Stretch marks? Tummy wrinkles? Misshapen belly buttons? Flat boobs? Dropping nipples? The post partum body has all kinds of negative connotations and imagery surrounding it. We’re supposed to accept it and learn to love it etc, but can I just put my hand in the air and say, I bloody miss my old body! I wanted to write a post about my post partum body, because I don’t think people talk about it enough.
No matter how hard you try to accept your new form, it will always be your ‘after’ body. It won’t be exactly the same as before and all the while you’re pregnant you have no idea how it will look afterwards.
It’s something I was deeply scared of when I was a childless twenty-something. The idea that my body might change – permanently, for the worse, was terrifying. Not being able to guarantee what I would look like after having a baby filled me with a fear – and yes I guess it came from vanity, but it also came from a place of wanting to have control.
Of course when I found out I was pregnant with twins I quickly realised that I had no control whatsoever. That these babies were going to be growing inside me and would get as big as they needed to and I didn’t get a say about what happened to my skin.
I slathered oil on my twin bump from week 8 morning and night and while I was on maternity leave I waddled around the house greasing my enormous belly several times a day. I did not want tiger stripes. I did not want stretch marks. I wanted my skin to survive.
You can’t have it all though – I was lucky enough to fall pregnant with boy girl twins and as they grew I noticed a line of purple. Then another one. I tried to cry. I’d been terrified of exactly this all throughout my pregnancy – and even years before. I didn’t want to be one of those ladies on the beach with a floppy tummy, marked with baby battle scars – bump vs. skin. I wanted to be me. The way I was.
I oiled even more religiously. I still had weeks to go. My skin was already taut at 23 weeks, how was I going to survive this without having some kind of monstrosity under my shirt forevermore? As the weeks neared my due date I noticed a few more fissures where my skin was struggling and parting. I rubbed on some more oil. I had at least 15 different types of products (thanks to a nice call in at my job) and switched between them regularly, switching for different products different friends had recommended.
And then I had the babies. They were real. (I can’t be the only one that doesn’t truly believe they’re pregnant until the babies have popped out).
And suddenly I didn’t care. I was a mum. Whatever my body had been through was worth it.
My body had been through SO much trauma trying to get them out. It had ballooned beyond my expectations while housing them, and suddenly, they were here. Suddenly my body was mine once again and yet I didn’t recognise it.
I didn’t care.
I didn’t care for a long time. And I still haven’t had the meltdown over my body that I anticipated. I’ve felt low. I’ve felt unattractive. I’ve marvelled at the redistribution of skin and how my bellybutton is unrecognisable. I’ve been fascinated and repelled by the tummy wrinkles I’ve acquired. It’s a new kind of normal.
But it gets better – my marks and lines and squidge are already miles better than a few months ago. And in time I will get more tone back. I’ve come to the conclusion that my body won’t ever be the same again. But that’s ok. My life will never be the same again. I’m a mum to twins, and whatever my tummy looks like now, it kind of fades into insignificance when I think that’s what I’ve had to give up to have a whole world of love in my arms when I hold them.
But yes. I do miss my old body. I miss the tone. I miss the strength I used to have and I miss the feeling of energy and vitality that motherhood seems to drain you of. I miss the confidence and predictability of my old body.
Strange tummy, you’re not magazine worthy.
But I’m a twin mum. I’ll take it.
Lots of love
P.S. How do you feel about your post partum body? Would love to know. xxx
Image by Jutta Klee