Every body is built slightly differently to start off with, and then there are layers of life laid over it. If you're a big lass like me you can take that quite literally!
Trying to get pregnant, or falling pregnant can make you think about how you're treating yourself. I've a friend who had bulimia, but stopped when she became pregnant. She just couldn't see why she was doing it any more. I gave up smoking the moment I discovered I was pregnant with my first child, knowing that what I was doing was affecting someone else made it so much easier.
But it's not all good news. Pregnancy can have some interesting affects on your body. Some pregnancies involve nausea, to a greater or lesser extent, which can wipe people out, and actually cause weight loss. Some cause insomnia, which can really wear you down. Some pregnancies go virtually unnoticed - even by people whom we might expect to know better. People seem to get bigger faster in subsequent pregnancies. It's as if the body says 'you're doing this again? Fine! I give up.' And then there is all the fun of your joints becoming looser.
After you've had a baby, even though we know really that we don't need to look like we've never had a baby, everything in your life has changed, and to top it all, you're body is not what it was before. It can be hard to cope with.
All my babies were big, but my third was very big, and I was very big when I was pregnant with her. Add to that the oedema I suffered at the end, which blew up my ankles, my fingers, and my tummy (because I needed a bigger tummy!). I had to have a section, and after it, for a very long time, my tummy looked a mess.
Late one night when I had caught sight of my body in a mirror, and was so tired that I just wept about it, I got a message from my friend Helen, asking how I was doing.
I told the truth.
I cried, and I told her in detail all about the saggy skin and the painful scar, and the bits with nerve damage, and how tired I was and how I would never ever be sexy again.
And she didn't tell me everything would be fine, and that I should be happy about my baby. She told me how sad she felt for me, and that she was sure things would improve but that surgery was bound to help if nothing else did. She also suggested I go to see the doctor to maybe get some counselling, and when I told her I was fine she gently reminded me of the time I'd told her to see the doctor. I was right, and so was she.
I'm still not happy with my body, but there's a lot of that about. It has got better, things do, over time, and you can get surgery if you need to. I still think it'll get better, when I've got more time, which is soon, right? But the thing is, I think the biggest improvement can come from a mental shift, rather than a physical one.
And if I were to look at my daughter one day when she is forty, and she is fat and saggy and tired, would she be less perfect?
With arms she hides away, but which are perfect for cuddles. With a tummy she hates, but which has carried beautiful children. With saggy breasts which have fed them? She would still be beautiful, just different. I hope I would tell her she's beautiful, tell her she's a good mum, and then do the laundry and fetch her a cuppa. But then again, I might be tired and fraught and bitch at her, because I'm a human. I hope I'm nice. But meanwhile, I need to be nicer to me.
Could you do with being nicer to yourself too?
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P.S. I doesn't seem right to not be doing the book challenge any more. I'm staying away from it for a while, but I can't get it out of my head! So I've been listing things to do when I come back to it. Not yet though. Not yet.