After I had Big A, I suffered through some depression. Very little of it had to do with the fact that I suddenly had an infant. In fact, the majority of my depression revolved around my disgust at what my body looked like after having him.
My husband was very loving and did the best he could to help me feel beautiful. I lost all my baby weight and managed to fit into my old clothes within 4 months of having Big A. But no matter what I did, my body still disgusted me.
No longer was my belly toned and smooth. It looked as if it had gone through a war and barely survived. Stretch marks coursed all along my belly as if someone had taken a marker and drawn all over it. The skin on my belly was loose. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't tighten my belly and regain the toned composure it once had.
For a long time, I refused to let my husband see it. I would wear a shirt whenever we had alone time and I absolutely refused to go to bed without being clothed. This continued to go on until around the time I became pregnant with Little a.
Around the time of her conception, I started to do some serious soul searching. I had strayed away from my true witchy roots. Sure, I was following the motions, but I wasn't really living it. I was still doing rituals, observing the sabbats, and honoring the spirits and my ancestors, but I wasn't receiving any fulfillment from any of it. It was also during this time that I began researching natural birth and midwifery. For some reason, natural childbirth and witchcraft clicked for me.
I knew I wanted more children, but at the same time I realized that I needed to come to terms with my body issues. Reaffirming my beliefs in witchcraft, and acknowledging that I wanted to bring my children into the world naturally, helped me explore my issues with body image. During this time, my husband encouraged me to meditate regularly, which also aided me in coming to terms with my body.
Slowly I began to realize where my body image issue stemmed from and how I could overcome them. I realized that these issues have been plaguing me since I was a young child. My father was obsessed with body image and force-fed its importance to my siblings and me on a daily basis. As an adult, I had tried to block out the memories, but the prejudice towards my body had remained. Once I realized where this negativity stemmed from, I slowly worked on removing it from my life.
Finally, I realized that the body I had before I had Big A was the body of my past. I’m no longer the person I was back then. In fact, I really didn't like who I was back then. Instead of the old me, I have become a new person. I have grown and become a wife and a mother. I’m more mature (most days), caring, and loving. Mine and my husband’s relationship is far stronger than it was back in those days. I’m most certainly not perfect, but I do like who I am today far better than the person I was before Big A was born.
Reality finally hit me. I realized that the body I had been longing for was lost. I’m never going to have that body again. But you know what? I don’t want that body anymore. My body is not perfect, but it shows the course it took to bring two amazing little people into this world. It shows the pain I went through and the stretching my body took on in order for them to be alive. To me, this realization is far more powerful than me having my teenage body back.
Have you struggled with body image issues after having children? What has helped you get over it?