Before I got pregnant, I ran twice a week, religiously attended my weekly Pilates class, ate a mostly healthy diet, and enjoyed being able to wear clothes that accentuated my body. I loved this girl. Sometimes, I miss her dearly.
First, let me be very clear: For me, being pregnant and loving my son are mutually exclusive feelings. I did not enjoy facets of being pregnant—like my body defecting from the size four girl I knew, into a balloon character—seriously, swelling cropped up everywhere. I was not prepared for the absolute worst part of pregnancy either—postpartum. No one properly primed me for the months that followed. As a matter of fact, not one single mother that I spoke to heeded any advice on what my body was going to look like post baby.
Arriving home with my new precious cargo in tow was perhaps one of the most joyous occasions I've ever experienced…and really, still experiencing to this day. However, once my son fell asleep and I was able to have a proper shower for the first time in three days, I was horrified. Let me rephrase, I had been sucked clean of any "pregnancy glow," my eyes had sunken in and dark circles surrounded them. My mush belly was perhaps the most astonishing. I was still pregnant, but there was no baby inside—my belly literally giggled like a bowl full of jelly. My husband, friends, and family tried to console me, saying, "You're beautiful—you just gave birth to a gorgeous baby boy, your body is magical." Fuck those people.
Yes, it was amazing to wake up each day and be down three more pounds from the day before (you lose most of the fluid weight the first week postpartum), but at my four week check in with my gyno, I was still 15 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight. I really missed my skinny jeans. And, when I was finally given permission to exercise again, I didn't. I had no time and definitely no energy. When I had 30 minutes of me time, the last thing I wanted to do was work up a sweat.
After eight weeks, I went back to work. I began to obsess over proving that I could have a family and move my career forward. My body was still healing, but selfishly, all I wanted was for my clothes to fit again. I wanted to feel beautiful. Honestly, I wanted anyone to look at me and say, "Hey, you look really great today." (Sorry to my husband reading this, but your opinion of how I look was invalidated the day after I gave birth and you told me I was okay to see people.)
Two-and-a-half years later, I was still struggling to get rid of those pesky 10 extra pounds. I still didn't have the time or energy to work out for an hour every day and my eating habits had gotten progressively worse. When I finally decided to seek medical help, I was barely fitting into my jeans (sorry seams) and the gut that pushed out over the top of my pants wasn't just bloating, it was also wrinkled, extra skin (yep, just wait until you have a baby, ladies).
Recently, Hilary Duff came under some scrutiny when she posted a kick-ass post-baby bod selfie. If my job solely focused on my appearance, you can absolutely rest assured that as soon as I was medically cleared to workout, I'd be in the gym for several hours a day. Duff deserves credit for looking as fantastic as she does—yes, even though she's not slaving over a computer all day and then heading home to job number two. As women, we should celebrate each other. Every time we don't, we're basically saying, "You need to stay unhappy with your body because it makes me feel better about mine," and that's just not cool.
Other moms like Olivia Wilde have also proudly displayed their new mom shape on social media, like a badge of honer—which it ultimately is. Even Blake Lively "Doesn't give a sh*t about her baby weight." While I don't have all the time in the world to work out, or a personal chef prepping nutritious meals for me, I do have will power and a really great doctor, who put me on a clean eating diet for 30 days to help calm my system down and drop the weight. Without really any exercise, I dropped a total of 14 pounds.
So, to all the moms in the world with oddly shaped belly buttons, extra skin on their tummies, and stretch marks galore, here's to displaying your post-baby, mom body proudly, and congratulating (instead of shaming) other moms for working hard to be happy with the body they now have.