Sep 16, 2014

The Path

Recently, I've been taking baby steps towards learning to love my new body. My once smooth and firm stomach is now a soft and stretched belly. When I was pregnant with Lilly I was freaked out  about getting stretch marks. But I got them. And despite me originally thinking horribly of them, I wasn't as bothered as I thought I would be. And when I was pregnant with Violet they became even more prevalent. However, after the 2nd pregnancy, my stomach skin also became loose; almost pulled away from the muscle. I look in the mirror and I don't see my former self. I'd be lying if I said I love my stomach. I don't. But there's no denying that I love the process in which made my stomach look the way it does. I grew two human beings! My organs were pushed aside. My blood volume increased. My skin stretched and stretched to accommodate my beautiful baby girls that were growing inside. My stomach housed the vessel which gave them life. How can I loathe it? How can I look down and have anything but infinite love and adoration for my body allowing such a beautiful thing to have happened?

My girls see me naked often. We take showers together. We walk around in the buff. I never self analyze myself in the mirror. I don't outwardly critique my body or say anything negative about it around them. I don't want them growing up with a distorted view of themselves. I don't want them thinking Momma isn't beautiful. And I don't want them thinking that, if after they have children, and get stretch marks, that they are any less beautiful. They are curious about the lines that traverse my belly. Some are deep ravines. Some are shallow and fading. Violet likes to blow raspberries on them. She doesn't fully notice them. Instead she is fixated on my belly button and likes to shove her tiny little finger inside, watching her whole digit disappear as my soft tissue gives way to the pressure.
I make funny beeping noises and then I poke her belly button too. But Lilly was afraid to touch my stomach. At first, she responded with an "Ew" which caused a gut wrench reaction within me and made my eyes well with tears. I took a deep breathe and then I told them the story that they now like to hear often. I told them of how they each had a chance to grow inside me and that their belly button was how they were connected to me, just as mine was a connection to my mommy. I told them of how these lines are there because they each grew big and strong inside me. They like to see the stomach casts I made during each pregnancy and now Lilly retells the story. She gives my belly a random gentle touch or sweet kiss. And she no longer says "Ew". But the raspberries, she saves for my arms;)

Being comfortable with my stomach is going to take some time. Will I ever not think of it when I'm naked around Jeff? I certainly hope so. Baby steps.

My new body also came with bigger boobs! Before having babies, I was a barely A cup. I would rarely go without a bra because I felt like a boy. It made my skin crawl to be braless, even when I went to bed. I was very self conscious about it. I felt un-proportioned in comparison to my hips and legs. I yearned for a boob job. But now?! Thanks to pregnancy and nursing, I love my new breasts! They got a little bigger and here's to hoping that they stay that way! If not, I'll relish in my newfound womanly shape while I can. They nourish life and I'm amazed at this every day.

In hopes of coming to terms with my new silhouette, I got together with a friend of mine who is doing therapeutic photography. Her intention is to help you realize your beauty, accept and love yourself in the moment and see the new you. We ventured to the desert to take some photos of me. I felt apprehensive in the days prior. I didn't have anything to wear and felt a little uneasy and anxious about how I would look. In my mind I conjured up reasons why I should cancel, but in my heart knew that I shouldn't. I told myself: I want to do this. I NEED to do this! We talked about what I was hoping to get from this photo shoot. There was a bit of an emotional release and after the tears dried, we continued with the photos. At the end, I laid on this massive rock. It had baked in the sun all day and the heat warmly radiated against my back as I laid under the twilight sky. I had relaxed, I was in my beloved desert and with a kindred soul by my side. I drove home in silence, reflecting on the experience, proud of myself for opening up and being vulnerable and for allowing myself to start on the path of healing. Looking at these images made me realize that I truly do look different now. I have more curves. I'm older. I'm a mom. I'm me. And all of this is fantastic! I will never again look like my 27 year old self. And you know what? That's ok!