A Mother’s Day Gift to Myself

I was recently introduced to an amazing website, The Shape of a Mother. The site collects photos and stories of women during pregnancy and after childbirth. Real photos, real women. Stretch marks and saggy breasts abound.

It was a wake-up call for me as I’m pretty resentful of my post baby body. I’m not one of those women who loves the imperfections because they remind me of my children. I often long for my previously perky body and have even looked into surgical options in order to get back to how I once looked. For the record, all this insecurity and self loathing has nothing to do with my husband’s view of me. In fact, he’s told me several times how much he loves my body and I am confident in his love.

No, these feelings are all me. And it’s all so foreign. I don’t have the necessary skills to combat the way I feel in my own skin. I’m not looking for compliments, I just want to open a dialogue, give my physical history and maybe (hopefully) find a way to be proud of what my body has accomplished instead of resentful for not being able to look like the air-brushed images that surround me.

In high school, I don’t ever recall being insecure about my body. I mean, sure I didn’t have much of a figure until after 19, but I was always thin (5’5,” 115-ish), looked good in pretty much whatever was in style (though I seriously lacked fashion sense and still do), and didn’t feel uncomfortable about wearing a bathing suit.

That’s not to say that my high school years lacked angst. It’s just that, my teenage angst came from my complete and total cluelessness about boys in general (although having 7 brothers really should have prepared me better) and the fact that I was always the friend boy’s talked to about the hottie they wanted. It was a pathetic cycle I was doomed to repeat for years, but like I said, at least I didn’t have body image issues, right?

You might say I bloomed after high school when I finally got on the pill (hooray for boobs!) and that’s when I appreciated my body the most. I had gained a little weight but in all the right places and was more than happy about how I looked. And can you blame me?

The kids in the photo belong to a family I lived with when I was a nanny.

Ignore the makeup, I was too hopeless for words.

Fast forward to me joining the USAF and shipping off to basic training. Throughout my first year or so, I gained muscle, confidence and about 6lbs. Putting me at 5’5″ and 121 on my wedding day. After marrying Elijah there was the usual “fat and happy” gain of a couple of pounds but for the most part I stayed trim.

Three years into our marriage we decided to start a family. We had such an easy time getting pregnant, and I had a safe, low risk, ‘born to have babies’ type of pregnancy. The ONLY complication was my constant craving for Pizza Hut’s pan pepperoni pizza and the fact that inhaling them over 40 weeks caused me to gain 65 lbs. That’s right, when I weighed in for Asher’s delivery I was 186 lbs.

Please don’t try to tell me I don’t look “that big” in this photo. This was taken in July 
when I was five months along; he wasn’t born until November.
It took me a year of dieting and hard work but I was able to lose the weight after having Asher however, my body didn’t look the same. I don’t have noticeably large stretch marks or anything like that, it’s just that things seemed out of place. I had Amelia almost six years later and was the biggest I’d ever been during her pregnancy. I weighed 192 at my OB appointment the week before I was induced.

This picture was taken three days before I was induced with Amelia and yes me standing in 
front of a whale was the ‘look’ that the photographer (Elijah) intended.

They didn’t even weigh me when I checked into the hospital. 
The nurse just quietly whispered the question during my intake interview.

Now I am the proud mother of a seven year old son and two year old daughter. I have lost most of the extra baby weight and am now at 133-ish, depending on when I weigh myself, which I do, at least once a day…sometimes more. I can wear a 6 or an 8 but can no longer go without a bra which especially bothers me in the summer when the new line of sun dresses I’m not able to wear comes out.

This post isn’t about weight, it isn’t about how I look or weigh COMPARED to you. It’s about how I feel about myself and why. Although I weigh more than I did ten years ago, I don’t consider myself overweight. I’m active, I’ve run half marathons, I’ve had two children. Yet, at times, I still feel fat and awkward. I feel like everyone can see my gut. I’m embarrassed to wear a swimsuit and I hate to be naked. What frustrates me the most is that I realize that these feelings rob me of joy. They take all my other accomplishments and talents and downgrade them. Making my worth be based solely on what I see in the mirror. These feelings taint the miracle of my pregnancies and childbirth stories.

I don’t want to feel this way. I’m trying to be kinder when I look at myself. I try not to compare myself to other, smaller, seemingly better put together women. I’m spending more time running because it’s something I love and it gives me a sense of physical accomplishment. I’m trying to be proud that what I perceive as a misshapen, imperfect body can run 13 miles, work 12 hours at a time caring for others and is still is able to run a home and raise a family.

So, this Mother’s Day that’s what I’ll try to focus on. I’ll try to remind myself how miraculous it is that my body created this amazing family and that I’m still healthy enough to actively participate in this wonderful journey. I’ll try to remember that the body I have now is actually perfect in it’s imperfections.

