Self-love, self-acceptance of your mind and body. Is a relationship.
Relationships have ups and downs, they take work, love and comprise. A healthy relationship with your body is going to take all these things.
The pregnant form is so glorified but the postpartum is not – quickly the focus shifts, it is forgotten, expected to get on with things… ‘to bounce back’
But it deserves the utmost respect, it’s just as beautiful in its own way.
Truthfully I’d be lying to say it’s been a super easy journey for me so far, I’ve never been one to sugar coat things. Although it’s been a time of incredible highs, there has been healing both physically and emotionally, adjustment, learning and juggling.
My body is soft, stretched and well a little messy laying here – my belly gently spreads out on the bed around my little babe, which miraculously she was safely housed in only weeks before.
Looking in the mirror and not quite recognising the woman staring back at first is daunting, yet you are also amazed at what she has accomplished.
At first, you may find yourself a little lost, detached from your body, not quite understanding it or feeling like yourself.
You are going to have to be kind to her, understanding, give her time, remind her of her beauty and her inner power.
Remember your body is beautiful, it is your vessel that carries all that you are as a person and may have even carried life itself.
So your relationship with yourself is important, some days will be harder than others but is worth the work.
Because you are WORTH IT. Because you are more than your body and you are moving FORWARD in life NOT bouncing back!
The days feeling so detached from the person you once were – that you don’t know how to connect them back to the same person at all. Motherhood changed me.
She has had to change. This change has nothing to do with the love I feel for my children – that love and time for them I give with all my heart and wouldn’t go back. This change has everything to do with me, this time in my life where I feel like I’m living in some sort of purgatory, a place that’s in between,
In between who I used to be, Who I currently am and Who do I want to be?
In fleeting moments I think about it, but it’s not until I have had time to myself, the weight of the things I’d been holding in come flooding out.
I catch my reflection in the mirror and really look at this woman before me… I know I am her, but I don’t recognise her now. The tears silently flow down my cheeks.
But I let myself grieve this time, the isolation, independence, I miss my body, when did I stop caring about myself? I am tired and feeling without direction; I let it all out in all its honesty, the things no one actually wants to say out loud…
It was relieving to even admit it to myself. Who am I now?
Sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to grieve those parts of us that are gone because we are worried that it means we aren’t grateful. But gratitude and grief can live as one.
I don’t quite recognise the woman in the mirror just yet, but I know her. She is currently processing and learning about herself again; she is evolving and figuring it out, all while giving so much of herself to raising her children.
I must give her some time, give her some grace. After a while, I realised… She isn’t lost at all… she’s just in a state of metamorphosis, just like a caterpillar before it becomes a butterfly – it’s somewhere in between.
It’s not going to be this way forever.
The old me hasn’t been through all the things I have now. She is stronger.
I let go of what was and am keeping focus on what is ahead.
Suddenly I’m feeling alert, too alert, The tightening of the chest, the shortness in my breath, the trembling of the hands, my body feels at unease, all while my mind is racing fast with 1000 thoughts, the nasty little inner dialogue has crept in, BREATHE I remind myself, you are ok, you are safe – just take a second to just breathe.
For me anxiety is something that I have struggled with for a long time, not always understood and was once really embarrassed about. I NEVER acknowledged it let alone talked about it, I did not want to be perceived as weak or incapable.
So in turn I pushed those feeling aside and pushed harder filling my days with things to do, tasks to accomplish simply so I could feel LESS – but it what it did was fuel my anxiety MORE until I could not ignore it no more – it wasn’t going to let me ignore it any longer, I experienced my first a full blown panic attack a few years ago, it was out of the blue, on a warm sunny day while I was happily singing in the car to my favourite song – I felt like I couldn’t breathe, my heart was pounding, I thought I was dying, having a heart attack.
From then on I knew it needed my attention. I owed it to myself to help myself, to own what it was, to learn to manage it and to take back my POWER.
With time and using various techniques I have learnt to manage it, speaking to someone to learn more about it has helped and I know now I can work through it, and so I no longer bottled it up. I’m not completely free of it but now I am much more aware of the triggers and the things or situations that can cause it to rear its ugly head.
“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending, she turned into a butterfly.”
Today I acknowledge it, admitting how much it has been eating me up lately hiding behind my smile, trying to tell me I’m not enough, that I can’t do it all, that I’m not worthy.
I had a cry, it felt good to release it – I sat with the emotions and let them flow. It’s uncomfortable but worth it I promise.
It made me realize all the triggers id been ignoring, all the work I was doing, the underlying trauma still there that I don’t like dealing with and the direction I want to take next.
The speed of life can feel hectic at times, in this fast-paced world, social media constantly at our fingertips, life – its easy to get caught up – forgetting we are allowed to pause. Be still. Reevaluate. Take time to heal.
