Hello from a gorgeous, sunny stretch of weather in Calgary! Our December weather has been incredible – not awesome if you want to ski, but with a newborn and only going for walks right now, I can’t complain – it’s been warm and mild and I’m loving it. The weather is getting me ready for our Christmas trip – we’re headed to California and Hawaii next week! – and we’re beginning to turn our attention to traveling. We are pumped to travel with Abby for the first time and to introduce her to family, the West Coast, and dip her toes in the ocean and sand. It’s going to be a blast!
As I’ve been packing for Abigail and for me, it hit me – I’m going to need a new bathing suit to accommodate my new body. BUT… it hasn’t crossed my mind that I will be in a bathing suit 2.5 months after giving birth – it was more like something I just needed to pack. And that’s an incredible thing to me that I haven’t been dwelling on or even thinking about my body in a bathing suit in Hawaii. I shared recently on Instagram stories (I do most my sharing there! Are you following me?) that I’m in this interesting place with my body image as I sit almost 8 weeks postpartum. I love that my main thoughts are positive about my body; I appreciate that it so strongly carried a baby for 40 weeks and 3 days, stretched and changed and shifted to house Abigail and grow her from conception to a full blown little human. My body hiked and kayaked, biked, lifted and walked; it labored and pushed out a baby and now sustains her little life. My squishy belly is kind of a wonder to me and I don’t mind it – I still can’t believe it stretched so big over those 9 months! – and already my varicose veins have disappeared.
At the same time…
My body is different, and I’m trying to come to grips with it. I’m definitely not pregnant anymore – I lost the “baby weight” within two weeks, I think in part because I lost so much muscle! – but I’m definitely not the same person I was pre-pregnancy, and I don’t have the same body… And that’s okay! But my clothes, while they do fit on my body, don’t quite fit the same way, and while I don’t want to hide my body, I also don’t want to accentuate my soft belly or muscle-less arms. I used to have abs, and now I have the Abster!
In this postpartum time, my body is focused on sustaining Abby in every way, and it’s not interested in high intensity, workouts, tracking my food, etc. It’s softer, providing a comfortable place for her to sleep, play, eat and live on. It’s also sleep-deprived and because I’m breastfeeding, that means my body is also still producing relaxin, which keeps things loose. My muscles have faded (compared to what they were) and I felt so much stronger during pregnancy as compared to now, and most days this is okay with me. So while this is okay, I’m still accepting that my body feels foreign to me – that’s the best way I can describe it. My core and pelvic floor feel unstable, and because I’m so aware of my body (possibly too aware?), I almost feel a bit paralyzed to incorporate movement again into my life. I so badly want my pelvic floor and core to be strong before I do too much, so I’m sticking to rehab exercises and walking right now.
In this time of transition, I once again draw inspiration from Brianna Battles, whom I referenced in my last blog post, who recently summed up my exact thoughts perfectly. She shares how it’s sometimes hard to practice what she preaches about body acceptance at four months postpartum with her second:
Being confident and patient with a postpartum body is hard. Sometimes it feels impossible, despite every effort to walk my talk. My biggest insecurities were fully exposed this past weekend at @physiodetective Female Athlete course, as my professional peers (coaches and Physical Therapists), aka people highly trained to critically analyze bodies- watched me move, breathe and expose my body….the body that is still healing a significant diastasis and is holding more fat at 4 months postpartum. Like it should be, of course, but STILL. It was hard. I felt terrible the whole time! 😂 I wanted that help, that feedback, but in order to get it, I had to show up and be vulnerable- volunteering myself to strip down mentally, physically and emotionally. I felt like a hot mess the whole time, anxious and on the verge of tears with embarrassment and shame, despite efforts to counter those thoughts. But being on the receiving end of education, guidance and assurance was beyond valuable. It was a healthy challenge to imperfectly and awkwardly own where I am at, and who I currently am. #battlesbodyimage #pregnancyandpostpartumathleticism #practicebrave
So well said! Most days, my body doesn’t cross my mind too much, and I’m quick to catch myself when I’m comparing my postpartum body to my pre-pregnancy body. But some days it’s still tough, because my body just doesn’t quite feel like my own. And you know what? I suppose it’s not! It’s Abigail’s right now, and I’m trying to keep a long-term perspective in mind when it comes to healing my body and seeing changes in my strength and body composition.
It’s funny how there’s this pressure to not look like you had a baby, but why hide the fact that you just had a baby? Sounds ludicrous when you phrase it like that! Of course I just had a baby! So my goal on this trip, while seeing family, being in a bathing suit, and wearing less sweaters, is to be confident and comfortable in my new body, foreign and all, and keep my focus on having fun, loving family, and exploring life with Abigail in new places. I love this idea and challenge and look forward to sharing how it goes along the way.
We can hold both the awareness of our bodies and desire to change with body love and acceptance simultaneously – how cool is that? I encourage you to work with me and try to do the same wherever you find yourself and your body, especially in this holiday season. We’ve got bigger things to think about, right? Right.
Live well & be well!