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.
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.
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.