This past year of my life has been a period of evolution and development, one of which I haven’t taken much time to reflect upon or appreciate. When becoming a mom, whilst carrying Finn, I was so in awe of my body, in awe of its process of creating life, sustaining it, carrying it, protecting it and even once it had become almost unrecognizable to me, I drank in every change. I felt beautiful and strong in ways I never had before in my life. I can understand and appreciate that for many, motherhood is not a calling, and for some, similar to myself it was something that I wasn’t sure I could reach. But for me, motherhood and creating a family is the only thing I have ever strived for with complete certainty and the fulfillment I’ve felt has been astronomical.
But, no one quite prepared me for what comes next, what it feels like after the joyous moment that you hold your baby in your arms for the very first time, what comes after all of that love comes flooding through, the moment you step away for the first time and take your first shower. My birth experience, was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life, I have no other words to describe it, sure it was a tiring, laborious experience, but even when we had to deviate from our water birth plan slightly towards the end, I only have positive memories of the entire experience, I’ve felt privileged in that sense- that being said, being left with your body, a body now in the throws of hormonal fluctuations, a tender, swollen leaking and empty vessel, no one can prepare you for it.
Our first week together was a joyous and also at times, emotionally exhausting and anxious time as we spent that first week in hospital with Finn on a dose of antibiotics, thankfully all was well in the end, but in a time where support was needed, rest and healing, no matter the wonderful NHS assistance, a hospital is no place a new mother wants to be for very long. It was a full week until I first got to see myself- my new self fully in the mirror. I hadn’t eaten much that first week and breastfeeding had had its part to play as I was so much slimmer than I expected (slimmer than I am currently even), my initial thoughts being, the last time I saw myself in this mirror, I couldn’t see my own feet! It is a shock visually, then I began to assess the rest of me, more closely, trace the lines of my skin. I’ve always loved the analogy of moms ‘earning their tigers stripes’ and those faint lines, I was determined to feel proud of, no matter how much work it would take.
I had been so sure during pregnancy to be strict, not to overdo anything, checking everything I ate, to ensure I never caused any harm and never became at risk of GSD via my health conditions, I’d achieved it, a full term healthy natural birth with minimal, healthy weight gain. Sure the oils and creams didn’t quite do the trick, but my skin has held up pretty well. But despite my best efforts, a pandemic, multiple lock downs and isolation’s, I find myself here, learning to love my self again. I am now bigger than I was post pregnancy. My self-esteem lower than ever and on top of this, making myself feel weak for feeling such emotions.
I can’t believe I’m finding myself in this position, already established in motherhood, second guessing myself and my worth, my appearance. I’ve been surrounded by women all my life who have such wonderful qualities, strong, determined, kind, caring, free-spirited, but also always so put together. At the beginning of motherhood I was so determined not to ‘loose myself’ and to continue with my usual grooming routines, but here I am a year later, working, living and parenting from home, and my physical vessel has taken the brunt. I carry some extra weight currently, my time taken up by routines, work schedules and my own appearance put on the back burner. Lounge wear and mom buns at the ready and if it comes between sorting my son and spending time with him over a bit of extra time to ‘sort myself out’ I will always choose him, no question.
But this period of time, despite all the positives I can identify, the quality family time, bonding with our son, working from home, a safe haven, as time ticks on, I’ve found my sense of self started to drift. Recently I took to taking part in a social media challenge which involved dressing up daily with clothes you already own in your wardrobe, reworking them and switching them up to break myself out of this rut i’m in and try to remind myself that I am ‘capable’ of being the women I once was. I achieved it, in sorts, I never finished the challenge, toddler life makes these things less manageable, but I did take part in 3 days and made the effort to set aside my clothes, ‘fix’ my face and hair and honestly, it was fun, I recognized myself a little more in that mirror, in those images, but did it make me happier? In part perhaps? But not in this all consuming way, like a light switch going off like i anticipated.
This experience has taught me or at least reminded me, my value, my worth, does not lie within my outward appearance. It may have looked like me, but there is so much more to me than those factors. The clothes and makeup I choose to wear does not show people the kind person I am, they do not show my determination, my strength, my free-spirit, my weight does absolutely not show how good a family member or friend I am, but I am all of these things, I am kind, strong, independent, hard working, kind hearted and a mom, I am a mom and I will continue to tell myself all these things, I will remind myself of my own value and allow others to appreciate it in me too. My time holds more value else where in my life and I make a promise to myself, to be much kinder to myself and I hope in sharing this that this might resonate with someone else too.
Until Next time,