Prior to having a baby, I had always been fearful of what my body would feel and look like while pregnant. I imagined I’d be bloated and awkward, and while excited about the baby growing inside of me, uncomfortable with the way my body expanded all over.
To my surprise, though, pregnancy made me love my body, bringing out a confidence I had never felt before. Sure, I was physically uncomfortable at times, but I couldn’t get enough of the shape of my ever-growing belly. I would just stand in front of my mirror and marvel at my reflection, completely in awe of the beautiful changes happening to my body.
Since giving birth to Brian Jr. nearly 5 months ago, that positive body image has unfortunately disappeared. While I am absolutely in awe of what my body did – grow a life for 40 weeks, go through 32 hours of labor, and produce the most beautiful human being I have ever seen – I do not love the way it looks.
I don’t like admitting this. I know I should be proud of my body. But it’s the truth, so there it is.
I actually lost most of my pregnancy weight right away without even trying. I had a lot of anxiety in those first few weeks of being a new mom. I did a lot of worrying and not a lot of sleeping or eating. As time went on and I started to get the hang of motherhood a bit more, though, my weight stabilized – and then started to creep back on. Still, it’s not an inexplicable phenomenon; eating healthier has come in fits and starts and an exercise routine has been pretty much non-existent. Quite simply, I’m lacking motivation in anything that doesn’t revolve around my little guy.
I want to get back to a healthier eating and exercise routine, yes, because it will be good for me, but also because I want to feel better about my body. And yet, I know that having a positive body image will always be a struggle for me. It is now, almost 5 months after giving birth, but it was for me even when I was 30 lbs. thinner and running marathons.
Finding flaws in my body has been a constant for me for as long as I can remember, save the 9 months when I was pregnant with Brian.
So in an effort to regain some of that pregnancy body confidence, this weekend I am going to be taking part in the 4th Trimester Body Project, an ongoing photo documentary created by photographer and mother Ashlee Wells Jackson. Ashlee started the project after giving birth to her identical twin daughters, Nova and Aurora, at 24 weeks in 2012. Tragically, Aurora was stillborn due to complications from Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. This project is dedicated to embracing the beauty inherent in the changes brought to our bodies by motherhood, childbirth and breastfeeding.
I have “known” Ashlee since 2007 through blogging, but we have never met in person. I have followed her 4th Trimester Body Project from the beginning, finding so much beauty in the many, many mothers she has photographed. I have been in awe of all of the shapes, sizes and stories brought to them by motherhood.
I am taking part in this project to celebrate the beauty of the body motherhood has given me. Yes, is hard for me to see most of the time, but I know is there because I’ve seen what it is capable of doing. I can’t wait to share this experience with the greatest gift my body has given me – my baby boy.
More information on 4th Trimester Body Project: