Back in 2011, I was pregnant for the first time with our son Noah. Throughout pregnancy, I was constantly made aware of all the changes my body was going through to grow an entire person. There were plenty of books on pregnancy-related topics, and I had plenty of spare time to read, being that it was my first child. Looking back the one thing nobody prepared me for was living with and in my postpartum body and adjusting to how long it takes to get back to a sense of normalcy in my own skin.
There is a slew of changes our bodies go through as women to have children. Some temporary and some permanent. After my son was born I had no idea that I would be changing my own diaper as well as his. I had no idea that despite my breasts growing to enormous proportions during pregnancy they would continue to grow from what felt like basketball size to watermelon size after birth. Nobody told me that my hair would begin to fall out in massive amounts and I would shed everywhere for months. Or that I would sweat so profusely in the weeks following labor that I would wake up in puddles. Water weight, really? And if you could manage to avoid crazy hormonal acne during pregnancy forget about avoiding it after because BAM it’s like I’m 14 again. Stretch marks? Yeah, I had heard of them, but now I know firsthand what they really look like.
My pre-baby self had high hopes of being one of those amazingly blessed women who fit into their jeans a week after delivering a whole person, but alas I was not. I have friends who are lucky enough to do that, but I am not one of those women. I’d like to think of myself as an average woman. It takes me a FULL YEAR to feel like myself again, comfortable in my own skin, and my old clothes for that matter. I remember with my first pregnancy feeling such pressure from myself to get back to my pre-pregnant weight. After welcoming our third baby, Natalie, four months ago I feel like I know my body better now. The pressure is off because I know it takes time and effort.
This time around I’m trying to give myself more grace and instead soak in more of those precious fleeting baby moments. I’m choosing to be grateful for everything my body went through to become a mother. Instead of whipping out my pre-baby skinny jeans, I went ahead and bought a pair of postpartum in-between jeans. And you know what? I’m okay with that because it was and is all worth it.
The confidence I have now as a mother is so much greater than before, even with 20 extra “baby” pounds. Before I had kids I had all the time in the world to critique my body or even do my hair and makeup for that matter. Three kids later, my focus isn’t all about myself because frankly I ain’t got time for that! And honestly, even on those super long days, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
So for any mom reading this a week…month…year postpartum, be kind to yourself. You’ve been through A LOT so give yourself a little grace. And for the in-between awkward postpartum time, go buy a new pair of shoes because shoes always fit!
*And as a shout out I’d wanted to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my husband Matt who turns 31 today. Thanks for always making me feel like a million bucks before, during, and after having babies.
A version of this story was published on Nov. 27, 2015, by author Jessi Meyer; it has since been updated.