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?
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.
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.