It's been many years since I have looked in a mirror and cringed at my reflection. Not because I had a flawless body pre-Maleah, but just because I had learned to love myself. My "fat knees" (thank you, Mitchell genetics) and flabby triceps just didn't bother me all that much. It took a very long time, but I had finally come to terms with the fact that this was my body, I was healthy, and I should be proud. So I was - for a long time.
While I was pregnant, I was basically in love with my body! I think the hormones worked wonders for my self-esteem! I remember feeling disgusting around 37 weeks, but then felt beautiful during weeks 38 & 39. I loved looking at my belly - so much so that I think I ignored everything else! I only gained about 26 pounds, but that's a lot for someone who is 5 foot 3. And after Maleah was born, it only took a few weeks to drop about 20 pounds (thanks to nursing!). Now those last 5-6 pounds are just lingering and they're beginning to drive me crazy.
But, as they say, everything changes after the baby. At first I was just amazed that I didn't have a big gut anymore. But, as the weeks passed and those 5-6 pounds held on with all their might and I STILL couldn't fit into most of my regular clothes, I started to feel the all-too-familiar cringe whenever I looked in the mirror. Now, I know most people would think 5-6 pounds is nothing. And, honestly, I don't really care about the numbers. I care about how I feel. And right now I don't feel like I did before - not at all.
In April, I had to go to physical therapy for knee pain. They did all sorts of exams on my knee and found nothing wrong with the joint itself. The problem was my quad muscles. For whatever reason, the muscles in my right thigh were not nearly as strong as the left and it was causing my knee to misalign. Huh?? I had never had any problems like that before Maleah, but I assume it was due to doing a lot more sitting/resting after she was born instead of being up and moving. That was the first huge hit to my ego - feeling dumb for letting my muscles get so weak.
I have also had some lingering health issues that concern me a little. I still have pain and tightness in my chest - I assume it is from the pneumonia I had after delivery, but I will talk to my doctor about it during my physical early next month. I also have had some strange headaches, tingling sensations in my neck and feet, and pains in my abdomen. All things I never experienced before having a baby.
Sometimes it worries me that it's been four and a half months and I'm still not "the same". Blake and I have plans for a large family, but I wonder if things are this bad after just one pregnancy, how will they be after a second or third? But I am beginning to realize I will never be the same. And that's okay. This body carried and birthed a beautiful baby and I should be proud of its battle scars.
I'm also having to realize that my life is much different than it was before being pregnant. These days I work a desk job - I'm having to reduce my caloric intake to match my activity level. I'm also having to work harder to fit more intentional physical activity into my day. Blake and I are working on continuing to eat healthier meals and to try to encourage one another to be active.
But, most of all, I'm just learning how to love myself again. Learning how to look in the mirror and appreciate what this body has been through so much that its flaws become invisible to me like they were before.