The Mom Files: 6 Months Postpartum

It hasn’t just been a mile stone for Gabe, it has also been a milestone for me. Me and my body. We have made it 6 months since pushing another human out of us. That is still such a weird, magical, crazy, unbelievable concept. From me came another human. Shut the front door!

Anyway – the last time I did a check in on how the ‘ol bod was doing I was 6 weeks postpartum. For a quick recap here are some photos:

Me. Just a few days after giving birth.
Me. Just a few days after giving birth.
Me. 6 weeks after giving birth.
Me. 6 weeks after giving birth.

And now… 6 months after giving birth…

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I’m having a hard time figuring out how I want to express how I feel about my body right now. It’s not awesome. I was actually feeling pretty amazing about my body, like really amazing – super impressed, in awe, etc until about a month ago, maybe a little less. Mostly how I feel is: I prefer my body 6 weeks postpartum rather than 6 months. Everything made sense to me at that point. My little tummy made me feel strong and sexy. And at this point I definitely do not feel sexy… or strong for that matter.

I was really focused, while on maternity leave and even for a while after going back to work, on getting my strength and in-shapeness back after all my body had gone through with pregnancy. August ended up being a really difficult month. I did not have the time to work out, not even once, and I stopped breastfeeding completely, and I had my first period since May of 2012. A lot of shit happened. The whole family was sick, we moved, I traveled for work, family passed away, vacation full of cookies and FOOD in all caps. It was just a lot. Too much.

I have always had a relatively firm body. Even when I was struggling with my weight, I had a certain tautness to my skin, I had muscle, I ran, I was an active person. Since giving birth I have noticed an incredible … flabbiness (I don’t know how else to explain it) to my skin and body in general. My legs are soft, my butt is soft, my stomach…. my stomach is beyond soft, it is loose.

Typing that last sentence made tears well up in my eyes. I’m actually haulting the list I was just making in order to tell you that. When I am talking to Kamel or when I am acknowledging out loud how things with my body have changed since pregnancy I am very matter-of-fact. This happened. I am not going to be exactly the same, and that’s cool, but I think calling out the things that startle me the most (especially in this space) makes them really really real for me. And I feel incredibly disappointed in myself. I am mad that I am upset and I am upset because I feel like I could have been trying harder and doing more – that is the perfectionist in me.

When I touch my body now, it is very very soft. I do not like that. I don’t recognize it. It scares me. I touch my own skin and it feels like a stranger.

When I look down at my stomach while I’m sitting, it folds over on itself. It has ever since I gave birth and it had never EVER done that before, not even when I was at my heaviest pre-baby. And I am no where NEAR that number on the scale. Last time I checked (we got rid of our scale during the move in order to buy a better one, which we have yet to purchase) I was 5-8 lbs above my pre-pregnancy weight, but that number truly means nothing when your body has changed in so many other significant ways.

I know that a big part of that softness is hormonal. I’m not sure how, but I know that the changes with not breast feeding anymore etc etc have taken hold. I also know that I will have to work really hard to get back to being in as good a shape as I was before I got pregnant – something that is important to me for my health and also to make the 2nd pregnancy as easy and healthy as I possibly can. So Kamel and I are both working on it with a workout schedule through Nike Fit. We’ll be posting leader board updates on instagram as the weeks go by.

I have also cut out the majority of my refined sugar intake. I mean, I live in the world and refined sugar is in the world, but the majority of our diet (minus the week of being on vacation) revolves around vegetables, quinoa, lentils, wild rice, oatmeal, nuts, fruit, and lean protein. I’ve also completely given up diet coke. It’s really not so much a “diet” as eating in the way that makes both Kamel and I feel really great, and is completely sustainable and enjoyable. Plus I enjoy having to think about my food a little more, making active choices on what goes in my body is really awesome.

But yeah.

I’m not loving me right now. I hate admitting that because I feel like I was doing SO WELL with the loving. But ugh. I don’t like what I see. I am mad at myself and I worry about having another baby and doing it all over again…

I feel like I am kind of in the middle of this after-baby-body-bullshit stuff. So ending this post is becoming difficult. There have been some good things, not everything is AHH STRANGER IN THE MIRROR RUN RUN FAR AWAY. For example…

See the photo with my shirt pulled up? My stretch marks are almost completely gone. Yay!

