Longing for the old body back
I was about 8 months pregnant and people constantly asked me, “how are you feeling?” I was actually feeling pretty good all things considered.
Dahlia, my daughter, was in the 90 plus percentile for size and I am just about 5 foot, it was summer, and my first pregnancy.
I would tell people that I was feeling pretty good but I could not wait to have my body back.
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I loved being pregnant but I missed eating whatever I wanted, intense workouts, backpacking and hiking, being 50 pounds lighter, and not constantly worrying about the life of another person that existed inside of my body.
I started getting really eager to meet my daughter and daydreamed about sipping coffee and wine, sleeping on my stomach, and going for a run.
I loved being pregnant but I also missed having my body to myself.
What I failed to realize was that my choice to breastfeed meant I wasn’t going to get my body back, at least not until she was no longer breastfeeding.
Adjustments to the new body and routine
I had a really hard time adjusting to this new reality and I am sure the hormones didn’t help.
I found myself in the middle of the night resentful of my soundly sleeping hubby, I got frustrated that he could just go on a run without considering Dahlia’s eating schedule and that he still had his freedom.
I spent a lot of time crying and venting and he felt bad and helpless. I pumped bottles so that I could skip feedings here and there but it still wasn’t the same.
Being attached to a breast pump at least an hour each day sometimes just made things worse.
My schedule was now at the mercy of a newborn and a working husband and that was a reality I was not prepared for.
I spent 27 years of my life doing what I want, when I wanted and that suddenly seemed to be taken away from me. I felt naïve and dumb for thinking I would have some sense of normalcy postpartum and that was all the more frustrating.
I considered giving up breastfeeding all together but somehow made it through one feeding at a time each day, and the days quickly turned into weeks that turned into months.
On my good days I felt honored and privileged to be able to sustain my daughter’s life with my body, something my husband was not able to do.
We talked about how incredible women really are and that was empowering.
I did appreciate my ability to breastfeed because we fought for it to work.
Between a short NICU stay, triple feedings, power pumping, milk blisters, and a tongue tie my daughter and I finally got to a point where I was able to exclusively breastfeed her so I tried to be mindful and proud of our hard work.
We worked for something that I sometimes resented and that often put me in a confusing head space. Even on the good days it was still exhausting and I still missed my autonomy.
My sweet girl is now 9 months old and each week she is needing me less and less.
We have weaned her from all her night feedings except one and now supplement with 2 bottles of formula a day.
She eats 3 solid meals and a snack and has become less and less interested in breastfeeding. I have learned to adjust my schedule and the times she nurses so that I can have longer stretches of time for me to “have my body back.”
I can’t say that I miss her needing me for nutrition 24/7 but I am glad to know that I can do it and that for future children, it will get easier.
I am beginning to feel more like myself as my hormones start to get more and more regulated and I am realizing that there is a time that I will have my body back.
Loving your postpartum body
It may be a different body, with more marks and looser skin, but it will be mine. It will be a body that sustained a human for over 18 months and I am coming to appreciate that it was worth the sacrifice.
And this whole time my body has been mine, I just made the choice to share it and I wouldn’t want to make such a sacrifice for any other people than my own children. As with most things in life, this has been just a season and we will soon transition to the next.
I will have a toddler who doesn’t need my body and I will look fondly on memories of late, cuddly nights nursing, the sweet noises of milk drunkenness, and a strong child that I, as a mother, made incredible sacrifices for.
I may have not had “my body back” for much longer than I anticipated but the reward was far greater than I could have anticipated.
For all of you mamas feeling exhausted from late nights bottle or breastfeeding, who are 8 months pregnant and in absolute discomfort, who feel that the sacrifices you are making for your baby are nearly impossible – I see you, I hear you, and you got this.
You are strong, brave, and superhuman because you are a woman, because you are a mother.
Before you know it this season will pass and I hope when it does you will feel all of those things because it is nothing short of the truth.
About the author
Ashley Greenwood is a new mom who works as a preschool director. She is passionate about child development, traveling, and has a long list of hobbies that include backpacking, fly fishing, reading, painting, and photography. She lives in a small apartment in Seattle and is always excited to share stories and build community.
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