26 January 2011

{Personal} A Very REAL Account of My Post-Partum Body Blues

SO….I actually wrote this post - more like a journal entry- about two weeks ago. I have been wrestling with the idea of whether or not I should post it though. I’ll admit that at times I worry about what people think of me. By sharing this with you all – I’m allowing myself to be totally vulnerable to you and your thoughts and/or comments. I assume maybe that you will think I’m super shallow for thinking this way…or think that I’m completely vain. On the other hand, you might not. You might be feeling the exact same way that I do. Also, I need to remember what people who actually know me think. They all know my heart. They all know that I am truly a very genuine person. They all know that I look to see people’s hearts and that I don’t judge them from their outward appearance. So…why am I even posting this? I want to let you, who are out there who feel the same way about your after-baby-bodies, know that there is someone out there that UNDERSTANDS you COMPLETELY and how you are feeling! I want you, who are new mommies to understand that you aren’t alone in the wallowing thoughts of self-pity and guilt. Perhaps we can go on this journey together to find confidence in our new bodies and solace in the fact that there are others in the world that feel the same way!!! If my journal entry that I’m sharing with you at all helps even ONE person feel better – it is TOTALLY worth posting in my eyes! Also, if reading this makes you feel better about your own body because your body didn’t change so drastically while pregnant - it makes it worth it – I genuinely mean it. Here goes nothing….

My eyes are all puffy and swollen and my face is all blotchy with red spots. I’ve been crying. I thought I was doing so much better! It has been awhile since I bawled my eyes out- it has been almost two weeks! I can’t believe I am STILL mourning. I am mourning the loss of my body. No, I didn’t lose it in a car accident or get caught on fire or anything……..I had a baby. It has been five months since my precious Ella baby was born. She weighed a healthy 9 lbs 7 oz and was 21 inches long. She is one of the most perfect gifts that God has ever given me (after my husband, of course). When she smiles my whole world lights up and it makes everything brighter. She is my little fairy princess, my little cupcake, and my little snuggle bunny. I could never have imagined the vastness of love that could fill my heart for her – from the very moment I found out I was pregnant. I am privileged and blessed to be her mommy.

I could go on and on about her…but I guess I should get back to my story. I gained about 65 lbs during my pregnancy (my first). I KNOW this is WAY more than I should have gained. I was so nauseous and pukey-feeling the first 4 months of my pregnancy that the only thing that made me feel better or take away the nausea was carbs. Top ramen, grilled cheese sandwiches, pasta, and macaroni and cheese were my medicine miracles of choice. I also was so incredibly exhausted that getting off the couch to do anything was hard enough, not to mention as soon I stood up I felt like I had to run to the porcelain throne, dry-heaving. Besides, while I was pregnant – I kept telling myself that if Jenny McCarthy gained 65 lbs during her pregnancy and looks damn hot now – so could I! (Per her book, Baby Laughs.)

In most of the pregnancy books that I read while I was pregnant (and I read a LOT) – you could count on them warning you of post partum depression. We’ve all heard about it now, I’m sure. That it is a clinical diagnosis – not just a new mommy going berserk for no reason. When I think back to ALL those books – I don’t think even ONE of them warned me about Post Partum BODY BLUES. AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO FEELS THIS WAY??? I never once had thoughts or feelings of hurting Ella after she was born. I did however; go almost two weeks without showering. Even after that, I only showered about once a week. Did I just say this out-loud? Yes – I am admitting this to the world. You’re probably thinking that is disgusting! I rationalized it at the time as not having any time – hello, my baby needs to be fed and held and taken care of 24/7. But, as I let my mind wonder back to those fragile moments – I know now that is was because of the daunting, terrifyingly, HUGE mirror in our bathroom.

