Much of this blog only pertains to the ladies out there, but men shouldn’t tune out just yet; you need to hear this too.
I’m going to open up and share, a lot. I’m trying to show the world that I am not afraid of judgement, when in all honesty it terrifies me. If we could all be more transparent and less judgmental the world would be a much happier place.
For 13 years, I have been a mom. For 13 years, I have loved two little girls more than I can ever put into words. For 13 years, I have lived with a horribly disfigured stomach.
Yep, that’s right – I sacrificed my body for love.
Most moms out there probably know what I am talking about. The bodies we once knew are not what they once were. I remember the days when my stomach was stretch-mark-free and I had an adorable little belly button. Those days are no more.
I never envisioned myself sharing how I feel about my post-baby body with the world, but here I am.
After the birth of my second daughter, I tried to fix the damage that was done. Let me start by saying I had two very healthy daughters, weighing in just under 10 pounds each. As a 5’3″ tall woman, I didn’t have much space in my torso for them to grow, so they grew straight out in front of me.
Their growth left me with a terrible case of Diastasis Recti, a condition in which the connective tissue in the center of my stomach had separated. What had once been my abdominal muscles were so far apart, you could fit a fist between them. The more working out I did, the worse it got. I didn’t realize I was suffering from an actual condition until I spoke with a doctor.
The doc told me to avoid almost all ab workouts and heavy lifting. My abdominal wall was in such bad condition it put me at high risk of a hernia. So, I went under the knife and had my abdominal muscles sewn together. The doctors also cut off a good portion of my loose, baggy skin that I had referred to as “the jowls of a dog.”
Even after I’d healed, I still had more stretch marks than the average woman. I’m not kidding when I say that I still have stretch marks above my belly button. WHY?? Oh and don’t get me started on my deformed belly button – the one that I’ve had revised twice in an attempt to make it more “normal” looking.
Yep, all that and I am still unhappy with the way my body looks. I am still disfigured and embarrassed by my body. Oh, and putting on a swimsuit in the summer almost makes me cry – in fact, it often does.
My body, after a lot of pain and spent money and time, is still disfigured. I am still secretly (I say secretly because my husband would kill me if he knew) looking for a doctor that can help me repair the baby damage and the terrible results of my first surgery. But why? I can safely workout now. I can build nice ab muscles now, abs I should be proud of because I work my butt off for them. I had to have them SEWN TOGETHER to be able to do this. My procedure was much more than cosmetic in my situation.
In society’s eyes, I look terrible. According to their view, I should cover the scars my healthy children gave me. I should hide that my body changed when I gave birth – or at least that’s how it feels sometimes.
But I don’t want to hide any of those things. I don’t think any woman should have too, either.
Recently, one celebrity mom, Jennifer Garner, shared that she was very much aware of her “mama pooch,” but she will not be ashamed of her body – just because she had children. She fully embraces her transformed body, as she should! She even talked about how she still looks pregnant, even though she isn’t.
Another one of my favorite super-tough mamas, Pink, was criticized for her recent weight gain. She responded by saying, “Don’t worry about me. I don’t worry about you. I am happy. I am healthy. And I am giving my body a break.” She looks amazing, healthy and happy, but people ripped her apart because she put on a of couple pounds.
Let me just say, I understand what she is going through. She is a short woman, like me, and when short women put on five to 10 pounds, it might as well be 50. Even small weight gain shows like crazy on a small frame.
I put on five pounds in the last year because I gave up on being super thin. I couldn’t build the muscle I wanted on 1,100 calories a day, nor could I do the brutal workouts I love so much. Honestly, I am trying to build a nice muscular booty and body. My goals changed, but people judge the weight I put on without knowing what I want for my own body. And frankly, it’s not their business – yet they voice their opinions.
Why do we insist on criticizing each other’s bodies? Recently, I read about a beautiful, tall super model woman who was criticized for not gaining enough weight (a healthy 20 pounds) during her pregnancy. She gave birth to a healthy eight pound baby, yet people were insisting that was starving her baby and saying horrible things about her. I realized, whether it’s gaining a little weight or not gaining enough, people are going to tell you it’s wrong. We all have different bodies and they change differently when we have children.
My advice to the guys out there: unless a woman is physically in labor, do NOT ask when she is due. If you ask a woman who isn’t pregnant that question, it can be heartbreaking. You have no clue how badly something like that can crush a woman who is working to get back to something that even resembles her pre-baby-body.
I can’t even explain to you how it feels to lose your body, to have it change into a “mom” body. No, our jeans don’t fit the same. Yes, we sometimes look pregnant long after giving birth. And yes, those stretch marks are permanent. But say nice things. Please, dig deep and give that new mom, heck any mom, a compliment.
Let’s show some grace to people and allow their bodies to be just that – their bodies. As a personal trainer, I spend a lot of time working with clients in pain; pain that the world’s criticism has left them with.
If somebody asks for advice or health tips, that is one thing, but offering hurtful comments or stares is never OK.
We sacrificed our bodies to create little, tiny humans, and it’s OK if our bodies aren’t 100% back to normal. It’s OK if they never are, too.