Links for the Weekend: On the Body of Motherhood

I had my last baby almost two years ago.  He makes us laugh more than we could ever imagine with his trailing blanket, every day abuse of the English language, and his manipulate (but adorable) requests for “guggles” (snuggles). My first two babies are going to be four soon. Those two who stretched me at one time to a waistline of 52″ wide and after their arrival a nursing bra size of 32GG.  They’re just under 4 feet tall now and can’t hold up a single pair of pants that are the correct length for them.  But they skip, twirl, climb trees, and laugh loud.  Walking around outside of my body is nearly 90lbs of children all of whom were nourished solely by my body for 15 months apiece from conception to the introduction of the first solid food.

I used to have a waistline of 30″ and, while I’ve always had hips for miles, I loved that skinny waist.  I’m doing a 90 day fitness challenge in hopes of firming up my now 35″ waist, but around the front of my stomach is a pile of mostly saggy droopy skin that has the texture of bread dough.  I’m pretty sure that no matter the measurement around my waist, there will always be excess skin in that region.

The Postpartum Stomach

The landscape of my postpartum stomach.

I work with new mothers in this fragile time withing two weeks of the birth of their children.  They come to me wearing nursing tanks or blousy tops and maternity jeans.  They look at me wild and wide eyed when I ask them to step into the picture.  This is their first portrait as a mother and I coax them gently to be involved. They are reluctant because everyone has told them: they should look better.  Their child is less than 20 days old and they should look better. It makes me want to cry.

And then Kate Middleton had her son.  And the media was outraged at her 24 hour post baby bump. But us mothers, we looked on and felt validated. A real women with a real body. There’s been a lot of posts floating around in response to the negative things said in the media. The following may very well be my favorite.

What I Want my Daughter to See When She Touches My Belly

“I dream of a world where a new mother can leave the house in the morning — in ill-fitting maternity clothes because nothing else fits her large and slowly deflating belly, with greasy hair and puffy eyes from the hours/days/weeks she’s been functioning without sleep, with a leaking shirt from her breasts that are constantly churning and adjusting to make just the right amount of milk for the tiny young babe who depends on her for every last thing — a world where this woman can leave the house with her babies in tow (up and out in the world because her toddler’s need for playtime trumped her need for a blow dry. Or a nap)

— And this woman TURNS OUR HEADS (not out of pity “oh bless her heart”) and TAKES OUR BREATH AWAY (not because we think she looks like the “before” picture of an ambush makeover) but because she is LITERALLY The Most Beautiful Thing We’ve Ever Seen.

She is a superhero
She is a goddess
She is a Mother

Drop-dead gorgeous not in spite of the things that make her so, but because of them.”