Today I’m going to invite you to take a step inside my brain….beware it’s scary in here! I thought it was time that I wrote about post-pregnancy body image – I mean, watching your belly expand like giant balloon doesn’t sound thrilling to most people, never mind those with a history of anorexia….but watch that belly I did! And now, over five months after my little man made his appearance, I feel like I can talk about this topic with a bit more insight.
I can honestly say that before I fell pregnant, I was as happy as I had ever been in my own skin. I was at my peak of fitness, running as fast as ever and bending myself into random shapes in yoga class So when that smiley face appeared after pacing the bathroom for three minutes, my initial flurry of happiness was swept away by feelings of anxiety of what was to come and, indeed, a sense of dread over how I would cope long term.
At first, I felt a little panicked that I might relapse during pregnancy itself, like Katy Bassett, featured below (you can read her story here). Luckily there were no signs of pregorexia – in fact, I was majorly hungry during the first trimester and had to eat more to stop me feeling terrible!
I’ll be honest with you, during pregnancy I didn’t find the whole bump thing as bad as I thought I would. Initially, I feared that I would feel overcome with “Fatness” , like I did in my ED days. I mean, yeah, I had a few minor freak outs about my expanding stomach, mourned the loss of my abs and looked in the mirror a lot but it was fascinating more than upsetting. I also found incomparable amounts of joy in feeling my baby move and this kept me afloat. I’m not going to lie though…there was often a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach about how I was going to handle the “Mummy Tummy” and not being able to exercise as much as I was used to.
Amazingly, in the later stages of pregnancy, as my bump grew so too did my fondness of it’s presence. My brain shifted. I started enjoying pregnancy and got myself into a better mindset. I kept telling myself that my healthy lifestyle and love of healthy foods would pay dividends after my baby was born. It definitely helped to think this way.
This is the part of the story that I look upon with a “Blummin heck” and a “Thank God”. Unfortunately, everything went majorly pear shaped towards the end and my little Leo arrived 4.5 weeks early. He was tiny, perfect and scared the living daylights out of us!
A c-section and a four month womb infection left me without any body confidence in the early days – not in how it looked but how it performed. I had many dark moments feeling like my world had fallen apart. I cried about not being able to dance, run or even do a bit of yoga. I felt like screaming out loud every time I thought about the dance classes I’d lost myself in since I was old enough to walk….I felt like all had been lost. All the training, time, technique. Lost. That was the hardest thing of all.
So where am I now? Well, although I didn’t endure the extra stretching that the final month of pregnancy brings, nowadays, I am still confronted by a different figure in the mirror. I pick myself apart on the bad days – usually when I’m exhausted from being a mum. I sigh a lot and focus on all the wrong things – like how my stomach looks different or how I’ve lost muscle tone….but in comparison to the bad old days, that’s as far as it goes. All I have to do is look at my gorgeous son to be able to get a hold on things. I look back to five weeks ago when all I wanted was to not be in pain and be able to move around again – well now I can exercise again and that I am grateful for. It’s amazing how your priorities change!
It has only been recently that I’ve been bothered by feelings of low self esteem about how I look. I guess it’s because I can exercise without pain now and being the impatient person that I am, I just want my old body back NOW! And even as I type this, I am smiling to myself because I have currently got my rational, mummy head on and deep down, I know that I will never quite look like my pre-pregnancy self because that girl probably ran a bit too much and spent too much of her life in he gym. At that time, I guess that’s what made me feel like I was happy but deep down I know that it was just a bit of obsession lingering around from my ED days.
I came across this picture when reading this great article. I immediately identified with it because since I had Leo, there have definitely been times where I have homed in on certain body parts and wished that they looked different or how they used to….and again, I look at my son and shrug it off, along with the incredibly unhealthy desire for a “perfect” body.
I always hoped that having a baby would finally set me free from my past issues of low self esteem and a constant desire to downsize myself. I wouldn’t say that I am free but I do feel that my new priorities help me to stop disordered thought patterns from taking hold of my actions. I keep telling myself that now is the time to let my body be that of a healthy, balanced woman, reflective of a healthy lifestyle and not an obsessive one.
So yes. You will definitely encounter some remnants of the past inside this brain of mine. Lurking around, getting ready to pounce. Luckily I’ll be having none of that! KA-POW!!