Amy / Toronto / 02.10.16
I constantly feel like I have to make excuses for the way my body is. Even writing this now I want to scream ‘I just had a baby, ok?! Don’t judge me!’ I hate that.
I have spent my life justifying the shape and size of my hips by saying they were perfect for ‘child bearing’. When I lost out on modeling jobs because I couldn’t fight my way into sample sizes, I told myself it was because I was shaped like a ‘real woman’ (another deeply damaging phrase).
When I went into labour, I fought for 32 hours to have my baby naturally. There was something ingrained in me that told me that I SHOULD be able to do this…I didn’t want to fail at motherhood before even officially becoming one. But my hips that I had justified for this very moment weren’t doing what I was told they were made to do…my baby was stuck and I was rushed into an emergency cesarean section as her heart rate began to drop.
A week after my baby’s cesarean section birth, I knew something else was wrong. My incision was swollen and angry looking. I needed a second surgery to correct complications from the initial one. I felt like my body was a massive failure…I couldn’t even manage to heal properly.
Around the same time, I was back in the ER for an emergency appendectomy and had to spend time away from my two week old baby girl. I felt deep loss and sorrow in a way I didn’t even know was possible, as I lay in my hospital bed unable to hold her. I cursed my body…that wasn’t what I had planned and I felt betrayed by what I had envisioned this experience to be like.
Because of all my time in the hospital away from my girl, I had trouble producing enough milk for her and she was quickly loosing a dangerous amount of weight. Determined to not add breastfeeding to my self made list of bodily failures, I spent hundreds of dollars on lactation consultants and herbal lotions and potions, desperate for SOMETHING to go right with my body. The ‘you had one job, breasts!!’ jokes were made as I tried to make others feel comfortable with my failing body, but my heart was broken. I had spent my entire life justifying my body shape by saying I was built for making babies, and so far I was unable to successfully accomplish even the basics.
When I finally accepted that I didn’t have to ‘ideal’ birth story and stopped fighting…everything just sort of fell into place. I sobbed with exhausted relief when I started feeding my baby formula and she began to thrive and gain weight. I allowed myself to just rest and recover from the surgeries instead of constantly doing squats to try and shrink myself. I stopped referring to my pre-baby body as something I had to ‘get back’. My current body is the result of giving me my soul mate.
In this moment, I haven’t fully stopped fighting, shaming and making excuses for my body, but I know I’m getting closer. I still gaze at my old jeans and wonder how I ever fit into them. I see other mother’s lovingly nursing their babies and always feel pangs of envy. When I bottle feed my baby in front of others I fight the urge to explain to them why I’m not nursing.
But I love that my arms are strong enough to quickly pick my baby up when she needs a hug. I love that my tummy is soft for her to cuddle against. I love that my thighs are wide enough for her to lay over when she wants to fall asleep on me. I love that my scars have healed and are visible proof of all the joy and the pain that went into getting her here.
She is strong and unique and vibrant and absolutely perfect. And as a result of that, so am I.