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I Don't Have My Pre-Baby Body, Yet I Like Me More Than Ever

Photograph by Twenty20

I spent a lot of time hating my body before I had my baby. I laugh about that now because, in hindsight, I was pretty darn sexy. I had no idea how much having a baby would change my body:

  • I have stretch marks that will forever remind me that, for 9 months, I was powerful. I nourished life and felt it grow. I am blessed to have had that experience. I know many women cannot, so I'm thankful.

  • There are folds, crinkles and a scar in the area where a smooth abdomen once lived. But that scar is how my son came into the world after 29 hours of arduous labor. The more time passes, the less I look at that scar. All I remember is locking eyes with that little person for the first time was the greatest joy of my life.

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  • My legs, which were always thick and strong, have more cellulite now. But they are also stronger from carrying my son up and down stairs. I'm thankful they sustained me when I was gallivanting the streets of my city as a young woman and now that I am chasing a 2-year-old.

  • My arms have muscle where there was not much before. This muscle comes from lifting my son as he's running toward me in sheer delight, every day when I pick him up from school.

  • There are more fine lines under my eyes than I had before. These are from waking up early, staying up late to have time for myself, and from putting off sleep just a few more minutes every night so that I can watch my son sleep peacefully.

  • My clothes fit differently now. My hips are wider for sure. But that's OK, because I couldn't exactly run after a toddler in the mini skirts I used to wear before him.

I appreciate the power my body has now. But the truth is I spent so many year hating my body:

  • I spent my teen years wishing I was curvaceous and hating my lanky figure and lack of breasts. I would look at women like Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayek and wonder where my Latina curves were hiding.

  • When the curves eventually did come in, I spent my twenties wishing I was thinner, I wished I had no belly fat. So I did fad diets, I went to the gym. I did everything except enjoy my body. Being a size 2 wasn't enough at times.

  • When I was in my mid-twenties, I thought my body was just for the pleasure and enjoyment of others. Very rarely did I concern myself with how I felt about my body. When I had a jealous boyfriend, I abandoned my body for a while, because it felt like my body was a threat to our relationship.

  • Once that relationship ended, I went back to caring intensely about my looks and my body. I mourned the body of an early twenty-something I once had.

At some point I grew out of this way of thinking and finally reached a point of acceptance. Then I got pregnant. Pregnancy wreaked havoc on my body, but I have reached a point where it no longer matters as much. I still care. But I can't spend hours hating my body. I try to enjoy it. Adorn it. Wear what I like.

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Sure, there are things I want to do more of: work out, lose 20 pounds. Eventually, I know I will get to those things. But I no longer hate myself in the meantime. I will not love my body "when I lose the weight." I love myself now. I cannot believe it took me so long to get here.

I never got my pre-baby back, but the body I have now is still pretty great.

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