I Made Peace With My Body After Becoming a Mom

I Made Peace With My Body After Becoming a Mom

One woman shares how having a baby made her love her body after years of weight struggles.

By Lauren Brown

I never liked my body. My weight was always an issue, a dark cloud hanging over every meal, every clothes shopping trip, every doctor’s appointment. My mom was so afraid that I was going to “get heavy” like she had been as a teenager that any food that wasn’t calorie free, fat free, and essentially taste free was off-limits pretty much my entire childhood.

My solution was to sneak in the good stuff like contraband. I would sit in my room late at night, quietly peeling open a bag of chips I’d hidden under my bed. I’d chew so softly and slowly that I barely tasted anything, let alone enjoyed the forbidden treat.

As a teenager, my awkward phase was a flabby mess of big boobs, wide hips, and a plump butt. I was constantly on a “diet” throughout high school, though I don’t think eating a salad doused in 1,000 calories worth of dressing was what my nutritionist meant when she said to “eat more greens.” I did lose a significant amount of weight right before college, but gained the freshman 15 (plus about 30 more) when I discovered the all-you-can-eat french fries and fro-yo in the cafeteria plus the 24-hour pizza delivery in the dorms.

It was just the beginning of a vicious cycle of hating my body when I was heavy, doubting it when I got skinny (well, skinnier), and giving up when my body failed me, and the weight crept back on.

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As I entered my 20s and began my career, working out felt too exhausting for my demanding schedule, and eating healthy required too much planning ahead. Ordering in and eating on the go was, if I’m being honest, the easy way out. I was lazy, but I also was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal imbalance that mainly affects your weight and fertility. You would think that would have been the wake-up call I needed, or at the very least some relief that there was a reason behind all my struggles. But it was depressing, frustrating, and made me resent my body even more.

And then I met my wonderful husband. After a few blissful years of marriage, we decided we were ready to start a family. I was terrified, because I was positive my body would fail me again. Many doctors over the years hinted that if I wanted to get pregnant naturally, I was going to have to lose weight. With the numbers on my scale constantly going up and down, of course we decided to try for a baby when I was on an upswing. I tried to cut out gluten and started working out with a trainer. I went for acupuncture twice a week. I cried every month that the pregnancy test taunted me with a negative result. I cursed everything from genetics to my food addiction that wouldn’t let me say no to that last slice of pizza. And then, the umpteenth test I had taken over the course of a year finally stared back at me with the one word I never thought I’d see: “pregnant.”

I began my pregnancy with apprehension and fear. Was my body going to fail me again? But as each trimester came to a close, my baby was healthy, and with many precautions taken, I was healthy. In fact, I only gained about 20 pounds the entire pregnancy, and it was the first time in my life I was congratulated for gaining weight. It was the first time in my life I didn’t obsess over the scale or what size clothes I was wearing. It was the first time I wasn’t worried about seeing friends or family and wondering if they thought I was fatter or thinner than the last time they saw me. I marveled at it.

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My body was finally a source of pride and love for me. My body was growing another human. My mind was blown. And as soon as my daughter was born, the chatter in my head about what I should or shouldn’t eat and the negotiating about working out (or rather not working out) shut down. It was replaced with chatter about if my daughter was hungry or needed to be swaddled or had a dirty diaper – and if she was happy, secure, and healthy.

As a mom, I suddenly became a pro at scheduling the hours of each day. I could get my daughter fed, changed, and bathed in record time. I could get her to a playdate and music class and run errands for myself and squeeze in an assignment (or three). Being a mom kept me busier than ever, but more efficient too. So when I decided I wanted to start working out, it felt different. I no longer felt like I had to or was supposed to. I wanted to. I wanted to be as strong as possible for my daughter. After being pregnant and successfully giving birth, I finally knew the good things my body was capable of doing and I was inspired to keep that positive energy flowing.

I’m still a work in progress and still have many days that I’m just too tired to put on my sports bra and get moving. But I never want my daughter to experience that self-defeating chatter in her head. My husband makes fun of me because he says I’m drawn to any reflective surface I pass by -- from mirrors to glass doors – like a moth to a flame. He thinks I’m just being vain. But the truth is, I look because I’m hoping I’ll finally see something staring back at me that I’m satisfied with.

The body that I resented for my entire life is now the same one that gave me my daughter. It’s time to keep it strong, respect it, accept it, and treat it kindly. Today, I pass by reflective surfaces and can clearly see the strength I never knew – but always hoped -- was there.

How did becoming a mom change your body image?

Lauren Brown is a freelance writer and pop culture junkie/expert who just took on her most exciting and exhilarating assignment yet – new mom to an adorable baby girl!

Image ©iStock.com/naumoid

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