Also, my hair is finally growing back and I have stopped shedding like a nervous dog. I am just shedding my normal amounts now. And the new growth on my head (A LOT of new growth, a shocking amount of new growth!) is maybe a little over an inch long? And sticks straight up when I part my hair. It’s really trippy to see.

Oh! And my boobs (although, they too are weirdly soft) have gone back to their normal, manageable size. Another reason for finally being able to kick it up a notch in the workout department. There was no way in hell jumping jacks were going to happen with those bowling balls flying around. I couldn’t even fit into my sports bras until a month ago. I finally went to Nordstrom and got myself 2 new bras in my usual size 3 weeks ago, and can I just say I have never been more happy to see an under-wire in my ENTIRE life. I love you real bra! I LOVE YOU SO HARD.

So, if you see me hobbling around San Francisco it is because I am very sore from re-building all of my muscle.

I feel sad. And I feel like I shouldn’t feel sad, and I feel like it is all my fault that I feel sad. And there are tears. But I’ll figure it out, and at my next postpartum check in (at 9 months out), I’m hoping to have a different story to tell you. For now, blah. I wish it would stop being so fucking hot in the Bay Area so that I could wear sweaters and other none-skin showing outfits. I feel a strong desire to hibernate.

15 thoughts on “The Mom Files: 6 Months Postpartum”

  1. Oh Lauren…first of all hugs. I think you are maybe too harsh on yourself? I always admire your will / persistence and the fact that being in shape is something you aim for. I know it is important but I have never really been into sports / training / running… I am trying to workout (in the living room) with Mark, just some exercises (squats, core, etc) but I forget lots of the time and I don’t do them by myself. And I know I also really have to get in shape, no excuses.

    Your body went through a lot, and it is normal that it’s different. It is also normal that all these changes impact you and that you find it difficult to recognize yourself. But I also know you will make it, you will be fit again.

    The part about the under-wire bra made me smile… right now nothing makes me happier than soft bras with no wire at all (and they are so difficult to find… everything looks like it’s make for grandmas).

  2. I so appreciate how real and honest you’re being about the way the post-partum body experience has been for you. It’s hard to fathom without having gone down that road yet, but it’s very reassuring to hear the changes in such a matter of fact way. Not that it makes it any easier to live them when you’re frustrated, but it’s nice to know the hard things aren’t world-ending.

  3. I struggle with varying degrees of body acceptance too. Sometimes I’m all “my body grew a baby, it is awesome” and sometimes I fell like my body is just not my own and will never feel the same. Mostly I feel somewhere in between, mostly okay with some lingering twinges.

    I think the biggest thing for me now is just that my body is not as forgiving. That without an insane amount of core exercises (which if I’m honest, I am never going to do), my stomach will never be smooth the way it was before. Even when I was heavier than I am now… prebaby those stomach muscle just helped keep things in and now they don’t. They carried around a baby and they are all stretched out now. Pictures of me sitting are the worst for the very reason you described. Standing up, I sometimes even like that belly curve, but sitting down…. ugh.

    It’s okay, but sometimes it’s not. But I want it to be okay, because I want my daughter to love her body and I want to be a great example of body acceptance. So I keep trying. Anyway, I hear you and I appreciate you talking about this..

  4. This was such an interesting and thoughtful read. I’m 12 weeks pregnant, so just barely pudgy, and worried about it all. Our culture sends such RIDICULOUS messages about weight loss after baby. I told my friend that we’re expecting yesterday, and talked about going to my husband’s brother’s wedding a month after little arrives. She said, “well that will give you good impetus to get back in shape after baby McKnight.” I just about flipped my sh*t. 5 weeks after birth I am supposed to care about my gut? Seriously?

    I hope you re-find that good place with where you are body wise. From an outsider’s perspective you look amazing, beautiful, and strong. Thank you for sharing.

  5. *hugs*

    This stuff is so, so hard. I was over weight when I got pregnant, and my midwife really wants me to keep my overall gain to 15 pounds. FIFTEEN. I’m at 23 weeks (as of tomorrow) and I’ve gained around 7 lbs per my last doctor’s visit (during pregnancy I don’t weigh myself at home) which is on target for my midwife’s goal, but I feel so crappy about it because I am HUGE. Also? My bump is lopsided. Like, severely. If I wear a dress it is camouflaged, but if I wear separates it is super obvious and it makes me cry.

