3.5 Months Postpartum: Real Bodies, Real Talk

Before I got pregnant with Fae I googled “second baby postpartum body” so often. What would recovery be like? What happens the second time around? What does the stomach do after all that stretchingX2? I really, really, really felt that I had simply gotten lucky that everything went so well with my first pregnancy and delivery. I had a ball of anxiety in my throat that I was rolling the dice yet again with #2 and anything could happen. I survived 1 virtually unscathed, what was I doing tempting fate for a second time?

What if nothing was ever the same again?

The truth is nothing is ever the same…ever. Body permanence is a lie we tell ourselves to make us feel like we have some kind of control when we don’t.

And now I’m over three months out, so what does that mean?

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It means healing stretchmarks on my hip and lower stomach. It means a squishy middle and a larger pant size. It means my boobs are still bigger and my nursing nipples can shoot through 7 layers of clothing and breast pads.

Everything about pregnancy (or any major physical transformation that is way beyond your choosing or control) is a lesson in letting go.

I took this photo last week and sat on it for several days before posting it on instagram as a teaser for this post a few days ago. Everyone was so nice talking about my flat stomach. But this is not meant to be one of those, “And look at her, back into her bathing suite in just 3 months!” posts, because… no. I definitely do not fit into my “mom” (HOT MOM) bathing suit yet. This is about erasing some of the fear of change and about embracing realness.

Realness and real talk is:

  • Stretch marks are genetic. Your skin’s elasticity is not something we can control. I moisturize, exfoliate, and use coconut and jojoba oil while pregnant and afterwards to help things along, but I’m fairly certain this is 98% something I do to make me feel like I’m doing… something. Do you have stretch marks on your hips? You’ll probably get more when you’re pregnant. Stretchmarks on your boobs? Maybe more there too. Stretch marks in general from growing/puberty? You’ll probably get them while pregnant. But they fade. They fade to white lines and basically disappear, depending on the severity, a year or 2 later.
  • Skin takes a long time to regain firmness after being stretched out like a taught balloon. Even when I was back to my pre-pregnant weight with Gabe I was still loose skinned in the stomach. It probably takes years, if at all, to go back. Genetic and situational. Twins? Different story. A story I don’t know much about.
  • Some of my ability to look like the photo above is due to prep work before and during pregnancy. I am an active person. I work at it. It’s a priority for me. I walked as much as I possibly could while pregnant. I’ll never be someone who can be in kickboxing classes and standing on my head doing yoga while pregnant. I am always way too sick for that. But I do what I can and I make it a priority. Some of my ability to look like the photo above is due to the hard work I put in after giving birth. I walk vigorously while pushing a stroller up big hills as much as I can as soon as I can. And I work on core and strength and kicking my own cardio ass as soon as possible. I try to have vegetables the center of my dinners. But maybe even bigger than those things, my ability to look like the photo above is genetic. I am not overly genetically gifted, I am not a supermodel, I have never had visible abs no matter how in-shape I was or how thin. But if I am being 100% honest, a large chunk of how all of our bodies react to stress and trauma is not up to me. It is also not up to you. All we can do is the best we can.
  • I do not think I look amazing. This is not a plea for reassurance. I see my stomach and I think, “Yup! That’s a stomach! That is the trunk of a person who has had 2 kids! This is what that looks like!” After all of that googling and all of that reading, this is it.

It’s taking me longer this time around to feel like I’m making progress. The weight is being chipped away (down 40ish pounds depending on the day), and my body is slowly going back to its non-pregnant self. My feet have finally started to feel like I’m not shoving them, painfully, into my old shoes. My fingers are slowly welcoming back my wedding rings. My hips and pelvis have finally stopped aching and feeling fatigued after moderate walking. I have stopped dribbling after I finish peeing. The stitches are a very distant memory. The hemorrhoids are gone. But I still feel wider than I used to be. I’m thicker than I used to be. I’m still 10-15 lbs from where I want to be weight-wise. My hair is currently in full on shed-mode. It’s messy and depressing. Though thank god it’s shorter. The shortness has made it so much more bearable even while I know how frustrating the grow-back process will inevitably be.

I might never feel super comfortable in jeans and a fitted shirt again. Or maybe in 3 years I will! I may never get back to my old jean size, even though I did after Gabe. Maybe that’s just not something that my body can do anymore. Maybe my bones have shifted, maybe I’m in my 30s now and the weight is distributed differently. I don’t know.

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What I do know is: This is the body of a 30 year old, mother of 2. Three and a half months postpartum. I’ve made two kids, they came out of me, and here I am. In my 30 years I’ve done more than that even! And this is what it looks like.

