This is me, three weeks post-partum with my 2nd baby.
I look so happy. Proudly pointing to my shrunken stomach while taking a selfie to send to my husband. I gained 40lbs during my pregnancy, and trying on my old jeans and having them actually fit was a dream come true.
I can't remember his response, though I'm sure it was something along the lines of how great I look, or how beautiful I am. He's good at saying all the right things.
How silly is it that I even cared? That it made me so happy to see results a mere 3 weeks after delivering my baby?
We women are so hard on ourselves, aren't we?
We carry these babies in our bellies for almost 10 months. Our skin stretches. We obsess over the weight on the scale at each OB appointment. We ache all over. Short of breath, exhausted, eating for two.
We watch as slim waistlines give way to curvy hips. As flat stomachs begin to protrude, growing larger month after month, until we at last can no longer see our feet.
Our breasts swell, aching and painful. Our backs ache from the added weight and the strain of the tiny person growing inside of us.
And once the day finally arrives, we spend hours in agonizing labor. Pushing our bodies to limits we never knew existed. The pain making us wonder why we even agreed to all of this in the first place. It's miraculous really, what our bodies endure.
We come home the next day sore, barely able to walk, waddling around with a giant maxi pad. Our bodies exhausted. Our minds overwhelmed.
We don't sleep. Up all night and day for feedings. Struggling to keep our eyes open while soothing these precious little people who require all of our time and energy.
Some of us develop post-partum depression.
Some of us so stricken with anxiety we cannot function.
Like robots, we find ourselves just going through the motions.
And yet, we're expected to bounce right back to the body we had before.
3 weeks after delivery and we think we are somehow supposed to magically snap back from 10 months of work. That is insanity!
The unrealistic expectations we allow society to place on us, filling our heads with the notion that we should look like a Maxim cover girl straight away, is complete and utter nonsense.
Who actually cared how I looked so quickly after birthing my child? My husband certainly didn't.
I believed that I had to look a certain way. That it was imperative to get my body back to "normal" as quickly as possible.
Let me tell you something ladies...it's crap. Stop feeding into the idea of body image being more important than your role as mother.
Stop believing that you have let yourself go if you are never able to wear your pre-pregnancy clothes again.
Stop being so hard on yourself.
Carrying a baby is a precious gift.
Growing that baby, sustaining that baby inside of you is one of God's greatest miracles.
You deserve a medal, not a shot to your self-esteem.
The stretch marks, the way your stomach jiggles, the love handles left behind...those aren't the things your children will remember.
Those aren't the things that define your beauty.
You're a mom. The hardest worker in the world. You make life happen, in more ways than one.
Love your body. It tells your story. The story of a strong woman whose worth is more than a size tag on the inside of her jeans.
You're a rockstar, Mama. And don't you ever forget it.