One of my sisters who has been pregnant, warned me maybe once to expect that I would look about six months pregnant after giving birth. She was right- only I probably looked more like I was eight months pregnant! Two days after my c-section birth – it was time to take a shower. I was still at the hospital…floating on cloud nine. After ALL these months, I finally had gotten to meet and hold my sweet baby girl! I could hardly move though from all the pain of the c-section, so my mom helped me into the bathroom and helped me take off the gown and the largest mesh underwear EVER. The memory of seeing my stomach for the first time floods back to me in a sea of anguish. It was the most disgusting thing I have ever seen. I had deep red stretch marks from my hip bones all the way over my belly button and half way up my boobs. My stomach had become a road map of gnarled lines going every which way leading nowhere. My belly button had become this awful dark brown-almost black hole and my scar from my previous belly button ring had stretched out and turned the same awful dark brown color. The skin on my belly resemble a 90 year-old’s stomach – all saggy and stretched out – even over my still very large stomach. My eyes gushed with a waterfall tears and my body started to shake with each heaving sob. I SOBBED and SOBBED. WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO MY BODY???? My mom just held me.

My poor, poor tummy. I didn’t even care about the other purplish/red stretch marks that I got – all over my butt, my thighs and my boobs. Those were NOTHING compared to my now distorted, repulsive, stomach. I tried to not look at my stomach as much as I possibly could after that. Even now, I cringe at the sight of it and have cried countless times pitying the appearance of it. I hate changing my clothes and I’m not going to lie – I still turn out the lights when I shower nine times out of ten. I’ve even lost about 45 lbs so far from the weight I was right before I gave birth. You’d think I’d be so much happier now – even if I only have about 20 lbs left to go to get to my pre-baby weight and my stomach has decreased from looking like I was 8 months pregnant to looking like I am only 4 months pregnant. But, I’ll be honest. I still see my stomach the same way I did the first time I was shocked with the sight of it. Maybe the shock is gone and I’ve become familiar with its existence – but the repulsiveness I feel towards it hasn’t changed. I suppose the redness of my stretch marks has gotten somewhat lighter – but the depth of them is the same. The road map of lines going nowhere is still there reminding me that they won’t be going anywhere. You can hardly see my belly-button when I’m standing up - because of the skin that is sagging over it and my stomach is still so mushy – you’d think I had never had abs.

Some of my close friends and family know how I feel about my tummy. I’ve even allowed some of them to see it (shock!)– so they can try to understand my pain. They’ve told me countless times from the beginning that it will only get better. They said that the stretch marks will fade and that my tummy will go down and look closer to normal in no time. I know they’re just saying the “right thing” but in the back of my mind, I think that if I were them, I’d be thanking my lucky stars that my stomach didn’t look like that.

My husband. He’s actually the BEST thing that has ever happened to me. He has the most amazing heart and couldn’t be any more loving to me and Ella baby. He took care of me all through my pregnancy – waiting on me hand and foot – lavishing the kind of love on me that a girl only dreams of. He was so patient through all my crazy pregnancy moments. He has been so good to me. He has held me tight in his arms countless times after I’ve broken down sobbing while we’ve been in bed together. It was after he’d want to get it on and I didn’t want him to see or touch my grotesque body. I WANT to look good for him. I WANT to have a perfect body for him. I think he deserves it. I want to feel comfortable in my own body and to get naked with him– even if it is only under the covers. He still tells me I’m beautiful though. He even tells me that I turn him on – or every now and then that I look hot. I fight the urge to yell in my mind that he’s lying – because I know in his mind he’s telling me the truth. I just have a hard time believing what he’s telling me in my OWN mind.

I didn’t have the perfect body before I got pregnant. I’ve always been super self-conscious of my boobs and my butt. Both, have always been too big if you ask me and if I ever gain weight – it always goes to those two spots first. My stomach though, has always been pretty flat. Maybe that’s why the thought and look of it now makes me feel so depressed. It was the one part of my body that I didn’t have to worry about or be self-conscious of. It was the one part of my body that I can actually say I liked.