    The conflicting emotions are the worse. I feel bad, but then I feel bad that I feel bad–I should be feeling bad! But I feel SO BAD. Ugh.

    We’re here for you, lady.

  6. For what it’s worth, I think you look amazing. And I have no doubt that you’ll be happy with what you see again, sooner rather than later. It’s rough to go through so much (moving, sickness, vacay, ending breastfeeding…) and them feel crappy about yourself on the other side, but I totally get it. Totally normal, in my opinion. Give yourself a few weeks on being on the clean eating/working out bandwagon, and I bet you’ll feel awesome! And I think it is also worth noting that it is possible that your hormones have not re-balanced yet from ending breastfeeding, so it is entirely possible that you may be dealing with some hormonal fluctuations that may be making you feel a little depressed.

  7. Lauren! I LOVE your honesty. I love your persistence and dedication to being a mom but also having your body back…but here’s the thing – if you’re still breastfeeding, you don’t get your body back yet. In order to feed your child, you are going to be SOFT, because your body needs that specific fat storage in order to feed your child. I’m going to be honest and say I haven’t kept up on previous blog posts to find out whether you are breastfeeding or pumping still, BUT, just keep that in mind 🙂
    And I have to tell you also that you write exactly what I wish I could say – I’m afraid to have a kid because of what it’s going to do to my body, as vain and selfish as that might sound…I love that you can just throw it out there and say it, because it makes me feel like I can too. I’m scared, I want my physical goals to be achieved first and then I don’t want to let that go EVER by having a kid…but someday I will and I know that these struggles are real and that I’ll experience them in my own way someday. Ugh.
    Anyway, thanks for posting this 🙂

  8. Thank you for sharing this with us and the rest of the internet. We all grow through ups and downs in our relationships with our bodies but you are doing us all a service by sharing here. I believe it will help a lot of people.

  9. I love you so much, Lauren! As others have said, your honesty is for sure helping others, but firstly I sincerely hope it is helping YOU – so thank you for writing it down and I hope that very act was freeing, if only a tiny bit.

    Overall, I think your perspective on it is fantastic – seeing your body for what it is capable of doing and what is has done and where it can go – but also being honesty about NOT loving it all the time. Despite our goals of healthy attitudes towards our bodies, we all have these times and head-spaces. And to throw in babies and getting older and all that jazz – I think this is totally normal. I would echo the “don’t eb so hard on yourself” theme mentioned in other comments, but I know that is often futile. We love you, your family loves you, your baby loves you – and it is your body (which includes the mind) that enables you to love them back. You will get there.

  10. I have no advice. I just wanted to say, as always, thank you for being so honest about how you feel. I love reading about what’s going on in your life and in your head. I’m sorry that you’re having so many conflicting feelings about your body right now but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling like you do xx

    PS. This totally didn’t fall flat.

  11. i super appreciate your honesty… i’ve never been pregnant, but i work in outpatient OB so i see the 6 week postpartum belly a lot. thank you for your perspective… for one, i really enjoy reading your writings, and two, this was an eye opening read that will help me better understand my patients 🙂

  12. Crying here with you.
    I cannot wait for putting away my feeding bras, and yet, I know I’m going to miss feeding.
    Its my birthday next week and I cant fit ANY of my old underwire bras, so I’ll be wearing a maternity bra to one of the nicest restaurants in town. Seriously limits what clothing options I have too with the cut of it.
    And its so overwhelming, I wonder whats the point in trying, I cant see my way out of this.
    When I weighed this much non-pregnant, I felt fantastic. I was only 2kg (about 4lb) lighter than this at our wedding and I was HOT. Its only another 2kg beyond that to my pre-baby weight.

    But look at what you’ve achieved Lauren! You totally leave me in the dust with your travel and moving and being back at work. You are doing so well.

  13. ok, over achiever, you are doing exceptionally well. Have you not seen me, I am going to kick my workouts into high gear once i get back cause seeing ladies who have had a baby be in better shape than me is kinda sad. I may not jiggle in the arms or other spots but I miss being comfortable in my clothes. So you madame are my bench mark, now stop being so hard on yourself, you are doing fine.

  14. Chiming in late to say that being sad is ok, and it doesn’t mean you’re not loving your body, if you consider love to be a verb and not just a feeling. Your body may not giving you the warm and fuzzies, but you’re still taking care of it and feeding it well and getting back to exercising and that’s love, too.

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