I roll my eyes and then survey my postpartum body in the mirror like some entitled teenager confronting a hard line parent.
“You won’t let me wear anything,” I tell my torso as my eyes scan over the current me. It has been all of six weeks since delivery and I am getting sick of wearing my maternity clothes. I glance at the pile of pre-pregnancy clothes on the floor in the closet. All of them are pieces of clothing I tried on this morning and couldn’t button. Or zip. Or fit over my hips. Each piece on the floor feels like an insult.
Suddenly it is as if I can hear my body’s response to my thoughts:
“How dare you resent me? Have you forgotten so soon what I have done? Has your vanity swallowed your gratitude so quickly?”
Ouch. She makes some good points.
With these words in mind, I examine myself again. The extra layer around my middle that has caused me to avoid wearing pants at all suddenly seems different to me. In this moment it is not ugly fat and stretched skin. It is a vessel. A vessel for life. Underneath that extra layer everything rearranged to make a temporary home for my daughter during the nine months she spent cocooned inside of me. What a privilege it was to have carried her. What a blessing to have a body that is capable of conceiving and bearing a healthy child. In this moment, I feel gratitude.
My eyes scan upwards to my breasts. I’ve been particularly annoyed with “the girls” lately. They make me self-conscious with their size. They leak at inopportune times. They bust open buttons in the middle of conversations with strangers. But I am reminded now that these breasts are life-sustaining for my daughter. They provide her with an elixir that has a super-power like ability to sustain, nourish and protect her. As I remember this my annoyance is replaced with gratitude, immense gratitude for being able to provide for her this way.
I look back towards the pile of clothes on my closet floor and smile. So maybe I won’t be squeezing into my favorite jeans any time soon. Maybe that size “whatever,” non-stretchy pair will be replaced with a much bigger, spandex-laced one. Right now I feel ok with that.
I decide it’s a good idea to put my smaller clothes in a box and stop pressuring myself to get back into them. As I start exercising in the coming weeks, surely my body will change. But it will never be exactly the same as it was before, just as our world will never be the same because our daughter was born. Maybe I will wear those jeans again someday. Maybe I won’t. But suddenly it doesn’t seem to matter as much. I am grateful for what my “shape” has sacrificed for my precious girl. And I am vowing to embrace my current self. Starting today. Starting now.