I have carefully compartmentalized my pregnancy/body blues and my precious baby Ella into two different categories. I have had to do this for my own sanity and well-being. In the beginning, I kept telling myself I should get over myself and that I should just be thankful that I could even get pregnant. There are plenty of people out there that can’t get pregnant and would trade anything (even a normal looking stomach) to get pregnant. So, I should be thankful for Ella and I just get over it! I would wallow in his heavy laden guilt for feeling this way and then swing back to wallow in the pitying of my poor, poor body. The cycle would continue like that. That was up until I decided that I needed to separate the two. MOST people don’t like something about their body. Mine has just changed to this- separate from having a baby or not. I want a perfect body too. Actually, I’m lying. I just want my tummy to look and feel the way it used to.

I’m not against plastic surgery. I’ve decided that eventually I WILL have a tummy tuck and gosh while I’m in there – a boob lift too. (Don’t even get me started on my deflated boobs!) I suppose that up until that point though (and I’m sure even after) I need to work on getting my mind fixed. Body image can be such a fickle thing. I’m sure that a lot of us may have at one time or another been obsessive about our body. Or maybe it’s an ongoing, daily thing for you like this thing is for me. Gosh – I really do sound vain…or…. real…or…..maybe just COMPLETELY honest? But, please believe me that I really do know that the most important thing is what is in a person’s heart. I’m just allowing you in to see this tiny tiny part of mine.

I need to start praying that God will help me to see myself and my body through His eyes. I need to take control over my thoughts and not let them take off into a spiraling oblivion of self-loathing. I need to appreciate all the wonderful things I DO have and am blessed with (and I have a LOT to be thankful for). I need to work on being confident even now in the 20 plus pounds from-my-ideal-weight-state that I am in. In the words of my wise obstetrician who has witnessed more than a few red-faced, tears-streaming-down-my-face-moments from me, “You need to be kinder to yourself.”

Ella Baby and I

Our Little Fam


(thanks to my bro - Lonnie - for capturing both of these beautiful moments!)


Luv,
naz

14 comments:

  1. Nazra! I love and miss you! This post is wonderful, I love when we can be so vulnerable and honest with ourselves and others, because it really does help. I struggled for so long with body disorders so I completely understand the obsession it can become and the frustration it brings (though I'm sure it's a whole different ball game post-pregnancy). I hope that everyone who reads this knows your heart and all the work you do encouraging young women, because to those of us who do know, this is just another example of how real and beautiful you are! You are so loved Naz, and anybody who can produce a baby as freaking adorable as Ella should know how hot they are :)

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  2. OH Lauren - how sweet you are! Thanks so much for your encouraging words and honesty- it means so much to me! Knowing that there are so many people that love, support, and understand me is just the beginning of the process of healing for me. I hope to be an inspiration to others to look inside their own hearts to find the start of healing for their own disappointments - even those who haven't been pregnant - but have had body image issues like you mentioned. Lots of love to you! Love, naz <3

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  3. Oh Naz!! I'm crying reading this becuase I know exactly how you feel. It was almost like you were talking about me in some parts. I had my wonderful baby boy Jaxon almost 11 months ago and I still cant stand my stomach. I got horrible stretch marks that havent gone away and my belly is a jiggly, stetched out mess. I gained about 55 pounds and when I was breastfeeding I lost most of it which was awesome. Then I stopped breastfeeding and gained 30 pounds back. Its really frustrating but I just have to remember that Jaxon is so worth it. I will have a tummy tuck when I'm done having kids too. :) So I just wanted to say that you are not alone in this. Its nice to see this post and know that I am not alone either. I hope one day we can get Jaxon, Ella and baby Lacoss together for a play date. :)
    Love Ann

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  4. OH my gosh, Ann ~ Thank you so much for sharing and for understanding! It means so much knowing that I'm not alone! You are SO right in the fact that we need to remind ourselves that our babies ARE SO WORTH IT. The love and joy Ella has brought into my life IS PRICELESS. When I ask myself the question if I'd do it all over again - there's no question in my mind - OF COURSE I WOULD!! I would probably just be a bit more mentally prepared for the changes that might happen to my body. :) I'm sure you feel the same way about Jaxon (and he's SUCH a cutie pie!). Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for sharing. AND I agree! A play date is definitely in order! Oh and of course with baby Beckem too! <3

