Loveys, have you had moments in your life when you felt like you really knew yourself? Maybe you found your calling. Or you discovered your passion. Whatever it was--you'd found who you were meant to be. You felt . . . comfortable in your own skin.
As women, our bodies go through quite a bit during pregnancy. For me, usually early in my pregnancies, I feel good. For one thing, I've wanted to be pregnant each time, and there's something wonderful and fulfilling in growing a life that your heart has longed for. Still, once I reach nine months, I've usually had about as much as I can take. I'm stretched to the limit, the heartburn is out of control, it's just not possible to get comfortable, even my maternity clothes are tight. So when it's time for baby to arrive--it's a relief.
However, after the big dance of delivery comes the work of trying to get back to your pre-baby body. It's like searching for your former self. Where is that girl who used to fit in all these clothes that haven't been touched in months? I know there's that small minority of women who bounce back right away. The ones who wear pre-baby clothes on the way home from the hospital. (Seriously. I have no words.) Then there are the rest of us. After Lily was born, when the nurse asked me how I was, I kept telling her I didn't think I was still supposed to look this pregnant. She just nodded and told me I was fine.
It takes time. I know it does.
It can be hard. Really hard.
Body image is something so many of us struggle with. We struggle to accept the way we look. We see ourselves critically. We want to look different. I think it comes down to wanting to feel strong and confident in our own skin. I know that's what I want. Trust me, that can be hard post-pregnancy. I'm right there in that season. This week, I got it in my head that I wanted to wear my favorite jeans. I haven't worn them since before we moved into our new house so I wasn't sure where they were! But it just hit me that I needed to find those jeans. I was a woman on a mission, searching through every drawer to find them. Who knows why I like them so much! Loveys, these threads are old and ripped and falling apart.
I can't throw them away. They're me. I bought them at Express forever ago. My BFF Michelle and I used to always go shopping together for jeans at Express. I can see us as girls (and then as young women) shopping for jeans and then having lunch in Houston. (P.S. Shell, I miss you. I loved those days.) Those memories are like treasures. There's something about a fave pair of jeans--wearing them is comforting. You feel like . . . you. I finally found them and squeezed this body into them.
I felt like myself again.
Later this week I went out for dinner with a few girlfriends of mine. It was the first night I've gone out with friends since Lillian was born. Between the initial recovery post-birth and then two bouts of mastitis (have mercy), I haven't felt like doing much at all. But I put myself together and I went--and the time out was so encouraging. It was like finding a little piece of myself again. You start to remember that the exhaustion and the recovery (and other issues) are all just temporary. Things get back to normal. You're still that girl who likes to laugh and have fun. She's still there. You're still you. Those jeans will fit eventually, lovey.
I wish women didn't struggle with body image so much, but we do. (So much of it stems from outside pressures and is projected upon us and then we end up obsessing over how we look.) It's an important issue to me because I have two daughters and I want to raise them with a sense of confidence. That's not so easy for girls today. Getting healthy--staying healthy--getting fit--staying fit--loving ourselves. It's never healthy or right to obsess over how we look. I know that. But to feel comfortable in our own skin--that's a good thing for any woman.
I think part of that comes from feeling loved and accepted just as we are. The thing is, to love and accept ourselves--that can be the most difficult. But it's a worthy goal, lovey.
I've had a few people ask me if I'm missing work yet. Really, the past nearly five weeks have been a combination of sleep deprivation and being knocked down by mastitis. I know I'll miss it eventually, but for now, I'm good with just finally feeling a little more whole, feeling a little stronger. I'm good with holding Lillian and just pouring my energy into loving on her. Every day is a day closer to getting back to feeling like me again.
But I'm not lost.
We've had so many people help us since Lillian was born. My mom and Sara have done so much. We had so many people (friends and neighbors) bring meals. The day I woke up with mastitis for the second time, a friend of mine stopped by with cookies and ended up sending me upstairs for a nap while she watched Lily and Lincoln for me. I needed that rest so much. Cookies and support and practical help from a close friend, coffee dates this past week with girlfriends, dinner out, a quick phone call just to talk--you know what's true? Sometimes the people in our lives help pull us back to where we want to be. When we're a little off our game, when we feel a little unsteady and tired--God uses people around us to encourage us. They find us right where we are.
It's a beautiful thing. Sort of like slipping into your favorite jeans and feeling like you just found yourself.
God loves us, lovey. If you struggle to love yourself, start with that reminder. And take it one day at a time.
Finding Her Again
Posted by Brandy Bruce at April 19, 2015