It doesn’t feel like mine. I don’t recognise it anymore.
I have a huge scar sitting horizontally, just above my pubic area. I have purple tiger stripes on my stomach and above my hips. I have more tiger stripes on the sides of my breasts.
My stomach was never tight, never bumpy with a six pack – it was a nice, neat little tum-tum. Now, it is a soft, mummy pouch that I have barely been able to look at since giving birth to my daughter.
My old clothes don’t really fit. I know it’s early days and one day I might be able to make my body a similar size to what it once was, but that doesn’t change the fact that most of my clothes still don’t fit. As somebody who measures self-worth in the most unhealthy of ways (comparison, appearance and wealth/status), living in this post-pregnancy body has knocked my confidence even more so.
My body has been stretched and pulled. It has swollen and retracted back.
It is somebody’s supermarket. I am an unlimited supply of nourishment for one little person. Whenever she needs it, I can give it. My breasts are not what they once were – they are much larger with darker, bigger nipples that are fed upon so regularly they’ve cracked. They are no longer a sexual part of my body. They are just sore food bags for my daughter, no longer a symbol of my femininity or sexuality.
I hate peering down my blouses or flannel shirts and noticing the new roll that was never there before. I hate how my tank tops that sit underneath my blouses and flannel shirts are tighter, drawing attention to my softer, fatter stomach. I hate having this fixation with my body, letting my insecurities make me feel like less of a person, less valued, less confident, less, less, less.
I grew up with a negative female role model (my nan), who valued women based on their body size. My nan was a stick-thin, tiny old woman who would go to the gym regularly and fat-shame anybody bigger than a size 10. She was a constant in our lives as she regularly babysat us after school. I imagine she is part of the reason why I put so much pressure on myself to keep a slim figure.
I know it’s early days, I know I’ll be able to find the time and energy to work out again, I know that my breasts are doing the most natural thing on the planet – but knowing those things doesn’t stop me from feeling this way about how I look, or how my body feels.
I wish I was one of those mums who felt amazing about their post-pregnancy body, who feel proud that their body has been able to make a completely new human being. And yes, I think it’s bonkers how my beautiful daughter came from me, and how she is constantly growing and changing thanks to the nourishment of my breast milk, but it doesn’t change the fact that my body has changed and I don’t like it. I am repulsed by it. I am desperate for it to change back to the way it was.