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  5. Nazra, I COMPLETELY understand. What your body looks like after you have a baby is NOT something people seem to talk about! I, like you had a wash board stomach my entire life, I was proud of it. After my baby, even though I've gotten down to my pre baby weight, it's just NOT the same. While I do look at my stretch marks as "battle scars" I've earned from my pregnancies, it still hurts to see the saggy skin that no amount of crunches helps put it back in place. I hope eventually you can find peace within to accept what you can not change, and the patience to wait out the changes that are still taking place. My youngest is 16 mos, and my body was still "changing back" until about 13 months. I would have never guessed it would take that long! Thanks for sharing.

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  6. Hi, Camille ~ Thank you SO much for your encouraging words and for being so open! I definitely feel like the more people that say "I understand" - the more and more peace I've felt since I wrote & posted this blog. Hopefully, others will find solace as well knowing there are others out there that understand too! So happy to connect all these years later - we definitely have so much in common! One of these days we'll have to meet up for playdates and coffee or something!

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  7. Naz, I'm so proud and impressed that you chose to share this. I had my daughter 3 and a half years ago and I still feel like my body isn't completely normal. Though it has gotten better as time goes on. Please be encouraged that it does get better. Though I also completely understand your mourning of your body. I think we also tend to see our post pregnancy body through our still crazy hormones. You will feel more reasonable after your hormones adjust as well.
    Love yah!
    Ami

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  8. Naz I can't tell you how much I appreciate this post! I have not had a child and gone through this proces personally but I know you are speaking on behalf of so many wonderful women. This post has really got me thinking. What can I do as a health and fitness pofessional to give more assistance to these moms. I want to send you some resouces (audio) and see if they help you with your mindset. If at anytime you can come to my stuido (148th & NE 20th st) in Bellevue I would love to spend some time and show you some useful tips on getting the abs back to flat..and these are not crunches! This is on me- you can blog and share the info with others.

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  9. Naz, you have one of the most beautiful spirits, and it shines in the way that you interact with people. You are beautiful, inside and out, and there's nothing that could change that. Of course your body is different, but it's a part of the natural changes, you gave birth to another human being, you gave of yourself, and you gave the biggest gift of all---life. The fact that you could and did share this Naz, is only another example of how beautiful you truly are!

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  10. Thanks, Ami, Katie and Anonymous ~ I appreciate all of your words of encouragement! Truly appreciated....

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  11. LOVE your honesty Nazra! I think we've all (moms and women in general) been there to some degree... In fact, I have several blog posts just waiting for me to find the courage to hit "publish". Love you!

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  12. Thanks for your comment, Annalise! Sometimes its so hard feeling so alone with how I'm feeling. Posting this blog entry has definitely helped with that in knowing there are others out there that feel the same way and understand! I'll be awaiting for your blog posts...I know the courage it takes to just hit that "publish" button and I KNOW you have it in you! :-) love ya!

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  13. Thank you for posting this.

    I am deep in this struggle, even still after my second child, even still four years later. I am so overwhelmed with thoughts that I contemplate flooding you with my woes, but don't even know where to start.

    You are not alone. Although I feel it sometimes. I have friends that are thin and slim, not a mark on their body, no trace of ever being pregnant. Home from the hospital without a bulge in sight.

    My mom always told me that she gave me good genes ;)

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  14. I am soooo proud of you Naz!! Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing your story. I cried. It's makes me so happy because you could have reached some that probably feel the same way you do. You have so much strength and beauty! And it shows in your writing so don't stop writing. You have so much talent and creativity. You created a precious miracle, baby Ella! You will eventually get your body back no matter what it takes! Like I told you I can relate in a different way so don't be afraid to do what you need too. But in the meanwhile just laugh at it! The joys of pregnancy! I will be there one day:)

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