Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

The first remark came two days after my daughter was born, as we stopped at the receptionist’s desk in the pediatrician’s office to make her two-week appointment.

“You look so good!” the receptionist exclaimed.

I didn’t know what to say. I almost wanted to laugh.

I had never felt worse in my entire life.

RELATED: Admire the Baby, But Don’t Forget to Nurture the Mother

I was uncomfortable and in pain even though I was on two different painkillers. I was wearing sweatpants, one of my husband’s t-shirts, and a baseball cap. The thought of putting on makeup or doing my hair at that point made me sick. I hadn’t slept since two nights before I gave birth.

The thought went through my mind, If she thinks I look good, what must other women look like at this point?!

It took a couple of weeks and several more people commenting that I looked like I hadn’t even had a baby to realize that what the receptionist probably meant was, “You look like you lost the baby weight already!”

I did lose most of the weight right away, and it’s true I’m blessed by my genetics and high metabolism.

But what people didn’t see was that it was also due to two weeks of hardly eating. The flood of postpartum hormones, the lack of sleep, the pain, the medications, the struggles with breastfeeding—it all left me with very little appetite and my husband had to remind me to eat several times a day.

Even though the weight was gone, I didn’t feel in the slightest like I had “bounced back”—a phrase we hear a lot when talking about women postpartum. I had a hard labor and delivery and lost quite a bit of blood. I looked in the mirror that first week and I felt wasted. Spent. Pale, with black and blue and green splotches covering my forearms from the five attempts the nurses made to insert an IV, and later the two times they did blood tests. I resisted being in any photos with Bree for the first month because I felt so run down, something I now regret.

It wasn’t until eight weeks postpartum, just before I went back to work, that I finally started to feel normal again.

I was cleared to start exercising again at five weeks, but didn’t actually try until ten. I’m now four months out and have gone on only five very slow, very difficult runs.

Then there are the things that still haven’t gone back to “normal” and probably never will. I was 31 weeks pregnant and we were on our babymoon when I woke up one morning and saw the first stretch marks. It was like they had literally appeared overnight, and I was unhappy. Now the cute baby bump is gone and I’m left with those stripes.

Things aren’t as taut and unblemished as they used to be. Once I regained my appetite, I regained it with a vengeance because of the extra calories required for breastfeeding. I’m solidly in the postpartum hair loss phase and the four-month sleep regression, and most mornings I forget or run out of time to use concealer under my tired eyes.

I know the comments about how quickly I bounced back were made in encouragement, and for that reason, I appreciated them. But whether a mother looks on the outside like she’s “bounced back” or not, give encouragement anyway! Know that there could be any number of things going on behind the scenes physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and give her the encouragement that has nothing to do with her appearance.

Because here’s the thing: I have never been happier in my life.

My husband still compliments me. My value is still rooted in Christ. My body is changed, but it is healthy. And my little girl was worth it all.

This post originally appeared on the author’s blog

You may also like:

Admire the Baby, But Don’t Forget to Nurture the Mother

You Are More Than Your Postpartum Body

Believe Your Husband When He Says You’re Beautiful

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Jessica Vix Allen

Jessica Vix Allen is a SAHM who has always loved writing and is now finding endless inspiration in her daughter. Wife of Joel, follower of Jesus, and North Dakota transplant living in Kansas, Jessica loves reading, the outdoors, and sports.

A C-Section Mom Simply Needs You to Hear Her Story

In: Baby, Motherhood
Newborn baby crying in doctor's hands

As an expecting mother, I was told all about the sleepless nights. People made sure to give their opinion on whether I should bottle feed, breastfeed, or exclusively pump. I was told which swaddle to buy, which sound machine worked best, and when to introduce a pacifier. They told me about sleep training but that it really didn’t matter because I wouldn’t get any sleep anyway. Whenever I would mention how scared I was to give birth, I’d always get the same response: oh. honey, don’t worry, your body will know what to do. I remember listening to calming meditations...

Keep Reading

Feed Them—and Other Ways To Help NICU Parents

In: Baby, Motherhood
Parents holding hands of premature baby in NICU

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about our reality as NICU parents to a healthy, brilliant NICU graduate. Our child was born very prematurely and spent weeks in the NICU so he could grow and stabilize. My first experience as a mother of a baby was shattered in so many ways. Trauma still lingers, but I am so grateful for all I have learned from our time beside our little baby in his isolette bed. One thing I learned was that some people who really want to help support NICU parents really don’t know how they can. Here are some...

