Tuesday, September 10, 2013

In My Skin

I've never been a woman whose been totally comfortable in her own body. I think there was a brief moment, freshman year of college, when I worked out like crazy to get back at an ex-boyfriend and felt pretty good about things. And then for a fleeting second when I graduated college, I remember not feeling too bad about myself. But for most of my life I've been a "t-shirt over the swimsuit" kind of girl. 

Plus, I'm a worrier. I worry about everything. Things that have happened, will happen and hypotheticals that will probably never happen. Before I was pregnant I worried about pregnancy. Truthfully, I didn't have a lot of faith in my body. I had no proof or reason to believe that the process women have been a part of since the beginning of humankind was going to be problematic for me, but I still had my doubts about my ability to pull it off. I worried about being able to get pregnant, about being pregnant and about childbirth. 

Ironically, it was pregnancy that changed things for me. The ship had sailed. I was on a journey and I decided to just accept it and stop trying to steer the ship. I stopped worrying about how I looked and about whether my body would do what it was supposed to do. Instead I enjoyed each new sensation. I was never more aware of my body but I was also never more comfortable in my own skin.

And then the worst thing in the world happened. I got really sick. One minute everything was fine and the next...something was really, really wrong. I had trusted my body to handle things. But it couldn't handle this. And I lost the baby. 

My body felt empty. My soul felt empty. 

Six months later I was pregnant again. I wondered if I'd be able to be so relaxed this time. Going through something like that changes you forever. But it also makes you realize that some things are REALLY out of your control. And in situations like that, stress really doesn't help. So I took a deep breath and set sail again. And this time I marveled at how amazing my body could be. 

Nine months later I had my amazing baby girl. And stretch marks. And a loose pouch of belly that I didn't have before. My feet are a little bigger and my hips feel a little wider than they did before I got pregnant. I haven't lost the baby weight even as I've watched my friends bounce back from their pregnancies. 

Yeah, I would love to lose the weight. But I don't regret the body changes. Instead I embrace them as badges of honor for the battles my body has been through and for all it's handled to bring an amazing person into the world. Even though there are a lot of things I would change, I've never felt more comfortable in my body, even when I was in bikini shape - for that one brief second. 

There is is this great project called The 4th Trimester Body Project. It's a photo documentary
dedicated to embracing the beauty inherent in the change brought to our bodies by motherhood, childbirth and breastfeeding. What a great idea. I'm not feeling quite brave enough to bare all for a book, but I applaud the women who do. 

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