To my postpartum body,
I’m sorry for a lot of things but let’s start with this. I’m sorry because this letter started out from a negative place. This letter originated from negative feelings of dissatisfaction and resentment. There’s a lot of body positivity in the media right now, which is wonderful. Especially for mums! Women all around the world are celebrating their stretch marks, ‘mum tums’, excess skin. And as much as I see these posts and think ‘good on you!’, I’ve just never been able to relate. It’s never come naturally to me to accept you, let alone to think about loving you.
For as long as I can remember I haven’t been kind to you, I haven’t treated you well. But as I sat here thinking of where to begin with this letter, with what I wanted to say to you, in my head I turned around. I looked at you, at me, at us – in a new light. I was going to sit here and write about how much I struggle to love you, but instead I’m here to say sorry.
I need to apologise because the truth is I have never been kind to you. Even before having children I was never happy with you. There were always things I wanted to change. I’ve restricted what I fed you, binged and picked flaws. I’ve gone through phases of tolerating you, but never truly loving you.
When I was pregnant for the first time I swore to myself that I would never moan about you again, never feel fat again because – how could I do anything other than love this body of mine that was growing my healthy baby? But then that baby was born and instead of snapping back, I was left with a tummy that felt like jelly, swollen boobs, thighs that rubbed together and a general feeling of resentment. No one had told me that I would still look pregnant after giving birth, no one had told me that even six months down the line my body still wouldn’t look ‘the same’. Or if they had tried to tell me, I hadn’t been listening.
Now I’ve become this woman who couldn’t pick her own body out in a line up. I don’t look at it. I get changed in the dark or out of sight from the man who loves me the most, the man who has watched me deliver two beautiful, healthy babies. But still, I want to hide from him. I don’t want him to see what I have become, I’m not the nineteen year old he fell in love with. He can tell me he loves my body every day of the week, but I’m sorry, that doesn’t make me love you.
But as I said at the beginning of this letter, recently something has changed. I’m not sure why and I’m not sure how. But a switch has been flipped. Maybe the messages of body positivity that I see every day have finally got through to me. Because I’ve realised something, and it’s so important – you deserve better than this. You deserve to be treated better. To be fed good, nutritious food, to be appreciated. To be loved. For everything you have gone through over the past three years and that you continue to go through. For pregnancy, for labour, for childbirth, for feeding my babies, for holding them and rocking them and for coping with lack of sleep.
I want my children to grow up with a mum who loves herself completely. I find it so easy to see the beauty in even the smallest of things, in the darkest of times, but when I look in the mirror I’ve always just felt disconnected.
But I’m drawing a line, I’m making a change.
I’m ready to be friends, the very best of friends. I want to look after you and take care of you.
To my postpartum body, I’m sorry.
To my postpartum body, thank you!