My favorite magazine, Brain, Child arrived in the mail today. Once our boys were asleep I began to devour it. The cover essay “The Mom job: Nipping and tucking the maternal body,” depicts the experience of one mother who, after having three children (one set of twins), finds that she hates her post-partum body. She seeks out the possibility of having plastic surgery to help her get her fit tummy back.
I’m left with a few feelings after reading this essay: anger, compassion and self-confidence. I’m angry that women are made to feel “less than” after giving birth. Before I gave birth, someone told me in reference to her post-partum stretch marks, “They are like tattoos of my labors of love.” I couldn’t agree more. What a gift to give birth. True, I didn’t have stretch marks prior to carrying two babies around for nine months, but I’m thankful to have them now (the babies) and the marks serve as a reminder of my labor of love.
I feel compassion for women who are truly bothered by the results their pregnancies had on their bodies. This author didn’t seem to be vain or superficial; she was just not able to adjust to her “new look.” And, she was willing to undergo an expensive surgical procedure ($10,000) to lose her tummy.
Finally, I feel more self-confident as a result of reading this essay. One of the women interviewed, a psychologist, said that women who were larger or out of shape prior to pregnancy, have an easier time accepting their after baby body changes. Woot! Woot! Finally, it’s a benefit to have a larger build.
While I am comfortable with my “birthed two nine-pound-plus-baby-boys” body, since the birth of our second son about a year ago I’ve worked on getting healthier and more in shape. And, I like the results I’m seeing — both emotionally and physically. At the root of my happiness is the feeling that I’m a better example for my boys and I’m able to be more active with them. This isn’t about a flat tummy or perky breasts. Instead, getting in shape is a labor of love, just like my stretch mark “tattoos.”