Don’t be afraid. Even about the things we can’t control. It’s going to be how it is, and even if it sucks it’s going to be pretty awesome.

10 thoughts on “3.5 Months Postpartum: Real Bodies, Real Talk”

  1. I knew when you teased this post that I’d sit here and shake my head and agree with every word and I do. It is what it is and we can try to help it along but there is not necessarily a lot we can do. Man am I happy to know I am ‘done’ having kids now though and that I get to work on it for however long I want without another pregnancy.

  2. I’m currently 12 weeks pregnant with my first and so so appreciate your honesty and real talk. As my body starts to change I am both terrified and curius about what’s to come so a real-person perspective is so nice and encouraging.
    I don’t usually comment but have been reading and loving your blog for a long time.

  3. It took me a long time to even want to put in the work after having Elliott. I think a lot of that was related to my situation (Dad hospitalized and dead within 3 months, husband out of town 5 days a week until Elliott was 11 months old, working full time) and I made a ton of great gains this summer. I was within 5 lbs of pre-pregnancy weight and 10 from goal. I was running and feeling good. And then we did it all again. I am so glad that our infertility treatments worked again and that I get to welcome another sweet babe in April. However, I am worried about getting it all back again. Thank you for this post. I have already accepted the skin firmness and I’m working on how I’m 31–I won’t ever look like I did in high school. And that’s OK. Elliott likes to snuggle up to the squishy parts of me. He hugs me and looks at me like I’m the best thing in his world. He doesn’t care about the extra weight or the bigger jeans. He’s thrilled that I put on a swimsuit and played in the water with him this summer.

    It’s hard, when you become a mom, to completely shift your priorities and your life. It seems selfish, but I think we hang on to these body issues and the notion of “bouncing back” because we want to reclaim some piece of our former life, our former selves. I think all we can do is the best we can and demonstrate love and acceptance for our children. I certainly don’t want Elliott to judge his future partner on any body changes so I don’t want to demonstrate self-hate over my own.

  4. Thank you for sharing openly about your body. It is something I have been the most scared about with being pregnant (purely out of vanity!) and I’ve never even been happy with my stomach… it’s always been a work in progress and I feel like it will never look the way I want it to. Now that I am finally growing and seeing changes in my body (20 weeks along) I am amazed at the female body and have decided that the process of growing a human is so freaking magical that I can let go of my vanity. Finally. When all is said and done, I will have accomplished something just short of a miracle (especially after the infertility battles), and will need to accept a new body. I will still work at it as I do now and will try to feel good about myself, but I have stopped stressing about how I will likely never look the same.

    Also, “bouncing back” is a totally sexist notion, right? That after the changes our body must go through to grow a human we can’t have any evidence of it.

  5. I love this post. Thank you for sharing! I obsessively googled “twin postpartum belly” after finding out I had two on board, and I definitely don’t look like my pre-pregnancy self (helloooo stretch marks and C-section scar!) but I’m also surprised and relieved at how ok with it all I feel. Creating two human beings – whether at the same time or back to back) is an amazing feat!

  6. I love that you’ve posted pictures so when other women google second postpartum body, they’ll have this to find. I managed to do a lot of work to get back to shape in about nine months. My problem was I couldn’t keep it up… so now I have a post-toddlerhood body. What shocked me most was not that I put back on weight (because I knew I was eating to comfort myself and not moving) but the way I put on the weight was very different to pre-pregnancy – very different places. Previously I would get larger in the hips and boobs and then a general all over weight gain. Now it’s straight to the stomach and thighs… and my pubis mons, which also copped a stretch mark or two during prengancy. How the hell do you lose weight from there?! These changes have meant I also have to dress differently, styles that were previously okay for me in larger or smaller sizes don’t work anymore. So for me, ‘post-partum’ body is still very real, even though my boy is almost 4.

  7. i love and feel this post. i’m almost 10 months postpartum with my first, and almost every day i look at my loose belly in the mirror and tell myself that everything will be okay. it’s okay to be frustrated with my body and the way clothes fit. i give myself about half a minute to lament and then make myself move on. because a sweet little boy grew inside of me, and i am so thankful to God for that blessing!

    thank you for blogging. you’re my fave.

  8. Thanks for this, I really appreciate your honesty. I am 21 weeks along with my first and it’s reassuring that the new normal will not necessarily be as scary as everyone is telling me 🙂

  9. Thank you for this post and for all of your others about pregnancy/postpartum life. It is so helpful to those of us who are right behind you!

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