About a week before everything happened with Omie, I scrolled past an article on Facbeook explaining how to love your postpartum body when your baby has died. At the time, I thought it was probably a great article for so many loss mommas but it didn’t seem applicable to me so I didn’t bother reading. And now, here I am, with a postpartum body and no baby to hold, and no surprise, I’m having tons of body image issues.
I was very lucky to grow up with tons of strong women who taught me how to love my body. I’ve rarely looked at my body and felt anything short of happiness and love. I’ve never had issues with food and I’ve mostly pursued exercise as a way to stay healthy, not “skinny.”
I was always so excited to “get big” with Omie. Each week I anxiously awaited my bump, hoping that I would eventually start showing (and I finally did by 18ish weeks). I loved the idea of a huge baby bump because it meant that Omie was growing big and strong inside me. I was never bothered by the possibility of stretch marks or extra fat or cellulite because my body was growing a baby, and it would all be worth it once he arrived. I vowed to love my body for bringing Omie safely into the world, regardless of the physical aftermath. This isn’t meant to be some boastful rambling about my self-love but I think it is important to set the before to better explain my struggle with the after.
On one hand, I am still so incredibly proud of my body. It carried and nurtured an entire tiny human for nearly 22 weeks, and did so without any problems or complaints. My body then labored and birthed said tiny human without any pain medication or assistance. Guys, I gave birth – that still blows my mind, every day.
But at the end of the day, my body also failed me, and more importantly, failed Omie. My cervix did things it wasn’t supposed to do, which left me and my child vulnerable to infection. Omie died because my cervix, my body, couldn’t do its job. And now, I am left with a fat tummy where Omie used to be, with less muscle mass after “taking it easy” for five months, with breast milk and no baby to feed. I know there is so much more to being a woman than pregnancy & motherhood, but I am left here feeling like I have failed as a woman and as a mother because my body has refused to do it’s “job” twice. Early miscarriages are unfortunately all too common, so I forgave myself after Nugget, but now that’s all coming back too. My body failed and my sons paid the price.
This isn’t an advice post or a “here’s five ways to solve it all” because I actually have no answers here. I go back and forth between loving my body and raging against it for failing me and failing my kids. Most days I see my stomach and wish Omie was still there, making it bigger. But I’ve already started changing my eating habits to account for the fact that I am no longer “eating for two” (which was always a huge myth anyhow). I’ve picked out races to train for, once I get the go-ahead from my doctor, so I can get my “pre-baby” body back. I’ve started weighing myself and somehow caring about that number on the scale. Maybe this is healthy and maybe it isn’t (probz isn’t), I have no idea. I don’t know how to love my body after all this, and I wish I could find that damn article that I so quickly skipped past.
Update: that article popped up on my timeline again, it was a good read from An Unexpected Family Outing. Still dealing with body image issues, and I expect it to be a long road to loving my body again, but I’m working on it.