It's different for every new mom, but the pressure to return to your old self, physically, is annoying. Even though your loved ones and friends say otherwise, the unspoken pressure is there. Our culture demands it. I never thought I'd give into it. Well, at least I wanted to not give into it. But, there's no way around it. I have good days where I don't give a crap and then most days I feel frumpy, soft, ugly...nothing fits or looks good on and though everyone says I look great, I just can't believe them.
I created the most beautiful baby boy so why do I even waste my time on this petty BS?! I wonder that myself. Hmmph. Maybe if I was a more robust woman to begin with, then I wouldn't notice or feel that judgement from others. But, it's super hard to have been someone who has worked hard her entire life to be an athlete and be in shape. I feel like I'm a teenager/early 20's again. That's when I used to care, too. But the deeper I got into my yoga practice, the more I learned to let go of all that stuff. And then the last 2 years or so have been even better it seems, because I found love and learned to live life even more true and not be so strict about my practice, my diet, etc. And I got pregnant! Just when it all came together and I didn't quite think about those things anymore.
I was so excited to get pregnant. And going in, I had all these thoughts of the type of pregnant yogini woman I would be. Yeah, that didn't happen. Life doesn't work that way. You can't predict or force how it all turns out. I was super nauseated and tired for 2 months. I couldn't teach as much, I couldn't hardly practice, and all I wanted to eat were carbs. So, the weight started piling on. You couldn't necessarily tell because it was discreet (adding slowly to my hips and thighs before my belly). But, by half way through the pregnancy, I had already gained upward 20 pounds and I still had a long way to go. I remember doing the Shiva Rea prenatal dvd and she had said in the beginning that she gained 50 pounds during a pregnancy, and you just have to do what feels right to you. You see, that's just it. I was doing that! I was hungry for crying out loud! It was winter and I was too tired and cold to drudge out in the snow for exercise. All I did was yoga, which slowly tapered as it went on to be more and more gentle. I felt strong, though. As I knew my strength in certain muscle groups was diminishing, I also knew that my baby was strong and I had that foundation there. I stopped caring at some point because my midwife told me not too and that my weight gain was fine. And with the huge belly by the end, it all sort of works out proportionally.
And you all know my birth story (read the previous blog post). I had an amazing all natural birth. The nurses kept raving about how strong my baby's heart was the entire labor. And how strong I was. So, why do I care now that I carry all this extra weight postpartum? It will come off at some point...
I guess because I look in the mirror and I don't recognize myself. At least when Isak was still inside of me, it was me, just with him in there, too. Now, it's me with a lot of extra baggage! You see, I gained 50 pounds. Yes, my boobs are bigger now, but my belly, thighs, hips, booty are all bigger too. Ha! When I practice yoga now, I still feel like my old self in many ways. I have the flexibility in most poses and my underlying strength is still there. But just as it took me 9 months to pile all the weight on, it's probably going to take the same to get it off! And it's going to take time to rebuild my practice. Headstand? Crow? Side plank? Yeah, I'll meet you again. In fact, I'll probably be a better teacher because of all this. I have to re-learn many things and now I can relate to beginners even more. When I get back to teaching in a few months, I know I'll be grateful for the whole experience.
So, new mamas out there, try not to hold yourself up to the standards of our society and other people around you. I'm trying to do the same. Who cares if so and so in Hollywood is back in a bikini after 3 months. I have a real, healthy body with no extra help around. I have to figure out life with this new creature on my own (with my husband of course, who fantastically thinks I'm beautiful any which way), find time to work out, cook healthy meals, sleep, and just function. Just yesterday I was dreading the summer and having to put on a bathing suit or shorts. But, let me take all my new cellulite, my soft belly with the dark line down the middle, my wide hips, my no longer sculpted arms and bring it! It's the question of our time...what defines beauty? Well, maybe it's a woman on the verge of turning 30 who usually embraces all sorts of bodies, and who now, after giving birth, must learn to embrace her own again.