Anxiety is actually normal, it is hardwired into to us so it will never be something that will be completely gone forever, its useful and needed in life to save us from certain situations or dangers – but sometimes we hold on to it, not understanding exactly how to let the body and mind relax. Keeping that in mind we can learn to manage it, it is not something that we cannot learn to control.
Despite working on it – Some days are just plain tough and that’s okay, there are going to be days that you don’t have it completely under control but cut yourself some slack and don’t take it personally. Be gentle with yourself and try replace your negative thoughts with ones that are more positive.
Remember you are not alone in this – so many these days suffer from anxiety, seek support from others when you need it, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Reaching out shows strength and also demonstrates bravery for speaking out.
I don’t have the answers, it may be something I’ll always work on, but I do know this; we are not our anxiety. I’m not alone in it and neither are you.
Tears, milk, poops and smiles have been had by both my baby Esmé and myself.
Although I’ll forever be amazed by what our bodies go through to create a life and the power of a person through the journey of motherhood, there are still some bat shit crazy times in the months following your baby birth. Some things that we have all read about and totally expect and then other things that you don’t hear about all so much!!
This is my fourth season postpartum and I’m still getting surprised, these are some of the things I’ve experienced following my babies, that nobody really told me would happen…
Nappies – your baby isn’t the only one that will be wearing them. No shame in it either, having worn pads before trust me these adult nappies are the way to go… build for comfort not style haha
Some days you will fall in love with your partner all over again and other times you will want to rip them a new one.
Love at first sight – is NOT always the case it can days or weeks even to grow and bond together with your baby. The love is no less.
Your hair will malt like a Husky in the summertime, hairballs clogging the shower drain, leaving you wondering if it will grow back or there will be hell toupee.
Waking up WET… not in a good way either, whether it be night sweats, baby vomit or lying in a pool of your own breast milk.
Baby wipes – where have they been all our lives?! The all-purpose wet cloth for butts, quick all over body cleanse, sticky fingers, cleaning tables and dusting everything.
Your body may become a bit of a stranger to you, someone you don’t recognize in the mirror just quite yet, it might take time to learn to love it and that’s ok – at times you also look at it in complete awe of what it has done.
You will think about poo ALOT – yes, your babies BUT the first one primarily being your own.
Sex – with hormones still raging, you either can’t wait to jump back at it or you are completely dead scared to let anything near your vagina.
The nipples – darkening and increasing in size, I heard it’s so the baby can see them… Well, mine are like big pieces of Hungarian salami so if she can’t see these somethings wrong!
There will be days when you feeling utterly alone and isolated by your newborn bubble, days morphing into one another, longing for a little freedom.
There are going to be days that test you and your mental health.
Baby outfits with buttons – cute at first but at 3 am, 17 buttons aren’t so cute anymore.
Sleep when the baby sleeps advice… well when the baby finally sleeps – you will probably scroll the whole internet, shower or do the washing.
You will say and do stupid stuff while tired. Bring on the coffee
Trust me mamas you are never alone.
There are 100’s of beautiful moments too (like the cute little grin on E’s face)
What did you discover in the fourth trimester that no-one told you about?
Did you experience any of these? Or something completely different that surprised you? Please add to the list!
These were my final thoughts before going into hospital to be induced with my fourth and final baby girl Esme Phoenix.
Just off on date to meet one of the great loves of my life. I go carrying nerves, my anxiety, excitement, but also with a sense of power within. I feel a sense of wonder at the power of a women’s mind and body during these hours no matter the way we each choose to birth – we are truly creatures of survival, birthing the future.
Two people will be born today. The mother and child.
I often feel I’m a young soul, still completely at awe with the beauty of life, the body and birth itself.
Still I walk away from my home completely into the unknown of who I’ll be when I return with this new life in my arms, I truly feel we go through a metamorphosis as we labour, as we become a mother, two people are born on the same day. The mother and child.
Whether it is for the very first time or not – we transition and in turn our lives are forever changed.
Although I have done this before, the unknown still awaits not without any fear and for this I’m not ashamed, I’m only human and I know it’s ok to feel it but I also know I can do this, and to trust my body. Yet I’m ridiculously excited and have visions dancing through my mind imagining what she will look like and who she might become.
I have no solid birth plan other than to have my baby at the end of this safely in my arms, I refuse to put pressure on myself like had in the past and give myself permission to make any choice I feel I need or want to during the process. I know I will be safe with Craig by my side and I’m thankful already that he gives me that peace.
I will breathe and focus on remembering during the surges that I will finally get to meet this little soul as she makes her way out of my body.
It is the last time that I will have two hearts beating inside me.
Months of growing you, a lifetime of loving you ahead.