That’s going to be my Mother’s Day gift to myself.

16 Responses to A Mother’s Day Gift to Myself
  1. Ginger
    May 6, 2011 | 10:13 am

    I struggle with this daily, so this Mother's Day I'll try to give myself the same gift. I worry that with acceptance will come yet another 20 pounds …

  2. Ginger
    May 6, 2011 | 10:13 am

    I struggle with this daily, so this Mother's Day I'll try to give myself the same gift. I worry that with acceptance will come yet another 20 pounds …

  3. Sunisfun01
    May 6, 2011 | 4:59 pm

    WOW It's just amazing how fantastic you look after. I lost my pre-baby body for good . I couldn't even pretend to look as good as you do after excising and believe me I've been there LOL. I love reading your blogs

  4. Sunisfun01
    May 6, 2011 | 4:59 pm

    WOW It's just amazing how fantastic you look after. I lost my pre-baby body for good . I couldn't even pretend to look as good as you do after excising and believe me I've been there LOL. I love reading your blogs

  5. mama4x
    May 7, 2011 | 8:32 am

    I love your long thoughtful introspective posts. I think you're beautiful, and I'm so proud of you for knowing the most important part… you “
    can run 13 miles, work 12 hours at a time caring for others and is still is able to run a home and raise a family.” You're awesome and your smile can win anyone over.

  6. mama4x
    May 7, 2011 | 8:32 am

    I love your long thoughtful introspective posts. I think you're beautiful, and I'm so proud of you for knowing the most important part… you “
    can run 13 miles, work 12 hours at a time caring for others and is still is able to run a home and raise a family.” You're awesome and your smile can win anyone over.

  7. Miss Marina Star
    May 8, 2011 | 3:35 pm

    I feel like as long as I continue to work at being healthy (i.e. running, eating better, not keeping bags of peanut butter cups at my bedside) I won't put on more weight. I'm just trying to accept that nothing about my body is really going to change a great deal and I need to accept that with grace instead of resentment.

  8. Miss Marina Star
    May 8, 2011 | 3:35 pm

    I feel like as long as I continue to work at being healthy (i.e. running, eating better, not keeping bags of peanut butter cups at my bedside) I won't put on more weight. I'm just trying to accept that nothing about my body is really going to change a great deal and I need to accept that with grace instead of resentment.

  9. Miss Marina Star
    May 8, 2011 | 3:49 pm

    Thank you for your kind words. That last picture was scary for me to upload, but my husband did a wonderful job (he took the picture) and was so supportive of this post. I really just wanted people to know how I felt. I think most of us feel this way, we just don't really address it this openly.

    Thank you so much for reading!

  10. Miss Marina Star
    May 8, 2011 | 3:49 pm

    Thank you for your kind words. That last picture was scary for me to upload, but my husband did a wonderful job (he took the picture) and was so supportive of this post. I really just wanted people to know how I felt. I think most of us feel this way, we just don't really address it this openly.

    Thank you so much for reading!

  11. Miss Marina Star
    May 8, 2011 | 3:53 pm

    Tracy, you are truly amazing and a total inspiration to me. I love that you are reading (and not hating) my stuff. I've always admired your sense of self and the way you carry yourself through life. You are a wonderful example of motherhood. You always seem to be so put together.

  12. Miss Marina Star
    May 8, 2011 | 3:53 pm

    Tracy, you are truly amazing and a total inspiration to me. I love that you are reading (and not hating) my stuff. I've always admired your sense of self and the way you carry yourself through life. You are a wonderful example of motherhood. You always seem to be so put together.

  13. Kathryn
    May 15, 2011 | 7:40 pm

    These are beautiful words and that last photo of you is total perfection. I am insanely jealous of that photo (see now I am jealous of one of your pics). It is so beautiful. You are truly a wonderful wife and mother and I am so honored to call you my friend. Thank you for sharing this with your fellow bloggers.

  14. Kathryn
    May 15, 2011 | 7:40 pm

    These are beautiful words and that last photo of you is total perfection. I am insanely jealous of that photo (see now I am jealous of one of your pics). It is so beautiful. You are truly a wonderful wife and mother and I am so honored to call you my friend. Thank you for sharing this with your fellow bloggers.

  15. Miss Marina Star
    May 16, 2011 | 9:24 am

    Only and true friend would love my least favorite photo of the entire post! That photo was all Elijah, he's amazing.

    Thank you for leaving such a sweet comment on a very vulnerable post.

  16. Miss Marina Star
    May 16, 2011 | 9:24 am

    Only and true friend would love my least favorite photo of the entire post! That photo was all Elijah, he's amazing.

    Thank you for leaving such a sweet comment on a very vulnerable post.