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Adoption Baby Weight

Photograph by Getty Images

I wear motherhood on my hips. And not just in the form of the 25-pound toddler who constantly resides there. No, I wear it in the extra 10 pounds of baby weight that still rest below the waist of my jeans, and in the bloat of my stomach that was never quite there before.

There is just one problem.

I didn’t give birth to my child.

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I have never been pregnant, and I have no excuse for the ways in which motherhood has changed my body. But the evidence is still there, proof in the extra weight I now carry and the bags under my eyes that tell the tales of a mommy who does not sleep nearly enough.

Don’t get me wrong, I also wear motherhood in the smile that is now forever on my face, and the simple laughter my little girl often produces. I wear it in the ease with which our love flows, and the absence of the stress and sadness I once carried with me when I feared that this day would never come.

If I’m being honest, I think motherhood looks quite good on me.

But still, the image in the mirror has changed in ways I never would have expected as a mother through adoption. Just six months before my daughter was born, I was running my first half-marathon and was easily in the best shape of my life. Nearing 30, I was showing no signs of slowing down, and I took pride in the strength my muscles portrayed. The sleekness of my body. The proof that I cared about, and was willing to put time into, my physique.

But no longer have that time, because caring for my daughter takes precedence over all else.

We have the jogging stroller, and I still get out for a run here and there, but there always seems to be some excuse now. It’s too cold. It’s too hot. We’re too tired. She’s too wired. Places to go and people to see. Playdates and shopping trips and noses that need wiping.

Motherhood changes your body, even when no child was carried or born from beneath your heart.

Being active and fit has long since stopped being a priority in my life.

And you can see it in my hips, in the way my muscles have faded and how my jeans no longer fit quite right.

At first I actually lost weight, forgetting to eat and never finding the time to sleep in those initial months of caring for a newborn. The pounds dropped off at an alarming weight, and those around me started to express concern. Once she started sleeping through the night, my appetite returned but not my time for preparing meals. So I stuck to quick and easy, the kind of convenience foods I wouldn’t have dared to eat the year before.

And again, you can now see it on my body.

It all sounds like excuses, but the real point is that my heart goes out to those women still struggling to drop those extra baby pounds, because I see now how hard it must be. Motherhood changes your body, even when no child was carried or born from beneath your heart. It changes how you hold yourself, a constant sway taking over and the weight of a baby forever on your hip causing you to permanently lean to one side. It is hard to maintain the shape you once had, when priorities shift and there no longer seem to be enough hours in the day.

As my daughter nears 1, my goal truly is to find that time again. I miss running. I miss the soreness in my legs and the strength I used to feel. I even miss the energy I had when my diet was clean and full of whole foods, instead of the preservatives and junk I have been eating as of late. It isn’t about a number on the scale; it is about being healthy and treating my body well. I want my daughter to grow up seeing her mom valuing health and wellness, taking care of my body so that she can learn to do the same.

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It’s hard as a single mother to find that time which often seems so rare. But for me, the point has come to stop wearing motherhood on my hips.

Ensuring it only remains evident in the smile still splashed across my face.

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