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Not One Size Fits All: the Reality of Postpartum Fitness

postpartum fitnessI remember the excitement I had about becoming pregnant with my daughter. Aside from all the obvious reasons for feeling stoked about being pregnant and getting the chance to be a mom, I was so ready for a “fun” pregnancy – a FIT one at that.

I started it out in the best shape of my life and to me, that meant I was golden. I honestly had no idea the toll being pregnant can take on your body.

I mean, does anyone really if they’ve never gone through it?

All day sickness…

About six weeks in, I was hit with the worst morning (let’s be real – ALL DAY) sickness you could imagine. I could not for the life of me get out of bed. When I moved, I would throw up. When I ate, I would throw up.

At around ten weeks I was hospitalized a few times for dehydration. I remember I cried daily for almost four months. I had to quit school and I honestly had no idea where the light at the end of the tunnel was, or if there even was one.

Feeling ecstatic and defeated 

That may seem a bit dramatic, or even selfish to say. I fully and respectfully acknowledge that there are FAR worse things and experiences that happen during pregnancy for some women.

But this was the reality of what I was dealing with. And at the time, it seemed very dark. The months rolled on and eventually, things got a little better. But I had started to feel the effects of growing a human, and being pretty much bed-ridden for what seemed like eternity.

As blessed and as grateful I was to even be able to experience the gift of pregnancy that so many women are denied, I felt somewhat defeated.

The weight gain hit me at the end, just like the stretch marks that crept along the bottom half of my once nicely toned belly. I remember looking in the mirror so many nights wondering how it was ever going to look “normal” again. My stomach, my body, my self esteem.

I promise you that I was ecstatic to be a mom. Obsessing over my body wasn’t the only thing that was ever on my mind. I wasn’t that vain. Well, maybe back then – but definitely not now. Motherhood is wild like that. It humbles you real quick.

But, this isn’t a blog post about how much I adored my perfect 6 lb 9 ounce baby girl. This is a blog post about learning to love and accept my new found self. A body I no longer recognized and a terribly wrong idea of what postpartum should look like.

The reality of it all 

I remember the first picture I posted of me and my daughter. We were just about to leave the hospital. One of the nurses asked if she could snap our picture. I looked at it on the way home feeling proud to be a new mom. And man did I want to show it off.

But, not before I cropped my belly out of the picture. I couldn’t for the life of me admit to the world that I was NOT one of those moms that just “bounced back.” 

Weeks passed by and I was trying to get the hang of this new life of little sleep, nursing around the clock, baby snuggles, happy tears, and exhaustion tears.

Oh, and the new postpartum body. The one that seemed to look nothing like all the other postpartum bodies that were being plastered all over my newsfeed at the time.

I kind of feel like right now, being a mom is“ in.” Like, it’s the cool, fun thing to do. Well, I may be a little biased, but I agree with that. It IS cool and fun. But holy moly do we as mothers know it’s SO much more than that.

It’s much more deep and raw. It’s much more beautiful and messy than I could have ever imagined it to be.

postpartum uncertainty

But society can project a certain theme for moms. It’s cool and fun to be a mom, sure. But only if you’re a fit mom. Only if you’re a trendy mom.  A breast-feeding, best graphic tee, baby-wearing mom.

As a new mom, hormones are already at an all-time crazy high. Now throw in trying to keep up with baby trends and the beautiful mamas that just seem to bounce right back.

They’re in the gym at 6 weeks postpartum and every bit deserving of their already toned-up bellies. Or worse, the moms who just have “good genes.” HA!

Well, to be honest that just wasn’t me. I had about enough energy to muster up throughout the day and night to keep me alive and love and feed my baby. That was it. For months I couldn’t even fathom the thought of working out.

Eating well came in waves. And the guilt and the shame I felt worsened with every month postpartum, still carrying the extra weight around. For some reason, I convinced myself into believing it was pure laziness and I should, for no reason, still look this way. Despite the millions of attempts my husband tried daily to make me feel beautiful and wanted.

Maybe my mindset wasn’t in the right place. Or maybe had I been working out earlier on, I would have had the energy I was searching for through coffee and more coffee.

Or maybe…just maybe, if more mamas who felt like me, who just wanted to enjoy the bliss of lazy days with their new baby, would have been willing to share their truths, it wouldn’t have felt so lonely.  

A vulnerable voice 

postpartum support

I think it’s amazing motivation when moms are able to stay fit throughout their pregnancies. I think it’s an incredible thing when mamas are able to share how they were able to fit back into their pre-baby jeans and give out tips and ideas for women looking for that extra push or guidance.

But I also just wish that the other half, like myself, wouldn’t feel so ashamed that they weren’t ready to jump back in the game, yet.

I believe that the right time comes at different times for everyone. I believe that postpartum looks differently for everyone. And I believe that the journey is chaotic enough as is, that we should just find peace with our very own. Trust that we will eventually find our groove, when it’s our right time.

When I choose to embark on the pregnancy and postpartum journey again, I hope to be a more honest voice for women. Vulnerability isn’t for everyone, and that is OK.

But for those of us who don’t mind sharing some of the deeper stuff, I hope we can be loud and clear for the moms out there who might be feeling like they’re struggling a bit in their journey. Postpartum isn’t a one-size fits all, you know?

 

 

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One Response to Not One Size Fits All: the Reality of Postpartum Fitness

  1. Avatar
    Mary November 28, 2018 at 10:45 am #

    Postpartum is a struggle for many. It took me many years to realize just how unhealthy mentally and physically, as well. I love that you mommies are reaching out in support of one another. I am happy it is no longer tabu to speak of these helpful topics.