Why Having a Baby Changed My Self-Image

I have struggled with disordered eating patterns my whole life. Never diagnosed, but serious issues with food from a very young age. Maybe it all started hearing my mother and my older sister constantly judging their bodies. A tall, thin child, it was very hard for me when I hit puberty and gained a bit of weight. I was chubby from about age 10-14, and when I started high school, I spent a great deal of time hating worrying about my body. At 5’7, I dropped down to 105 pounds. Everyone around me would say I was too thin, but all I could ever see were the imperfections. If I was a size 6, I wanted to be a 4; I was never good enough.

A few years later, when I was about 20, I had gained about 30 pounds in a few short months. That was the year I found out that I had PCOS, and the beginning of my weight battle throughout my adulthood. At my happiest and healthiest, I weighed about 140 pounds. It was the summer I got married, and I was working out, eating right, and it showed. About 18 months later, I tore all the tendons in my left ankle, and gained a bit more weight and got out of my good habits. Over the next 2 years, between moving twice and working 45 hours a week, I gained more. Last spring, I lost about 10 pounds and got pregnant the next month. I gained about 30 pounds (and several stretch marks) while pregnant, and the day I gave birth, I weighed 198 pounds. In the past 4 months, thanks to breastfeeding, I lost my baby weight without too much effort. Today I weigh 158 pounds.

I want to express to y’all how liberating it is to actually tell people how much I weigh. Why do we let the numbers on the scale so much power over us? Why do we let the size of our clothing control us? Why did I let those things define my self-worth for so long?

Now, I have stretch marks and slightly saggy breasts. At any given moment, I probably have spit up or poop on me, and what little hair hasn’t fallen out of my head is usually swept up in a messy bun. I can usually be found in my glasses without a stitch of makeup on my face. And I love and accept my body more than I ever have in my life. Why, you ask?

This body has done amazing things. It made my perfect little boy in 39 short weeks. It provides him the nourishment he needs. This body is the only one I get, so I should take care if it and appreciate it. And when I look in the mirror these days, I know that if I had to pick between a supermodel body and that sweet little boy, he would win every time.

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