Goodbye and Hello – A Tummy Timeline

Goodbye and Hello – A Tummy Timeline

A bit of a tummy tale..

Warning:  This post contains a large dose of whining, a pinch of self-loathing, and a heaping spoonful of hormones.  Read at your own risk.  

Today’s post is in honor of National Love Your Belly Day! Actually I have no idea if that’s a real “day” or not, but it sounded good, right? Fake day aside, I was feeling a bit down in the dumps about my lovely lady lump-iness (aka my post-baby mom body) when I went swimsuit shopping recently. You see, having a chronic illness had already prepared me for what it feltlike to be a captive in my own body. When you live with an illness you feel neither in control nor certain. Yet one thing was always for sure, though: when I went shopping, I never had to try anything on. I was always a small.  Having a child changed that.

Not that I would ever be bold enough to step outside of the dressing room

But let’s rewind for a minute because you didn’t just wake up with this body one day. It took nine months to expand and seemingly a lifetime to learn how to deal with it after. I remember all those years ago when my body first began to change during pregnancy. This is probably just me, but I found myself to be incredibly weirded out by my no-longer flat stomach. I was so unfamiliar with this that I felt the desperate need to constantly tell people that it was a human baby, not a food baby. That should have been my first clue that even back then I was not immune to judgmental glances.

The subtle art of the “side-eye”

What does it say about our society – and ourselves – that the only time it’s acceptable and celebrated for a woman to be larger is when she is pregnant? I can count on one hand the times I wore form-fitting clothing (and enjoyed it) and they all occurred when I was pregnant. When I go shopping now, I go straight for layers or something that will be loose around my mid-section. And forget trying a swimsuit on and not needing at least a pint of Haagen-Dazs afterwards.

“Mirror Meltdown Amnesia” is quite normal

Though it’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment I realized I didn’t have the effortlessly petite body of my 20s, I do know that having a child changed the relationship I had with my body. I remember looking under the sheets after my c-section and crying after I saw a mushy, blob of a stomach. Logically I knew that my stomach wasn’t going to be firm and flat after having a baby. Reason told me that no one would judge me for still wearing maternity pants for months after. But logic and reason meant nothing to the hormonal brain of a woman with low self-esteem. Even now, if someone says that I look good “for a mom,” I tell myself that they’re just being polite. Only I know the real truth. Only I know what my stomach really feels like. My body used to be my “home” and now it felt like a stranger.

Pity Town population: me

Want to know the shocking twist ending to this blog post?  I’m not going to say that one day I woke up and there were rainbows and sunshine everywhere. I won’t say that I walked out of the store with a brand new, super cute bikini. I won’t lie to you or myself and say I am in love with and proud of my body. It’s still a work in progress. I remind myself that my body, my “home,” was also nurturing home to my son. I also remind myself that things could have been so much worse during the pregnancy and even afterwards. I feel shame, sometimes, for being so superficial. Yet I feel comforted when I open up, like I am now, and find that other mothers – women I deemed flawless – have the same struggles. So let’s get back out on the beach and start taking full-length selfies again. We should share our battle scars, talk about the Play-Doh tummies we have, and make a safe neighborhood for our “homes.”

 

About Sarah:

Sarah Bunton Bio PictureSarah is a wife, mother, feminist, animal rights activist, and a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. She holds a BA in Religious Studies from Stetson University and currently works as a cognitive skills trainer with children facing developmental challenges. In between balancing a chronic illness, work, and a feisty toddler, she loves to share her experiences, advice, and humor with others. You can find more of her writings on her blog Bump Birth and Beyond!

Follow Sarah on Facebook | Twitter

 

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