myself with disappointment or disgust, how can I teach them to love themselves exactly how God made them?

I am not shooting for a number on a scale. Sure, I could easily stand to lose a solid 20 lbs, but that's not the issue. My goal this year is to be happier, holier, and healthier than I was in 2015. I don't need to take up a strict diet, spend hours every day training at a gym, or obsess about how much farther I have to go before I get a thigh gap. But I am going to take care of myself, for my husband, my daughters, and for me. I am going to be the best steward I can be of this body that was given to me.

Because my body is not my own.


  1. Very well said. I lived it too.

  2. Love how you're focusing on gift of self and what that means instead of a magic scale number or waist size. Great reflection!