Keep Reading

From Baby to Boy

In: Baby, Motherhood, Toddler
Toddler boy asleep with legs tucked under his belly

The sweet snuggles and sighs are slowly making way for more crawling climbing and exploring each day. And just when I think my baby is gone, you snuggle into my chest, convincing me I’m wrong. I watch as you excitedly chase after your sis and giggle as you share with me your slobbery kiss. RELATED: They Tell You To Hold the Baby, But No One Warns You How Fast He Grows Daytime hours bring playful adventures as I watch my baby leave, but then a sleeping bum curled in the air makes me believe that these cherished baby moments haven’t...

Keep Reading

Having Two Under Two Was the Best Decision I Ever Made

In: Baby, Motherhood, Toddler
Toddler and newborn lying next to each other on a bed

My baby was 14 months old when I found out I was pregnant with baby number two. He had just learned how to walk, still requiring me to walk behind him holding both of his hands above his head so he wouldn’t topple over. In other words, my baby was still very much a baby, and I couldn’t believe I’d be adding another baby to the mix. Excited, but mostly terrified, I researched and read more articles than I can count on what it’s like to be a parent of two under two. These articles more often than not use...

Keep Reading

I Thought Failure to Thrive Meant I Was Failing

In: Baby, Motherhood
Baby drinking bottle, color photo

Failure. That’s all I read. It’s all I saw. It was the only thing I could focus on. I’m sure the doctor said it at some point during the appointment, but it wasn’t until it was right there staring at me in black and white that it clicked . . . “failure to thrive.” I was officially failing my daughter. A couple of years down the road, I now realize how irrational and far from the truth that was, but at the time, it was all I could focus on. I wish more than anything that they had a better,...

Keep Reading

You’re Becoming a Big Sister, But You’ll Always Be My Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Pregnant woman with young daughter, color photo

The anticipation of welcoming a new baby into the world is an exciting and joyous time for our family. From the moment we found out we were expecting to just about every day since, the love and excitement only continue to grow. However, amidst all the preparations for the new addition, I cannot help but have mixed emotions as I look back at old videos and pictures of my firstborn, my first princess, my Phoebe—for she will always hold a special place in my heart. As the anticipation grows, my heart swells with a mix of emotions knowing we are...

Keep Reading

New Mama, It Might Not Be Okay Now but It Will Be

In: Baby, Motherhood
New baby looking at camera, black and white image

It was 2:30 in the morning, I was sitting on the bed with tears streaming down my face, my 7-week-old son crying in my arms. Everything hurt—my engorged breasts, my cracked and bleeding nipples, my back where I had taken two epidurals. It hurt to sit, not only from birth but from the stitches, and I was tired. “It’s okay,” my husband said, rubbing my back in small conciliatory circles, but it wasn’t okay. When they placed my son in my arms for the first time I cried tears of joy, made promises for the future, bolstered by the love I...

Keep Reading

“Please Help Mommy to Be Patient, and the Baby to Stay Alive in Her Tummy.”

In: Baby, Loss, Motherhood
Toddler with hand on mother's pregnant belly

“Please help Mommy to be patient, and the baby to stay alive in her tummy.” It was my little girl’s daily prayer during my pregnancy. That prayer for patience—it stung a bit even though I had told her she could pray that I would be patient. It wasn’t necessarily that she or her sisters were testing my limits, but this pregnancy rage had gotten to be a real thing. If there is one thing motherhood has taught me, it’s that I can’t do it on my own. I need the help of my Heavenly Father, and I need others. I...

Keep Reading

I Know I’m Done, but I’ll Always Want Another Baby

In: Baby, Motherhood
Mother touches nose to baby's smiling face, close up color photo

I was sorting clothes into tubs to donate, consign, or keep for my 1-year-old, and I came across a newborn outfit amongst a bunch of bigger kid clothes. I had gotten rid of all of my 1-year-old son’s newborn and infant things last year, but he still seems small and baby-like to me, compared to my 5-year-old. But I’m telling you, when I held up that teeny-tiny outfit, my heart broke. It looked too small to be real. To fit anything other than a doll. But, it did. My older son wore it on his first Christmas. I know I’m...

Keep Reading

I Lost You Just as I Started Loving You

In: Baby, Loss, Motherhood
first trimester ultrasound image of baby

I didn’t know I was already losing you just as I was starting to love you. I didn’t know while I was so excited and hopeful for all the things to come, you were already leaving my body. And my heart. I didn’t know something like this could happen in what feels like both an instant and an eternity. That it would feel like it was just yesterday we saw those two pink lines and yet here we are, eight weeks later, without even an ultrasound picture to hold. I didn’t know how angry it would make me that life...

Keep Reading