My mother in law was down recently and she mentioned something (gently) that made me think it would fit well in a blogpost. She said “it seems like you’re down to your pre-pregnancy weight?” and for the most part, I am. However, I’m realizing that there’s a big difference between pre-pregnancy weight, and pre-pregnancy body. While I’m sitting at, and hovering around my pre-baby weight right now, my pre-pregnancy body is still a long way away.
Most mamas will probably understand this difference. Honestly, and humbly, I’d rather have my pre-pregnancy body than any number I see on the scale. I don’t put a lot of energy into this whole concept either way, but maybe it’s important to talk about it and put it out there.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this on my runs, since I’m spending most of that time alone instead of hitting group runs with my ladies. I’ve come to the conclusion the best explanation I can give right now is that my body doesn’t feel like it really belongs to me. It feels foreign. A huge change, where I spent most of the last year adjusting to having to take care of myself for someone else (aka growing my daughter from the inside = a big responsibility!). Now I’m adjusting having to take care of myself for someone else in a completely different manner (aka nursing!).
A huge part of this is the demand breastfeeding is. It’s a demand, and an honor in the same right, but it’s extremely taxing on my body. As a runner, I’m so aware an conscious of this tax, and I’m trying to be very careful to make sure I’m taking post-natal vitamins and eating great foods (and great amounts of food) to keep up with this demand. Nursing burns a ton of calories, running burns a ton of calories, replenishing those calories appropriately takes practice, trial, and error. And there’s been plenty of error.
I don’t feel like I can fully eat and drink how I want. I’m always thinking about how my coffee or caffeine intake is making its way to my milk for her. Or how much I’d love to have just a little more wine, or one more glass of beer. I’m not complaining, just noting little things here and there that have changed.
I’ve actually hesitated to write or talk about some of these feelings. Shocker, it falls under my “mom guilt” category that seems to just keep growing and growing. In hindsight, this whole phase is going to be a blip and I’m going to miss the quality time nursing gave us to bond. I remember during my pregnancy how excited I was to nurse her, so now the thought of even wishing for a moment that to be done or gone hurts my heart and gives me a little punch to the gut.
My body is my body; however, it’s being lent to other causes than my selfish self at this point. It took me over a decade of working out, running, injuries, passions, classes, races, and more to get to where I was before my second pregnancy. I gave birth to my son in the spring of 2007 and my goals were so different then. My body was so different then. My relationships were different then. My recovery was different then. My priorities were different… My lifestyle was different… My eating habits, metabolism, nursing goals, parenting style, support system… you see where I’m going with this.
There also wasn’t social media. Oh this blessing and a curse we have penetrated throughout our lives. It gives way to a whole community of support, and creates a culture of comparison. The comparison trap is hard to nail down, but I’ve spoken to way too many women to think for a second that this doesn’t exist and doesn’t affect us to our core. Honestly, only because we let it; however, I haven’t figured out how to permanently restrict it from creeping it. It takes practice and it takes awareness. It takes support from spouses or partners who maybe don’t understand, but have your back. Most of the time I have that, though I’m sure he doesn’t understand and doesn’t fully know how to help. Hey, neither do I.
I’d like to think that I’m preparing to accept a new normal, kind of like what I had to figure out throughout my mental health struggles over the years. I could mostly give a shit about the number I see on the scale, it’s really just data. This is going to be one of those things where I’ll never “get back to my pre-baby body” per se, but I’ll create a new normal post-baby body that I’ll find comfort and strength in. Some days I’m okay with that, some days I remember what it’s like to like the look of my toned arms and legs… Eventually, I’ll find a peace with where I land. Hey, that’s how we grow, right?